Namibia, in the nama language, means vast dry plain. It’s a nation almost three times the size of Italy, but with just 2.5 million inhabitants. It’s an amazing place that gave us the feeling of having arrived on another planet.

Huge savannahs that stretch as far as the eye can see, desert areas with immense red dunes, wild coasts overlooking the Atlantic, lush river ecosystems and fiery sunsets make this southern African country magical. And you can meet many animals on the road, as well as in the parks: antelopes, mongooses, zebras, giraffes, elephants, lions …

Camping under a huge starry sky gave us some of the most beautiful emotions we tried during this adventure, which however was anything but simple. Roads are mostly rough tracks with a lot of sand and long stretches of tòle ondulée, there is a large temperature range between day and night, and also facing the reality of villages and townships is a strong experience.

In Namibia, as in the rest of Africa, most of the population lives in great poverty. During our journey we tried to document how bikes can improve the quality of their lifes. Those who live in villages away from paved roads and cities, those who could hardly reach school, work place or hospital on foot, can do so thanks to bicycles. We also tried to bring concrete help by launching a crowd-funding to donate some bicycles to the local Association Bicycle Empowerment Network.

Now we are working on the post-production of the documentary of this journey. In the meantime, you can read our travel tips here below.

TRAVEL TIPS

Namibia gave us so much beauty that it’s impossible to summarise in a few lines. Below we list some of the experiences we liked the most (ordered following our itinerary) and some practical tips, if you want to cycle Namibia too.

  • Visit Sassousvlei and climb Big Daddy
  • Best apple pie of southern Africa in Solitaire (here you can camp as well).
  • A boat tour to see the seals (and if you are lucky the whales) in Walvis Bay.
  • The (paved!) Road between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, where the dunes plunge into the sea.
  • Immerse yourself in the German atmosphere of Swakopmund and taste a traditional German dish at Brauhaus Restaurant.
  • Camp in the middle of the rocks at the Spitzkoppe Community Campsite.
  • Camp at Brandeberg White Lady Lodge to see if deserts elephants come to wake you up.
  • Sunset safari with aperitif at Etosha National Park.
  • Visit the Cheeta Conservation Fund (Otjiwarongo).
  • Get off the tourist tracks and visit a township, to see how Namibians really live: Katutura in Windhoek and/or the Democratic Resettlemet Community in Swakopmund. Warning: without a local guide it could be dangerous! Contact Daniela of Happydu Onlus in Swakopmund.
  • Street food: there are many tasty and very cheap things… but you can’t miss the Mopane worms in the north of Namibia.

PRACTICAL TIPS

  • Namibia is in the southern hemisphere: if you travel during our summer, it’s winter there. During the day it’s hot, but at night it’s freezing cold. Bring appropriate clothing, generally B&B have no heating, and restaurants are almost all outdoors! The further north you go, the warmer it gets.
  • Roads are really bad, we have used 42 knobby tires on our gravel bikes Specialized Diverge. Also consider to use a MTB.
  • Bring a tent with you: distances are huge, in case you don’t make it to a city, a campsite or a lodge, you will always have plan B at hand.
  • Free camping is very easy, but campsites are beautiful, well organized and cheap. This is also a good solution for those traveling by car, as many rent 4x4s with a roof tent. A capsite we loved a lot is Madisa Camp.
  • Bring lots of water and cocoa butter with you, the climate is very dry!
  • Animals: you will meet many antelopes, some zebras and giraffes, if you are lucky even some elephants … But the big cats are all inside the parks. Beware of snakes.
  • You can pay almost everywhere with your credit card and in the cyties there are many ATMs, it’s not worth carrying a lot of cash.
  • We reccomend you to stay at Casa Piccolo in Windhoek, i’ts a very nice place and they are very friendly: they stored for free our travel bike bags in a safe place while we were cycling.