The last time I was in Namibia was 1987. Back then it was known as South West Africa and I was a conscripted soldier in the South African Defence Force (SADF). I spent about 18 months in Namibia, 3 or 4 of those of in the Caprivi strip and the remaining in Owamboland (Oshakati). Namibia gained independence from South Africa in 1990.
Returning here brings back many memories. I wondered while drinking coffee in Windhoek this afternoon how many people's lives were affected by the South African bush war / Namibian War of Independence (depends on which side you were on). The history is complex, so there's no pointing fingers in any direction, but I did feel a sense of guilt being a guest in a country where I was once the enemy. You can read more about the conflict here;
Windhoek (10 out of 10)
Windhoek is a really beautiful city. It is clean, well developed, and the signs of healthy commerce are everywhere. People are friendly, and the whole place has a sense of balance that I so missed while I was in North Africa. I can highly recommend Namibia as a travel destination, and can only congratulate the Namibian people for having come this far in such a short space of time. If possible, please further support the country by flying Air Namibia. Those little Lear Jet transporters are fast and comfortable. I did the trip from Lusaka, Zambia in one of those. A real pleasure!
My Thorn Nomad bicycle was packed really well, but even so it seems to have been damaged in transit on the flight from Dakar (not Air Namibia I must point out). After assembling the bike today I had to make numerous physical adjustments to get things spinning freely. The bike bag had been ripped and torn, the rear wheel spindle (axle) bent!!!, and so has the rear brake disc. The spindle, even though now skew, still works as it's only function is to keep the rear wheel locked in a place which it seems to be doing OK. The rear disc brake is a precision engineered piece of metal, so I spent a good chunk of time with a felt tip marker tagging the surface area of the disc to mark the areas that needed some bending to get the wheel to spin more or less freely. It's all looking good now, so the bike is ready for tomorrow's departure.
The approximate distance from Windhoek to Cape Town is about 1600km, but could be slightly more depending on the actual road selection. My rough plan is to cycle 100km per day, with perhaps 3 or 4 rest days in between, so I should reach Cape Town in about 3 weeks (7th March). I am at the mercy of the heat, wind and hills, so I might be slightly optimistic in my goals there, but I'll give it my best shot. Overrunning by a few days is also OK. The journey is more important than the destination.
As it turns out, it seems that I'll be wild camping for about half the time, especially in southern Namibia and the North Western Cape of South Africa. My wild days are still not over, I'll need to live dirty and rough for a little while longer.
This is the first time that I'll be cycling on my own. I'm not sure what to expect. Imagine, I have to spend 24 hours every single day with this crazy guy called Dan that thinks his cycling by himself. Go figure :-o