Namibia | Conserving & Preserving

TRAVEL

The raw essence of Namibian sceneries is one that many writers attempt to put into words, and always end up falling short in doing it justice; myself included. But even so, the rising global awareness that speaks to the importance of preserving natural environments & maintaining equilibrium within ecosystems has shifted a deeper appreciation in the direction of the unspoiled habitats of Namibia’s dry-lands.

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Sands of Time | Sossusvlei, Namibia

Never have I been so excited about the nature of a place and the purity it retains. 

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Deadvlei | Over 2000 year old skeletons embedded in a white clay pan
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Many have gone and left their footprints exploring this masterpiece. In time, nature too shall erase their footprints – continuing to shape the masterpiece for generations to come; for we are but mere visitors on the time-line of existence.

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Though a tar road runs cross-country throughout Namibia, a majority of places still remain accessible only by gravel road.

The country’s climate is hot & dry. To maximize vegetation, stored water is often used because the sun shines often and the rain falls rarely.

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This little accommodation was maximized for comfort, but also for preservation.
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The Khoisan tribe, living in tune with mother nature amidst the country’s arid conditions

Wildlife resorts are found across the country, operating both within the public and private sectors.

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Namibia is home to the largest canyon in Africa, the Fish River Canyon, and also to some of the worlds magnificent sunrises and sunsets.

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A primitive beauty, crafted by the force of nature through the hands of time.

Travel Namibia on a budget

TRAVEL

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 & 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 & 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 travelled to & often found this beauty to be hidden amongst website pages of Namibian lodge accommodations mainly advertising to foreigners, Instagram pages of foreign travellers to Namibia, foreign travel agencies & bloggers; all advertising the unspoiled open landscapes of our motherland.

I came to find but a few amongst our own media pages & 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 & representing it with utmost dignity.

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I found Deadvlei & Sossusvlei to be raw artistry & rare sights of nature’s very own primitive masterpieces!

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 & (3) with sceneries so rich, any adventurer would welcome the challenges of minor inconveniences.

Namibia needs no authentication – it needs only to be seen, to be understood.

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Canyon Lodge

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 & save your cents.

  • Adventure & Sightseeing
  • Relaxing
  • Event celebrations & group entertainments
  • Visiting

[2] Account for the 4 indispensable expenses (the rest are optional).

Transport

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 or
  • Own/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 & if possible, avoid night driving.

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Namib desert drive between Sesriem & Sossusvlei

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

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Erindi game drives

Private transport:

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Accommodation

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Namib Desert Lodge

Food

  • 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.

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I found Deadvlei & Sossusvlei to be raw artistry & are sights of nature’s very own primitive masterpieces!

[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  http://www.gondwana-collection.com/about-us/the-gondwana-card/ 

[5] Invest in a Namleisure [Namibia Wildlife Resorts] discount card: they offer a range of discounts for member guests: find out more here  https://www.nwr.com.na/namleisure-cards

[6] Plan expensive activities ahead

  • Get a map, circle all activities you would want to engage in & places you’d want to see (find out: opening & closing hours, entrance fees, etc.)

[7] When flying: travel light, carry a hat & don’t spare the sunscreen!

  • Take a carry-on cabin-sized suitcase & save on checked luggage fees. This will also spare you from waiting at airport baggage carousels upon arrival.

[8] When visiting touristic areas or accommodations, ask about free guest activities/entertainment such as music bands, walking /sightseeing tours & museums. Be ready to wander off on your own, bring your map along!

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Experience Namibia’s nature reserve sanctuaries

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We are home to the largest Canyon in Africa – Fish River Canyon, Namibia

[9] Stick to local products: be it alcoholic beverages or food products (they’re often cheaper than foreign imports)

[10] Be flexible & on a look out for better rates through research (Google it, ask Siri, pick up a phone & inquire).

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Indulge in culture – Khoisan people.

Cut back on unnecessary expenses, spend money on activities that add value to your experiences & follow the trails of beautiful destinations across Namibia on a discount budget.

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Slow down for golden sunsets

 

Poznan, Poland | City Blog

TRAVEL

A question I’ve often found repeatedly directed at foreigners residing in Poznan is; “How do you find it?” And so often I’ve come to find that not only do I give the same response with the change in inquisitors, but I also receive the same answer whenever I extend the same question to other outsiders.

Poznan is a city on the Warta River, in Greater Poland. This city is best known for its renaissance old town and is amongst the largest & oldest in Poland. It has been my home for just over three years now, and O’ so often I’ve answered the above question with “It grows on you”, and this is true.

