Vegan in Namibia

Namibia is a stunning country in Southern Africa. Well known for the Namib Desert, the Atlantic Ocean coast and the diverse wildlife.

To travel around Namibia you can take an organized tour or rent a jeep and drive on your own. Public transports are nearly non-existent and are not a solution for travellers.

Namibia’s food scene

It’s not easy to travel as a vegan in Namibia. For most Namibians, the idea of vegetarianism or veganism is slightly bizarre, to say the least. So expect the following at restaurants, “Do you have any vegetarian/vegan options?” or “are there any dishes without meat?” Staff: “We have Chicken and the fish is good” and when you say you don’t eat either, there will be a shocked look followed by a hummmm.. 🙂

Namibia is a ‘meat-eating-country’ with lots of restaurants selling game like oryx and kudu. Some places even offer you to hunt your own meat, there’s also a big market for fur and leather products.
Meals in Namibia tend to be heavy on meat with no avoidance of animal products.

How to Eat vegan in Namibia

If you chose a tour, you need to make sure they will cater adequately to your needs, and you will not need to worry about it for the rest of your trip.

On the other hand, if you travel independently, you need to have a few things in consideration.

Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, is a cosmopolitan place where it’s wise to stop at the supermarket to stock up on supplies.

Windhoek also has a couple of Vegan & Vegetarian-friendly Restaurants, but definitely nothing like a big vegan scene with loads of alternative restaurants.

Larger towns will have at least some restaurants that will be able to adapt something to suit your needs, but not always with the same understanding as you about butter, milk, honey etc. Namibians are kind and generous and will work to accommodate you as possible.

In Windhoek and other larger towns, you can find most things you have at home like cereals, soy milk, fruit, peanut butter, jams, baked beans, fresh vegetables, pasta, rice, chickpeas, dried fruit and nuts, olives, bread, granola, chips, rice cakes, etc..

If you can cook your own meals from larger town supermarkets then the choice is pretty decent. So cooking your own meals is probably the best option you have.

I would go even far and say if you want to eat well…and keep costs low, your best option is to head to the grocery store and cook your own meal.

On the street and open markets you can sometimes find people selling tomatoes, carrots, oranges, fat cakes (fried dough, usually vegan), ice pops, and Oshikundu.

Oshikundu or Ontaku is a local drink made from fermented millet. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties exist.

Vegan awareness Namibia

Travelling vegan in Namibia is far from ideal, but the country is starting to open to the concept of a vegan lifestyle. VAN’s (vegan awareness Namibia) is a non-profit organisation creating awareness about cruelty-free living in Namibia.

Responsible tourism in Namibia

Although the food may not be the highlight of your trip, remember that you will be surrounded by animals and nature on its best.

Namibia has vast areas of wilderness and an extraordinary variety of unique landscapes and ecosystems. As a traveller you should support conservation projects and the communities.
Refusing to take part in any activity that goes against the protection and wellbeing of the animals and ecosystems.

Namibia has dug deep to protect its outstanding natural heritage, making it easy for travellers to choose sustainable ways to travel around the country.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Goa Gajah the Elephant Cave _ Bali

Goa Gajah is located in the village of Bedulu on the edge of a cliff, about 2km southeast of Ubud on the road to Bedulu, Bali.

Despite the roads that lead to Goa Gajah being crazy chaotic the temple area is quite beautiful surrounded by shady green trees. The place is an archaeological site of significant historical value that makes it a special place to visit. The complex dates back to the 11th century, built as a spiritual place for meditation.

The Goa Gajah has a relic-filled courtyard, rock-wall carvings, a central meditational cave, bathing pools, and fountains. Goa Gajah is carved into a rock face and you enter through the cavernous mouth of a demon. 

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Don’t expect to see any elephants around. The name ‘Elephant Cave’ probably comes from the Petenu River, which was once called Elephant River.

How to get there: the best way is to rent a scooter (~Rp.60,000 $4 day) the traffic between Ubud and Bedulo is quite heavy but is a short distance.

Entrance Fee: Rp15,000/ adult ($1) and Rp.2,000 ($0.13) to park your scooter.

