Namibia trip – July 2012

I visited Namibia recently and drove a chipped VW 1.9 TDi LWB Kombi and the 2,0 FSi Q5 Audi.

Let’s look at the cars first.

Starting with the Q5, which I drove in and around Windhoek. I tested the Q3 at the end of May (check review) so found it interesting to drive the big sister a few weeks later. It was also interesting to compare the turbo petrol to the turbo diesel. In general, the Q5 is a much better car than the Q3 to me.

It drives and handles better, sitting very pretty on the road. It feels glued to the road but does not have the choppyness or over firm ride of the Q3. The cabin is spacious and somehow more refined. A lovely place to spend time in. The car did not feel the altitude at all. I think the turbo petrol trumps the turbo diesel by a mile. If you have the extra cash the Q5 is way better than the Q3 and arguably better value. I am told the fuel consumption is fine, but can’t comment myself. Loved it.

I drove the VW bus down to Swakop via Erindi. The rather anaemic diesel engine has been re-chipped. The chip apparently boosts performance by 30%. You can feel the difference to the straight 1.9 TDi engine. It worked hard when overtaking but otherwise handled the altitude and the roads very well. The long wheel base version is a bit big for inner city driving, but on the open road and driving in a game reserve it borders on perfect. Hard to beat for space or visibility.

These Kombi’s handle very well for what they are. As with most Volkswagens the second gear is a little sticky. The seats remain comfortable even over long distances.

If you are planning a Namibia trip a night at Erindi is highly recommended. SADC citizens get special rates. Everything is included barring drinks. There are two game drives a day, early morning and evening, each lasting well over two hours.

In between the stoep (verandah) at the restaurant overlooks a dam. There is a constant stream of life to the water’s edge. Hippos and crocs inhabit the water.

The bird life is amazing, both at the dam and on the drives.

The food at Erindi is very good. The cakes with afternoon tea have to be seen to be appreciated.

Erindi is in the process of developing a camping terrain a few km north of the lodge.

The drive from Erindi over Omaruru and Karibib to Swakopmund is varied and remains interesting. The vegetation and terrain varies hugely every hour. Very good biltong shop just outside Usakus on the Swakop side.

Swakopmund is as great as ever. Well worth a stay of three or four days.

Base yourself in Swakop and visit Walvisbay one day. The seal/dolphin cruises are a must do.

A trip north to Hentiesbay is an eye opener. The road is made of salt. It looks like tar from a distance but is much more slippery, so beware foggy conditions.

Swakop itself has quad biking in the dunes, camel rides, educational trips into the desert and a load of other things to do. The town boasts and impressive array of eateries and pubs. A lot of the old town has been preserved. It is really good to just wander around the town. Lovely stuff.

There are three routes back to Windhoek. One, all tar past Wilhelmstal which has a roadside shop selling local olive oil, biltong and other farm produce. Worth a stop. The other routes offer scenic drives on gravel roads. Slightly washed away with this year’s rains but will be graded soon.

The other good stop is the Closwa Biltong factory shop in Okahandja.

Have fun.

Biltong = dried meat, jerky in the US

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