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I had no previous knowledge of Poland before settling to study in Poznan, let alone the culture or cuisine of the Polish people. The detail I was certain of, which seemed to have given me false confidence concerning geography, was that I could easily locate the country on a map & like most people I had often confused it with Holland [the Netherlands].

Appreciation & understanding of a place, I believe arises from ones views & knowledge of where they come from, as well as knowledge of the place they’re trying to gain an understanding and appreciation for.

Places are uniquely different. Molded by historic influences on culture, economy, architecture and so forth, I’ve often found that society progresses and builds itself to make provision for dominant habits whilst attempting to stay rooted in cultural norms. Certain differences may prove inconvenient, while others may proof beneficial to outsiders.

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Stay long enough in a place and you’ll soon come to see the cracks & imperfections in systems. You will get critical as you get accustomed. On the other hand, I’ve come to realize that the things I most appreciate about living in this city have remained a constant over time.

Poznan is bigger than I’ve explored. In the little corner of the city where I live, which is the Grunwald dzielnica or neighbourhood, silence and lack of disturbances in the neighbourhood is what I’ve come to appreciate the most.

Coming from a country where simply carrying your purse the wrong way or leaving it unattended could have it snatch in the blink of an eye, I’ve quiet grown accustomed to my mother’s constant reminders of holding my purse close to my chest anytime I walked the town. Living in Poznan, I’ve noticed that there are times when chivalry shows up. I’ve come to appreciate this notion the day I unknowingly climbed aboard a tram with an open handbag and had somebody lightly tap on my shoulder and advise me to close my bag. Mind you, I’m on no attempt to paint a perfect picture of this centrally located polish city – as there are things I often observe in Poznan, that are not common where I come from. Second hand public smoking is something one often runs into more often than not. You’re likely to find yourself walking behind someone strolling with a cigarette in hand ahead of you.

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Old Market Square

One thing I can comment on, for both the city I hail from (Windhoek) as well as for Poznan, is the beauty in their sunsets. Now, of course this sunsets are subject to seasonal change – but when the opportunity presents itself and one takes a glance at the horizon from a good point of view, you are bound to find an astonishing sunset that will make you appreciate the dance of colors from lighting produced by sun beams during the summer & autumn seasons.

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Old Market Square

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Plac Wolnosci

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Fredry Street

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Jordan Bridge | Most Biskupa Jordana

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Archcatherdral Basilica of St.Peter & St.Paul

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Lake Malta

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Palma De Majorca, Spain | My First Time in Spain

TRAVEL

 

Having wanted to visit Spain as far back as I can remember, it was an inexplicable coincidence that had Theopo and I both set on visiting Spain during the summer of 2017. We got in touch, made a few decisions and some arrangements and we were on our way to Majorca.

Upon arrival, we’d agreed to wait & meet at the Palma de Mallorca Airport since her flight from Dusseldorf was due to arrive 20 minutes after my flight from Munich had landed.

This arrangement had gone astray as her phone had died and airport WIFI was failing to connect. At first I opted to roam but then came to realise that the Orange Network is used in Spain as well, this discovery was futile as her phone was out of battery.

I opted to wait and hoped I’d spot her out in the passing crowd of arriving passengers as I set besides the luggage collection belts – suitcase in site, painting my nails a deep red as I pondered on all the excitement of having arrived in Mallorca, Spain.

After waiting close to an hour with no communications from her, I started to think that maybe she had found her way to the hotel ahead of me. During several failed attempts to contact her once again, I made a decision that had me on the way to the hotel. Half way from the airport to Hotel Horizonte where we had made our reservation, I receive a call from her asking where I was and that she was still at the airport. I asked the taxi to turn around and upon arrival at the airport, I get a second call informing me she is at the hotel. The roller-coaster of events was tedious, but we finally caught up with each other at Hotel Horizonte just before 10pm.

After checking in and being redirected to our assigned room by Adrianne – the young man who worked reception that night, we encountered the room to have some electrical problems. The time was now approaching midnight and on top of being upset that the hotel failed to pre-check the conditions of the room they’d assigned us before our arrival, we were famished and hoped to grabbed dinner before retiring to bed. Adrianne didn’t seem too sure on how to handle the situation and suggested he could get an electrician to fix the problem. We though that solution to be ridiculous & instead demanded to be reassigned a new room upon our return from dinner.

The hotel we stayed in was centrally located we thus took a 10min walk to the Porto-Pi commercial center and set down in Burger King as most food outlets where closed at this hour. Returning to the hotel, we were assigned a new room which turned out to be quite spacious. We settled in and chatted the night away as we prepared for bed.

