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Arrival

Arrival and First Day

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Welcoming in The Year of the Dog.

Welcoming in The Year of the Dog.

Leaving Hong Kong.

Leaving Hong Kong.

We departed from Hong Kong just a few minutes after the arrival of the Year of the Dog. Probably not the most fortuitous start to a Chinese New Year. The usual firework display across Victoria Harbour had been cancelled out of respect for the nineteen victims of one of Hong Kong's worst ever bus crashes which had occurred six days earlier on February tenth. In addition, my previous four days of teaching at school had been devoid of any children, as all primary school and kindergarten children were urged to stay at home, due to a nasty outbreak of influenza.

Our journey to Namibia was on board Ethiopian Airlines. We would travel for ten hours to Addis Ababa Airport, then change planes for a further five hour journey to Windhoek. This was our first time on Ethiopian Airlines and we found it pretty good. Or at least for someone like me, who really does not like flying, certainly no worse than any other airline. The highlight was the Ethiopian beer - Habesha cold gold - served with each meal. We are developing a taste for African beer.

Peter on board with his Habesha beer.

Peter on board with his Habesha beer.

Addis Ababa Airport is quite small and very busy. It struggles to cope with the number of travellers passing through it. As we took off on the second flight towards Windhoek, we had good views over Addis Ababa, a city we have yet to visit.

Flying over Addis Ababa.

Flying over Addis Ababa.

Flying over Addis Ababa.

Flying over Addis Ababa.

When we arrived in Hosea Kutako International Airport, we were met by a representative of tok tokkie shuttle service. We had pre-booked them to take us to our first hotel, the Hilton in the centre of Windhoek. Namibia is not great on public transport and we were not hiring a car, so had to rely on pre-booked shuttles to get from A to B. Tok tokkie seemed to be pretty reliable.

Windhoek's airport is called after Chief Hosea Kutako. Kutako was born in 1870 and became a founding member of Namibia's first nationalist party, SWANU. During the 1950's and 1960's, Kutako petitioned the United Nations to help end South African rule and help Namibia gain independence.

Getting off the plane in Windhoek.

Getting off the plane in Windhoek.

Hosea Kutako International Airport, Windhoek.

Hosea Kutako International Airport, Windhoek.

Windhoek's International airport is around forty kilometres from the city of Windhoek. The journey from the airport passed through a lot of greenery and distant hills. Our driver told us they had been having quite a bit of rain in recent days, so I'm not sure if it is always so green. The driver was pleased about the rain, as he told us he kept a herd of cattle and, of course, needed the rain for their grass.

On the journey from the airport.

On the journey from the airport.

By the time we reached the Hilton Hotel we were extremely tired, but our check in did not go at all smoothly. The girl who checked us in simply gave us a room key, but no information. We pointed out that our two night stay came with dinner and breakfast and asked for details. She claimed it was room only. This led to a bit of a fight, ending only when the receptionist admitted our deal possibly included dinner but refusing to accept it included breakfast. She promised she would double check everything for us, but of course, she did not, so, despite our tiredness, we had to contact the headquarters of the Hilton group in the U.S. ourselves with a complaint and they, fortunately, got back to us quite quickly telling us our deal included two dinners and two breakfasts. We returned to the reception with the reply we had received and breakfast was added to our reservation, but we still could not get any information about where we could eat dinner or what we were entitled to. Not the best of starts. Feeling a bit stressed we took ourselves off to the Hilton's rooftop pool for a calming swim.

Our Room.

Our Room.

View from Our Window.

View from Our Window.

Calming down in the pool.

Calming down in the pool.

At the roof top pool.

At the roof top pool.

View over Windhoek from the pool.

View over Windhoek from the pool.

That night we ate in the hotel's Ekipa Restaurant where we had no problem convincing them our dinner was included in our deal. We tried a local Namibian food buffet. We had not realised by this stage that the hotel was not so good at keeping things hot on a buffet. Still service in the restaurant was really friendly, unlike at the hotel's reception. Most of the food was quite ordinary: chicken, hake, vegetables, spinach. However, I was brave enough to try the mopane worms. These are not actually worms; they are caterpillars of a kind of emperor moth known as Gonimbrasia Belina. Apparently they are highly nutritious. For some reason I expected them to be crispy and crunchy, but they were not. When I bit into one, the soft squishy insides shot into my mouth. I cannot say I enjoyed this experience very much and I certainly won't be repeating it. Yeuk!!! Thank goodness we had lots of beer to wash the food down with. I was on the Hansa draft and the bottled Tafel lager. Both were excellent.

We are getting on a bit age wise, truth be told, and we made no attempt to see Windhoek on our arrival day. We left it till the next day when we would have had a chance to recover from our long journey to Africa. I must say our room at the Hilton was very quiet, peaceful and comfortable and we slept really well here.

Me eating a mopane worm.

Me eating a mopane worm.

Mopane worms on the buffet next to some sort of gizzard dish.

Mopane worms on the buffet next to some sort of gizzard dish.

A more sensible diner he stuck to the chicken and the fish.

A more sensible diner he stuck to the chicken and the fish.

Posted by irenevt 00:41 Archived in Namibia Tagged desert namibia seals

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Comments

You were brave to try the mopane worms! I didn't get the chance when we visited Namibia and wasn't sure whether to regret that I missed out on the opportunity or not. Like you I assumed they would be crunchy and having read your description I think I'm now quite glad I didn't get to try them ;)

A shame about the mix-up at the hotel but that roof top pool looks a lovely place to unwind after the journey. We're off to Botswana in July and meanwhile I look forward to following this blog to remind me of the joys of southern Africa!

by ToonSarah

Ha ha, believe me, you were wise to pass up on the mopane worms. We really liked Namibia, though we don't drive so only got to see a small part of it. Plus we were only there for a week. Enjoy Botswana, I'm sure it will be fantastic. I'm hoping our next trip to Africa will be Zambia, but we'll have to wait and see.

by irenevt

We drove ourselves around Namibia - it was OK, as long as you take it slowly on the gravel roads. Chris did spin the car once, which was scary, but luckily we didn't tip over!

by ToonSarah

I'm sure driving is the best way to see the country as sights are far apart from each other and there is limited public transport.

by irenevt

I think I would have joined your husband in his dinner choice. Worms do not sound at all appealing. You are very brave!

by Beausoleil

Ha ha. Probably not so much brave as just stupid. I don't think I'll be trying them again.

by irenevt

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