Quirky Namibia

The guessing game is over. In the unlikely event that you haven’t figured it out already, I spent the Christmas and New Years holidays in Namibia.

heather in desert

Me in Namibia on Christmas morning. There was a lot of sand there. (Photo: Michelle Stern)

I was in Namibia for ten days, traveling around by car with my friend Michelle. We visited three major destinations: the beach town of Swakopmund and its surrounding area, Etosha National Park, and the Waterberg Wilderness (plus one night in Windhoek on each end).

These three places were all amazing, but my favorite part of the trip was all the quirky stuff we saw in between destinations. My first official Namibia post is devoted to Namibian quirk. Enjoy.


The first quirky place we visited, on our drive from Windhoek to Swakopmund, was the Henkert Tourist Centre in the small town of Karibib. (We visited lots of small Namibian towns.) There were great local crafts there. I bought a beautiful tiger’s eye necklace for $N64 (about $8) — semiprecious stones are a signature craft in Namibia. But my favorite thing in the shop was this hilarious mannequin in traditional Herero dress.

Okalahoma B&B

Usakos was the next small Namibian town after Karibib. Usakos was a pretty boring place except for this B&B sign, which I had to photograph for obvious reasons.

gem saleslady

Several miles outside Usakos, we came upon a small compound in the middle of the desert with a sign that said “Gem Market”. It looked interesting so we stopped. This is what we found inside. I bought a translucent blue and yellow stone for N$20 ($2.50).

kids at gem factory

Cute kids at the gem market. I loved it there.

beautiful old lady

The matriarch of the gem market.

donkey cart

Donkey cart outside the gem market. Awesome.

michelle and salt

On Christmas morning we took a half-day drive from Swakopmund to the seal colony at Cape Cross. A mile or two south of Cape Cross, there are a bunch of random metal tables along the roadside with blocks of salt on them. Each table has a metal can on it for collecting money. These mysterious unattended salt tables delighted me to no end. I chose a block of salt from the cutest table and put a Namibian dollar coin in the money can. I touched my tongue to the block; it was salty.

salt table

My favorite salt table. After making my purchase, I placed the salt block in the pocket behind the passenger seat of the car and we drove off. I wound up leaving the salt in the seat pocket for the rest of the trip, and forgot to take it with me when I returned the hire car at Windhoek Airport. Oh well. I’m not sure what I would have done with it anyway.


On our way back from the seal colony we stopped to check out this shipwreck outside of Henties Bay. This part of the Namibian coast is known for shipwrecks, which is why it’s called the Skeleton Coast. This ship was already destined to become scrap metal when it got stuck here in 2008. Here’s the story if you’re interested, although it’s not as exciting as I’d hoped. I’ve never seen a shipwreck before though, so it was cool.

desert rest stop

Our longest drive of the trip was between Swakopmund and Etosha. We drove for hours and hours on empty desert roads. It was an exhausting journey but worth it for the things we saw along the way, like this hilarious rest stop between Henties Bay and Uis. We had to stop and stage a photoshoot.

elephant crossing2

This sign is not a joke. Apparently there really are wild desert elephants wandering around this part of the country sometimes. Sadly, we did not see any.

craft shack

We had just stopped to admire the elephant sign outside Uis and weren’t looking to stop again. But then we passed this shack in the middle of nowhere, with two Herero women waving to us and twirling around in their stunning traditional dresses. We couldn’t pass them by.

herero ladies

The women make bracelets and traditional Herero dolls.


I bought a doll. At first I thought I might give it to someone as a gift. But then I decided I love it too much to give away.

chicken schnitzel

When driving from Etosha to the Waterberg, we stopped in a quirky town called Tsumeb. It was a Sunday and the day before New Years Eve, so almost nothing was open. But fortunately the Minen Hotel was open for lunch. Michelle and I both loved it there — good food, great service, lovely atmosphere. If you ever find yourself in Tsumeb, please go there. And have the chicken schnitzel.

garden ornament

Garden ornament at the Minen Hotel. We saw this quirky statue all over Namibia. What’s the deal? Anyone know what it’s about?

crossing collage

A collage of quirky animal crossing signs. I can’t get enough of these.

So ends my tour of quirky Namibia. More Namibia posts to come.

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  • Reply IdealisticRebel January 4, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    What a wonderful trip. Your photos are terrific. I am glad you had such a wonderful experience.

  • Reply eremophila January 4, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Loved the rest stop especially – very typical Oz!

    • Reply 2summers January 5, 2013 at 8:43 am

      I’ll bet! I suppose there are probably many similarities between Namibia and Australia, actually.

  • Reply Eugenia A Parrish January 4, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    My mouth drooled for the stones, and then for the dolls. How on earth do you always get the children to smile? Or is it just natural?

    Sorry, I have to say it: Ever watched Deadliest Catch? Shipwrecks are not cool, although I’ll give you this — no one was on it at the time!

