Pros: amazing desert landscapes and scenery; interesting mix of African and German influence; lots of adventure sports options.
Cons: long distances; the sand gets everywhere.
Namibia is vast. Once I got out of the Windhoek capital area on the 450+ km drive to beach, there were barely any people or cars on the road, and nothing but mountains and barren landscapes dotted with small industrial mining towns. (Uranium is mined in the towns I passed on my drive; the diamond mining areas in the south have restricted access.) With 1.8M people (about 600K more than Swaziland, and more than 15x Swaz’ size) and the huge, barely inhabitable Namib desert, it’s the least dense country in Africa in terms of population.
So far I’ve spent most of my time playing in the sand dunes around the beach town of Swakopmund. On Thursday I went quad-biking (motorized mini 4x4ing), and yesterday I tried sand-boarding (like snowboarding, but impossible). I took a couple of face plants and have spent the last 18 hours finding sand in all corners (shoes, hair, ears, pockets, nostrils, etc.).
Swakopmund is a tourist town, and there’s a strong German feel here in the architecture, restaurants and braushouses, and language. You’re more likely to here German being spoken than English, Afrikaans, or any of the 50+ tribal languages within the country.
This country’s too big to see in a week, and I’ve decided to head south and push further into the desert than to drive to the game parks in the north. I’ll head out from Swakopmund later today for Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert, and look forward to some hikes in the dunes tomorrow and Monday.