In 1995 I visited Namibia with Zimbabwe’s Nationwide Freshwater Angling group. My husband had been chosen to characterize his nation in a match in opposition to Namibia and South Africa. Though the nation had been impartial for 5 years, it had solely been an entire nation for one yr, when the southern port area of Walvis Bay had been handed again to the nation by South Africa.
We flew in to the capital metropolis Windhoek from Harare, touchdown after a two hour flight. Our first shock was the looks of Windhoek. It is a very nicely developed, trendy metropolis, and driving into city from the airport we felt we have been on South Africa’s roads. Many capital cities in Africa are soiled and badly maintained, with roads stuffed with potholes, non-functioning visitors lights and a complete absence of avenue indicators – to not point out horrible drivers, determined beggars and avenue youngsters. Till my go to to Nambia South Africa was the one nation with clear, nicely maintained and orderly cities and cities. That is Namibia’s legacy from that nation, who first occupied Namibia throughout World Struggle I. A short historical past lesson is related at this level.
In the direction of the tip of the 19th century Germany colonized Namibia, giving the nation the moderately unimaginative title of South West Africa. Within the south of the nation, near the South African border, is the strategic port of Walvis Bay, then beneath British management. On the finish of the struggle South Africa administered the nation legally till the tip of the Second World Struggle, when it unilaterally annexed the territory – with out worldwide recognition. In 1966 a vicious guerrilla struggle broke out, lastly ending in 1988 when South Africa agreed to relinquish management of the nation. The struggle did not cease the South Africans from putting in the superb infrastructure in Namibia, which has benefited the nation significantly and remains to be very environment friendly at time of writing.
The Namibian fishing group had supplied to accommodate their Zimbabwean counterparts, so after dropping off our baggage on the varied homes we climbed right into a minibus and went on a tour of Windhoek. The title is an Afrikaans one that means “windy nook”, and it definitely lived as much as its title that day. The streets have been very nicely maintained and clear, and the structure was spectacular. There have been some very trendy buildings, occupied by many South African companies and banks. A stroll across the retailers stuffed the ladies in our little occasion with glee – the cabinets have been stacked with fantastic South African merchandise. It was encouraging to see that the 2 nations had clearly maintained their enterprise hyperlinks, as a result of so typically one hears of African nations being abandoned by earlier colonial or administrative rulers after independence.
The German affect has been maintained, and plenty of buildings and church buildings replicate the perios of German colonization. There are three castles round Windhoek, probably the most well-known of which is known as Alte Feste. This interprets as “Previous Fortress”, and this citadel housed the German occupying forces once they first began constructing Windhoek again in 1890.
After I was rising up in Zimbabwe we heard a lot in regards to the Namibian Struggle of Independence, and the truth that the black Namibians have been combating the white South African military was most likely my first actual understanding of racial battle. The nation was famend as a hotbed of racial intolerance, and we believed that white individuals went there at their peril. Our go to to Namibia proved simply how inaccurate that perspective was. All cultures combined freely and appeared very tolerant of one another – in truth as guests we puzzled what on earth they’d ever had a struggle about. The white Namibians we met had by no means thought-about themselves South African, and none of them had fought within the struggle. Oh, the misconceptions of youth and the ability of the media!
We drove down the central avenue in Windhoek, paradoxically named Robert Mugabe Means. The Namibians confirmed this was to thank the Zimbabwean president for his help in the course of the nation’s struggle of independence. The primary President of Namibia, Sam Nujoma, can also be an in depth private buddy of Mugabe’s. We drove previous the President’s home, a fantastic colonial-style constructing fully surrounded with a fence – a complete distinction to Mugabe whose concern of his individuals is so nice he lives behind a ten foot excessive wall, and closes the street outdoors his home to all visitors at evening between the hours of 6 pm and 6 am.
Within the night we had a braaivleis (South African phrase for a barbecue) on the Namibian group’s supervisor’s home. The next morning, after a hearty breakfast we drove to the coastal city of Swakopmund, the second largest metropolis in Namibia. The street we travelled took us by means of the Namib Desert, and it was a spectacular drive. It is thought-about to be the oldest desert on the planet, with an estimated age of 80 million years. The annual rainfall common is simply 10 mm (0,25 inches), and there is nearly no vegetation. The sands are limitless; an enormous golden expanse stretching in all instructions in direction of the horizon. The distinction between the golden sand and the azure sky was magnificent. Stopping the automobile on the freeway was an unbelievable expertise. We have been the one signal of life, and our minibus and the street have been the one indications of man’s existence. The overwhelming energy of nature was unbelievable, and we felt extremely small and insignificant on this desert.
