I am at the Oshikango border gate at 7:00 in the morning. I come to the office when the officers come in and start to work. According to the information at the site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all Turkish citizens are exempted from visa. In a few minutes I pass the border, find a minibus, go to the nearest settlement to the Etosha National Park, spend the night there, enter the park the next day… I think, but it is not … Of course, the officer says I need the visa. “No, no.” “Yes.” “No, I checked before I came.” “I can not let you go.” “I do not need the visa.” The manager calls Elizabeth after a long period of assertion. They are investigating, discussing, making phone calls. The answer does not change. “You need to go back to Angola. Find it on the visa application and come back again.” I say ” I do not go to Angola because the visa has expired.” Houston, we have a problem! “I do not need the visa, but if you insist (and I do not want to stay in the dark) I want to pay for the visa here.” “We do not have visa payment at the door.” Ups! I can not go to Namibia, I can not go to Angola. I stucked between two countries. I live on the border until the end of my life. I build a tent, I put a flag on it, I declare it my own republic. Growing lettuce and a goat is enough.
It’s almost noon. They are taking me to their offices and trying to persuade the docs that the system on the computer shows nothing. They say that Turkey has no name on the list of visa-free countries, and the electronic system does not allow it. I remember the website of Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I use Elizabeth’s computer and open the page on visa applications. Unfortunately, there is no English. I copy the paragraph about the Namibia visa, paste it into Google Translate and translate it. After debating on this translation for about 1 hour, finally Elizabeth’s women’s sensitivity comes forward, persuades her colleague and tells me they can only give me a 10-day visa. “It is not enough ten days for this beautiful country, give me fifteen” and I am doing a cross-border negotiation, because I am right because their practices are wrong. 30 days without a visa, I have the right to stay in the country. The passport shoots a fifteen-day seal. Elizabeth does not neglect to put me on the right side of a hatch. Then I get asked constantly my situation is right.
After a couple of days I will call Turkish Embassy of Windhoek and tell the situation so that someone else can do the same. They are reporting no problems at the airport. Of course, very few people switch from Angola to Namibia via land. I was mistakenly practiced in Oshikango because it was not the computer system center in the gates in Namibia. As a case example, the photo of the seal on the passport is required. I am confident that our embassy will attempt to solve the problem soon.
There are no public transport on the border, only taxis. I go to Tsumeb and stay there one night. The only way to reach Etosha National Park is by private vehicles. I agree with a taxi. He comes in the morning and picks me up. There are 3 other man on the vehicle. One is the driver, the other is the driver’s brother, the other is his friends. “Why are you three people here?” I ask. Big brother “I accompany my brother, I’ll drive the car to return,” says. Okay, it makes sense for you. I ask the other: “There is no job.” “Search a job instead of you’ll waste time here,” I say. He is just laughing, no intention to work. We come to the main entrance of the park. You are asked if you have any reservation at any hotel in the park. I do not have a reservation. “Do you have a car?” “No.” “You can not go in.” Last two days I know how many times I’ve heard this word. There are dozens of campers in the park. I will go to the first camp and stay there. The officer is calling his supervisor. A serious lady comes up short, chubby, chunky, with glasses, middle-aged. Oh no! “You do not have a car, how are you going to get inside?” “The taxi will leave me to a hotel. I will attend safari tours in the hotel.” “You do not have any hotel reservations.” “I will do it when I get inside.” “Do you have a car.? “I do not have a car.” “Very dangerous, lots of wild animals.” “Yes I know, I will not walk in the field.” “No! All the hotels are full.” “How do you know?” “I know, South Africans came and filled all the hotels. Fully booked!” “It’s not possible.” “Fully booked! There are two hotels outside the park, go and stay there, they are cheaper!” Very stubborn! I go to the two hotels about 200 meters away and ask for the prices. Very expensive. The receptionist from the hostel calls the Nomutani Lodge inside the park and asks about the room and the price. There is empty room and the price is more affordable. We go back to the door. I’m telling her. “No, you can not go in!” Dear God, please give me patience. She’s talking on the phone. She speaks English while she speaks. I just know she said “big risk, big risk.” She thinks I will hitchhike on the roads because I do not have a car, or I will walk around by myself in the rure and wild area. I m not sure if she’s worried about losing her job or if she’s worried I bait for lions. Etosha is one of the park where the wild animal community is the busiest and walk around free. The facilities in this type of park are fenced, surrounded by barbed wire and it is really insanity to get out of the facility; It is also called “self drive”, so it is also possible drive own vehicles. It is also very dangerous to get off the car.
“Full booked, fully booked!” She says she does not insist on drawing circles in the air with his arms. I do not give up either. But this persuasion process lasts about 2 hours. Finally, it allows me to tightly inscribe the taxis. The aunt has already tired me, but with the pleasure of having overcome this horn, I come to the Nomutani Rest Camp and get my room. The friend of the brothers in the cab wants me extra money. Very typical. I remind them that this is not the case. He is sitting over the trunk lid of the cab. He’s not gonna give my suitcases. I tell them to speak again and call them again in two days to get me. The friend says “Money, I m hungry.” I say “I m hungry too!” The brothers are more decent, they do not care about their friends, and they open trunk lid and give me the suitcase.
