General Travel Information
Namibia is a vast country dominated by the Namib Desert, an extensive inland plateau and geologically stunning mountain ranges. From the lush, northern Caprivi Strip and the wildlife of Etosha National Park to the vast and unforgettable Namib Desert and the desolate Skeleton Coast, Namibia has something for everyone. Travel here is safe and relatively uncomplicated, the infrastructure is excellent with well-maintained roads, frequently situated fuel stations and a wide variety of shops.
In the Namib, litter may last longer than a human’s lifespan. Vehicle tracks leave ugly scars on the landscape. In some areas, these tracks may take a hundred years to disappear. Namibia tends to leave its mark on people. Unfortunately, some people tend to leave their mark on the Namibian landscape as well. Every year, irresponsible off-road driving defaces our heritage, causing damage that takes decades to heal. Which means a day’s worth of joy-riding for you can translate into a century’s worth of damage for the rest of us. Protect the Namibian heritage.
Rainfall occurs exclusively in the summer months, between November and February, when heavy thunderstorms can be expected. Summer is very hot and the Namib Desert should be avoided at this time as temperatures are often above 104ºF (40ºC). The coast is cooler and often foggy. The best time to visit is during the winter months from March to October (April and June are preferable) as days are warm and dry, and wildlife easier to spot as they tend to congregate at waterholes. Nights can be very cold with frost. Windhoek has a semi-desert climate, with very hot summers and mild winters. Temperatures tend to drop at night. Average temperatures in winter (June to August) range from 43°F (6°C) to 70°F (21°C). Nights are cold but temperatures rarely dip below 32°F (0°C). The most popular time to travel to Windhoek is between March and October, in particular April to June, when rainfall is lowest and temperatures are mild. On average, Namibia receives about 300 days sunshine a year, and drought occurs roughly every ten years or so.
Currency and Credit Cards
The currency in Namibia is the Namibian Dollar, which is fixed to and equals the South African Rand. The Namibian Dollar and South African Rand are the only legal tender in Namibia and can be used freely to purchase goods and services. The Namibia Dollar however is not legal tender in South Africa.
Traveller’s cheques and foreign currency can be exchanged during normal banking hours (MON-FRI 09:00-15:30 & SAT 09:00-11:00) at any of the commercial banks, which are well represented throughout the country.
International Visa and MasterCard credit cards are generally accepted.
Note: No credit cards are accepted at the petrol service stations.
Summer: From the first Sunday in September to the first Sunday in April. GMT + 2
Winter: From the first Sunday in April to the first Sunday in September GMT + 1
Tax and customs
Foreign visitors to Namibia can claim the value-added Tax (VAT) on holiday purchases exceeding N$ 250-00 when they leave Namibia via Hosea Kutako International Airport and at the boarder posts at Ariamsvlei and Noordoewer. The refund will be in form of a cheque made out in SA rand. To make sure that goods leave the country they will have to be shown to the customs official before being checked in as luggage.
VAT on services rendered or goods consumed cannot be refunded!
Firearms must be declared on arrival. Formalities concerning trophies are handled by the professional hunter concerned, who contacts a forwarding agent to make arrangements for the trophy to be sent to the hunters destination.
While malaria is found mainly in the north of the country, it has also been reported in the central region and occasionally in the south. Malaria can be a serious and fatal disease when not treated properly. It is transmitted to people by the bite of a mosquito. Help reduce the risk of malaria by using personal protection measures and prophylactics.
The following measures are effective to reduce the risk of mosquito bits:
- Sleep under a mosquito net. Nets treated with insecticides that are harmless to humans will further increase protection.
- Wear long sleeved shirts and long trousers. Avoid wearing dark colours, which is said to attract mosquitoes.
- Burn coils and pellets containing the insect repellent pyrethrum.
- Apply mosquito repellents to exposed skin and clothing. Repellents containing diethyl toluamide (deet) or dimethyl phathalate are the best.
- Using insecticide sprays is effective if entry of mosquitoes into the room is prevented.
- Sleep in rooms of which the windows and doors are screened with mosquito netting. If not, keep windows and doors closed.
Should any of the symptoms of malaria, such as fever, rigours (shaking), headaches, backache, diarrhoea an / or vomiting and malaise be experienced, it is extremely important to report to the nearest health facility for proper diagnosis (blood test) and prompt treatment. For more information visit the CDC site.
Driving in Namibia
For most visitors to Namibia the easiest and most practical way of seeing the country is to hire a car. Whilst generally speaking most of the roads in Namibia are well-maintained the numbers of accidents that occur on Namibian roads, is involving both residents and visitors, is alarmingly high. The majority of accidents involving visitors to Namibia are unnecessary and are caused by speeding, fatigue and over- confidence in unfamiliar conditions. Visitors are therefore strongly recommended to exercise caution when driving in Namibia and to follow these tips and guidelines.
Roads in Namibia tend to be long and straight and the temptations is to put one’s foot down. However, for most of the year the weather is very hot and the combination of the heat and the glare from the sun make driving tiring for those not accustomed to the heat. Drink lots of water, stop or change drivers regularly and try to avoid driving during the hottest part of the day whenever possible.
