What you need to know

Namibia is an African destination that caters for everyone. With excellent roads and infrastructure, economic and social stability and a seemingly endless variety of things to see and do. Namibia is a peaceful, democratic country, and it is safe to travel throughout the country as the crime rate is relatively low. As in any other place in the world, appropriate behaviour can prevent theft. Never carry articles such as camera’s, wallets or money too openly or leave them lying exposed in a parked vehicle. The official language is English, but German and Afrikaans are widely spoken and understood. Namibia has 15 ethnic groups with some 27 languages and dialects being spoken.

In addition to hotels, upmarket and standard lodges are top-rated in Namibia. In general, the lodges are smaller and offer a more personalized service. Travelling with children is no problem in Namibia as many lodges and accommodations cater to the family market. The Namibian telephone service is well developed, except for some isolated rural areas. Cell phone coverage is available in most of Namibia and all towns. Pre-paid sim cards (Starter Packs) for your mobile telephone can be purchased at any mobile office – this is much cheaper than using your sim card with international roaming. Namibia’s time zone is two hours ahead of GMT.

Namibia uses the Namibian Dollar (N$) this is linked on a one to one exchange with the South African Rand. The Rand is legal tender in South Africa, but the N$ cannot be used in South Africa. If you are wishing to purchase currency before arriving in Namibia, it is easiest to buy Rand as the Namibian Dollar is seldom available in banks outside of Namibia.

Banks are found in most towns and are generally open from 09h00 to 15h30 on weekdays and 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays. They are closed on Sundays and public holidays. Most of them offer foreign exchange services – with cash, bank and credit cards. 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.

Visa and MasterCard credit cards are generally accepted and to a lesser extent Diners Club and American Express. Speed point and ATM facilities assure quick and efficient service. Holders of other card types are advised to clarify whether their card qualifies as an acceptable payment method in Namibia. You can exchange foreign currency at the international airport, forex offices, in the banks in the towns as well as at several hotels and lodges throughout the country.

Note: No credit cards are accepted at petrol service stations.

This is Africa, and the climate reflects it. But just as Namibia is filled with contrasting geography, equivalent climactic differences do apply depending on your location.

Partially covered by the Namib, one of the world’s driest deserts, Namibia’s climate is generally arid and pleasant. The cold Benguela current keeps the coast cool, damp and free of rain for most of the year. Inland, all the rain falls in summer (November to April). January and February are hot when daytime temperatures in the interior can exceed 40ºC (104ºF), but nights are usually cool. Winter nights can be relatively cold, but days are generally warm and quite lovely.

Namibians have a somewhat relaxes attitude to dress codes. A jacket and tie are very unusual. 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. We suggest that you pack lightweight, loose-fitting clothes in natural fabrics, such as linen or cotton, that will keep you cool and are easy to wash and dry.

Long-sleeved shirts and long trousers will protect you against mosquitoes at night.

Traditional Namibian cuisine is rarely served for visitors, food options at restaurants tend to have a European influence, with a bias towards German dishes. Namibia is a very meat-orientated society, however many menu options cater to different dietary requirements be it vegetarian, vegan, perscaterian or gluten free. 

If you are camping, then you’ll be buying and cooking food yourself. In the supermarkets, you’ll find pre-packaged 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. Natural sources should usually be purified, though water from underground springs and dry riverbeds are safe to drink.

Health and entry requirements

Due to the hot, dry climate, Namibia is virtually free of tropical diseases. Therefore health certificates or vaccinations usually are not required. Visitors arriving from a yellow fever zone require a valid international yellow fever inoculation certificate. Anti-malaria prophylactics are advisable if visiting northern Namibia (the Etosha National Park serves as the accepted Malaria border) and in particular Owamboland or the Caprivi. You can reduce the risk of malaria by using prophylactics, which should be taken under your doctors’ guidance.

Other precautions include mosquito repellent, light clothing covering the body and sleeping under mosquito nets as far as possible. Please apply sunblock liberally whenever you are exposed to the sun. Ensure that you drink enough water – up to 2 to 3 litres a day. A passport valid for six months beyond intended departure is required.

It is recommended that all guests travelling to Namibia be adequately covered by comprehensive travel insurance to cover all aspects of their holiday. International flights/ loss & theft/medical requirements/damage and cancellation etc. We would recommend guests organize travel insurance in their home country.

Current is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles per second. A three-point round-pin adapter plug should be brought for your electrical appliances. Such adapters are also available at major airports.

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.

There are major airlines that fly into Windhoek and Swakopmund. Other destinations are reachable by car or charter flight.

It is easy to travel around Namibia by car, and a 2WD vehicle is perfectly adequate for most journeys. However, long distances, inadequate mobile phone coverage outside of main towns and infrequent petrol stations that only accept cash mean that planning is necessary.

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.