Your Next Big Trip

Namibia: The Perfect ‘Bucket List’ Adventure


Namibia- the country of my dreams…

Namibia is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. As a child growing up writing stories on my Windows 95 desktop, the screensaver of the red sand dunes always fascinated me. I spent many hours writing stories about faraway places- some real, some imaginary. For me, these sand dunes fit in the “imaginary” category. So imagine my surprise when I found out there are real sand dunes that look like that in real life! They exist in a country called Namibia and you can even visit them!

At that time they may as well have been in an imaginary land. I had no money to travel, and Namibia seemed so far away and expensive. But I kept the picture of those dunes in my mind for a later date.

Why visit Namibia?

As African countries go, Namibia really has everything. In just a few hours driving you can be in cities modelled on Germany, lonely desert roads with only chameleons for company or watch a lion stalk its prey in Etosha National Park. All of this in a country that’s the same age as me!

Before I ever set foot on the African continent, I spent many evenings scrolling through pictures of the Namib Desert and, in particular, Dead Vlei- the white clay pan that lies at the foot of the Sossusvlei Dunes. I became captivated by it, fixated on it, and knew someday I had to go there.

deadvlei couple

But isn’t Namibia for honeymooners?

Namibia has a reputation as an expensive destination (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie came there for the birth of their baby.) Most of the travellers I met there were much older than me, even those staying in backpacker accommodation. I had always written Namibia off as a destination I would visit when I was older with more money. But when I decided to travel overland from Zambia to Cape Town and only had Nambia in my way, I became hopeful. Travelling for 7 weeks on a budget is not easy, particularly in Africa where tourist infrastructure is usually funded by charging high tourist prices. We had decided to bus it wherever possible which led us to the Intercape. The bus travelled overnight from Livingstone to Cape Town with a compulsory stopover in…Windhoek, Namibia!

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Boarding a 22 hour bus to my dream destination- a surreal moment filled with dread and excitement!

I felt like I had won the lottery when I realised I could get a $40 bus from Livingstone, to Windhoek. I was so excited that I didn’t really think about what I was going to do for the 22 hour journey! We boarded the bus laden down with food and blankets. I smugly noted that the locals were doing the same and felt very organised. About 2 hours into the journey we stopped at the Namibian border. It’s a straightforward process once you realise you have to walk across the border and meet the bus at the other side. However, lots of people didn’t realise this so we spent about an hour at the border until everyone was sorted.

About 4 hours into the journey we stopped for food. Everyone made a dash to the Pick n Pay supermarket. I hurried to follow them when I felt a hand pulling me back. I followed the gaze of my trusty travel companion across the road- my second KFC both of this trip and in my life! While we were happily eating our meal, most of the Pick n Pay people arrived to the KFC queue empty handed and had to rush their food. My advice for any long haul bus- always take the first and fastest food option. These buses do not wait, as 2 of the passengers found out after chasing us down for 5 minutes!

Namibia is all about endless roads and not a person in sight…

The views from the bus were spectacular. The vastness of a country as small as Namibia is hard to comprehend. With a population of 2.1 million, we drove for almost 10 hours without seeing a single person or building.

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The journey itself was not as bad as expected. The bus was comfortable and typical of any coach in Europe or the U.S.A. It didn’t stop very often so limit the amount of fluids you take! The Intercape promises “entertainment promoting the Christian faith.”  In our case it was a film about a man who lost his job. He then befriends a little girl in a park and plays with her every day. Slightly creepy. They played it twice. Bring earphones!

All in all the long journey was worth it to reach a destination I had always dreamed about. Namibia exceeded expectations. At times we felt like we were on Mars, in Europe, in Africa even on the moon. We had to keep reminding ourselves that this is Namibia in all it’s diverse glory. Endless roads, endless beauty. My dream come true.

Wondering what to do in Namibia? The Travelling Chilli has compiled a list of 25 Unique Things to Do in Namibia. I will definitely be back to do the rest!


Namibia bucket list


4 thoughts on “Namibia: The Perfect ‘Bucket List’ Adventure

  1. Clare

    Looks like a great place. Did you backpack around Africa? I want to go to Africa but not sure if I would be best doing a tour?

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      I kind of did the trip in stages. 2 of us stayed with friends in Zambia, took a bus to Livingstone and did Victoria Falls ourselves, then took a bus to Namibia and joined a 3 day tour from there as it was more cost effective than renting a car and doing it ourselves. Then we flew to Cape Town but there’s also a bus. Then we did South Africa by the Baz Bus, flew to Zanzibar and booked our accommodation there through friends we met the last time we visited. I think for safari definitely do a tour, I have done safari around 4 times and always booked on a tour. You can self drive but you miss the expertise of having a guide. We strongly considered joining an overland tour for the whole trip but just found the whole thing a bit rigid and the dates didn’t suit. I think if you break the trip down into chunks then it’s totally doable by yourself and just book tours for the out of the way places! If you have any more questions send them on. I’ve been to Africa 5 times now and love convincing more people to go 🙂

    1. Cliodhna Post author

      Honestly, I must get round to writing more about Namibia. It was so unlike anywhere I had ever been before. Definitely the place to go if you’re looking for something different.