All over Namibia, but particularly in the North, wild animals and cattle are liable to wander across the road at any time, and many accidents are the result of collisions between cars and animals. You are strongly advised never to drive at night when the risk of hitting animals is greatest.
It is unfortunately the case that a proportion of the vehicles on Namibian roads are overloaded and/or poorly maintained. On weekends the main routes around the country can be very busy, as people return to their villages, go to the farm or visit friends. Drinking and driving is not uncommon at these times, and caution should always be exercised when passing other vehicles.
Fuel and water
Although there is an extensive network of modern, efficient service stations around the country, in some of the more remote area, such as Damaraland, the Kaokoland, the Caprivi and parts of the South, garages can be far apart. Keep a spare canister with a minimum of 20 liters of fuel in the boot at all times. Likewise, once you are off the main roads you are unlikely to see many other vehicles, so make sure you have plenty of water with you in the event that you break down.
Driving on gravel roads
Even if you intend only to visit the main attractions in Namibia such as the Fish River Canyon and Sossusvlei, you will end up driving on gravel roads. These vary in quality between very good and very poor. However, appearances can be deceptive and even a flat, well maintained gravel surface needs to be approached with caution. A very high number of accidents in Namibia involve drivers overturning their vehicles on the gravel, many of who end up dead. The following guidelines should be observed:
- Keep your speed down to 60 km per hour
- Observe all road signs
- Follow the tracks other cars have left
- Slow down before curves by easing your foot off the accelerator
- Avoid sudden braking as this will cause the vehicle to career across the road
- When overtaking other vehicles put on your headlights so that on-coming vehicles can more easily see you.
- On corrugated surfaces accelerate gently until you find the right speed so that you hardly feel the corrugations
- Tire pressures should be slightly lower on gravel, check regularly
- Ensure that you wrap up cameras, walkman etc when driving on gravel, as within a few minutes everything will be covered in dust, if you intend to do a lot of driving on gravel, you may wish to hire a car with a/c thereby allowing you to keep the windows closed.
Driving on sand
If you intend to visit Bushmanland or the Kaokoland you may well end up driving on sand. The following points are worth remembering:
- Ensure you have suitable tires on your vehicle and that the tire pressure is correct (lower than normal )
- Remember that sand is firmest when cool, i.e. early morning and late afternoon
- Keep the vehicle moving at all times and stick to low gears
- Carry a spade and a tow rope
- Do not over-rev the engine
- Deflate the tires by pressing on the valve and counting to 10 in the first instance and repeat if necessary
- Rock the vehicle backwards and forwards to free the wheels from sand
The water is safe to drink throughout the majority ofNamibia. When visiting the remote areas purification tablets should be used, or bottled mineral water bought en-route. Plenty of water must be drunk to prevent dehydration. We recommend 2-3 litres minimum, excluding beverages such as tea, coffee, juice and alcohol. Dehydration is responsible for many emergency evacuations and can cause very serious problems, it is totally avoidable, so don’t let this spoil your holiday!
220/240 volts AC. 3-Pin Plugs are used
Passport & VISA Requirements
All visitors are required to carry a passport that is valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay. Nationals of certain countries do not require visas. It is advisable to check for the latest visa and entry requirements.
Namibiais a peaceful, democratic country and is relatively crime free. However, as in any other place in the world there are undesirable elements.
By following basic advice it is possible to avoid most potential problems. It is advised that you carry a record of the numbers of your passport, airline tickets and travellers cheque’s. These should be kept in a safe place. Please note expensive jewellery should not be taken on safari.
Do not flash lots of money, an expensive camera or jewellery. Take note of onlookers and keep your possessions in sight at all times to avoid opportunistic theft. Make use of your hotel safety deposit box for expensive items. Never leave baggage or personal items unattended, especially at airports. It is best not to wander around the streets after dark.
If you are travelling in a car, do not leave your purse or bag lying on the passenger seat in clear view – rather keep them in the car boot. Do not consider picking up hitchhikers.
Tips & Gratuities
Some restaurants do include service charges; otherwise 10 per cent of the billed amount is adequate. The same applies to hotel service personnel.
What to Pack
Cotton rather than synthetic clothing is recommended for Namibian summers. This can be bought at shops inWindhoekthat specialise in lightweight safari wear. Winters are usually mild to warm, which calls for light clothing in the middle of the day, and a sweater or jacket for evenings and early mornings when it can become quite cold. It is often cold and windy at the coast, for which warm clothing, including a windbreaker, is necessary. An important item is comfortable walking shoes. Swimsuits are required for public beaches or swimming pools. When packing, remember to include binoculars, a sun-hat, sunglasses, sun block, bathing towel, moisturiser, lip-ice and mosquito repellent. Points for electric shavers (electric current 250VAC) are available at major hotels and most state-owned rest camps and resorts. It is advisable to bring battery-operated or conventional razors when visiting remote areas. Camping equipment can be hired in Windhoek.