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Fischwife

Questions About Lunches, Lodge Meals, Laundry, and Loot

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Our trip to Namibia is in a month, and we're nearly ready, but I have a few questions.

1. During our time in Namibia, we are staying in lodges where breakfast and dinner are usually provided. As these lodges tend to be fairly remote, and as I have read advice not to keep food in our room (makes sense), what would we do about lunches? Do the lodges usually have lunches/snacks available for purchase?

2. While we're on the topic of food, I have been advised, both by the travel clinic nurse and by my cousins who spent 3 months in Kenya and Tanzania, to avoid eating salads or fresh fruit or vegetables unless I can wash something myself in bleach diluted in bottled water. They said to buy a small bottle of bleach when we arrive. Is this prudent or overkill? I have trouble digesting fat, so I do much better on a diet that has lots of fruits and vegetables. I've travelled in Europe and Asia, and while in Hong Kong ate from street stalls often, and had a problem only once (in Madrid, after eating snails in a restaurant).

3. I understand that some lodges won't launder underwear, and my pants and some shirts are SPF, moisture-wicking, quick-drying fabric, so I don't mind laundering them myself, and I might prefer it if they could be ruined by too much heat in the process. I am used to hand washing some stuff when I travel. However, I have heard/read that putsi/tumbu/bot flies can be an issue in Africa (which is one reason why clothes are ironed by the staff when they do the laundry). So, if I have to hand wash my undies, do I need to worry about these flies? Or is this not an issue inside a lodge room? Or not an issue in Namibia, since it's so dry? (We won't be in the Caprivi area.)

4. Since we have already paid for our accommodation, meals, and transportation, how much cash per day are we likely to need? I guess our main expenses will be tips and lunches, if applicable.

Thanks.

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Posted (edited)

Our trip to Namibia is in a month, and we're nearly ready, but I have a few questions.

 

1. During our time in Namibia, we are staying in lodges where breakfast and dinner are usually provided. As these lodges tend to be fairly remote, and as I have read advice not to keep food in our room (makes sense), what would we do about lunches? Do the lodges usually have lunches/snacks available for purchase?

I would expect them to have a packed lunch available.

 

2. While we're on the topic of food, I have been advised, both by the travel clinic nurse and by my cousins who spent 3 months in Kenya and Tanzania, to avoid eating salads or fresh fruit or vegetables unless I can wash something myself in bleach diluted in bottled water. They said to buy a small bottle of bleach when we arrive. Is this prudent or overkill? I have trouble digesting fat, so I do much better on a diet that has lots of fruits and vegetables. I've travelled in Europe and Asia, and while in Hong Kong ate from street stalls often, and had a problem only once (in Madrid, after eating snails in a restaurant).

When I worked in Naples, Italy there was a cholera epidemic and we were given the same advice. It only needs a weak solution of bleach and would only apply to salad and fruit you bought outside the lodge. We never had to do this in lodges in Namibia where I went many times.

 

3. I understand that some lodges won't launder underwear, and my pants and some shirts are SPF, moisture-wicking, quick-drying fabric, so I don't mind laundering them myself, and I might prefer it if they could be ruined by too much heat in the process. I am used to hand washing some stuff when I travel. However, I have heard/read that putsi/tumbu/bot flies can be an issue in Africa (which is one reason why clothes are ironed by the staff when they do the laundry). So, if I have to hand wash my undies, do I need to worry about these flies? Or is this not an issue inside a lodge room? Or not an issue in Namibia, since it's so dry? (We won't be in the Caprivi area.)

What is an issue depends on the lodges policies. I've never worried about flies :)

 

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4. Since we have already paid for our accommodation, meals, and transportation, how much cash per day are we likely to need? I guess our main expenses will be tips and lunches, if applicable.

It depends on the lodge tipping policy so ask your trip organiser. See this thread for ideas.

Edited by JohnR
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Thank you.

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@@Fischwife I would think that it's very unlikely that they won't provide you with lunches especially as they would probably rather you didn't keep any food in your rooms, I would presume that you would be given lunch back at the lodge or provided with a packed lunch if you are staying out all day. Without knowing which lodges you are staying at obviously I can't be absolutely sure. I very much doubt that lack of food will be an issue at any of your lodges, but if you do want snacks for long drives and will have an opportunity to go shopping in a town somewhere, then you can easily pick up packets of dried fruit in any supermarket or grocery store.