I settled in the hotel. In this park there are many water pits called Waterhole. When the animals come in and drink water from these pits, you have a chance to watch them as well. So you do not even have to join safari tours, animals come to you. Nomutani, Halali, Okaukueyo (okakuyo) Rest Camps are the most famous ones. There is also a Dormite Camp, but it is an expensive and luxurious facility. The Nomutani price at the east entrance of park is more reasonable, bed and breakfast is 800 Namibian dollar. It is truly spectacular to see the antilopes, zebras, rhinos, elephants, giraafes and foxes coming in 50 meters to the water while watching the sunset from the navigational lodge.
The next morning I meet a South African family at breakfast. The 70-year-old wife visits Namibia with her husband’s sisters by their own SUV. Two days later I go to the Okaukueyo Rest Camp with them. So I was going to the west in the park and I solved the problem of transportation in the first leg of the trip. When I make the registration in the reception I say that I am single and looking for a group and a vehicle to join, and I do not neglect to add that I can share the costs. A young German couple says I can travel with them unrequited. We stay here one night and arrive at the west exit the next day, stopping by all the waterholes and watching the animals. The lions, elephants, zebras, antilopes accompany us during the trip. It’s even dangerous to get off the car and extend your arm from window. We open the window and take a picture and close it again.
There is also a tent area in Okaukueyo as it is in other facilities. I settled in the room, I do not get water and food, I go to the pit and sit in the bank. I watch the animals come and go in the water till late. No need to attend Safari tours, animals come to us, we are watched from where we sit. I do not see the lion in the waterhole over here, but I hear the roar all night. There are those who see the lions come to the water against night and.
Along with the German couple, we leave the Galton Gate, the west gate of the park, and head for Opuwo. We visit the tourist office of Opuwo’s entrance and take our guide to visit one of the Himba people’s villages. We are doing food exchange with a guide who is also a Himba. Thanks to the people of the village for opening their doors to us.
Himba people have been living the same way for hundreds of years. It is very usual to see the Himba women shopping on the Opuwo streets with their traditional clothes and half naked. Their skin should be using okra because of the smooth reddish brown color. Okra is a very thin slurry obtained by adding oil after the flour is pounded into a brown stone that plays red. Women drive this mud to all their bodies and hair. Because there is no water to clean, it is aimed to be protected from both mosquitos and cleanliness. We stay at the Aameni Guesthouse in Opuwo. The next day I am reaching Swakopmund via Otjiwarango in the evening by changing two buses. The German couple goes to Damaland with their cars. I’m staying at Swakopmund Backpackers. Almost all accommodation facilities here start with the name “Swakopmund”. Even taxi drivers do not know which one.
Swakopmund is a regular, clean, unusual African town but a typical German settlement. Most of the tablets are German and Dutch. The sand dunes called Walvis Bay, Sandwich Harbor, Sossusvlei, Moon Valley, Dorop NP are places that should be seen about half an hour away from the city. Welwitschia plant is known as the world’s largest and oldest desert flower. They can live 1.500-2.000 years and their leaves can grow up to 6 meters. I remembered that I could not go to Namib in Angola, but here I can join the desert tour and touch the world’s oldest flower. Particularly for the dunes 4×4 desert vehicles must participate in guided tours because it is very easy to get lost among the spectacular sand dunes in the national park, and it is not possible to make an ordinary multiple desert safaris.
Fork’n Nice is the name of the yellow bus that sells fish between the breads, french fries, hamburgers on the ocean side. After years of managing the hotel, the owner decided to sell fish and chips. He bought an old bus and converted to a kitchen. Last year the country’s best mobile fisher was chosen. Cheap and delicious fish bread is a very convenient and cute option to eat in Swakopmund.
The Zimbabwe Hockey National Team is also staying at the hostel I have stayed in. The young players are very entertaining and very respectful. In Zambia and Zimbabwe, the attitudes and attitudes of young people and children, especially those who go to school, are very decent and disciplined. They invite me for their evening games. They lose the hall hockey game they did with the South African Republic but they gain experience because they are the first international competitions. I’m also watching the hockey game for the first time; In a city in Namibia, I am shouting and jumping as much as I am for Zimbabwe national team’s scarf in my neck: “Zim-Zim-Zim-Bab-We”
The most popular activity in Swakopmund is the highest altitude dive in Africa with skydive 11,000 feet. I can not wait to see the sandy hills and small settlements united with the ocean from the sky. Unfortunately the flight is canceled because the weather is cloudy and I am on my way to Windhoek with the team. At about 4 pm I got a phone call from the flight center and say they can get me from the hotel, but it’s too late. I am sorry to miss this opportunity in one of the most beautiful air-diving locations in the world, like Swakopmund. Another place, another time, maybe at Diani Beach in Kenya.
At about 10 pm we arrive at the capital. I’m going to Chameleon Backpackers Lodge by taxi. The team is on their way to the border of Bostwana. The hostel is also organize some trips. It is possible to participate in one of the highly recommended tours for those who are curious about the life and hunting styles of Bushmen I know from “The Gods Must Be Crazy”. But I miss that too. Because the minibus that goes directly from Windhoek to Bostwana Maun is moving the next day. God knows when the next time. Two of us in the minibus, with a British traveler Jim, 73 years old, after about 12 hours of travel, we cross the Mamuno border gate and arrive at Maun. I am going to the visa-free Bostwana without any problem as I am ready to do the visa conversation on the Angola-Namibian border. On the road there are the settlements of the Bushmen especially around Kalahari. I can not stay here because I do not have a private car. It is possible to see these cute people who look like petite bodies, small eyes, point noses and wrinkled skin in modern clothes in shopping centers, gas stations. Life changes them as it changed us centuries ago.