Namibia is a vast land of intriguing contrasts, populated by a dramatic diversity of people; it is home to the arresting and private Himba tribe as well as a large population of German speaking nationals. The environment is no less remarkable; the fire-coloured sand dunes of Namibia support an intriguing diversity of desert-adapted plants and animals, especially in Etosha National Park. Diamond-rich Namibia is also home to the largest number of cheetah of any African country.
Namibia has contrasting scenery from the red sand dunes in Sossusvlei, to the dramatic coastline of the Skeleton Cost.
Entry requirements for Namibia
All visitors are required to carry a passport that is valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay. Where a visa is not required, a visa application form and proof of sufficient funds and onward travel/return ticket should also be carried. There should be sufficient blank pages in your passport for entry stamps upon arrival.
Where applicable, visas should be obtained from your nearest Namibian consulate.
Requirements for obtaining a visa are:
- photocopy of passport
- original application form and two passport photos
- All visitors to Namibia may be requested to show proof of sufficient funds and onward travel/return ticket.
This is a guide only – please check with your nearest Namibian Consulate for up-to-date information.
Summer: November to April.
Winter: May to October.
In summer, the days are generally hot and sunny. Daytime temperatures can rise to 35ºC (95ºF) and night temperatures drop to around 14ºC (58ºF) to 18ºC (65ºF). The coastal region is cool and dry throughout the year. The rainy season runs from February to March and average rainfall varies from less than 50mm along the coast to 350mm in the central region and 700mm in the far north-eastern region.
In winter, the days are dry, sunny and mild to warm while evening temperatures drop sharply. Daytime temperatures generally reach 23ºC (73ºF) and can drop to as low as 0ºC (32ºF) to 10ºC (50ºF) at night. It can be quite cold and windy at the coast, for which warm clothing and a windbreaker are necessary.
Health requirements when travelling to Namibia
If you are visiting the area north of Windhoek (Etosha, Ovambu and Caprivi), remember to get malaria prophylactics before entering Namibia.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services recommends that you take a combination of prophylactics, both chloroquin and non-chloroquin containing. Start your course at least 24 hours before entering Namibia and continue taking the pills for six weeks after leaving the country. If you suffer from side effects, try taking your pills at night after dinner. Take precautionary measures to prevent contact with mosquitoes, foe example: sleep under a bed net or in a room/tent with mosquito proofing (remember to keep the flaps zipped at all times); spray your accommodation with insecticide; make use of a mosquito-repelling lotion or stick; and wear long-sleeved clothing, trousers and socks when outside at night.
Travellers should be aware that there is a polio presence in areas south of Windhoek. A tetanus immunisation is recommended. Bilharzia is present in the Kunene, Okavango and Kwando Rivers.
We advise that you obtain medical insurance prior to arrival. Private health care standards in Namibia are high, with the best hospital being in Windhoek. All main towns have well-stocked pharmacies, but bring any medicines you may require with you.
We strongly recommend that you take out travel insurance, which includes curtailment and cancellation cover, as well as medical cover, upon confirming your booking.
When to go
Namibia is an all year round ecological and wildlife destination. However, certain seasons are best for special interest groups:
- Best birding safaris are during the summer months because of the greater variety of species to be found.
- Best botanical months are December to May when the vegetation turns green, and also when most plants are in flower.
Namibia is becoming very popular as an all year round destination. Traditionally, peak season is from July to October and middle season is from May to June. Book in advance during this time. Christmas and New Year is peak season for local holidaymakers.
Very important: packing space is limited on all modes of safari transport, so you will need to restrict your baggage to between 12 – 20kg (packed in a soft bag) including camera equipment.
Namibia was the first country in the world to include the protection of the environment in its constitution and today approximately 15% of Namibia is protected land.
This is the largest conservation area in Namibia, measuring almost 50 000km² and incorporating most of the 130-million-year-old Namib Desert after which Namibia takes its name.
This is a land of ethereal landscapes and endless horizons. Sun-bronzed and untamed, it is a place of silence and of solitude. A climb to the top of one of the gigantic sand dunes surrounding Sossusvlei to watch the sunset slowly cast its shadows over the ancient sea of surrounding dunes is a haunting sight. It will be etched in your mind forever. Near Sossusvlei, the Sesriem Canyon has been gouged out of rock over the centuries by the Tsauchab River and is now mostly small pools of water on a gravel bed, attracting many birds and animals.
To the far south of the park near Lüderitz, one can explore the deserted houses in the ghost town of Kolmanskop. To the west at Swakopmund, one can marvel at the fantastic rock formations of the “Moon Landscape”; and visit Sandwich Harbour, where the sand dunes meet the sea.
The southern section of the Skeleton Coast Park, which is accessible to the general public, lies between the Ugab and Hoanib Rivers and lures anglers from far and wide to its superb fishing grounds.
This is, however, closely monitored by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Access to the protected northern area of this park, where the coastline is dotted with forgotten shipwrecks, is restricted to fly-in safaris.
Etosha National Park
This is one of the greatest and most special game parks in Africa, if not the world. This is because of the great variety of game and unique vegetation to be found here.
The park covers 22 270 km² of land ranging from dense bush to open plains. In the heart of the park is the vast Etosha Pan (“the place of dry water”). The pan is parched and shimmering silver-white for most of the year, only filling with water about a metre deep in very rainy periods – whereupon enormous numbers of water fowl flock to breed. Game in Etosha includes several rare and endangered species such as black rhino and black-faced impala.
The northern areas of Damaraland feature some of Namibia’s least explored and rugged remote areas.
Here, in one of the few remaining untouched wilderness areas of Africa, it is easy to see why the San (Bushman) people call Namibia “the land God made in anger”. The emphasis is on the spectacular scenery, dominated by massive flat-topped mountains and crystal blue skies; the uniquely adapted smaller desert creatures and plants; the peace and tranquility of being in such a remote area; and if you are extremely lucky, catching sight of the desert-dwelling elephant and black rhino that roam the area.
Southern Damaraland offers such unique curiosities as the mystery of the Petrified Forest; the incredible collection of San rock engravings at Twyfelfontein; the massive Vingerklip (Finger Rock); the Burnt Mountain of volcanic rock and the nearby formation of perpendicular basalt called the Organ Pipes.
Although the Caprivi Strip has long been an exciting destination for the adventurous traveller, we do not advise travel to the area at the moment. This is hopefully a temporary aberration. With rivers, forests, swamps and waterways, it is a total contrast to the arid grandeur of the rest of Namibia. With its abundant birdlife, the area is gaining a reputation as a retreat for bird-watchers.
It is also known for game viewing either in open 4×4 vehicles, by rivercraft or on foot. Among the better known reserves in the Caprivi are the Mahango Game Reserve, the Mudumu National Park and the Mamili National Park.