Namibia - the land of extreme temperatures. It can be excruciatingly hot or freezing cold. To beat the summer heat or to fill up on something warm during winter, I present you with a guide on what to drink in Namibia. Throughout the country, you have numerous options, from alcoholic to non alcoholic, or traditional drinks to enjoy.
Namibians are a culture who love their beer. I would like to start you off with Windhoek Lager. A beer brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot of 1516, using only malted barley, hops and water. It is widely available and is the perfect thirst quencher on a hot summer day. Key here - it should be ice cold. I would like to quote the MD of Namibia Breweries Mr. Hendrik van der Westhuizen about his love for Windhoek beer: "To me, the essence of Namibia is captured in liquid form in each 330 ml bottle of beer."
Beer is loved so much in Namibia that some dishes are even made with it. An example of this is beer bread or the very famous Beer-can chicken. (This is a story for another day) The Windhoek brand is available in a Lager, Draught and Windhoek Light. Other beers commonly available in Namibia include the famous Tafel Lager, Hansa, Club Shandy, Heineken, Amstel Lager, DAS Pilsner, Guiness and Urbock.
Camelthorn is a local brewery established in 2009 which name derives from the Namibian Camelthorn tree. They have a variety of beers available for you to choose from and even a "Fresh" Weissbeer for the ladies with a low alcohol content, no sugar and no artificial colourants.
A product you are going to love and probably get addicted to is a refreshing Namibian soft drink Called Vigo. It comes in two fantasticly exotic flavours - namely Marula and Wild Orange. Made from malt, this drink will make your tastebuds bounce from excitement. (Malt is germinated cereal grains that have been dried in a process known as "malting")
Let us stick to the Marula for a moment. The Marula tree is indigenous to the north of Namibia and plays a very important role not only to animals but humans as well. The bark of the tree is stripped by elephants, and the leaves eaten by various animals. The fruit contains a high percentage of vitamin C. This is a great source of nutrition for animals, humans and is also used in a whole range of products.
The marula fruit is used to make a South-African drink called Amarula, a favorite among the ladies. Its a velvety creamy liqueur and the perfect sundowner drink served with crushed ice. When sitting with friends, having a bash, ask the barman for the very famous Springbokkie. It’s a shooter, with 1 part Peppermint liqueur and 1 part Amarula. Bottoms up….
Other drinks made from fruits you will find at a Oshiwambo settlement is whiskey or rather schnaps called Ombike. Its made from the fruit of the Makalani tree and is distilled to a very strong type of shnapps. My Oshiwambo friends however gave this information to me with the following important advice. When drinking Ombike, make sure you have enough water, headache stillers and a pair of sunglasses for the next morning. It is a very strong type of shnaps that makes you lean…. against tables, chairs, and in the end you fall over.
There are various other types of traditional drinks widely available around the country. It just depends on which region you are in. The Oshiwambo people make their own beer with mahangu (type of cereal) and it's called Epwaka. The tombo version of beer made with mahangu however is a very strong beer that will also leave you with laughter but with regret the next morning. Another form is Oshikundu a yeasty-tasting millet beer that is brewed and drunk the same day.
In the Caprivi region, opt for a beer called Munati when you roam amongst the locals. Please remember to first find out about traditions and rules before just entering a settlement. Various cultures in our country feel very strongly about how you approach them, how you dress and behave when visiting their houses.
After all this drinking, laughing and partying, you will need a booster in the form of an energy drink. We have our own energy soft drink called Wuma (powered by EES). Who is EES you might ask? EES is our proudly home grown Namibian German rapper and kwaito artist. This Vitamin enriched energy drink is just the thing to get your gears back in place after a long night of shenanigans.
When staying over at a Gondwana Collection lodge, the house wine is the Grootepos brand from vineyards in the Western Cape, South-Africa. The range of wine is full bodied and soft with a unique taste of freshness. Gondwana Collection also boasts with their own bottled water available all the Gondwana lodges.Stampriet in the Kalahari is a place that is fortunate to have artesian water and at the Kalahari Farmhouse this gift is utilised by the Self Sufficiency centre where water is derived from a huge water reservoir underneath the Kalahari Dunes.
In Omaruru, in the Erongo region, lies another water source of its own kind exists. Oasis Natural Mineral water is a brand available in Still or Sparkling water. This is not where it ends. You can also enjoy the Oasis soft drink range in flavours of Orange, Grapefruit, a zesty Lemon, a herbal lemonade called FarmDudler or sip on a NamCola.
During winter time, Gluhwein is your companion. This Hot Mulled Wine is typically made from red wine, citrus and an assortment of spices like cloves.
Enjoy your time in Namibia.
This is not the only drinks available in our country. There are various imported products from all over the world, and our fridges are stocked with your favourites.
Alcohol is not for sale to persons under the age of 18 and driving under the influence is not permitted in Namibia. If you are wondering how to keep your beer and drinks cold in this very hot weather during summer, go to our camping tips.
That’s it from me.
No wait. I forgot something. Jagermeister!! This herbal liqueur is made from more than 50 herbs and spices, including citrus peel, poppy seeds, anise and juniper berries, filtered and mixed with caramel, alcohol and water. It's a very famous and unique drink from Germany but should be served ice-cold. As we say in Namibia: Prost.
Tell me about your favourite Namibian drink.
When was the last time you had a true Namibian drink?
Leave a comment below.
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Jessica Thomas is a local freelance writer. She is an eccentric young lady who has a love affair with writing. Get on board her journey of discovery.