    • Reply 2summers January 5, 2013 at 8:49 am

      Hi Eugenia,

      This is a generalization, obviously, but in my experience children are very quick to smile in Africa, pretty much everywhere I’ve ever been. Especially when you pull out a camera. And especially in a place like this, where foreign visitors are an exciting event.

      You’re very right about shipwrecks — not cool or funny at all! Thank you for calling me out on that. I suppose the cool thing about this shipwreck is that, as you said, it wasn’t really a shipwreck. Just a bunch of scrap metal that strayed from its towing line.

  • Reply Sine January 5, 2013 at 1:30 am

    can’t wait to hear more about your trip. I loved the Waterberg area, which I don’t think most people go visit when in Namibia. I have yet to write any Namibia blog posts although I have an entire diary full, so am interested to hear what you have to say!

    • Reply Fiver January 5, 2013 at 4:41 am

      I have to second this comment. Write more soon. You are inspiring me to drag out my own Namibia stories. I am glad you made it to Tsumeb, my favourite place in all of Namibia.

      • Reply 2summers January 5, 2013 at 8:55 am

        Wow, I wish we’d been able to do more in Tsumeb now!

    • Reply 2summers January 5, 2013 at 8:55 am

      Thanks Sine. Perhaps I will inspire you to pull out that Namibia diary. Hope all is well with you back home!

  • Reply Jennifer Avventura January 5, 2013 at 3:14 am

    I guessed right! Wahoo! Looks like a fantastic trip, love the elephant signs and the ladies selling dolls – happy you stopped! 🙂

  • Reply amelie88 January 5, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Oh my gosh, the animal crossing signs remind me of a picture my cousin took in the Australian Outback during his honeymoon of a camel crossing sign!! I was so intrigued, I did some research–it turns out there really are wild camels running around Australia and it’s apparently one of the only places you can find wild camels since they are traditionally domesticated animals. And your pictures are amazing as usual (sidenote: I’ve actually heard of Swakopmund because that’s where Angelina Jolie gave birth to one of her children!)

    • Reply 2summers January 5, 2013 at 8:59 am

      Haha, yeah, I know that is a major claim to fame for Namibia now. Also, a new Mad Max movie was just filmed there a few months ago. Swakopmund has quite a connection with Hollywood these days!

  • Reply lisa@notesfromafrica January 5, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Looking forward to all your posts on Namibia. We hope to go there later this year.

  • Reply Jaco January 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Love the way you capture oddities Heather!

    • Reply 2summers January 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks Jaco, happy new year.

  • Reply tenneymason January 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Yummm. A block of salt for a dollar.

    • Reply 2summers January 5, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      Right up your alley, Dad. Maybe they make Mrs. Dash, too!

      • Reply tenneymason January 10, 2013 at 9:00 pm

        Mrs. Dash in block form – Sounds like sure moneymaker

  • Reply Tara January 5, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Happy New Year H. I saw that statue of couple in Balalaika hotel Sandton as well.. i loved it and took their photo 🙂

    • Reply 2summers January 5, 2013 at 7:14 pm

      Haha, that’s funny! I guess it’s not unique to Namibia after all.

  • Reply Lesley Donna Williams January 5, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Keep ’em coming; I need to tick the Namibian sand dunes off my bucket list. Is it over-romantic to think it’ll be an amazing New Year’s Eve experience for next year?

    • Reply 2summers January 5, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      I don’t see why not! Namibia is a very romantic place.

  • Reply divyakrishan January 6, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Love the head gear the women are wearing.. also on the doll.. 🙂 would like to sport one going back home 😛 Looks like a great trip!

    • Reply 2summers January 7, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      I know, those hats are awesome.

  • Reply Justcallmegertie January 7, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Wow! I remember doing a trip with my family all the way to Etosha when I was still in school. Fantastic. I would love to go again, have been to Windhoek (with a day trip to Swakop) again, but you need at least 10 days, I think. Beautiful photos!

    • Reply 2summers January 7, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      Yes, Namibia actually requires at least a month to do it right I think. We hardly scratched the surface. I can’t wait to go back.

      • Reply Justcallmegertie January 8, 2013 at 8:24 am

        One of my dreams are to go to the Sossusvlei. And do a balloon ride…one day when I grow up 🙂

  • Reply beeseeker January 7, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    fanatstic, this reminded me of a holiday we were on (a couple of days in cape Town, then on to Namibia). like you we managed to squeeze a whole lot of exploring into a short amount of time … tahnks for re-igniting the memories… and adding your own touches. Enjoyed looking at this one.

    • Reply 2summers January 8, 2013 at 7:51 am

      Thanks, I’m glad the post brought on some good memories for you.

  • Reply giackgiack January 13, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Amazing! You make me want to live and to vist Namibia! P.s. Great pictures! 😀

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