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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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Old 4 Sep 2007
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Ethiopia or Namibia

Hope this doesn't fall under the heading of to stupid a question but basically I have the option of riding in Ethiopia or Namibia in Nov. As I can't make up my mind I would appreciate any input from folks who have been there.

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Old 4 Sep 2007
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Tough One

A real toughie, as both are on my list of favourites. Obviously it very much depends on what you're looking for....and the weather.

From the drivers seat of a Toyota, I was dying for the KTM while exploring the dirt roads of Namibia and heading off road in the NW. Fabulous scenery, great food, fairly western (good/bad thing?). No problem at all getting around with only a tiny bit of off road/gravel road experience.

Ethiopia in the wet, last July was a different matter. Not much off road and many roads quite tough;rocky, muddy etc. But Ethiopia is properly an adventure and off the beaten track in comparison to Namibia.

I am sure you'll get more advice, but if you have the opportunity to explore Ethiopia by bike (and it's not raining), I'd take it, before it's properly discovered. Namibia will always be there.

Although, I'm not even sure if I've convinvced myself. I envy you the dilemma.

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Old 4 Sep 2007
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Jamie T is right on the money. I spent a year riding in Africa and Namibia rated quite low on my "fun meter." There are some fun things to to in Namibia, no doubt. Heck, you can sky-dive there and do a variety of heart-pumping activities (because the place is boring?). Ethiopia is a tough nut to crack. If you make it into the company of locals, you'll love it beyond belief. I never found this Namibia. Ethiopia can be tough for someone on a bicycle (the kids tend to swarm), but on a motorcycle you'll be fine. Ride safe, H.
"And I think to myself, what a wonderful world..." L.B. Armstrong. www.davesgreatescape.net
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Old 5 Sep 2007
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Actually can't agree with Hook about Namibia being boring. I drove some 8000 km in Namibia and 4x4 tracks in NW were one of the best in my African trip. Very little people in this region and very nice views, basically you own the place for yourself for days. Also not many places you can see that many wild animals (giraffes, zebras and even elephants) outside parks, wildly roaming around. But all that means going small tracks, not main roads. If visiting Namibia, there is local issue book titled "4x4 routes in Namibia" -- highly recommended.

Namibia itself is a mix of western confort and tourists in towns and good main roads plus possibility to explore nice deserted and unspoiled nature.

Some pics:


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Old 18 Nov 2007
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80% of Africa's land over 8000ft asl is in Ethiopia

Ethiopia - Fantastic fly fishing
Namibia - Fantastic surf fishing
Ethiopia - Opportunity for things to go very badly wrong
Namibia - Opportunity for things to go wrong
Ethiopia - Financially very poor
Namibia - Financially wealthy (comparitively)
Ethiopia - Cultrually very rich
Namibia - Culture?? "Agri"culture
Ethiopia - Un freekin real vistas
Namibia - Un freekin real vistas
Ethiopia - Very High Altitude
Namibia - Very Low Altitude
Ethiopia - Catholic churches with christian verse written in amharic dug into the cliffs
Namibia - A german castle, and a town being swallowed by the desert
Ethiopia - Rivers and bush
Namibia - Sand and hilly sand
Ethiopia - Friendly locals armed with goat n spears & Bandits armed with guns
Namibia - Locals armed with guns & Bandits armed with goat n spears
Ethiopia - No civilisation yet never isolated
Namibia - Close enough to civilisation yet strangely lonely and isolated
Ethiopia - Women somehow of a sort of Italian descent, elegant and aloof
Namibia - Women... well I wont coment for fear of being beaten by the ones I know; like uncut diamonds.
Ethiopia - Local brewed in rubbish bins, often with parafin filtered through half a loaf of bread and no secondary fermentation stage. You may come across a banana liquor- run away my friend, run away (its served in a coke bottle top!).
Namibia - Windhoek lager of unquestionable quality brewed according to the 1519 Reinheitsgebot tradition of purity. You may come across Mampoer, personally its a close call, but I'd probably drink the petrol before either again.

Namibia will on the whole probably be a bit cheaper

Either way enjoy
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Old 19 Nov 2007
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I have ridden both and enjoyed both and agree with almost everything above, but If I had to choose one, It would be Ethiopia hands down as you can always come back and do Namibia, but just in case you dont make it back, go to Ethiopia first
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Old 27 Nov 2007
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We've just finished a 31 000 km trip through Africa which included both Ethiopia and Namibia, so, here is my penny's worth:

Ethiopia in the rainy season is not a joke. Not only are the roads slippery and quite dangerous, but the constant rain (especially in the north) really gets to you after a while! The scenery are spectacular though and in the dry season it really must be a pleasure! However, as I think was mentioned above already, the amount of paved roads are much less than in Namibia.

Namibia of course boast some of the best unpaved roads on the continent. To go with this is some spectacular scenery and for those wanting tougher terrain there are a lot of options as well (for the really brave there is the Van Zyl's Pass!). Also, it is much easier to get off the black stuff as only the really major roads are tarmac.

On the whole though, the difference comes in with the amount of people in the respective countries. Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa and the enjoyment of riding in this country is spoiled somewhat with the sheer amount of people and animals on the road.

Namibia on the other hand, is a vast country with barely 2 million people giving you long open roads with virtually no one to spoil your fun!

Get out there now before it changes!


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