Namibia is a paradise filled with a diversity of natural habitats, including beautiful desert landscapes, rugged coastlines, and a myriad of wildlife.
Before Namibia was even called by its name today, the country was known as the German South West Africa. Namibia was colonized by Germany in the late 1800s back when the exploration of Africa was at its peak in world history. What led to its discovery was the interest of foreigners to the rare ivory tusks that were hunted off from elephants. The country soon became a settlement for Germans who explored the land. In the early years, there had been conflict between two peoples, the Namas and the Hereros, followed by the Namas and the Schutztruppes, and not to mention also the disagreements between the Schutztruppes and the Hereros. The Schutztruppes are the German protective forces that were sent to relieve and resolve the disagreements between the Hereros people and the Namas people. These three groups have been in conflict with each other, but fortunately ended in a resolve to independence.
When Namibia was discovered to be a diamond country, there was great unrest. Germany then had to surrender the nation where it ended up in martial law till 1919. The country then was under the administration of the Union of South Africa which proved to be a start in the series of events that would lead to its independence. In the late 20th Century, the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) fought a war to liberate the county, but it was on March 21, 1990 when the United Nations enacted a resolution that was able to mandate elections and in effect became an independent state.
Population Size : 2,480,000
Capital City : Windhoek (Population 431 000)
English language as the official language. European languages spoken in Namibia are German, Portuguese, Spanish and French. Main indigenous languages are Oshiwambo, Nama/Damara, Afrikaans, Kavango and Otjiherero.
Summer : GMT+2 hours from the 1st Sunday in September to the 1st Sunday in April.
Winter : GMT+1 hour from the 1st Sunday in April to the 1st Sunday in September.
Country Calling Code : +264
Literacy Rate : 88.3 %
Currency : Namibian Dollar
Internet domain : .na
When in Namibia, it is a must to visit Africa’s largest canyon and one of the largest in the world, the Fish River Canyon.
A must-experience place of interest is the Etosha National Park, also known as the great white place of dry water.
One of Namibia’s prime places of interest is the Namib Naukluft Park called Sossusvlei. Here, you will experience the high dunes and beautiful scenery of the Namib Desert, as well as the Naukluft Mountains, and Sandwich Harbour, which is a lagoon that is home to over 200,000 birds, including pelicans and flamingos.
For a taste of German history in Namibia, a visit to Swakopmund and Kolmanskop is a must. Swakopmund is a coastal city, which makes it the ideal getaway for a long weekend. Kolmanskop is a famous ghost town located a few miles from Luderitz.
Namibia is so vast and wild – bigger than France, it’s impossible to do it justice in a single trip. Other, more adventurous destinations that are that are not covered above and certainly notable stretch from Zambezi Region (formerly Caprivi Strip) to the Skelton Coast.
Windhoek is the capital of Namibia the entry point to most safaris in the country. Most visitors stay here overnight en route to their safari destination. A city with wide array of architecture, restaurants and cultural sights. There are few more diverse cities in the region, and the melting pot of Windhoek sets an example for the rest of Africa.
ZAMBEZI REGION (formerly CAPRIVI STRIP)
Pointing like an outstretched index finger right into the heart of central Southern Africa, the Zambezi Region (former Caprivi Strip) is both a geographical and historical curiosum. The Zambezi Region in Namibia’s extreme north east is entirely different to the rest of the country in all these respects. Another huge draw-card is that the Caprivi is surrounded by 4 perennial rivers – Chobe, Kwando, Linyanti and the mighty Zambezi! For years this area was the domain of the South African Army – wildlife suffered as a result- but with soldiers long gone, wildlife populations have recovered.
Damaraland is one of the most picturesque areas in Namibia a huge, wild, jaggedly beautiful region that offers the more traveller a more venturesome challenge. Here there are prehistoric water courses with open plains and grassland, massive granite koppies and deep gorges. Towards the west, the geography changes dramatically with endless sandy wastes, that incredibly are able to sustain small, but wide-ranging, populations of desert-adapted elephant, black rhino, giraffe, ostrich and springbok. These animals have adapted their lifestyles to survive the harshness of the sun-blistered, almost waterless desert spaces. Elephant move through euphorbia bush country and can travel up to 70km in a day in search of food and water and unusually, do not destroy trees in their quest for food.
