Looking for Namibia travel tips before you decide to begin your epic Southern African adventure? This travel guide the considerations to know prior to deciding to travel to Namibia has you covered, including from what to see and do, a place to stay, learn how to get around safely, and the ways to prepare for your vacation. The mountainous red/orange dunes of Sossusvlei, the stark and perilous Skeleton Coast, the
moonscapes of Spitzkoppe, the incredible wildlife viewing in Etosha, the deep valleys of Fish River Canyon, the endless starry skies, the blazing African sunsets, the friendly locals, and seriously delicious food. Yep, Namibia totally blew our minds. But if we’re honest, we didn’t plan our vacation to Namibia adequately at all. It was only inadvertently we met an awesome local named Hennie, who provided us with the information to navigate Namibia efficiently, safely and enjoyably. His words of wisdom saved us with no doubt triggered the incredible time we'd in Namibia. Now it’s our utilize pass on the ability we learned. So you can contain the best possible vacation to Namibia, listed below are 20 things to find out before you visit this remarkably beautiful country.
THE DISTANCES ARE VAST AND YOU SHOULD TRAVEL NAMIBIA SLOWLY
Vacation to Namibia is unlike travel any place else on earth. Known as being the land of endless horizons, the vast distances and epic landscapes on this country will leave you feeling both insanely smaller than average insignificant, and carefree as well as in absolute awe each and every turn. It's epic in just about every way, plus a visit here is worth it. A disconcerting fact is Namibia provides the second lowest population density on this planet after Mongolia, with only 2.2 million inhabitants. It’s immensely vast, yet so completely empty. In fact, during one day, we spent a long time driving with the Namib desert without seeing another living soul - not really an animal. The isolation has it’s perks though; we found Namibia to become the perfect destination to escape the hubbub of city life, and embrace a quieter way of life. Make essentially the most of the vastness, and spend at the least two weeks checking country. If you hold the time, 30 days. That way it's not necessary to rush from destination for a place and spend days at the same time in the car to tick places off. You won’t regret, in case we’re honest, the longer you would spend exploring Namibia, the unlikely it is you’ll wish to leave.
NAMIBIA WAS INHABITED BY BUSHMEN FOR MILLENIA, THEN COLONISED IN 1884
Prior on the 19th century, Namibia ended up being inhabited because of the rich and peaceful cultures in the original San, Damara, Herero and Nama bushmen for millennia. The most well-known of the groups, the San bushmen, may also be believed to become the oldest original people in the area (of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa), living a nomadic hunter-gatherer life.
Then, such as many other African nations (and to your surprise of local indigenous populations), in the nineteenth century Europeans arrived. Although Namibia was technically a British territory, it was being German colonists that landed within the shoreline at Walvis Bay from the 1880s. This occupation makes Namibia a completely unique country inside the area; high of its architecture is German, there exists a german newspaper, and most from the population speaks German as one of their main tongues. However, like the majority of colonial empires in Africa, brutality was enforced within the indigenous population. From 1904 to 1907, in what's become called the Herero revolt, the area Herero and also the Namaqua tribes began arms from the colonisers, and led to what has been termed ‘the first genocide with the Twentieth Century’. German government officials ordered the extinction of natives, and devastatingly, half on the Nama population, and 80% from the Herero population were damaged. In a number of ways, this is the precursor for the apartheid years that dominated this region inside 20th century.
APARTHEID ALSO EXISTED IN NAMIBIA
While apartheid is most frequently associated with South Africa today, it's important for being aware that apartheid also existed in Namibia - this is why, like South Africa, a social divide remains to be evident today. In the 1940s, South-West Africa turn into a de-facto ‘fifth province’ of South Africa, and as a consequence fell under their awful apartheid regime. Much like South Africa, black and coloured neighbourhoods were torn down, populations were segregated from 1 another, and tt wasn’t until 1988 that independence was gained and also the united nation of Namibia was formed.
ENGLISH AND GERMAN ARE WIDELY SPOKEN
Namibians commonly speak a couple of (or maybe more!) languages; English, a native tongue like Oshiwambo (spoken by 49% on the population), and either German or Afrikaans. In fact, due towards the country’s colonial history you’ll hear German pretty regularly around areas like Swakopmund (which looks eerily such as a quaint german town), while Afrikaans often functions because lingua franca between locals.
