This section gives students the chance to share their travel experiences and shine light on where they think others should be heading.

This week we’re off to Africa. I spoke to Penny Ellis, a third year medic, about her travels there. She spent a year living and volunteering in South Africa in 2014/2015 and did a road trip through Namibia in summer 2016.

We spoke about her love for the continent and its great outdoors.

Life in South Africa
I lived and volunteered in a hospital in a village called Zithulele, located in the rural eastern cape of South Africa, which was two hours drive from the nearest town. Everyone lived in rondavels, circular mud huts with thatched roofs; they’re really cool and are all bright colours. I lived two km from the Indian Ocean so you could run down to swim after work, you got such cool sunrises every day over the Indian Ocean. I would eat my porridge on the front doorstep as the sun came up and I listened to the nurses singing hymns from the hospital.

Sum up Zithulele in three words
Abuntu (which means having a community spirit), vibrant and encompassing.

The geography was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was almost like a different planet.

New horizons in Namibia
I travelled here with a Namibian friend called Martin and her friend Kyung from back home. The trip lasted two and a half weeks and saw them visit Luderitz, Kolmanskop, Windhoek and Swakopmund. We drove through the centre of Namibia via Martin’s family.  We would stay and do stuff with them, our first stop was at his uncle’s who owns a distillery; we had drinks at sundown by a lake. Another day he just took us up in his micro light over the bush, he was just in the front and we were behind. We went to an old gold mining town, which had just been taken over by sand and we climbed all over the buildings, it was like a ghost town, everyone just left all their stuff there.

Image credit: Penny Ellis

Natural beauty
The geography was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was almost like a different planet, we would just stop off at the side of the road and visit places such as the Giant’s Playground and Shiver’s Trees. The landscape is so big, you can’t even imagine, flat plains then giant mountains come out of nowhere or giant canyons or giant sand dunes.

What is it like to drive there?
Namibia only really has three big roads, one down the middle and two straight across. We borrowed Martin’s dad’s Audi which was a three litre and so much fun to drive. I’m used to a one litre lawn mower-type engine. Sometimes the driving got boring, you can drive for eight hours and there is nothing. Our car also broke down which wasn’t great.

Any tips for travelling in Namibia?
Bring spare fuel. Always have a spare jerry can.

If you could jump on a plane tomorrow…?
I’d go to Tajikistan to do the Pamir highway.

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