 

The advice not to eat fruit and veg unless you've washed it or peeled it yourself, is still fairly common but I think entirely out of date when it comes to lodges these days, at a good lodge if you are offered salad with lunch or dinner, I would assume it is perfectly safe to eat and likewise the fresh fruit they will likely offer you at breakfast, the last thing they want to do is poison their guests. If you were camping and self-catering and eating food that you'd bought along the way that might perhaps be slightly different, although not necessarily if you're buying it in a town from a supermarket.

 

Different lodges have different systems when it comes to laundry, quite often you may have to pay, however because Namibia is obviously so dry there are some where you're not strictly allowed to do your own laundry other than underwear and for this reason they don't charge for doing it. I've not heard of Putzi flies being a concern in Namibia they really need a humid climate I doubt they are common in the main part of the country, I presume that they might be more likely to occur in the Caprivi Strip. I often do a little bit of my own laundry now and again and I've never encountered these flies anywhere I've been in Africa or been worried about doing so. If you are in an area where they do occur, the advice generally if you're not ironing your clothes, is to hang your washing on a line in the full sun, don't drape your clothes on bushes or lay them on the ground and don't leave them outside at night and make sure that they are completely dry before you pack them away. I'm also inclined to think that they're not likely to be a problem with quick drying fabrics anyway, if you wash them in the afternoon and you're shirts are hanging in the hot sun they will be dry extremely quickly. I use a travel washing line so any washing I do if it's outside is hung on a line, I sometimes also hang stuff inside overnight as it's often dry enough to put on in the morning. Whatever the case I wouldn't worry about Putzi flies in Namibia.

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Thank you.

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Posted (edited)

Great advice.

 

If B and D are designated as your included meals, then you might have to pay for L but it would be available. No lodge wants famished, hungry guests because that turns into cranky guests. I would email and ask about meals, so you know for sure. Some granola/energy bars, even brought from home, are always a good idea.

 

I rarely buy from street vendors but have always eaten every item provided by the lodge/camp with no problems. That clinic nurse who spent 3 months in East Africa probably did not have the quality control oversight of a reputable B&B, lodge, etc to make sure foods completely washed and safe. The nurse gave good advice but likely aimed at a different niche of traveler. You've given me one more reason to avoid snails. Thank you.

 

Never a problem with insects or anything else washing my own undies or other clothes. I have had the water resistant fabric ruined on accident by camp laundry, but I think the demise occurred in the ironing stage. In Namibia my clothes dried so quickly that my quick-dry undies were dry just moments before my regular cotton undies. As mentioned, they dry overnight.

 

Tipping--as indicated do ask your organizer, even if you are doing self drive, because they'll have current guidelines. At each accommodation inquire about a tip box. That's always most convenient. Also ask if US dollars (which you will probably be carrying) are acceptable or preferred in some instances. You can carry far fewer bills if you can tip in USD rather than Nambian dollars, which can turn into a cumbersome towering stack of bills. The more remote, the more NAD were preferred, I found. But for those spending time in Windhoek, I found they liked USD for the better exchange rate.

 

One more thing with $$. I found that many times in Namibia, activities (escorted walks or guided day or night drives) were extra and not included with room and board. For some activities I paid for in advance when booking, but some I booked once I was there. I don't think the price was different but the ones I pre-booked went no matter what, even if no one else signed up. When booking at the lodge, there often was a minimum number of participants for the activity to go. As I recall that minimum was usually 2, so a couple would have no problem.

 

The escorted trips by the local guide were usually very worthwhile and worth the cost. I was prepared in advance to fork out more $$, but if you weren't you could be caught short. These add-ons at a cost are not something I have experienced elsewhere in Africa to that extent. I think it is because in Namibia there are a lot of self drivers and picking activities piecemeal allows for maximum flexibility.

 

Have a great trip!