THERE IS A HUGE AMOUNT TO SEE AND DO IN NAMIBIA
It could be vast, and distances can be long, bu Namibia has a awful lot you must see. Sossusvlei, Fish River Canyon and Kolmanskop are must visit destinations to your south, as the unique and wild coastlines of Swakopmund, Walvis Bay as well as the Skeleton Coast can not be missed. Don’t forget Etosha National Park, the place to find some in the best wildlife viewing opportunities in Africa, plus the epic, otherworldly landscapes of Spitzkoppe. And we haven’t even mentioned the abundant plains from the Caprivi Strip yet - one of Africa's most unspoiled safari destinations!
NAMIBIA IS SAFE(ISH)
Undoubtedly, "is Namibia safe traveling" may be the question we're asked usually about our time within the country. Our honest answer, is Namibia felt like one in the safest countries we've ever visited - until we arrived into Windhoek. On a Saturday night from the heart of Namibia's capital, we had been almost mugged. We won’t enter into detail as all's well that ends well, but it absolutely was our own stupid fault and also a lesson available for you all - never let your guard down. Why are we hinting this? Because it’s important we’re transparent along with you, however it’s essential you don’t let our small negative experience dissuade you visiting. As an entirely, Namibians are exceedingly friendly, the nation's infrastructure is great, along with the level of corruption discussed is simply far under neighbouring countries. It is, overwhelmingly, a peaceful and welcoming country. However, you will still find issues with both poverty and gang violence, containing lead to increased personal and petty crime. When you are looking for travel and safety in Namibia, consider the normal precautions you'll anywhere, for instance never leaving valuables or bags unattended with your car, and being cautious with those near you at ATMs. In some areas, it is recommended that you don’t wander alone or catch taxis shortly before bedtime (particularly after 9pm) mindful about have been reports of armed muggings and theft of tourist's backpacks. As always, take these warnings that has a grain of salt, and in lieu of let them sway via visiting, just keep these Namibia safety tips in your mind. It's extremely important to get travel insurance prior to deciding to visit Namibia.
THE NAMIBIAN DOLLAR = THE SOUTH AFRICAN RAND
Namibia, together with South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland, are part from the Common Monetary Area. Therefore, the Namibian Dollar is on 1:1 parity using the South African Rand. The current exchange minute rates are 1 USD = 11.6 Namibian Dollars (last updated 20/03/2018). The South African Rand is widely accepted within Namibia, that's definitely handy should you have leftover vary from your travels in South Africa. While we’re talking money, bank card facilities can be obtained just about everywhere (we purchased a room via credit card from the middle on the desert). However, do still carry an accumulation cash along, should.
IT'S ACTUALLY NOT THAT CHEAP
If you're backpacking Namibia with limited funds, it's worth nothing that travelling Namibia just isn't as cheap as what you might initially think it might be. In some instances, we found Namibia to get an affordable destination. Essentials, for example food and drink were inexpensive, so we found accommodation in cities and towns as also quite cheap. Entry in the many National Parks is incredibly manageable. However, while you make your way out to the desert, the absolutely skyrocket. We recommend being thrifty inside the cities if you take advantage of backpacker accommodation (check Hostelworld for the greatest budget accommodation options). When you visit Sossusvlei, Fish River Canyon, or Etosha use accommodation websites for instance Hotels Combined for the greatest deal, or stay from the many campsites. From our perspective, we mostly stayed in hotel accommodation during our excursion as we was lacking a tent or camping equipment. This totally hiked up our daily afford hotel accommodation, so that as camping in Africa is simple, it's pretty sure that if we'd our time over we'd definitely select the cheaper campsites instead! If you’re likely to self-drive, be warned that fuel cost is expensive. We spent over N$2,500 (almost $200 USD) on fuel during our 7-day journey.
PLAN YOUR TRIP AHEAD OF TIME (AS MUCH AS YOU CAN)
Okay, we’re gonna let you in little our secret. We didn’t plan our Namibian trip early in advance, nor book any accommodation, and unfortunately we paid handsomely because of it. There was actually one moment in Sossusvlei we thought we’d ought to sleep within our car overnight. Thankfully, we didn’t! Major travel blogger fail. Our advice would be to thoroughly research Namibia and plan your itinerary beforehand. Work out where you wish to visit, ways to get around, and accommodations; after which book all you could can prior to deciding to leave. It's an understatement that mobile service is patchy in desert areas, then there is nothing worse than showing up at your destination from a long drive only to realize that the place is entirely booked up. Note: Namibia is quite busy during South African school holiday periods, so keep that under consideration when planning your trip.