As one of the last remaining wilderness areas in Africa, it attracts hard-core travellers and explorers. It appeals to those who have already travelled the main tarmac arteries through the country and the myriad gravel tracks that branch off them like fibrous roots. Kaokoland, as this remote and inhospitable region (now part of the Kunene Region) is known historically, has always been the Wild West of Namibia. And for those self-sufficient and experienced 4×4 travellers who venture further afield, it’s a desert Eden of mysteries and marvels.
A barren stretch of shore in Namibia maintains a character as one of the unkindest places on earth and it has an ill-omened name to match. The Skeleton Coast owes its appellation to the whalebones that peppered the shoreline when the whaling industry was booming, as well as, more ominously, to the hulking carcasses of sea-wrecked ships buried in the sand and disintegrating in the water—more than 1,000 have met their end on the deadly coast.
Twyfelfontein (which means ‘uncertain spring’) is the site of ancient rock engravings and paintings in the Kunene Region of north-western Namibia. It consists of a spring in a valley flanked by the slopes of a sandstone table mountain that receives very little rainfall and has a wide range of diurnal temperatures. The site contains around 2 000 rock carvings and in 2007, UNESCO approved it as a World Heritage Site. The site is one of the largest and most important concentrations of rock art in Africa, and was proclaimed a National Monument in 1952.
WATERBERG PLATEAU PARK
The thick green vegetation the Waterberg is sharp contrasts with the surrounding Acacia-bush savannahs. The plateau is one of Namibia’s the most fascinating geological sites, with unique sights such as dinosaur tracks, and fossilized ancient dunes. One of the motivations for the establishment of the park, was to protect and breed endangered wildlife species (white and black rhinoceros, sable and roan antelope and Cape buffalo). It is also not rare to come across leopards, African wild dogs and cheetahs if going on the game drives on offer by the Park Rangers.
The north-eastern region of Namibia is home to some of the last remaining San (Bushman) communities in Southern Africa. These people have mastered the harsh Kalahari environment over thousands of years and are believed to be the original inhabitants of both Namibia and Botswana, over time being displaced by more aggressive tribes moving into the Southern African region. Since Independence in Namibia in 1990, the traditional San hunting grounds have been reduced in size and the people living in this area no longer survive in pure hunter-gatherer societies.
Of all the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia is arguably the most comprehensively tourist-friendly.
Not only does it have exceptional wildlife – including a quarter of the world’s cheetahs and the last free-ranging population of black rhino.
Well-developed network of road, parks, reserves and safari lodges.
The landscapes of its coastline and deserts are some of the most photographed and gasped over in the world.
5. Traditional Culture
Traditional culture remains strong here despite successive colonial occupations by Germany and then South Africa (Namibia gained independence from the latter in 1990) and, for many visitors, meeting the Himba people in the far north-west, or the San (formerly Bushmen) of the Kalahari, is an enriching and humbling experience.
From Johannesburg or Cape Town, guests will characteristically take a flight of about two hours to Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city and entry point to the safari areas. For visitors wishing to circumvent Windhoek, daily flights are now also available between Johannesburg and Walvis Bay, and Cape Town and Walvis Bay. Walvis Bay is a port town nestled between the frosty waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the emerging Namib Desert. Walvis Bay is no more than an hour’s drive from the seaside resort town of Swakopmund, which is exceptional in tourism in comparison to Windhoek.
Weather & Best Time To Visit
As most of Namibia is covered by desert it is unsurprising that the climate is exactly what you would expect from a desert country. Daytime temperatures are hot (extremely hot in summer) and nights are cold, some areas frequently go below freezing in winter. Rainfall is sparse; with the northeastern areas of Namibia getting the most rain (this area is tropical) and rainfall decreasing as you travel south and westwards. Coastal Namibia is different; it only ever gets really hot in winter (when the east wind blows), almost never rains, and is frequently blanketed by fog.
The rainy season in central Namibia starts in January and runs until the middle of April, further north the rains begin earlier and as you travel south the season becomes shorter. Namibia is made up of desert and most areas receive little rain so it is suitable to visit at any time. April and May are warm and clear, June to August can be cold at night, and September and October are good for game-viewing as the vegetation has thinned out, and animals gather at water holes. The rainy season runs from November to March.