The world’s largest sand dune is within the Namib Desert. Often called Dune Quantity Seven (I’ve by no means been capable of discern the rationale for this moderately unimaginative title) it’s virtually 390 metres in top (about 1,256 ft). We acquired out of the minibus, and among the extra adventurous amongst us climbed a couple of dunes, however did not get to the highest. Strolling by means of sand is extremely tiring! Dune Quantity Seven is located in a variety of sand dunes situated in a clay space referred to as Sossusvlei. Apparently there have been a couple of events when the rainfall within the space has been ample to fill the vlei pans with water, and the sight this creates is beautiful. The water is a turquoise color, as a result of the clay soils are so dense there may be completely no water filtration. The vlei means there may be some very hardy vegetation round these dunes, and a few native native settlements have sprung up within the space. Essentially the most great side of those dunes is the just about full lack of vacationer growth, which implies the realm is undefiled by man. Travellers are capable of go to the dunes with tour events, however there are not any accommodations and no different vacation conveniences.
After a spectacular 5 hour journey we arrived at Swakopmund. The visible impression of the city is formidable. It appears to seem from the desert like a mirage, and the city is so classically charming that it appears to be a little bit piece of Europe transferred to Africa. Past the city is the Atlantic Ocean, including to the alien, virtually surreal expertise of driving into Swakopmund. The German affect could be very evident right here, and it is not solely restricted to the structure. The German language is extensively spoken in Swakopmund, and the eating places are stuffed with scrumptious Bavarian delicacies and beer. The individuals who name this city residence are an exquisite, eclectic combination of fishermen, safari operators, miners, African peoples and descendents of these early German settlers.
The city has a number of bars, eating places and theatres, and there is even a on line casino. In the course of the years of South Africa’s white minority rule playing was banned, so South Africans typically drove to Swakpomund to indulge of their “behavior” – Swakopmund is near Walvis Bay. Along with the huge sand dunes Swakopmund additionally boasts a number of large salt dunes. A few of the roads alongside the seafront are made from salt, one thing I discovered very arduous to imagine due to their darkish gray color – virtually like tar. My husband dared me to style the street, however I used to be unable to convey myself to strive it! I did be taught that when moist the roads will be treacherous.
The city at dawn and sundown is magnificent, as a result of the setting solar turns the sand dunes a deep shade of purple. The sunshine within the air appears to glow from the reflection off the sand. Due to the icy chilly Atlantic Ocean a mist rolls over the city within the mornings and evenings, giving it a ghostly, ethereal look. The primary day we spent there we have been taken to see a tree referred to as welwitschia mirabilis. Though it by no means grows greater than two metres it has an underground root system of as much as 4 metres. They usually look as if they have been thrown down into the desert to fend for themselves – they lie mournfully on the sand, virtually recoiling from the tough daylight. These crops solely ever bear two leaves, rising in reverse instructions. If certainly one of these leaves dies so does the entire plant. We did not see the oldest specimen, which is greater than 2000 years in age. The crops we noticed have been solely 500 years previous – mere children as compared!
The following morning we went shark fishing alongside one of many seashores. To my shock the seashore was very inhospitable. There have been extra stones and rocks than sand, and the wind blowing in from the Atlantic was icy chilly. I like sea shells, however there was nothing besides fragments on the rocky seashore. Even supposing the solar was shining and we might been very heat throughout breakfast on the town we discovered ourselves wrapping up warmly for the day spent on the seashore. This a part of Namibia is known as The Skeleton Coast, and the title has nothing to do with the outline of the seashores. It dates again a number of hundred years in the past when Portuguese seafarers and spice merchants from the Dutch East India Firm sailed across the Cape to India. Many ships got here to grief alongside the treacherous shores of the Skeleton Coast, victims of the tough Atlantic Ocean, the submerged rocky shoreline and the common fogs and mists. Within the days earlier than man-powered boats, it was doable to get ashore by means of the continual surf, however inconceivable to get again out to sea, except one travelled north for a couple of hundred miles within the scorching, arid desert. Many males died making this trek, and their skeletons have been discovered scattered alongside the shoreline. A number of shipwrecks have been discovered inland, deposited there by the relentless Atlantic waves and the gale-force winds. The lads caught Bronze Sharks, Kob and Rays. All fish have been weighed, tagged and launched. The bronzies have been pretty huge, weighing between 80 and 100 kilograms (between 175 and 220 kilos). Their title derives from their color, and they’re a pretty species.
The following morning we piled again into the minibus and drove again inland to the venue for the worldwide fishing competitors, Hardap Dam. The dam is the biggest in Namibia, with an 865 metre (2,838 foot) dam wall and a floor space of over 25 kilometres (ten sq. miles) – when it is full. The yr we went there was a dreadful drought in Southern Africa, and the Dam was simply 25 % full. The water was additionally probably the most ghastly pea inexperienced color. I could not imagine individuals have been fishing, swimming and waterskiing in and on the water, however Hardap Dam is a well-liked resort and no one appeared to thoughts the color of the water.