Edited by Atravelynn
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Posted (edited)

@@Fischwife

 

1) We always brings snacks with us from home..granola bars, trail mix, malted milk balls, chocolate covered peanuts, cashews...etc. A lot of time we raid the baskets of food at the airport lounges or when we are on the plane.... We like to snack and will eat these snacks during siesta when we do not want to track back to the main dining tent. We double ziploc bag all the food though because ants will be a problem if food is left open. I have yet to go to a safari camp that does not provide 3 meals a day, plus whatever the guest request to a certain level. I once requested a Valentines Day cake for my wife and they made me a cake! I have never seen lunches for purchase. What camp are you staying at in Namibia?

 

2) There is a certain risk associated with all international travel, but I can assure you depending on the camp that food preparation is taken very seriously in the bush. Food is prepped and washed just like at a restaurant. I did get a slight stomach bug while traveling in Kenya last year, but it was minor inconvienance and thankfully I did not lose my appetite. I think the big thing especially if you are in a camp without running water is to use a hand sanitizer. Snails are not generally on the menu.

 

3) Flies are one of the most overrated worries when traveling in Africa in our experience. We get bite by more mosquitos sitting on our back patio in South Carolina in one night than in the entire 2 week trips to the African bush. We always wash our undies in the sink and never have any issues with bugs. Last time I went I pre sprayed our outer clothes with this...https://www.amazon.com/Sawyer-Products-SP657-Permethrin-Repellent/dp/B001ANQVYU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494349035&sr=8-1&keywords=mosquito+repellent+clothes+spray It works through multiple washings/ironing. I sprayed everything...camera bags, luggage, hats, gloves, socks, vest....I setup up some hangers in the garage and did everything at once. It dries very quickly. DO NOT use Permethrin on your body....

 

4) Cash on hand is very much personal...I take enough for tips plus an emergency stash of $300 USD in small bills. I personally store this amount in various locations in my luggage...sometimes I forget where I put it. ; 0 But anyway if a bag gets stolen some not all your money gets gone. If I need more the credit card comes out.

Edited by SSF556

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Thank you.

We are staying at a variety of lodges throughout central Namibia (Kalahari Bagatelle Game Ranch, Sossusvlei Lodge, Twyfelfontein Country Lodge, Etosha Village, Old Traders Lodge at Erindi, and a hotel in Swakopmund).

I like the idea of bringing some snacks, but I'm not sure we'll have space, as we will be travelling with carryon luggage only.

I thought the flies wouldn't be an issue, but wanted to double check on that.

I also thought the food at the lodges would likely be safe, but given the warnings I received, thought I should check with the experts.

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Posted (edited)

Just back from Namibia, mix of lodges and camping. Here are my comments:

 

ad 1. apart from Swakopmund, all other lodges listed are isolated so if you are planning to eat during the day, there will be either a bar with snacks, or even an on-site restaurant availble. You can also buy snacks from many gas stations, they all have quite good stores, and bring the food to the room. But cooking in the room is not permitted. Good thing is, one is not that hungry while in Namibia! We have had several days when one sandwich in the morning was all we have consumed (plus plenty of liquids). Must be the temperature and the adrenaline thing.

 

ad 2. would not do this anywhere, less so in Namibia. We have eaten everything, from salads to fruit, and my only "quick run to the toilet" has happened after eating a burger in a very nice coffee shop. Not sure was it due to the burger, the salad, or the milk shake. One run only so no bacteria was involved. On thinking deeper on this issue, I come to a conclusion that it was the revenge of the Windhoek Lager! I should have stay loyal to it :P .

 

ad 3. our underware was taken care by my wife whenever needed. Everything dries up quickly. There was not that hot during the day, a steady breeze was always presented. Many lodges offers laundry service. To dry the sensitive garment inside the room or on the porch/balcony bring a rope and several wash holders (sp??). Never heard or seen any warnings about bot flies or similar.

 

ad 4. depends on your taste for wine; Some bottles can go beyond 250 NAD per 75cl while the average price was between 100-150 NAD. Coffee was 15 NAD, beer 25 NAD and same were all soft drinks. Maybe at more luxury lodges prices will be higher but not that much. Then there are costs for tours (400-1200 NAD pp), sundowner drives (400-500 NAD), etc. Many larger gas stations were accepting credit card (Engen, Puma, Shell) but smaller ones will ask for cash payment (only applicable if renting a car).