Dress Code: Sarong is required to enter the temple, and can be borrowed from the temple’s entrance for free.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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Semarapura _ the capital city of the Klungkung Regency _ Bali

Semarapura commonly called by its old name, Klungkung is a regional capital, that impresses for the organization, cleanness and reasonably calm streets. The city was once the center of Bali‘s most important kingdom, and today is full of history.

Semarapura was a pleasant surprise, it’s a great place to stroll and get a feel for modern Balinese life. The markets are truly amazing and the food delicious.

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Klungkung Palace is located in the center of the town and is a historic complex and relic of Bali from the time before the Dutch, sometimes called Taman Gili (island garden).

The palace dates from the 17th century but was largely destroyed during the Dutch colonial conquest in 1908. Today, some parts have been restored.

It’s possible to visit the Kertha Gosa Pavilion, the main gate and the Court of Justice. Within the palace, there is the Bale Kembang and a floating pavilion.

The floating pavilion and the ceilings of the Hall of Justice are decorated with incredible paintings done in the Kamasan style.

Expect to see monstrous statues, lily-covered pools of water, mythic creatures, pavilions filled with artwork and panels portraying the various forms of hellish punishment awaiting those who are found guilty in the afterlife.

How to get there: the best way is the rent a scooter (~Rp.60,000 $4 day) Semarapura is about 25 km south-east from Ubud.

Entrance Fee: Rp12,000/ adult ($0.79)

Dress Code: Sarong is required to enter the temple as parts of the site are considered holy.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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Sidemen, the hidden gem of Bali

What about starting by saying that Sidemen was my favorite place in Bali. This picturesque village took my breath away and become my number one place on the island. Despite the overdevelopment elsewhere this unique region in east Bali still has the feeling as if not much has changed.

IMG_9831Just try to picture hills and valleys covered in lush jungle as far as the eye can see, morning mist, blooming flowers, and a place that emanates tranquility and beauty and puts you in close contact with nature at its best, this is Sidemen.

Here you can relax, contemplate the views and do some hiking trails and paths through some delicious green scenery.

In opposition to most of  Bali island, that have too many backpackers, too much traffic and way to much noise and pollution Sidemen is just a piece of heaven. The small villages are surrounded by rice fields and agricultural land, small traditional Hindu temples, and rivers.

Here they grow rice, corn, tapioca, coffee, salak (snake fruit), chilies, and flowers that are used in the canang sari offerings.

Sideman is found about 90 minutes’ drive northeast of Ubud and is a fairly easy ride by motorbike.

Sideman is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of other tourist areas in Bali. The perfect place to relax, hear and feel the sounds of nature.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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Yeh Pulu temple _ Bali

Yeh Pulu is a small archaeological heritage site from the 14th century located in the middle of beautiful rice fields and freshwater springs. This archaeological site is located in the central Bali highland village of Bedulu.

The site is located close to Ubud so you can get there with your own wheels (~10 to 15 minutes) and it’s also possible to walk through the rice fields from Goa Gajah to Yeh Pulu (~45-55 minutes walk).

The temple is quite small but displays an impressive 25m-long array of carvings. The name Yeh Pulu means ‘water of the stone vessel’ in archaic Balinese.

How to get there: the best way is to rent a scooter (~Rp.60,000 $4 day) the traffic between Ubud and Bedulo is quite heavy but is a short distance.

Entrance Fee: Rp15,000/ adult ($1)

Dress Code: Sarong is required to enter the temple, and can be borrowed from the temple’s entrance for free.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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Pura Besakih, The mother temple _ East Bali

The Besakih Temple is known as the “Mother Temple of Bali“, located 1000 metres high on the slopes of Mount Agung. It is the most important, the largest and holiest temple of Hindu religion in Bali, and unfortunately, it’s also a place where tourists are scammed and ripped off.

 

About Pura Besakih

Pura Besakih is a complex of 23 separate temples, the largest and central is the Pura Penataran Agung. The complex is located in the village of Besakih in eastern Bali, Indonesia.

The Pura Besakih complex hosts countless rituals and ceremonies every year, so it’s quite easy to step into one. Each temple has its own odalan (temple festival), based on the 210-day Pawukon calendar. They also celebrate the full moon each month as well as major holidays.

