With its well-developed infrastructure, some of the best tourist facilities in Africa and an impressive list of breathtaking natural wonders, touring Namibia is truly a pleasure. Visit the capital of Windhoek and the lovely coastal town of Swakopmund to discover remnants of the country’s German influence, reflected in the architecture, culture, cuisine and the annual Oktoberfest celebrations. To properly appreciate this extraordinary country, you will have to venture out of the cities to explore the remarkable natural landscapes Namibia has to offer. These include: the impressive Fish River Canyon Park; the vast Etosha National Park teeming with local subspecies, such as desert lions, desert elephants and the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra; the hauntingly beautiful Kalahari Desert; and of course the Namib Desert stretching for nearly 1000 km along the magnificent Atlantic coastline. Namibia is an ideal destination for travellers seeking an unforgettable African experience in a uniquely beautiful untamed wilderness.
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.
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 adequate for most journeys. Although, we strongly recommend a vehicle with high ground clearance. 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 in 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
Due to the hot dry climate Namibia is virtually free of tropical diseases. Visitors should however take care of the following:
A bite from an infected Anopheles mosquito can transmit microscopic blood parasites resulting in malaria. While malaria is found mainly in the north of the country, cases have been reported in the central region and occasionally in the south. Malaria can be a serious and fatal disease without prompt treatment. You can reduce the risk of malaria by using prophylactics (which should be started before arriving in Namibia and under your doctor’s guidance) and by following these simple procedures:
Wear long sleeves and long trousers. Avoid wearing dark colours, which attract mosquitoes
Apply mosquito repellents to exposed skin. Remember that repellents must be reapplied on a regular basis to offer optimum protection.
Where possible sleep under a mosquito net
Insect repellents of high quality can be purchased in Namibia. Should any of the symptoms of malaria, such as fever, rigours (shaking), headaches, backache, diarrhoea and/or vomiting be experienced, it is extremely important to obtain professional help as soon as possible for proper diagnosis (a blood test) and prompt treatment. Symptoms can surface as soon as ten days and as long as eight weeks after being bitten. If any flu like symptoms are experienced once you return home seek immediate medical attention and advise your doctor that you have recently visited a malaria area.
This is one of the most common problems in Namibia, especially in the hot summer months. Because of the high evaporation rate one seldom notices water loss – your sweat evaporates almost immediately! To avoid dehydration, try to drink three litres of water a day. Fizzy drinks (eg: Coca Cola) and beer DO NOT re-hydrate you! Early warning signs are a dull, throbbing headache and unusual tiredness.
Tap water is safe to drink throughout the country, except for isolated rural areas, where the consumption of filtered or bottled water is recommended.
The dry climate and the height above sea level often cause nose bleeds for the first few days after arrival.
SNAKES, SCORPIONS & SPIDERS
Although we have many different snakes in Namibia, they are seldom seen. The great majority of snakes are timid and move out of your path long before you see them. When walking in the bush wear good walking boots, preferable with thick socks covering the ankles. When walking in long grass be sure to check your legs and clothes for grass ticks – especially in the rainy season
Scorpions and spiders are also seldom seen. They are more active in the rainy season, during the cooler evening and early morning hours. The best way to avoid being stung is to wear shoes. If by chance you encounter a scorpion or spider in your room, please ask your host to have it removed. Do not leave your shoes/boots outside at night – these provide convenient places for scorpions and spiders to hole up in – not to mention the fact that Jackals have an insatiable appetite for shoes of all makes and sizes!
Wear a hat and sunscreen at all times. Never go walking without a supply of water – even if on a short walk. Keep a supply of water and some fruit or biscuits in your vehicle at all times.
Namibia is a peaceful, democratic country and it is safe to travel throughout the country.
Generally Namibia is relatively crime free. However, as in any other place in the world, there are undesirable elements. The following precautions can be taken to ensure a safe and pleasant stay:
- Always keep your vehicle locked and the alarm system activated.
- Do not leave valuables in your car, especially not in full view. If need be, lock your bags out of sight in the boot.
- Be on the alert for handbag snatchers and pick pockets.
- Make sure that the numbers of your travellers cheques are on your receipt and that this is kept in a safe place – separate from your cheques.
- Make copies of your travel documents and keep these in a safe place - separate from the original documents.
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 relaxed 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 are 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.
Long sleeved shirts and long trousers will protect you against mosquitoes at night.
Telecom Namibia offers a service called wi-space. You purchase a wi-space voucher that allows you to connect to WiFi wherever you see the wi-space logo (about 40 locations in Namibia).
Alternatively good WiFi access is available at most holiday accommodation venues across the country (free / paid).
Electricity and Plug Standards
Electrical sockets in Namibia are Type M (SABS-1661). If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all types.
Electrical sockets in Namibia usually supply electricity at 230 volts AC / 50 Hz frequency. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 230 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance isn’t compatible with 230 volts, a voltage converter will be necessary.
The National Flag is a symbol of our struggle for national unity.
It symbolises peace, unity and a common loyalty to Namibia.
The SUN symbolises life and energy.
The GOLD represents warmth and the colour of our plains and the Namib Desert.
The BLUE symbolises the Namibia sky, the Atlantic Ocean, our marine resources and the importance of rain and water.
The RED represents the Namibian people, their heroism and their determination to build a future of equal opportunity for all.
The WHITE refers to peace and unity.
The GREEN symbolises Namibia’s vegetation and agricultural.
NAMIBIA land of the brave
Freedom fight we have won
Glory to their bravery
Whose blood waters our freedom
We give our love and loyalty
Together in unity
Contrasting beautiful Namibia
Namibia our country
Beloved land of savannahs
Hold high the banner of liberty
Namibia our country
We love thee