Namibia

Despite a rocky history that led to a 22-year war of independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibia has turned into a bit of an African success story. Things aren't perfect by a long stretch given the level of poverty and the fairly high rate of HIV/AIDS infection, but compared to others in the region, things aren't doing too badly. The country enjoys a fairly open government and wide freedom of the press, and conservation and infrastructure, while not foremost on the minds of the policy makers, do get a fair bit of attention. All this plus the fact that tourism is a main money maker means Namibia provides the near-perfect answer for those who are looking for a travel destination with lots to see and do that is easy enough to navigate, but challenging enough to turn into a few interesting stories along the way. Most visitors will start in the capital city of Windhoek, if not for its attractions then to ensure all of their money and business is taken care of before heading for locales afar. One stop most people won't want to miss is Walvis Bay, the country's second largest city. The city's location, perched on a harbour coastline on one side and on the edge of the Namib Desert on the other, makes it the perfect spot for adventure tours of all kinds and plenty of desert action. A real highlight as well is Twyfelfontein, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts one of the largest concentrations of rock carvings on the entire continent. Other draws, of course, are any and all of the country's national parks, many of which offer up stunning desert scenery and more than just a little interesting wildlife. The bottom line is that a trip to Namibia is well worth it, no matter how you look at it. There are, of course, caveats. As mentioned above, poverty and HIV/AIDS are serious issues, so visitors are advised to watch out for crime and to use common sense when it comes to participating in any activities that will bring them into contact with bodily fluids. ~ WBB Staff Writer


Namibia's Ghost

Endless Namibian skiesIt may have been because I was living in Hanoi and missed the hype, but to me the scariest film I've ever seen is the Blair Witch project. I know people who were bored by it, but I think it depends on whether you've ever camped in the woods. I grew up doing just that, trading ghost stories around campfires, and that's why the film rang true for me. It's what you can't see that really chills you to the bone, when the imagination runs riot.

A few years ago, while driving across Namibia, following roads on which you would be lucky to see one other car in an hour, I stopped at an Afrikaaner's farm near the Fish River Canyon, which had been recommended to me. It was close to the gravel road - and by 'close' I mean only twenty or thirty miles - and when I arrived I found that the farmer was away in town for a few days. His wife was there, however, and suggested that she drive me to the bottom of the canyon where I could camp and walk back the next day. We drove ten miles further into the wilderness down a rocky track that she told me had been built by German soldiers during the war, and that sometimes you could still hear them in the canyon still. Then, with a friendly warning to beware of the leopards and a promise to send a search party if I wasn’t back before noon the next day, she was gone.

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 Full name: Republic of Namibia

 Population: 2.165 million (CIA, 2012)

 Capital: Windhoek

 Largest city: Windhoek

 Area: 824,292 sq.km. (318,261 sq. mi.)

 Major languages: English, Afrikaans,  German, Other

 Major religions: Christian, Indigenous Beliefs

 Monetary unit: Namibian Dollar

 GDP per capita: US $7,300

 Internet domain: .na

 International dialling code: +264

 Source: CIA World Factbook