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Namibia essential info

Huge and wonderfully empty, Namibia is the lesser-known star of southern Africa, offering wilderness, wildlife and the world's biggest sand dunes

Travel in Namibia: vital statistics

  • Capital of Namibia: Windhoek
  • Population of Namibia: 2.1 million
  • Languages in Namibia: English, German, Afrikaans, regional languages
  • Time in Namibia: GMT+1 (GMT+2 October-April)
  • International dialling code in Namibia: +264
  • Voltage in Namibia: 220-230 V, 50 Hz
  • Visas for Namibia: Namibia visa
  • Money in Namibia: Namibian dollar (NAD). It is pegged to the South African rand, and is interchangable with it. Many lodges accept dollars. ATMS are not widespread – make sure you have enough cash on you when leaving a town. It is customary to give a tip of 10% in restaurants. Remember to tip porters and petrol station attendants.
  • Namibia travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Namibia tourist board: Namibia Tourism Board

When to go to Namibia

Summer temperatures are high in Namibia, often exceeding 30°C; Namibia is especially hot and humid from December to February. During the Namibian winter, between the months of March and October, days remain warm but nights are cold; this is a pleasant time to visit, just bring layers for the evening.

Winter is also an ideal time to visit Namibia’s Etosha National Park – low rainfall means animals are easily spotted congregating around waterholes. Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, hosts its own Oktoberfest beer festival in October.

Namibia international airports

Windhoek Hosea Kutako International (WDH) 45km from Windhoek

Getting around in Namibia

Public transport is limited in Namibia. Trains are mostly for freight, buses are slow and don’t necessarily go to the spots popular with travellers. Namibia has a network of internal flights, which are helpful and pretty efficient for long journeys if you are short on time.

By far the best way to explore Namibia is to hire a car. In the main, Namibia’s roads are good – a few are tarmacked, most are packed gravel; unless you are going offbeat a 2WD is sufficient. For any off-road desert explorations you must have a 4WD, and know how to drive it. Bear in mind that distances in Namibia are vast and petrol stations sparse – when you see one, fill up.

Namibia accommodation

There is a wide range of accommodation in Namibia – you can pay peanuts to camp in the wilderness, several hundred dollars a night for the lap of luxury or somewhere in between for a government restcamp. Many farms offer a few guest rooms, too.

Accommodation can be thinly spread in much of Namibia – only in big centres such as Windhoek and Swakopmund is there much choice. Bear in mind that your accommodation in Namibia can be far more than a bed for the night – it will also be your gateway to local exploration, possibly offering tours or a unique viewpoint for that all-important sundowner.

Namibia food & drink

Meals in Namibia tend to be meat-heavy, and German influenced. Steaks and sausages chucked on the braai (barbecue) are common mains; you might even see more exotic fare such as oryx, springbok and kudu on the menu.

Seafood is good; try the sweet-tasting oysters, cultivated offshore at Walvis Bay. Traditional Namibian food, such as mealie pap (a type of porridge), isn’t usually served to tourists; most lodges will offer more Western-style fare. Hygiene standards are generally good.

Vegetarians might struggle in Namibia, though if you prebook your accommodation and let them know you are vegetarian, you will be catered for. Many vegetables have to be shipped a long way, so will be more expensive.

Being an ex-German colony, the beer is good in Namibia: try Windhoek and Hansa. Wines are brought up from South Africa and are good value. The water should generally be purified before drinking. If you’re self-driving, invest in a cool box.

Health & safety in Namibia

No specific jabs are required for Namibia but a certificate proving vaccination from yellow fever is needed if you are arriving from an area where the disease is widespread. Take sunscreen – the sun remains strong throughout the year. Avoid walking around Windhoek at night, or driving after dark.

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