Had I been asked to compile a bucket list before my wanderlust years kicked-in, Namibia would not have been anywhere near the top of my list. Exploring home had always been at the back of my mind, but never had I sat down to draw up a plan of action or considered extending surplus funds on such travels.
It took me far and long explorations of foreign lands to draw my interest back home. It took comments such as “You come from such a beautiful country, have you visited the Fish River Canyon?” “What attractions are unique to your country?” “My wife & I are planning to visit Namibia, what would you consider top-of-the-list places to see?”
I neither saw the haste nor the glam in exploring a country indigenous to me, it did not appear as exotic as other faraway lands that were so lavishly highlighted in tourism geography and mass media markets.
With time, I grew curious as to what this beauty could be that it was so highly anticipated by outsiders. I then took to the internet to see places I hadn’t traveled to and often found this beauty to be hidden among website pages of Namibian lodge accommodations mainly advertising to foreigners, Instagram pages of foreign travelers to Namibia, foreign travel agencies and bloggers; all advertising the unspoiled open landscapes of our motherland. I came to find but a few among our own media pages and realised that;
I, along with so many other Namibians lack the culture of getting excited about our own spaces – about drawing people to what is ours and representing it with utmost dignity.
In the summer of 2017 I relived a few truths about my country;
(1) Not even the heat can keep us indoors, (2) a majority of the country remains accessible only by gravel road and (3) with scenery so rich, any adventurer would welcome the challenges of minor inconveniences.
Namibia needs no authentication – it needs only to be seen, to be understood.
Listed below are 10 budget friendly hacks to take any aspiring adventurer across Namibia, on a discount.
1.Identify the kind of travel you want to do; so you may know where to allocate your hard earned cash and save your cents.
- Adventure & Sightseeing
- Event celebrations & group entertainments
2. Account for the 4 indispensable expenses (the rest are optional)
- Public transport is close to non-existent in Namibia, so if your destination is off the tarred roads you’ll have 2 options:
- Join a group tour
- Own or hire a 4×4 vehicle conducive for the gravel roads ahead.
- This is highly dependent on the area you’re visiting
- Learn how to change a tire and if possible, avoid night driving.
- Public transport
- Book your trip during off-seasons & buy a return ticket if possible. http://www.intercape.co.za
- Contact travel agencies & tourist offices for promotional discounts on group tours
- Private transport:
- Travel in a group to share costs.
- Get a good road map of Namibia. Free and downloadable here. Otherwise, visit tourism offices to collect one.
- Camping (best done in groups, in safe and authorized areas); Desert Camp/ Desert Quiver Camp
- Travel overnight (when distance is long, opt for a night in sleeper coach buses); Intercape
- Book accommodation during off-season. Most of these accommodations are lodges and they’re usually in the middle of nowhere. Gondwana | NWR | Game Lodge Namibia
- Ask tourism offices for promotional discounts or contact accommodations directly.
- Consider investing in or renting a caravan or a campervan
- Bring your own food (inexpensive & healthy snacks will get you through any trip until a decent meal comes along)
- Avoid restaurants near major tourist attraction sites (they may be a little pricey)
- You don’t always have to eat at your place of accommodation – head for the supermarkets
- Backup funds – emergency cash is highly recommended, as ATMs occasionally are out of order & not every shop accepts electronic payments.
3. Seek out vacation packages & promotions
- All-inclusive packages usually include: transport, accommodation & on-sight activities. Some packages may include food & drinks from your place of accommodations.
4. Invest in a “Gondwana Collections” discount card: they offer discounts on food & accommodations. Find out more here.
5. Invest in a Namleisure [Namibia Wildlife Resorts] discount card: they offer a range of discounts for member guests: Find out more here.
5. Plan expensive activities ahead
- Get a map, circle all activities you would want to engage in and places you’d want to see (find out about the opening and closing hours, entrance fees, etc.)
6. When flying: travel light, carry a hat and don’t spare the sunscreen!
- Take a carry-on cabin-sized suitcase and save on checked luggage fees. This will also spare you from waiting at airport baggage carousels upon arrival.
7. When visiting touristic areas or accommodations, ask about free guest activities/entertainment such as music bands, walking /sightseeing tours and museums. Be ready to wander off on your own, bring your map along!
8. Stick to local products: be it alcoholic beverages or food products (they’re often cheaper than foreign imports)
9. Be flexible and on a look out for better rates through research (Google it, ask Siri, pick up a phone and inquire).
10. Cut back on unnecessary expenses, spend money on activities that add value to your experiences and follow the trails of beautiful destinations across Namibia on a discount budget.
Check out Memory’s blog for more of her travel diary: