From camera lenses to sunblock, here’s our guide to your suitcase essentials…
Namibia is a photographer’s dream – particularly at sunrise and sunset. Always have plenty of film or digital storage with you as you’ll be amazed at just how much you use. If you plan to go wildlife watching then a camera with a zoom facility will vastly improve your pictures. If you have a SLR camera then attach a 28-300mm lens and don’t remove it until you are back in your tent or room at night and away from the dust.
The dust on a road trip can get everywhere. It’s a good idea to double protect your gear when not using it. Place everything in a series of plastic zip-up bags (available from most stationers) and then inside a good camera bag.
Andy Rouse is one of the world’s best wildlife photographers and has spent months taking pictures in Namibia. His favourite photographic moment in the country was when he saw a desert rhino with a new born calf. “We had been looking for rhinos for 12 days and had been told that there were 47 in Damaraland. Then we found the 48th. It was a wonderful moment – a new generation of a highly endangered animal.”
Andy Rouse’s Tips for Photography
• Buy a specialised beanbag that fits over your open car window. Rest your camera on this when taking pictures from your car.
• Get a power inverter for your car which allows you to charge your camera when you are away from mains power. Take a spare fuse and leads that allow you to charge from either the car battery or the cigarette lighter.
• Keep movement in the car to a minimum. Animals in Namibia are very skittish. In particular don’t wave your hands outside the window.
• Don’t miss the waterholes at Etosha, particularly at Okaukuejo Camp, they are a mine of activity.
• Don’t drive too close to animals. They will only turn and run.
• Damaraland is fabulous for wildlife photography as the landscapes are spectacular, but join an organised tour – it is very isolated.
You can view Andy’s pictures on his website as well as buy his books and prints. www.andyrouse.co.uk
Namibia’s towns have well stocked chemists and, for a short trip to the country, you only need to carry sunblock, insect repellent, antiseptic wipes, some Anthisan Cream to ease the itching from bites, a couple of sachets of oral rehydration salts, Micropore tape to seal cuts and blisters, iodine tablets to purify water in an emergency, aspirin tablets and any anti-malarial medication you have been advised to take. It will all fit in a small sponge bag.
For a more adventurous trip where you may be a long way from help, consider contacting Nomad Travel for advice on a more comprehensive medical kit. www.nomadtravel.co.uk.
Make sure you have adequate medical insurance for your trip before you leave home. Lonely Planet’s Healthy Travel Africa is a small and useful book that you can carry with you for emergencies.
Camping and cooking kit
Camping is a Namibian pastime and they have some great camping shops. Take along a good quality table and chairs for a longer trip. Few things beat sitting out under the stars at night with a cold beer or wine and talking about your day.
Even if you are not camping you might want to take some cooking equipment for a long and relaxing alfresco lunch. You could always try a Namibian barbeque called a ‘braai’ with ostrich steak or kudu sausages. The Namibians often put a potjie on their camp fire. This is a heavy cauldron-like pot which they use to make fantastic casseroles (simply put the meat in the bottom with some beer or cola and then layer vegetables on top – the ones that need cooking the most go nearest the meat).
• The Bradt Guide to Namibia, by Chris McIntyre, has a lot of good information for a self-drive trip.
• Some Guidebooks contain a short wildlife section but you’ll be itching for more information when you are on game drives. Choose one that has a bird section included. The Wildlife of Southern Africa, by Vincent Carruthers, has a section on plants.
• The Bradt Guide to Africa Overland, by Sian Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons, has an excellent section on driving and recovery techniques.
• Amy Schoeman’s Skeleton Coast has stunning pictures accompanied by engaging text – an inspiring coffee table book.
• Lost World of the Kalahari was written by Laurens van der Post in 1958 after he went in search of the Bushmen. A classic read.
• Safari Companions Namibia, by Alain Pons and Christine Baillet, is published by Evans Mitchell.
• A Drink of Dry Land and Namibia Space, by Chris Marais and Julienne du Toit, are both based on long car journeys through Namibia.
You can download road maps from www.map-of-namibia.com. The site also has a useful chart of the distances between many locations. There are excellent maps available in Namibia itself but if you want to buy a map prior to leaving then the Map Studio’s pocket map is a good choice. It’s available from Stanfords in London. www.stanfords.co.uk. Namibia Tourism also provide maps directly.
Tourism Radio Namibia
“Imagine your rental car is filled with top Namibian guides who will give you history, local anecdotes, and specific details of every attraction within your vehicle’s immediate location,” – that’s what the recently launched Tourism Radio promises. The service uses GPS technology to bring you programmes about the area you are driving through, including landmarks, economics, wildlife and its people. Namibia is the first place in the world where this technology has been used.
First published in Travel Namibia magazine, edition 1