 

If you visit the complex during a ceremony expect large crowds dressed in traditional clothing.

 

What to expect

It’s possible to visit Pura Besakih on a day trip from Ubud, without being part of a tour, but be extra careful at this place since there are numerous stories of scams here. Because of this many people had a disappointing experience and wished they didn’t have visited the Pura Besakih complex.

I knew about this before, so I was aware of the scams beforehand. I didn’t have any problems but I saw many tourists being hassled. Visiting Pura Besakih can be definitely frustrating but for me was still worth the visit. Although its difficult for me to say, that you should visit the temples after all I read and saw.

Entrance fee: RP.60,000 ($3.95) (the most expensive temple I came across in Bali)

What you need to know before you go:
  • You do not need a guide, kindly say no and ignore them. You can visit the complex on your own even during ceremonies. Don’t believe if they say that there is a special prayer and it’s closed to tourists but the guide can help you visit the temple.
  • Don’t believe when they say the temple is closed for ceremonies, you can always walk among the temples and there’s no guide that can get you into a closed temple.
  • You can go anywhere you like, since you paid the ticket but not to the shrines.
  • Donations are not mandatory (you give money if you want to) that’s why they are called donations and not entrance fee.
  • If you want to give a donation do not believe the donation amounts that are in the guestbook. They are known to add a zero or two to entries, so you feel bad if you don’t give the same.
  • Bring your own sarong to avoid having to rent or buy one. The Sarong is not included in the ticket price.
  • At the parking lot, sellers will try to sell all sorts of stuff saying that you need it to enter the temple or ceremony you do not need anything except a ticket and a sarong.
  • Don’t accept the offer “come and pray with me” if you enter in a forbidden temple you can be fined.
  • Don’t allow anyone to keep your ticket, or you will need to buy another one.

Keep all the above in mind and you will be fine 🙂

Have you been to Pura Besakih or have you heard about other scams?

 

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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Tirta Empul, the temple of purification _ Bali

Tirta Empul is a temple complex and a holy mountain spring, located in the village of Manukaya in central Bali. It’s perfect to visit as a day out from Ubud. The village is a 30-minute drive from Ubud (approximately 15 Km~9 miles).

The temple was founded around a naturally occurring spring (Tirta Empul meaning Holy Spring) and is over a thousand years old. This temple is dedicated to Vishnu, who is the Hindu god of water.

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Tirta Empul was discovered in AD 962 and believed to have magical powers, the holy springs here bubble up into a large, crystal-clear pool. The spring feeds various purification baths, pools and fish ponds, which all flow to the Tukad Pakerisan River.

 

Hindu worshippers stand in the pools waiting to dip their heads under the water spouts in a purification ritual known as ‘melukat’. The water in the pools is believed to have magical powers and local Balinese come here to purify themselves.

 

Visitors are welcome to take part in this self-cleaning process. Just bring a towel and a change of clothes if you want to take part in the purification ceremony.

Behind the purification pools, is the ‘inner courtyard’ the place where people go to pray.

 

How to get there: the best way is the rent a scooter (~Rp.60,000 $4 day) the journey is very pleasant and beautiful through lush green rice fields and coconut trees.

Entrance Fee: Rp15,000/ adult ($1) and Rp.2,000 ($0.13) to park your scooter

Dress Code: Sarong is required to enter the temple as parts of the site are considered holy. Sarongs are available at the temple’s entrance to be and can be rented for a small donation.

Other information: 

There are lockers and a changing area available, and women should wear a shirt, preferably one that covers the shoulders.

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photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Gunung kawi Temple _ Bali

Pura Gunung Kawi is a beautiful archeological site, and a sacred place for Hindus located in the island of Bali, in the heart of the village of Tampak Siring, roughly 15KM from Ubud.

Is a gorgeous place full of art history, stunning views, and the environment in Gunung Kawi still is very natural and untouched, this temple is also known as the ‘Valley of The Kings’.

The temple is built into a steep valley overlooking the Pakserian River, a river that also snakes its way past the sacred Pura Tirta Empul.

It’s best to visit the temple early in the morning if you want to have a relaxing and peaceful experience, although you will not miss all the vendors.