NAMIBIA IS THE PERFECT ROAD TRIP DESTINATION
Namibia is vast, which we’re sure you’re now alert to. Because in this, it’s a wonderful destination for an epic journey. The attractiveness of road tripping through Namibia has the freedom to travel in your own pace, and go wherever you need to go. There were so often we just were forced to pull over, the scenery too incredible to give. The road network is extensive and customarily well signposted (besides the depths with the Skeleton Coast). If you choose to do decide to journey, be aware from the large distances between destinations, and plan accordingly.
YOU SHOULD HIRE A 4WD AFRI-CAMPER
If you’re thinking about road-tripping through Namibia, you want to do it in the off road 4WD Africamper. These converted 4WD ute/truck/tray back beasts are designed for the Namibian roads, which enables it to easily handle the sand that may inevitably stand with your path. If you'll be able to’t afford a 4WD camper, we recommend working with a high clearance mini SUV. We went about getting by just fine in ours, despite some hairy moments. That said, you should definitely have travel cover for your excursion in Namibia. Distances are vast, and you're inside the desert. Be prepared, be safe, and try to travel with insurance to the 'just-in-case-worst-case-scenario' moments.
YOU ALWAYS NEED TO BE PREPARED (AND WE MEAN ALWAAAAAYS)
In Namibia, it’s important to organize the worst, and expect the most beneficial. After all, you are about to take off a b - multi-day journey using an extremely dry and wild desert - being ready for whatever that adventures throws at you is essential. If you’re heading with a Namibian excursion on your own, we can't emphasise enough how important it really is to always pack additional items including food, water, and warm clothing. To give you a notion, we always a minimum of 10L of water inside the back of our car, and enough food to last us 2-3 days if your need arose. Some days, you may be lucky to give another car for the road. On one stretch of road from the Namib Desert, we passed three cars/trucks with punctured tyres. If you’re self-driving, always carry additional fuel and tyres.
WINDHOEK IS WORTH YOUR TIME
Most travellers will arrive to Windhoek and scurry straight out almost straightaway, as well as in all honesty, we why. But despite there not being a complete lot to perform in Windhoek, we merely can't hate around the city - particularly because Mark's mum was given birth to there! If you’ve been about the road for quite a while, Windhoek is often a good location to stop, relax, and put on extra all your supplies before showing up in Namibian highways for your next destination. If you happen to be spending quantity of Windhoek, we recommend considering the follow places: Christuskirche (Christ Church), the Parliament Gardens, the Old Breweries Craft Market, thus hitting up one from the beer houses (it truly is little Germany in the end).
SWAKOPMUND IS EXTREME SPORTS HEAVEN
The violent Atlantic ocean to a single side, the towering dunes from the Namib for the other, the colonial city of Swakopmund feels as though an outpost time forgot. It’s surprising then, that ‘Swakop’ is really Africa’s adventure capital. Those hunting for a shot of adrenalin will take their select a smorgasbord of activities, including skydiving (Swakop is one from the cheapest places on the globe skydive!), sand-boarding, quad-biking and power-kiting. And during the night, you could make your way to one on the many awesome pubs, notable for delicious German beer and cuisine.
NAMIBIA HAS GHOST TOWNS
Kolmanskop, within the far south-west corner of Namibia, had been a thriving diamond mining town. Established in 1908, Kolmanskop was detailed with stately homes, a faculty, hospital, bowling alley and ballroom. As the expense of diamonds begun to drop after World War One, and after richer diamonds were found further south, the residents did start to leave. By 1954 the location was abandoned. Now, an eerie ghost town remains, partially reclaimed with the constantly moving sands from the Namib. It’s a seriously cool spot to visit and one that's worth the effort of obtaining there (generally from Luderitz). You requires a permit to enter the vicinity, that is organised through one in the tour companies in Lüderitz before you decide to go, or for the gate when you turn up. There are a few what to keep under consideration regarding the Kolmanskop permits:
Standard Kolmanskop permits: are about N$75 per adult (though this can have increased since we had been there in 2016), as well as includes a free tour. While it really is possible to wander around this town yourself, but we'd recommend joining the tour to ensure you don't forget discovering any in the town's secrets. Tours depart at 9:30am and 11:00am.
Kids permits: if you are travelling with kids, entrance fees are N$50 for the children between 6 and 14.
Photography permits: N$230 per person. This is in fact a slightly confusing permit while you can still photograph the website using your standard entry permit. However, the photography permit grants having access to Kolmanskop from sunrise until sunset as well as includes the free tour at 9:30am. Sadly, our schedule didn't enable us to remain that long - but for anyone who is a keen photographer we'd totally advice that you purchase the extended permit, as being the shadows and light-weight would be incredible within the buildings do your best.
