Namibia

Located in southwestern Africa, Namibia boasts a well-developed infrastructure, some of the best tourist facilities in Africa, and an impressive list of breathtaking natural wonders. Visitors can explore the capital of Windhoek and discover the lovely coastal town of Swakopmund boasting 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; the vast Etosha National Park teeming with abundant wildlife, such as lions, desert-adapted elephants and the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra; the hauntingly beautiful Kalahari Desert; and of course the Namib Desert stretching for over 2000 km along the magnificent Atlantic Coast. Namibia is an ideal destination for travellers seeking an unforgettable African experience in a uniquely beautiful untamed wilderness.


Banking and Currency

Currency

The currency of Namibia is The Namibian Dollar (NAD; symbol N$) is in note denominations of N$200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of N$5, N$1, 50 cents, 10 cents and 5 cents. It is linked to the South African Rand (R) on a 1:1 basis (South African Rand = 100 cents). The South African Rand is also acceptable as currency in Namibia.

The import and export of local currency is limited to N$50,000. The import of foreign currency is unlimited, provided sums equal to or exceeding NAD5,000 are declared on arrival. Export of foreign currency is unlimited up to the amount imported and declared.

Banking

Banking hours: Monday - Friday 09h00 to 15h30 and Satuday 08h30 to 11h00

Banks are found in most towns, with most being closed on Sundays and public holidays. Most of them offer foreign exchange services - with cash, bank and credit cards as well as travellers  cheques. 

American Express, Diners Club, Mastercard and Visa are accepted. Credit cards are not usually accepted at petrol stations, so bear this in mind when you visit the ATM. Setting aside an emergency petrol cash fund is a good idea if you’re planning to drive.

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. 

To avoid additional exchange rate charges, take traveller's cheques in US Dollars or South African Rand. In general, you can expect a better exchange rate for traveller’s cheques than for cash.


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 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.


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 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. 


Internet Availability

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.


Botswana

Situated in the southern reaches of Africa, Botswana is renowned for its pristine wilderness areas characterised by deep lagoons, wetlands, lush palms, rugged hills and desert plains scattered with scrubland. The country’s primary tourist drawcard is undoubtedly the vast red expanse of the Kalahari Desert and its remarkably beautiful Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta in the world. These natural wonders provide a tranquil haven for an abundance of African wildlife to thrive. Other highlights include the impressive Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, where visitors are privy to massive zebra migrations during the flood season; the Savuti plains, which host large prides of lions; and the Tsodilo Hills, where 4500 rock paintings form a unique record of human settlement over many millennia.


Banking and Currency

Currency

Botswana's currency is Pula (which means 'rain' in Setswana). It is divided into 100 thebe (which means 'shield' in Setswana). Travellers' cheques and foreign currency may be changed at banks, bureaux de change and authorised hotels. 

The US dollar, Euros, British Pound and the South African Rand are the most easily convertible currencies (and accepted by some estabishments - but, generally, then an inflated rate of exchange will be applied). 

Banking

Seven main commercial banks, as well as a number of foregin exchange bureaux, operate in Botswana. Operating hours are Monday to Friday 08h30 to 15h30 and Saturday 08h30 to 10h45.

Full banking services are available in major towns, although ATMs are sprouting up all over the country. Most credit cards are accepted at hotels and restaurants. Cultural sites and community art and craft outlets usually only accept cash.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Public transport in Botswana 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 Botswana’s tourist attractions lie off the beaten track.

Driving off the main roads in Botswana is only recommended to expects in 4x4 vehicles, that are equipped correctly. Most lodges offer transfers or they can be arranged. If, however, you will be driving in Botswana: your home driving licence will be accepted (with an official English translation if necessary; driving is on the left side of the road; and the national speed limit is on tarred roads is 120km/h and 60km/h in towns and villages. 

Be sure to watch out for wild animals on the roads!

There are major airports in Maun, Kasane and Gaborone, while smaller charter flights are used to get to the other top attractions and camps.


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Safari lodges and camps serve international-style cuisine, generally of an extremely high standard, along with local beer and imported wine and spirits. Good restaurants and bars can be found in main towns, often within hotels. Beef and goat are very popular meats. Elsewhere, food is more basic: millet and sorghum porridge are the local staples.

Tap water is considered safe to drink, although outside main cities and towns, visitors are advised to check first and sterilise water if in any doubt. Bottled water is available in most tourist centres. Filtered water is available at most camps and shops offer bottled water - it is advised to be well stocked of bottled water if you are travelling off the beaten track. Milk is pasteurised, and dairy products, local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are generally safe.

A discretionary five-to-ten-percent tip is typical for restaurant bills. In many places, a service charge is automatically added. It is customary to tip the game guide and lodge staff while on safari.


Climate and Weather

Botswana's climatic pattern is typical of southern Africa, although its rainfall is less than countries further east. The rains in Botswana come mostly between December and March, when average minimum temperatures are in the low 20°s. Some days will be bright and sunny, some will have afternoon thunderstorms, and some will just be grey.

As with Namibia, April and May in Botswana are generally lovely, with the sky clear and the landscape green. Night temperatures start to drop during these months, especially in the Kalahari. Note that places in and around the Okavango tend to have less extreme, more moderate temperatures than the drier areas of the Kalahari.

From June to August the night-time temperatures in drier areas can be close to freezing, but it warms up rapidly during the day, when the sky is usually clear and blue. It's now very much 'peak season' for most safari areas: the land is dry in most areas so the animals congregate around the few available water sources.

This continues into September and October, when temperatures climb again, drying the landscapes and concentrating the game even more. This is the best time for big game safaris – although October can feel very hot, with maximum temperatures sometimes approaching 40°C.

November is difficult to predict, as it can sometimes be a continuation of October's heat, whilst sometimes it's cooled by the first rains; it's always an interesting month.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

In summer, lightweight, lightcoloured cottons are preferable. Avoid synthetic materials and black clothing, as they increase perspiration and discomfort. In winter, wear trousers, longsleeved shirts / blouses and jerseys. From May – August, night temperatures can fall below zero degrees celsius, so warm jerseys and jackets are vital, especially on morning and evening game drives. Garments of neutral colours that blend with the bush and forest are advisable for safaris and game viewing. Bring a lightweight jacket and/or jersey for unexpected temperature changes or rain. Closed, comfortable walking shoesor gym shoes are a must in all seasons. Special attention should be given to protection from the sun. Bring a sunhat, good quality sunscreen, sun lotion and polarised sunglasses. Wide brimmed sun hats are essential.


Internet Availability

Some hotels, lodges and guest houses offer internet access or WiFi (free or paid), and there are internet cafe's in Gaborone and Maun. Internet access in more remote rural areas is often hard to come by.


Electricity and Plug Standards

Electrical sockets (outlets) in Botswana are the 'Type M' South African SABS1661 ('Large' 15 amp BS-546) sockets. This is actually an old British standard. The 'Type M' South African plug and socket is not to be confused with the 'Type D' Indian plug and socket. In pictures, they look very similar, but the South African type is much larger than the Indian type, and they are physically incompatible. 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.

Electrical sockets (outlets) in Botswana usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. 

But travel plug adapters do not change the voltage, so the electricity coming through the adapter will still be the same 220-240 volts the socket is supplying. If you need to use appliances that are not compatible with 220-240 volt electrical input, you will need a voltage converter.




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