Hardap Dam is situated within the semi desert area of Namibia, so there was various hardy vegetation within the area, specifically succulents and aloes. The hen life across the dam was plentiful and various. We have been accommodated in a number of chalets, with entry to the resort’s services just like the restaurant and swimming pool (stuffed with good clear water). We have been there in November, which is mid summer time. The local weather is typical of any desert area; day time temperatures reached 45 levels Celsius (113 levels Fahrenheit), and since we have been up to now inland the wind solely got here up at evening, when the temperature plummeted near zero.
We spent 4 days at Hardap Dam. I used to be the one non-fishing member of the group, so I stayed by the refreshing (and really clear) swimming pool and went on a couple of sport drives. Though the area is semi-desert there’s quite a lot of wild animals, together with ostriches, zebras, warthog, kudu, springbok and oryx. There’s additionally a small inhabitants of black rhinoceros. The anglers spent the day fishing for carp, and it was powerful. Firstly the fishing spots needed to be floor baited to draw the carp and maintain them there till the fishermen have been prepared. We’d put together the bait the evening earlier than in our chalets.
This was a posh operation – a stiff porridge (pap) could be ready from maize meal and completely different flavouring then added. The consistency was crucial, as a result of the subsequent morning the bait was positioned in a agency, arduous ball over a hook, which was then solid from the financial institution into the water. The angler needed to be very cautious that the bait did not fly off throughout casting or disintegrate when it hit the water. The Zimbabwean group struggled to excellent their approach in the course of the apply day, however they’d improved by the second day of the worldwide. The rod is then horizontally balanced on helps whereas the fisherman rushes again to his bait bucket to organize one other rod. As soon as caught the fish have been weighed after which launched. It was very tiring speeding between the water and the financial institution all day within the searing warmth.
Our evenings after we might ready the bait have been nice enjoyable. The Namibian group taught us a sport referred to as Unfold the Virus. Zimbabweans had simply found a moderately potent liquor referred to as sambuca, and we have been intrigued. It wasn’t simply the efficiency of this drink, it was the completely different colors. I assumed (and nonetheless do assume) it tasted actually disgusting. To keep away from consuming it one needed to succeed on the sport. Every participant dipped a forefinger within the sambuca, and a flame was handed from one participant’s finger to the subsequent till somebody stopped the flame or it went out. As a forfeit the participant was made to drink a tot measure of sambuca, after which the sport would begin once more. There is a strict routine to observe if one desires to keep away from consuming the sambuca. Moist the finger within the liquid, take the flame, cross it to the subsequent participant and extinguish the flame by closing the finger within the palm or placing it into the mouth. Nice mirth was attributable to inebriated gamers attempting to mild the flame when the finger had been within the mouth, or attempting to extinguish the finger within the glass of liquor. Flames incessantly lined the desk that evening, and we truly managed to cross the flame between eight of us for 17 rounds earlier than it was lastly extinguished. It took a number of days to get the darkish color of the sambuca off our stained fingers.
Zimbabwe did not win the match, which was no nice shock contemplating not one of the group had ever fished for carp earlier than. We drove again to Windhoek, tanned, relaxed and elated. The next day we boarded the Air Namibia ‘airplane and headed again to our lives in Zimbabwe. One of many air hostesses was a really enticing blonde, and she or he took a shine to our little occasion. Half method by means of the flight my husband took over the bar, and was serving her drinks whereas she sat with us. She was a finalist within the Miss Namibia magnificence pageant, which she subsequently received. She went on to characterize the nation on the Miss Universe magnificence contest, which she additionally received!
There’s way more to Namibia than we noticed on the journey. The legendary Okavango Swamps within the north on the border with Angola are world well-known for his or her wildlife. Shut by is the Caprivi Strip, a slim hall that was particularly demarcated to permit the German colonisers entry to the Zambezi River. These areas are famend for his or her great number of African wildlife, and entice guests from everywhere in the world. There are at the very least 450 completely different animal species. The port city of Walvis Bay is stuffed with nice historic info and references to do with its moderately unorthodox historical past. I imagine the fishing is great there. Elsewhere alongside the coast a colony of seals resides. With a inhabitants of 1,eight million on its 825,000 kilometre (330,000 mile) floor Nambia should absolutely replicate one of many world’s least dense inhabitants figures.
Namibia has been referred to as “The Land God Made In Anger”, a reference to its distinctive and sometimes brutal geography. And certainly the local weather and the panorama are spectacular, stark and intimidating. Nevertheless the great, pleasant angle of the individuals is as putting because the panorama. It is refreshing to see how a rustic as soon as ravaged by a vicious civil struggle can, fifteen years after the tip of battle, be held up as a shining instance of African democracy. Sadly there are only a few nations in that unbelievable continent that may lay declare to this assertion. Which is why Namibia is a really particular place.