I never give tips! I do drop some coins or 10/20 NAD bills into the tip can when presented or I round up the bill. I have paid for all those services in advance, I expect services to be in line with the value of my payment, and I expect it is up to the owner of the business to pay his staff adequtely, not mine. I have never ever received any "bad eye" when not tipping ... only in the United States of America!! But that is my way, yours might be completely different. Just curious why would you think tipping would be needed? Even on repeat visits I have always been treated fair by the staff, with smiles and courtesy. Same goes for guides. Cannot speak of drivers as to the only driver I know and use, no one is giving any tip :D ! His driving is only improving over the years.

Edited by xelas

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Just a little aside on the tipping....here in the US most tipped workers receive significantly less in an hourly wage than non tipped workers so they really do rely on tips to make a living wage. For example, in Massachusetts where I live the minimum hourly wage is $11 (almost $4 more than the federal minimum wage) for non tipped workers. For waitresses and such, their hourly wage is $3.75 (I think $2.13 for federal). So tips are incredibly important to them.

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Posted (edited)

Yes, I am well aware of this discrimination between tipped and non-tipped workers, where the later are at sole mercy of the patrons. And also when tipped, two waitresses can work equally hard one serving tables with rich guests and other serving tables with more frugal guests ... where is any common sense in this?! It might be a long time situation in the USA, almost a culture but why exporting it with such fierce, everywhere around the globe?! It hurts workers more then it helps them. Once the business owner see that patrons are willing to tip the workers, the wages goes down ... as difference between the costs and the income is profit and profit rules these days.

Edited by xelas

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Wow- I can see you have very strong opinions about this. My intent was not to sway anyone one way or another, just trying to explain the culture/necessity of tipping in my country. I personally have no qualms whatsoever in tipping when I travel. Unless one is a multimillionaire, no one makes enough money in their job- we make due with what we have but could always use more. In particular, when I travel on Safari and I meet a guide who leaves his/her family for 2-3 months at a time to do their job, I am in awe and totally respect their dedication to their work. In the grand scheme of things the additional money that I choose to give them is less of a sacrifice for me than what they are doing. The same goes for the staff at the camps. For them I have the same respect. That's all and just my opinion.

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Indeed I have strong opinion, @Imonmm , probably also due to from where I came (ex-socialist country, no tipping culture at all). But it is all only the exchange of different opinions and positions, nothing personal. We are all individual subjects, with right to do as one is pleased to do. I share the same respect to those workers; we just express our respects differently. Then again, I feel strongly that tipping is wrong and harmful on so many levels ... :) !

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We can agree to disagree :)

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Absolutely :):) !

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@@Fischwife

 

1.We were in Namibia for a month last year on a self drive trip and stayed in a number of lodges. When lunch was not included there were always packed lunches offered or they would serve lunch if you were there at lunch time. You just had to pay extra. Some places even encouraged making up a picnic from the breakfast buffet and provided bags and wrap to do this. When driving we always could find snacks at little shops. The gas stations usually had some hot food too. They often had excellent German style sausages in a bun. Food always seemed to be available when we needed it. We did carry a few snacks, cookies and dried fruit which we kept in plastic containers so ants, mice etc could not get to them easily. You don't need to pack snacks from home as they are easy to buy there.

 

2. We've done 3 trips to Africa so far and have always eaten a lot of salads and fruit with no ill effect. The lodges often have a great variety of these and it's frequently our favorite part of a meal. When self catering we also ate a lot of fruit and vegetables. I actually have never even considered needing to use bleach as the stores, lodges, and restaurants are all very clean.

 

3. When laundry is offered we've let the camp or lodge do it with instructions " cold wash, no iron" as we also have synthetic quick dry clothes that can be ruined by a hot iron. We've never had any problem as they are used to washing these types of clothes. We always wash our own underwear and in some places we washed all our clothes. They dry very quickly. A travel clothes line is useful and we also carry 6 lightweight plastic clothes hangers. I have not heard of problems with flies in any area we've been in.

 

4. How much cash to carry is a tricky one. The lodges and restaurants usually took credit cards but you do need cash for tips, purchases in smaller places, some gas stations etc. We tend to carry more than we usually need.

 

We loved Namibia so I'm sure you will have a great trip!

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Thank you.

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