Namibia is a very popular travel destination and has become world-renowned for several of its unique features, whether this is the Namib– the oldest desert in the world – or the unforgettable Etosha National Park with its rich diversity of wildlife, which includes the threatened black rhino. And then we have not even mentioned the massive sand dunes of Sossusvlei (amongst the highest in the world at over 300 m), the ghost town of Kolmanskop, or Spitzkoppe, often called “the Matterhorn of Namibia”.
Making things easier for foreign travellers is the fact that it is affordable to visit Namibia and the official language is English. The cherry on the top is, if you’ve always wanted to see Africa’s “Big 5” (the lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and Cape buffalo), Namibia is home to all of them. And, contrary to what you might have suspected, the dry part of the year, from June to August, is perhaps the best time of year to visit the country. This is wintertime and temperatures drop well below their sweltering summer highs of over 40 °C (104 °F). However, most importantly, especially if you are visiting Etosha, the animals are far easier to see because they tend to congregate at the dwindling water sources.
Namibia might be much smaller than neighbouring South Africa but is positively vast for a population of only 2,75 million people. In fact, Namibia’s population density of 3,2 people per square kilometre is second only to Mongolia in the world rankings. It is, therefore, not unusual to travel for hours and hours without seeing another human being and Namibia has not been called the country of a thousand horizons for nothing. If you want to get away from it all, we cannot recommend a better place to do it! To make the most of your travels, we have compiled a list of useful tips:
- Money. Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho, and (formerly Swaziland) are all part of the Common Monetary Area, which means all these countries’ currencies are on 1:1 parity with the South African rand. The rand is also widely accepted in Namibia, which is handy. But you would also be surprised how many places accept credit-card or PayPal payments. Not all do, though, so always have some cash with you.
- Time. To make the most of Namibia, a quick visit won’t suffice. It is simply too large and the distances between all the must-see attractions too vast to rush your visit. From the Etosha National Park in the north to Kolmanskop in the south is nearly 1600 km (1000 miles) by road. Take your time but plan your road trips carefully to take the long distances into account. Some days, you’ll be lucky to pass a single other car on the road! Distances in Namibia are based more on drive time than distance and not all roads are in equally good condition. Take your Google Maps drive-time estimate with a pinch of salt.
- Language. English is the official language but Afrikaans and German are also widely spoken in the country.
- Visas. Travellers from several countries need no visa at all when travelling to Namibia (if they stay for less than 90 days) and these include South Africa, Australia, Britain, Germany, Canada, America, and Japan. Travellers that do require a 90-day travel visa are those from Greece, South Korea, China, and Eastern Europe. Even so, this can usually be arranged within 3 days at your local Namibian embassy. Always make doubly sure of your visa requirements.
- Photography. As we’ve intimated, a camera is of the utmost importance in this beautiful country. You’ll likely take thousands of photos of the wildlife, natural features, and other attractions. Be sure to bring a zoom lens if you are a keen wildlife spotter and are on a mission to capture the Big 5.
- Travelling essentials. Even if you’re making use of B&B accommodation and are not planning on roughing it in a tent, you’ll need certain essentials on your day trips in Namibia, not least of all sunscreen to ward off the African sun – even in winter. Other useful items include a reusable water bottle, sunglasses, a pocketknife, lip balm, and a good book.
- Eating and drinking. The food is a fascinating blend of African, South African, and German flavours and you stand to be genuinely surprised by the standard of the local cuisine. The tap water is perfectly drinkable in most of the country but remember to save water, as Namibia has just emerged from one of the worst droughts in its history.
- Connectivity. In the cities and large towns, you are likely to have 3G coverage but in between, you’ll most likely be “off the grid”. Namibia is ideal for a technology detox! So, remember that car charger and keep your offline maps and GPS apps up to date so you can use your navigation tech on the road.
- Driving. Opt for an SUV or pickup truck in Namibia, or a higher-riding crossover in the very least. This is Africa and the gravel roads are not made for sporty cars and low-riding sedans. It is even better if your accommodation provider comes to collect you when you land in Windhoek. If you are going to do your own driving, stay alert and rest frequently. This might sound obvious, but single-vehicle accidents are common in Namibia because people lose concentration or fall asleep on those long stretches of road. Don’t drive at night, because you might not spot roaming wildlife crossing the road in time.
If you’re staying with Ohorongo Safaris, rest assured that we will collect you at the airport and drive you to our lodge. If you want to drive yourself, leave enough daytime for the journey – around 5 hours – and just follow the directions. It is perfectly straightforward and can be found on the “How to Get There” page on the website. Chances are that, once at the lodge, you’d not want to go anywhere. Witness the endless savannahs, the rocky, granite outcrops with a view of the wildlife below, and lounge by the pool or by the fireside for a delicious dinner. You’re in Africa and we will ensure that your Namibian experience will be engraved in your mind forever.