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Published: January 13th 2016
We arrived in Cape Town on December 30th as planned, rented a car to drive out to Highcliffe House, dropped off some of our luggage and had lunch with Jane and Jim. Then off to a late afternoon flight to Windhoek, the Capital of Namibia.
Windhoek is a fairly impressive city (at least from what we saw) quite well developed and with a population of 300,000 would be comparable to a Canadian city such as Halifax in infrastructure and development. We stayed at the Olive Grove quest house and spent New Years eve there. It was a very quiet celebration but we did manage to stay up until Midnight(5 PM Eastern Time), but we're in bed at 12:02 am!!
We picked up our 4X4 and headed out for our "self drive" tour on January 1st. The main highways were very good but, as expected, once we headed towards our first desert lodge, it was primarily gravel roads. It's difficult to imagine that 50 years ago, I cut my teeth driving on the gravel back roads of New Brunswick and how that experience was preparing me for travel in Namibia. Also, driving a big 4x4 truck was similar to my
Uncle Oscar's, "jitney" that he let me drive as a kid when we were haying!! You never know what life is preparing for you!!!
More on our lodge stays in the next blog, but for now, the following will provide some obligatory facts and trivia we learned so far about Namibia:
- The country fought for and won independence in 1990 from South Africa. Before that it was colonized by the Germans which the League of Nations put under South Africa control after the defeat of Germany in WW 1. Before 1990 it was called South West Africa. There is still a significant German influence carried over from the past colonial days.
-- The population is approx. 2.2 million and it has the 2nd lowest population density in the world. It's a big country geographically and I think even New Brunswick would have a higher density.
-- Namibia is still considered a "developing country" , although economically, it has performed the best of any African developing countries.
-- The majority of the population is made up of various tribal communities, each maintaining their own language and culture, although unlike South Africa, Namibia has only one official language, English.
-- Mining is a significant part of the country's economy with Tourism achieving the highest level of growth. It is projected they will become the World's largest producer of Uranium in 2015.
-- It is a Republican form of government although the current President holds both position of "Head of State" and "Head of Government" (unlike France who separates those two powers.
-- The Namib desert(obvious root of the Country's name) represents about 10% of the country's geograpic area. The desert is slightly larger than New Brunswick ( the Namib desert is where we will be spending a few days)
-- If you look at the map, you will see a narrow strip on the North East of Namibia called Caprivi. Apparently the Germans, when they occupied Namibia back in the 19th Century, traded to the British, the Island of Zanzibar (which was part of Germany's Tanzania colony) in exchange for this strategic strip of land. Their plan was to gain access to the Indian Ocean from the Atlantic via the Zambezi river, however, they seemed to have overlooked Victoria Falls (one of the highest waterfall in the World). A lesson in any negotiation is; do your homework!!
-- And most importantly:
-- it is reported that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt chose a small hospital in Namibia to give birth to Shiloh, their 1st born. Therefore the health care must be pretty good(I suspect there might have been some other reasons and I'm unsure that this particular facility would be available to the masses).
-- The Olive Grove Guest House claims that in July 2015, Prince Harry spent a night in room 8, beside our room 7. Apparently they didn't know it at the time so he probably was disguised as a "commoner". Prince Harry must be travelling on the cheap these days, as the Olive Grove certainly wasn't "Royally" luxurious!
When I wrote this at Kulala Desert Lodge the temperature was 49.5 C. It doesn't matter if it's a dry heat or dry cold, +49 C or -49 C is still uncomfortable. When we went to bed last night, the temperature was 36 C, a little like sleeping in a sauna!! Oh well, it highlights the contrast harshness and pleasantness of the African desert!
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