Distinguished by the Namib Desert along its Atlantic Ocean coast, the south-west country of Namibia is home to endless desert terrain, a night sky likened to impressionist paintings and diverse wildlife. Sparsely populated, the southern African country is one of the most breath-taking on the continent and promises a truly remote getaway.
Its wildlife offering includes the biggest population of free-roaming cheetahs to be found anywhere as well close to 100 other mammal species, all best observed at the pre-eminent Etosha National Park.
Complementing its vast landscapes and animal offering, are its alluring cities and friendly people. With its strong German influences observed through gothic cathedrals, and large European population, Windhoek is much more than the country’s capital and largest city, and is the perfect place to begin or end a Namibia trip.
Depending on where you are coming from, the requirements will vary. We strongly advise that before you travel, you must contact the relevant issuing authorities in good time to ascertain the entry requirements to their country, and to arrange the necessary permits and visas.
Banking and Currency
Namibia uses the Namibian Dollar (N$) this is linked on a one to one exchange with the South African Rand. The Rand is legal tender in Namibia, but the N$ cannot be used in South Africa.
If you are wishing to purchase currency before arriving in Namibia, it is easiest to buy Rand as the Namibian Dollar is seldom available in banks outside of Namibia.
Banks are found in most towns, and are generally open from 09h00 to 15h30 on weekdays and 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays. Closed on Sundays and public holidays. Most of them offer foreign exchange services – with cash, bank and credit cards as well as travellers cheques.
You can also obtain cash from many of the ATMs. Several international banks have branches in main city centres.
Always advise your bank that you are travelling outside of the country as they might block your purchases if they have not been informed.
Travel, Transport and Getting Around
Public transport in Namibia is geared towards the needs of the local populace, and is confined to main roads between major population centres. Although cheap and reliable, it is of little use to the traveller as most of Namibia’s tourist attractions lie off the beaten track.
It is easy to travel around Namibia by car, and a 2WD vehicle is perfectly adaquate for most journeys. However, long distances, poor mobile phone coverage outside of main towns and infrequent petrol stations that only accept cash mean that planning ahead is vital.
There are major airlines that fly into Windhoek and Swakopmund. Other destinations are reachable by car or charter flight.
Namibians drive on the left and all signposts are in English. Seat belts must be worn at all times and talking on a mobile phone while driving is prohibited. The general speed limit is 120km/h on tarred roads outside of towns and 100km/h on gravel roads. In built up areas, the speed limit is 60km/h.
Health and Medical Information
While most holiday areas in Namibia are malaria-free, certain areas do carry risks of malaria. Please consult your physician about malaria prophylactics at least six weeks before travelling if you are visiting any of these areas: the Kunune and Kavango Rivers year-round and the northern part of the country around Etosha and the Caprivi Strip from November to June.
Tell your doctor if you are going scuba diving after your trip to Namibia as this will affect the type of anti-malaria you may be prescribed.
GENERAL PRECAUTION TIPS:
Sleep under the mosquito net if it is provided in your room.
Lightly spray your room with bug repellent before you go for dinner.
At sunset, apply mosquito repellent and wear long-sleeve shirt and trousers with closed shoes.
GENERAL HEALTH TIPS:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap but especially after using the toilet and before eating.
- Carry anti-bacterial hand gel if soap and water are not easily available.
- Do not underestimate the effects of the sun.
- Apply high SPF sunscreen regularly and wear a sun hat.
- Drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and seek medical assistance if you feel shaky, nauseous or clammy after a day in the sun as you may be suffering from sunstroke.
- Ensure that your regular vaccinations – such as rabies, tetanus, influenza, MMR and hepatitis are up to date.
Although incidents of theft are extremely rare, for peace of mind make use of your in-room safe or the Hotel’s safe to store your extra cash, travel documents, jewellery, cameras and electronic gadgets when you do not require them or when you are leaving your room.
Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice
Traditional Namibian cuisine is rarely served and so the food at restaurants tends to be European in style and is, generally, of a very high standard.
Namibia is very meat-orientated, and many menu options will feature steaks from various animals. However, there is usually a vegetarian and seafood section offered by most camps and restaurants.
In the supermarkets you’ll find pre-wrapped fresh fruit and vegetables (though the more remote the areas you visit, the smaller your choice), and plenty of canned foods, pasta, rice, bread, etc. Most of this is imported from South Africa.
The water in Namibia’s main towns is generally safe to drink, though it may taste a little metallic if it has been piped for miles. Natural sources should usually be purified, though water from underground springs and dry riverbeds seldom causes any problems. However, filtered and bottled water are readily available in most towns and all camps, lodges and hotels.
Climate and Weather
Partially covered by the Namib Desert, one of the world’s driest deserts, Namibia’s climate is generally very dry and pleasant – it’s fine to visit all year round. Namibia only receives a fraction of the rain experienced by countries further east.
Between about December to March some days will be humid and rain may follow, often in localised, afternoon thunderstorms. These are more common in the centre and east of the country, and more unusual in the desert.
April and especially May are often lovely months in Namibia. Increasingly dry, with a real freshness in the air, and much greenery in the landscape; at this time the air is clear and largely free from dust.
From June to August Namibia cools down and dries out more; nights can become cold, dropping below freezing in some desert areas. As the landscape dries so the game in the north of the country gravitates more to waterholes, and is more easily seen by visitors.
By September and October it warms up again; game-viewing in most areas is at its best, although there’s often a lot of dust around and the vegetation has lost its vibrancy.
November is a highly variable month. Sometimes the hot, dry weather will continue, at other times the sky will fill with clouds and threaten to rain – but if you’re lucky enough to witness the first rains of the season, you’ll never forget the drama.
Clothing and Dress Recommendations
Namibians have a somewhat relaxes attitude to dress codes. A jacket and tie is very unusual. In fact, long trousers and a shirt with buttons are often quite adequate for a formal occasion or work wear. A pair of sensible shoes, jeans and a t-shirt is recommended.
During the day it is generally hot, so pack light weight loose fitting clothes in natural fabrics, such linen or cotton, that will keep you cool and are easy to wash and dry.
Avoid blue clothing – the tsetse flies are drawn to the colour blue, and their bite can give you African sleeping sickness.
Long sleeved shirts and long trousers will protect your against mosquitoes at night.
Electricity and Plug Standards
Current is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles per second. A three-point round-pin adapter plug should be brought for your electrical appliances. Such adapters are also available at major airports.
- Disable the GPS function on your social media and other apps when uploading images of wildlife. Poaching syndicates use online and digital information to track highly endangered rhino. Think twice before you make these images publicly available and consider who you are tagging.
- Namibia is a very arid country and fresh water is scarce in most areas, especially the desert. Take shorter showers, do not fill the bath tub and switch off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving – avoid letting the water run unnecessarily.
- Smoking, eating, drinking or singing on game drives aren’t permitted. Do go ahead and ask your guide questions or tell him or her if you would like to stop for a while longer. Remember that your guide cannot guarantee what sights you will see.
- Don’t goad your guide into driving closer to especially babies or kills in order to get a better view. Young and their mothers are skittish and you could frighten off hungry predators from a much-needed meal.
- Leave natural items including plants, fungi, rocks or animal products where you found them. It is illegal to procure ivory or rhino horn.
- Always obey your guide’s instructions. No matter how “tame” animals may seem, they are still wild and unpredictable. Do not attempt to entice them with food, imitate animal sounds, clap your hands to get their attention, or teas them to provoke a reaction. If an attack does occur, you may be far from significant medical attention so always be wary of the animals and act cautiously.