Arriving in Windhoek, Namibia

Windhoek airport is deserted when we arrive. Besides our airplane we only see an Air Namibia jet and a small propeller plane. Although all immigration boths are “on service” the formalities take time – welcome to Africa. It’s our first trip to this continent and we have to get used to the TIA (“this is Africa…”, shrug) feeling.

We’re supposed to get picked up by a Bushlore agent (the car rental company), but there’s no one waiting for us. To be frank, we halve expected that. So, after a while we call them, they call back and another 30min later the agent arrives. We’re not quite sure which of the various excuses are in fact true.

The agent drives us to the Okavango guest house where we’ll pick up our Land Rover and where we’ll spend the first night. The first impression matches the image we got by looking at their website. Everything is nice, neat and clean. Of course, it’s cold to use the outdoor pool. After all it’s winter in Africa. Our room is also cold; too cold to feel comfortable and the air condition/heater is only able to produce cold air. We’re happy about the extra blankets in the closet.

At the guest house we also meet the other Swiss couple who booked the same self-drive safari tour as we did. We’re immediately taken to Thomas and Sandra, they seem very nice and considerate and are only a few years older than we are. We’re relieved! It’s the first time we ever booked a guided tour. No knowing the guides and the other folks did bother us slightly and we just hoped to meet likable people.

Sandra and Akiko chat and enjoy the last warming rays of sunshine as the sun sets
Sandra and Akiko chat and enjoy the last warming rays of sunshine as the sun sets. Yes, the light is intense in Africa.

Then we finally take over our Land Rovers from the agent. He seems somewhat in a hurry and we’re a bit overwhelmed by all the new impressions. We make a crucial mistake. Since both Land Rovers are apparently exactly alike (according to the agent) he only shows and explains to us the camping equipment in one care exemplarily. That way for example we don’t notice that on one car the extension for the roof-top tent ladder doesn’t fit the ladder. Ouchh… However, we’re surprised how “complete” the camping equipment is. There’s even a first-aid kit that seems reasonably well equipped. Despite the tiredness, we couldn’t sleep on the night flight from Europe to Namibia, we’re full of beans. The anticipation is huge.

After 5pm a Kuoni (tour operator) representative stops by and apologizes for the troubles we had with the Bushlore agent at the airport. Also, he brings more documents and brochures with information about Namibia. Most of it is a copy of what we’ve already got. Despite that, we think it’s a nice touch that he came by to make sure the guests got to their accommodation safely.

Finally, we also meet the guides that Kuoni hired for this tour: Stefan & Marga from Germany and South Africa respectively. They run their own little travel agency Active-Reisen in Germany and they are Africa experts. Also to them we’re taken immediately. We’re totally happy and are convinced that this small party of 6 will function well.

Stefan & Marga take us to Joe’s Beerhouse for dinner. This, however, doesn’t make me too happy as this restaurant/bar is mentioned in every travel book which makes it less appealing for me. Nonetheless, the sun sets close to 6pm, it’s getting really cold and we’re off to the Beerhouse – not knowing that it’s more or less an open-air restaurant. Despite my reservations I’m pleasantly surprised by the Beerhouse. The decoration really is interesting and the food on our neighbor’s plates looks and smells delicious. Pity it doesn’t hold up to it…it certainly doesn’t help that the food gets cold so quickly.

Namibia 2009 photos

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