My expectations of Spain where somehow challenged. The heat & humidity that met us in Majorca was bearable but discomforting. Waking up to our first full day, it took us all morning to get ready and upon stepping out, the sun was at full peak!

We headed in the direction of the commercial centre in search for snacks and drinks we could carry to the beach. Once we had the items in our possession, we hoped onto the bus and made our way to Cala Major beach in Palma.

The beach was pleasingly breath-taking with its white sand and blue waters! The Spanish were sunbathing to the colour of lobsters and dipping themselves into the waters repeatedly – some in all their naked glory! The level of comfort they have with their bodies is quite commendable. From young to old, women bear breasted or clothed – the heat blazing and waters refreshing, it was divine!

We returned to the hotel and passed the afternoon bathing in the cool waters of the hotel pool. Making friends during the course of this engagement, we arranged to have drinks with our new acquaintances later that evening, as they were scheduled to fly out of Mallorca in the early morning hours.

The evening was rather stimulating as we exchanged talk on career, origins, culture, shared music & dance moves. The night came to an end somewhat abruptly and we parted ways never to meet again!

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¿Cómo no vamos a tomar una selfie | How are we not going to take a selfie?

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Head statue of David | Estatua cabeza de David

 

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View from Hotel Horizonte Terrace

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Risa Capturada | Captured laughter

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llegando de la piscina | Arriving from the pool

 

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The streets leading to Porto-Pi shopping centers | Las calles que llegan a la Galeria de Porto-Pi

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Whilst inside the shopping mall, we encountered a stand with all sorts of delicious snacks

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Dentro de la Galeria de Porto-Pi

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Las calles que nos llevan a la playa Cala Major

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Where else would you rather be when temperatures are so high?

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Colors of the ocean

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Los apartamientos cerca de la playa

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Palmas de Majorca | Palms of Mallorca

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Family sunbathing

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walking the streets after the beach

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El view del Hotel Horizonte de la pisina

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Caminando las calles de Porto-Pi

 

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Listo a salir para la noche

Gdynia, Poland | The Search Behind Seaside Hotel View Accommodations

TRAVEL

An indispensable attraction presented by hotels located on the waterfront is the unobstructed access to a beautiful view of the large bodies of water. As a potential client of such hotels, one can expect common areas to be set out to receive the best view from the edifice. Regarding individual rooms, with buildings having all types of dimensions, you’re most likely to find yourself facing a direction providing a view you may not have anticipated. Even so, there is no guarantee that one will be availed a room with a seaside view, especially when a client fails to specify their preferences in booking details.

With that said, I’d highly recommend you emphasis your preference of a room with a view in the “comment” sections most booking sites provide – this enables the hotel to contact and inform you of the availability status of your request.

A common aspiration most people have when visiting seaside destinations is having or acquiring an accommodation that allows them – if not a direct view, at least easy & quick access to the waterfront or seaside. Most clients who frequent seasides more often than not look forward to these views and this diminishes the circumstances of finding room types with such views unoccupied.

This was the case on our visit to the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel on Gdynia’s waterfront at the end of April 2017.

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parking lot in front of the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Gdynia

As expected, check in starts at 2pm but our arrival was well after 9pm as the train from Poznan to Gdynia took us a good 4 to 5 hours.

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Walk from hotel to waterfront entertainment areas

After checking in & freshening up, a decision was made around 10pm that led to us heading out in search for open food places. The waterfront area is not too complicated to navigate as everything is in walking distance.

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Courtyard by Marriott Hotel bar area

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Courtyard by Marriott Hotel bar area

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Moshi Moshi Sushi located in the Culture & Entertainment center of Gdynia Waterfront

We found ourselves at this chic sushi restaurant the first night. Besides a coffee shop located on the ground floor of the entertainment center, this sushi place was amongst the only open food places we came across. Though bill check out is done at 11pm, we settled here until mid-night. Service was great & the sushi even more so!

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Bank Polski – located just outside the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel

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The docks are located at a 5-10 minute walk from the hotels entrance

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Courtyard by Marriott

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Courtyard by Marriott

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The kitchen area provides a direct sea-view

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Breakfast

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A buffet is laid out at the kitchen area for self selection  | Breakfast at the bar area is possible & encouraged when the kitchen area fills up

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With spacious rooms posing a modern; clean-cut interior design & a gym laid out in the simplest of ways availing the common & necessary equipment  – I can confidently say the stay at the Courtyard by Marriott was fantastic!