THE DETAILS Opening hours | 9:00am - 13:00pm everyday Location | Map with the Kolmanskop area - Kolmanskop is 10kms east of Luderitz for the B4 highway. Cost | Kolmanskop permits N$85.00 per adult (see details above) Food and drink | Despite just as one abandoned town, you can get (good!) food on the Kolmanskop restaurant/museum your location.
THE FOOD IS SURPRISINGLY GOOD (IF YOU LIKE MEAT)
The fusion of German, South African and traditional African cuisine means the caliber of food in Namibia is definitely very good. We had many exceptional meals in far flung outposts including Aus, Fish River Canyon, and Sesriem. And if you’re a meat eater you’ll stay in heaven, with vast choice of game meat available just about anyplace. And the trusty road-trip snacks of biltong and boerewors. Vegetarians, your meals game can be quite a little harder, but certainly not impossible.
YOU CAN DRINK THE TAP WATER
It's important to find out that you'll be able to drink the faucet water in Namibia. Sure, it will taste a little different, but does London's water (yuck!) We should talk about that Namibia can be a desert country in addition to being such has limited water resources. Try for being water conscious and conserve wherever you'll be able to.
IT GETS COLD IN NAMIBIA SOMETIMES
If you’re visiting Namibia during winter (June - September), expect very pleasant days and freezing cold nights. There were many mornings we’d wake and won't get out of bed, the temperature outside am cold. Like, between 0c - 10c overnight sort of cold. That said, every day the temperature will still climb close to 24c daily, so highs and lows, eh?
NOT ALL TRAVELLERS REQUIRE A NAMIBIAN TOURIST VISA
Travellers, rejoice - there is usually a place the place that the visa process looks upon you favourably! For many travellers in Namibia, there's actually you should not organise a tourist visa in any way if your stay is lower than 90 days. The lucky travellers who are able to go 'visa-free' listed below are:
For these, they make sure that you check with all the immigration desk you've been granted the full ninety days duration and how the correct date of entry was stamped on your own passport to ensure there are no issues on the track if you are trying to depart. Those that require the 90-day tourist visa for Namibia (which could generally be processed within 3 days in your local Namibian Embassy) are:
·travellers from Eastern European As always, be sure you double check your own country's travel advice previous to arriving inside the country for by far the most up to date visa information.
NAMIBIA IS HOME TO A HUGE DIVERSITY OF WILDLIFE
All this talk of deserts and isolation probably have had you convinced that there's no interesting wildlife in Namibia - that is absolutely not the truth! The salt clay pans from the Etosha National Park is the place to find some from the greatest wildlife diversity in Africa, and also the Caprivi Strip is known to get some of it's most untouched safari plains. All the usual suspects are through Namibia; the large 5 and also the little 5, along using a number of desert game we'd not witnessed before, much like the Kudu, Oryx, Gemsbok, as well as the Damara Dik-Dik. Then, there is the Cape Cross Seal Colony just away from HentiesBaai (hold your nose when you approach!) as well as the huge Flamingo population around Walvis Bay. If it's different and plentiful wildlife you're after, Namibia has just what you're after.
HOW TO GET TO NAMIBIA
BY AIR - Most people decide to fly into Hosea Kutako International Airport, about 45min east from the capital, Windhoek. If you're flying from Cape Town, South African Airways operates 3 flights each day, the areas are regular (but obviously less frequent). Check Skyscanner for the greatest Namibia flight deals from wherever you're travelling from.
BY BUS - If you're already in Southern Africa and keen to hold costs low, essentially the most convenient and bus need to Namibia could be the Intercape Mainliner. Services run from Cape Town, Victoria Falls, and Johannesburg. It's trickier to search from Botswana (combining local buses and taxis), but it really is also possible to cross the border from Botswana too.
BY CAR - We crossed into Namibia in the Vioolsdrift/Nordoewer land crossing through the northwest of South Africa. You can also cross from South Africa at a quantity of other points, including: Mata Mata, Rietfontain, Nakop, Onseepkans, Sendelingsdrif, and Alexander Bay (full disclosure: obviously even as haven't crossed these, we're not able to currently vouch because of their ease of access or suitability personally).
Self-drive crossings can even be made easily from Botswana, Zambia, and Angola.
We hope these Namibia travel trips prove useful. If you've visited, and have absolutely something to feature, let us know from the comments below!
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