Category: Namibi, 2015

Arrival in Namibia

Tuesday, April 21.  We had drinks and something to eat at the modern and comfortable Intercontinental Hotel, a quick walk from the airport, with Nevada, Kathy and Erika last evening.  Went up to bed early, but neitherCarol nor I slept very well, but at least had a long rest.

After breakfast at the hotel, our Santa Fe (Nevada is based in Santa Fe) travel agent, Jean Zunkel, arranged for us to be met by a fellow named Freedom, who showed us from our hotel across to the airport and got us checked in.  Actually, Freedom was to have met us at the Joburg airport yesterday, but did not, demonstrating to us, metaphorically, the long and arduous path to finding freedom.

Carol and I have become great buddies with Jean, who is helping us on three other future trips.  So, if you’re looking for a super-responsive and experienced travel agent with a sense of humor, consider this a shout out to Jean (  Jean is also responsible for the excellent itinerary descriptions that I’m going to steal liberally from in this blog.

Our 9:30 flight for Windhoek’s International Hosea Kutako Airport, 40 km outside of Windhoek was a short (especially after yesterday’s travel) two hours.  On arrival, we are picked up by one of our guides, Stuart, and transferred to the lovely Galton House Guesthouse, with a short city tour of Windhoek en route. Those of us in the group occupy the entire guest house.  For lunch, they make the six of us who are there a very nice chicken salad.  In addition to Erika and Kathy, there’s Jeff a retired doctor, originally from South Africa, but now living in Santa Barbara, California, and Bob, a urologist who lives in Gainesville, Florida.

Windhoek, Namibia’s capital and largest city (300,000) nestles among rolling hills, bounded by the Eros Mountains to the east, the Auas Mountains to the south and the Khomas Hochland in the west. It is a meeting place between Africa and Europe, the modern and the old. In the capital’s main streets, well-preserved German colonial buildings are in sharp contrast with modern architectural styles, while Herero women in their traditional Victorian dresses mingle with executives dressed in the latest fashions.

We have a very relaxed day at the gust house, since there does not appear to be much to see in Windhoek.  We try to get back on schedule by napping a bit.

We meet for a debriefing by Terry, our main guide, who spreads a map of Namibia on a table and traces our trip for us, telling us briefly about each spot we’ll visit.  By a happy coincidence, Terry is an avid birder and bird photographer.  The trip all sounds incredible, and makes us even more excited about what we’re about to experience. Namibia is twice the size of California, but has a population of only two million people.  Terry tells us that the risks of malaria are extremely small, so Erika and I both jump on the chance to stop taking it, since it upsets our stomachs.  Carol has not yet decided what she’ll do.

After the debriefing we move to dinner, now joined by Nevada and our other two travel companions, Melissa, from San Francisco, and Dayton, a doctor, also from the San Francisco area, with whom I travelled to Guizhou a few years ago with Nevada.  It seems a most genial group, and dinner is a lot of fun.  We drink  the two bottles of wine that Freedom gave us to apologize for not being at the Joburg airport to greet us, which we dub “Freedom Wine”.

On the interior flights in Namibia, we are strictly limited on type (no hard luggage or wheels) and weight, about 44 pounds.  So, after dinner, I repack, so as to take only enough for the next couple days, leaving my heavy Nikon in a small case with wheels and most of my other things in a large duffle, which will be brought up to us by truck in a couple days.  

We retire early, excited about the real beginning of our trip tomorrow.  Expect photographs.

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