Here, the ocean shores and desert sand dunes are separated by a highway, and tourists feast on whole goat heads and delicious worms
The first sight of Namibia, as the air plane gradually descended from the sky towards the Hosea Kutako International Airport, Windhoek, was parches of sun-baked vast arid land with few sprouts of shrubs. From the sky, one saw some long winding thread-like untarred roads that snaked into the far distance and disappeared. Namibia from the sky looked pristine, untamed and inviting for tourists in need of adventure into the wild.
However, Windhoek, the Namibia capital, was a sharp contrast to the view from the sky. It is a city that oozes law and order. It is not flamboyant, but simply dignifying both in architecture and the carriage of the inhabitants. For a person coming from a highly populated city like Lagos-Nigeria, Windhoek looked like a deserted city.
Even though there are few glitzy five-star hotels, they simply melt into the muted dignifying ambience of the Namibian capital city. The influence of Germany on the city is among the first things one notices. This influence is conspicuous both in the citys architecture, street names and places of worship.
For a country of 2.5 million inhabitants with a landmass of 824,292 square kilometres, Namibia is vast. The population of Lagos, Nigerias commercial capital is almost 10 times the size of Namibia. However, it is important to note that about 81 per cent of Namibia’s land mass is desert. Areas like the Damaraland withTwyfelfontein heritage sites are difficult to inhabit due to the harsh weather conditions.
Namibia is a travel explorer’s haven. It is so rich and diverse in tourism offering, and could take months to fully explore. However, the experience at Swakupmond, the coastal city of Namibia was relishing.
A trip to Swakupmond gives one the opportunity to savour some of the tourism offerings of Namibia.
Swakupmond is one of the most-visited destinations in Namibia. It is by the Atlantic Ocean on the Western coast of the country, about 360 kilometres from Windhoek. By road, it is a journey of less than four hours. Namibian roads are not too wide but well maintained with little or no traffic. But further away from the capital cities, some of the roads are un-tarred.
Travelling from one city to another, it is common to see wild but not dangerous animals like springboks, warthogs, chimpanzees and other animals roaming about unharassed. Farther north towards Damaraland, bigger animals like the elephants are common sights on the dusty untarred road as they search for food and water.
The Swakupmond experience starts while driving into the city. First is the Skeleton Coast, a long stretch of beautiful and clean sandy shore. The express road leading to the Swakupmond runs along the Skeleton Coast. One could see carcasses of abandoned ships and the surging Atlantic Ocean. Although gradually disappearing, pieces of human and animal bones also litter the coast. The area used to be a haven for pirates long ago, we were told.
The Swakupmonds surrounding is a study in contrast. On one side is the vast beautiful ocean shore that stretches from Swakupmond down to Angola. On the other side, separated by the expressway, are the desert sand dunes. Pictures from this part of Namibia are amazing.
Although Swakupmond is predominantly a German town founded in 1892, the natives are also very present. Very conspicuous are the traditional Himba women and their attire. They are quite easy to recognise. The Himbas are a semi-nomadic tribe mostly found in Northern Namibia. Their distinctive feature, especially the women, is the red ochre body paints, and they also use the red paints to cover their hairs. Most Himba women in Swakupmond adorn themselves with heavy jewellery targeting tourists who may want to take pictures with them. This is a form of business as they make money posing for pictures with tourists and selling beautiful handmade crafts.
Deserts may sound austere, harsh and unforgiving, but they are beautiful to behold and visit with sand dunes that form mini mountains. There are beautiful sand dunes on the outskirts of Swakupmond. It is one of the most-visits while touring the area.
For those that love culinary adventure, Swakupmond traditional African restaurants offer the opportunity to taste the delicacies of this Southern African region. For an African, the food may look a little different by virtue of the preparation method but basically normal African delicacies made up of carbohydrates, vegetables and meat. However, two delicacies on offer in most African traditional restaurants in Swakupmond are the Mopane worms and Smiley goat head.
Mopane worms are caterpillars of the emperor moths common to Southern Africa. They are prepared with African spices and served either in clay or wooden bowls. It is kind of fried and tastes a little strong but easily chewable.
Smiley is a goat head delicacy, but unlike in some other parts of Africa where they are cut in pieces before being cooked and served, the Smiley goat head in Namibia is served whole after being cooked to tender softness. For those from West Africa where chili pepper goes with such delicacies, it would not be wrong to ask for chili sauce.
Swakupmond has a healthy nightlife and large shopping malls. It is more urban in terms of facilities than places like Damaraland in the north, but both the quality of hospitality facilities and leisure options can keep one in the city for as long as one wants without getting bored.
The allure of this part of Namibia makes one yearn for a return visit.Saturday Sun Travel Nuggets. Ten things to do before going on an international trip
1. Arrange your travel documents (passport, visa) that you need for the trip.
2. Learn about the destination before travelling.
3. Always book your hotel ahead before travelling.
4. Make sure you have enough money for your trip to cover hotel, food, transport and miscellaneous expenses.
5. To avoid waste, research about hotel accommodation. Use online booking platforms like www.booking.com, www.agoda.com to get the best deals.
6. Book all the major things you need to do in advance. It saves money.
7. Pack properly, noting items to check in and those that can go with hand luggage.
8. Always make sure your keep your passport safe and handy while in a foreign country
9. Be at the airport at least one hour before the airlines check in counter opens so that you can act quickly if there is need for any adjustment.
10. Be very conscious of your safety and dont collect any item from strangers. Cross-check all items you didnt pack. Trust nobody.
Source : Sun News Online