There are more than 100 stairs to the temple, with great views over rice fields, the river and, jungle. Once you reach the temple you will find 10 candi (shrines) that are memorials cut out of the rock face in imitation of actual statues and alters dating back to the 11th century. The shrines are carved into some eight-meter high sheer cliff faces.

This temple is quite a unique archaeological sites in Bali due to its impressive carved rock structures.

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How to get there: the best way is the rent a scooter (~Rp.60,000 $4 day) the journey is very pleasant and beautiful through lush green rice fields and coconut trees.

Entrance Fee: Rp15,000/ adult ($1) and Rp.2,000 ($0.13) to park your scooter

Dress Code: Sarong is required to enter the temple as parts of the site are considered holy.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

🏍 find out more easy day trips from Ubud 🚌

The Central Mountains _ Gunung Batur area _ Bali

Bali it’s not only beaches and temples it’s also mountains and volcanoes. The Gunung Batur area is located in the center of the island of Bali, and since 2012 was added to the Unesco list of geologic wonders. Central Bali is the most mountainous area of Bali, and also the more isolated and thus more traditional.

Mount Batur has a height of 1717m above sea level the higher elevation also means that the temperatures are much cooler than in other parts of Bali. This region is perfect for trekkers and nature lovers.

Mount Batur is an active volcano, that has erupted several times over the time and has produced ‘black lava‘ which you can still see today. The most recent was eruption was in 2000. 

The crater has stunning views and there are a couple of villages around to explore. Kintamani is the main one.

Kintamani has a network of traditional mountain villages resting along the rim of the Mount Batur caldera. Kintamani is also home to Pura Ulun Danu Batur, one of the holiest of the nine directional temples of Bali.

To the west of Kintamani lies Bedugul, situated at the shores of mountain lake Beratan.

To get the best views, get up before the sun rises to climb Mount Batur, its a relatively easy 2-hour trek. The hike is mostly off-road trails and rocky terrain.

If you are looking for something more challenging the Mount Agung is the right one for you located in the east side of Bali. You can do a trekking to watch a breathtaking sunrise at Mount Agung, the highest mountain in Bali. This climbing is rather a challenge and requires physical fitness, so for serious mountain climbers

Central Mountains Highlights

Munduk area (mountain and waterfall)

Besakih Temple (the largest and holiest Hindu in Bali)

Pura Luhur Batukua (Temple)

Ulun Danu Bratan (Temple in Bedugul)

Danau Tamblingan (volcanic lake) 

Gunung Batur (active volcano)

villages around Danau Batur (scenic views up the surrounding peaks)

Antosari Road (rural drives through rice terraces)

Jatiluwih (Unesco recognized rice terraces)

Botanical gardens (close to Candi Kuning)

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photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Cambridge, where to go?

You have many reasons to visit this extraordinary university town. Cambridge has a unique vibe and will amaze you with its history, architecture, and natural beauty.

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When visiting Cambridge you can’t miss the colleges and it’s gardens, the riverside, all the green meadows surrounding the city and the Backs (gardens and parks line up beside the river behind the colleges).

Walking and cycling are the best ways to visit the city.

The town is full of cyclists, students and tourists, but still has a nice vibe and it’s far from being a big chaotic city.

The Colleges are truly amazing even if you only contemplate them from the outside.

Before your arrival, you should check on the internet if the King’s College Chapel or the Trinity College are hosting a concert during your visit. This is excellent way to visit both of this emblematic places (sometimes for free).

Most of the museums are free in Cambridge, if you have time you should visit them all, if not I recommend the fabulous Fitzwilliam Museum, the Kettle’s Yard and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

If you are a fan of Sir Isaac Newton, stop at Trinity College to see the famed apple tree where it was said to be the inspiration for his theory of gravity after being bopped on the head by one of the fallen fruits. 2015-01-09 23.58.30.jpg

If the weather invites for a picnic the Botanic Gardens are a must or a punting session through the river Cam.

It is always something happening in Cambridge, so make sure you do your research and don’t miss what this city has to offer.

If you visit cambridge be prepared to fall in love with this town.

Cambridge is very accessible by bus or train from London.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha 

🍜 More about vegan food in Cambridge 🍜

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