Not your average travel blog
It’s as if hobbits built a tiny second home in the desert, with a nod to being OCD and Christian. The accommodation at the border is possibly the most organised, most clean, most “model-village” that I have come across. It’s like a rather useful, miniature Hobbiton with grass that doesn’t quite belong. Welcome to Germany in the heat! A sign of things to come; Namibia might be easy and organised, but it comes with an increase in cost and officiousness.
We were warned about Namibia’s overly-organised reputation for having to book things yeas in advance – because that is what the Germans do. It’s expensive, prescribed and pre-ordered, and Germans simply don’t just turn up to do things on the hoof. Not only does it appear to be a difficult concept to arrive unplanned, it isn’t welcomed or encouraged. We are however, here out of tourism season. There is some flexibility as most places are almost empty.
From Botswana to Windhoek (Namibia’s capital), the drive is quite special. We went off the main drag, stuck to the dirt roads and accidentally threw ourselves in the direction of Arnhem Cave – the largest cave system in Nambia. It is on a private farm (probably the size of Wales). It being out of tourism season, the gates aren’t manned and the farm was closed for visitors. We went in anyway to see if anyone might show us around. We were out of luck. We left, hoping that somewhere, there was’t an official armed security guy pointing a rifle at us as we did our best to swiftly leave private land.
We arrived in Windhoek just before dark – and just before it rained. We checked out the Cardboard Box back packers and sadly, it would have been like dossing in an unfortunate frat house. We were showed the rooms and without even sitting on the beds to check their springiness, all three of us were mentally (and physically) itching in the stained and sticky aura. We had a beer in the rain outside and left looking for a slightly more appropriate spot.
We found another extremely organised and highly “securitised” Hobbiton. This time, it was on German steroids. We were oddly baffled and confused by the luxury camping arrangement at Arrebusch. We thought we’d paid for luxury camping – i.e. a tent to walk into in the rain so we did’t have to pitch our own at night after a meal in the restaurant. Oddly, we found our own personal shower block, a huge area to park Penelope and two huge, brick storage rooms next to a tiny astro-turf square to pitch our own tent. I’m still confused as to who this caters for. I went back to reception and asked where the tent was…there wasn’t one. I informed them that we’d just use their standard campsite with the public ablutions (which were exactly the same as the luxury ones) Without trying to point out any sexism, the standard site also came with a washing machine and a bath tub in the ladies bathroom. The men can only shower! We might have been nosy, but there were no women on site, so we checked things out thoroughly.
A cul-de-sac of tiny homes that look like extremely well developed, brick-built garden sheds: one was even located smack bang in the middle of the car park; complete with picnic table and BBQ area over-looked by 30 vehicles. The one saving grace was that the restaurant was very good. We were just bemused by the luxury camping option and how all these little bungalows would be appropriate for holiday makers. I think the market was more for executive travellers. It was if Germans had moved into Hobbiton and refurbed all the houses with poured concrete, tin roofs and large parking areas. The main road swung right by the back the camp site and most of the rooms, so naturally, non of us slept very well.
Windhoek itself is mainly an Africaans-speaking version of an unfortunate German suburb. Everything seems new, concrete is everywhere, it’s been quickly built, lacks any architectural aesthetics, it looks drab and dull in all weather conditions and sadly, it just feels terribly chavvy with an air of public-danger that comes with most cities. The amount of new builds and suburban construction was alarming, and corrugated tin roofs seem to be the only method of topping these unexciting and crammed-in dwellings. I guess the only positives I can mention is that the construction is practical and clean. Rather like a giant pensioners-who-can-still-drive-cars retreat. We I can’t wait to get out of town as Namibia is breathtaking.