Namibia – Elizabeth Skurdahl (2014)

Hitchhiking: Hitchhiking, or simply “hiking” as it is referred to locally, is the most common form of transport in Namibia (and in much of southern Africa). Many people in Namibia who live in remote areas don’t have their own vehicles, so they get rides with those who do, splitting the cost of gas. In addition to being the most common form of transport, hiking can also be the best way to see this beautiful country if you don’t have access to your own car.
I hiked throughout my time in Namibia and found it to be a great method of transportation. However, there are some ways to be smart hiker!
First, start conversations with those waiting with you at the hike point for a ride. Not only is it a great way to meet interesting people, they most likely will help you find a ride and make sure you get where you need to go.
Second, when a car does arrive and you are arranging a ride, always make sure to ask the driver where he/she is going, rather than revealing your own destination. That way, if you feel uncomfortable about the ride or want to refuse the hike, you can do so easily by saying you need to travel somewhere else.
Third, always make sure to negotiate the price of the ride in advance. It’s no fun arriving at your destination expecting to pay one price only to find out that your driver wants more!
Finally, go with your gut! You know if a situation seems unsafe or a person makes you uncomfortable, even if you can’t really explain why. Never take a hike where you don’t feel sure about the driver and his/her car.
Cabs: In bigger cities like Windhoek, cabs are the best way to get around. Legitimate, registered cabs will always have large numbers painted on the doors and the back window. Never get in a “cab” that is not painted with these numbers.
Greeting: This might seem like common sense, but you should also make sure you greet people politely before speaking with them. In Namibia, and in many other countries throughout Africa, correct greetings are extremely important as they are a sign of respect and understanding. Speaking to someone without first saying “Hello, how are you?” and allowing them to respond in kind is considered very rude and disrespectful. No matter whom you are speaking to – your boss, your neighbor, a cab driver, a grocery store clerk – always greet them before beginning a conversation or asking for help.
ATMs: When withdrawing cash from an ATM also make sure to check that no one is standing close behind you, as it is common for thieves to look over your shoulder to steal your pin number. Also, if anyone offers to “help you” withdraw money, always refuse as they are most likely looking to steal your debit card.
Important Documents: Make copies of all your important documents – passport, visa, credit cards, etc. Leave a copy at home with a family member or trusted friend and take several copies with you. Having a copy will make replacing the document a lot easier should it become lost or stolen. You can also have a copy of your passport certified at a local police station. You can use this certified copy as identification if you need it as you travel around Namibia and keep your real passport safely locked in your

This entry was posted on January 20, 2015, in Africa. Bookmark the permalink.

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