mobile malaria project

Day 4. Walvis Bay to Windhoek

published on
Tuesday 26 March 2019 | Distance travelled: 375km (hire car)

I'm now in Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia. I visited here before in August 2012 on my previous trip to this country. That time we'd come to Namibia to meet some of the last remaining hunter gatherer populations left in southern Africa. We had been learning about familial relationship and collecting saliva from them for a study of human origins. It was an enlighteing trip as we'd learnt that many of the San were marginalised onto the very edges of society. 

Our four hour drive from the coast had taken us first through the orange dunes of the Namib in Swakopmund before we turned east and into the interior of the country. The landscape gradually got less sandy and more green, first with a few shrubs in the dunes, but then larger bushes and trees, before we met the large ranges and Oryx farms that started from about 150km outside of Windhoek.

Incredibly, there was a large road being built, that looked as if it would end up being a three lane motorway. This was quite unexpected and although as we got closer to the city the number of vehicles on the road conspicuously increased, it seemed a little exsessive. Namibia has one of the lowest population densities of all countries in the world, but it is encouraging to see them taking their infrastructure so seriously.

In general Namibia has been pretty easy going. From our Spindrift guesthouse in Walvis Bay, we've been able to get lots done, and the Rivendell Guest house in Windhoek, from where I write now, is calm and serene. It's gated up, but then that's to be expected.

In many ways this is the perfect place to start our journey. There are not many mosquitoes and no malaria, and the environment is unlike any we expect to see as we move north east into tropical Africa. It's hot and dry. We are at the very edge of the malaria map and as we move on up it's bound to get hotter and wetter. It's also likely to get poorer. The per capita GDP of Namibia is $10,000, which is around a quarter of the UK, but way above that of Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. 

Isaac and I went out to the Social - a mediterranean restaurant with a camp waiter and cheap vegetarian food. We'd both had enough of meat, so Isaac had a vegetable stack, and my pasta was very mediterranean and very nice. We're making the most of the familiarity of Africa lite, before we venture up into the north of the country and start the journey proper.