Passport & Visa Info
Tourist visas are valid for three months and generally take three days to process at the Namibian Consulate or Embassy in your country. Your visa should be acquired prior to your arrival in Namibia. Not all visitors to Namibia require a tourist visa – those nationalities which do NOT require a visa (for visits of less than 90 days) include:
• South African
• Canadian and
The countries which require a tourist visa are:
• South Korea
• most of the Eastern European countries
For those travellers who will need to apply for a tourist visa please note you will need to submit the following paperwork in order to process the visa:
• Your itinerary,
• Bank statement,
• Letter of employment,
• Letter of invitation
• Copy of a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
Passport (Original and copy). The passport must at least be Six (6) months validity from the returning date of entry and at least Three (3) or more blank pages. The payment for your approved visa is N$390.
There are no mandatory vaccinations for travellers from Europe. If you arrive from a country where yellow fever vaccinations are mandatory, proof of immunization is required. Take the usual precautions: ask your doctor whether you should renew your vaccinations against polio, diphtheria and tetanus. It also may be advisable to take precautions against Hepatitis A and B. Unfortunately, there is no vaccination against malaria.
Malaria remains one of the most feared illnesses worldwide. In southern Africa malaria is second to HIV/AIDS in causing illness and death. In Namibia however, this applies primarily to the northern parts of the country, where protection often becomes too expensive. Tourists can protect themselves efficiently with a bit of planning and extra caution. Malaria is transmitted through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito, which has previously bitten a person infected with malaria. If there are no mosquitoes, there is no malaria either. Since Namibia does not have much stagnant water the risk of contracting malaria is minimal in most parts of the country, or limited to a specific time of the year.
Although there is no vaccine against malaria, several prophylactic medicines are available, including homeopathic ones. In most European countries, malaria prophylaxis is available on prescription only, but in Namibia theyâ€™re sold over the counter and often costs less than overseas. Usually you need to start taking the tablets one week before you travel to a malaria area and continue for four weeks afterwards. Should you notice any of the symptoms despite taking prophylaxis, you should still see a doctor without delay. Some malaria tablets are known to cause nausea, illusions and upset stomachs, while others have little side effects albeit at a higher cost. With this in mind, many people discard the prophylaxis and rely on the most effective protection, which is avoiding mosquito bites altogether.
To prevent malaria, be sure to consult your personal physician for recommended anti-malarial medication. Mosquito repellent is generally considered a safari essential. Though most upmarket lodges will provide repellent in your room, it is nevertheless a good idea to carry your own.
Health & Safety
On a general basis, crime rates in Namibia are very, very low. As usually the norm, however, petty crime may transpire in urban centres like Swakopmund and Windhoek, so it is advisable to be discreet with your valuables. Request hotel’s reception to store your valuable items for you during your stay should the hotel room not be equiped with a safe.
Whilst on your safari game drive, avoid approaching or feeding wild animals, as once they begin to associate human beings with food (particularly monkeys and baboons), they can become quite belligerent.
Namibia’s roads are generally well maintained and link up with neighbouring countries and top tourism destinations, and thus enabling best driving experiences. If you prefer an overland tour of Namibia with tourAfrika, your means of transportation will consist of an air-conditioned 4×4 vehicle to guarantee your comfort and security on those lengthy and remote roads.
If you opt to avoid the long-distance travel, light aircraft charter flights are obtainable to all Namibia’s supreme lodges, from the wilderness of the immense Etosha National Park to the extensive red dunes of Sossusvlei. Bear in mind, however, that charter flights are significantly pricey, and that baggage constraints apply.
Namibia provides a different kind of safari experience from many of its regional counterparts. Many of its conservation areas are as renowned for their dramatic, sparse landscapes as they are for their wildlife, whose populations are smaller than some safari hotspots and more widely dispersed. If you are staying at a lodge or camp in one of wilderness areas of Namibia, daily game drives will be the backbone of the activities enjoyed on your Namibian vacation.
Namibia is home to well over 650 bird species, making it a rich birding region. The parts of Namibia with fewer birds are certainly no waste to birders…indeed it is in these drier regions where the majority of Namibia’s specials are found. These include the endemic Dune Lark and numerous other near endemics and other dry region specials.
Giant sand dunes run straight into the ocean, creating breathtaking sceneries and unique landscapes, just waiting to be discovered. Wedged between the sea and the Namib Dunes, potable water seeping from the underground aquifer sustains the freshwater vegetation at the base of the dunes. Feel like an adventurer, while our experienced and professional guides take you through the dune-belt on a quad bike and 4×4.
Ballooning is like a magic carpet ride. While you fly, you do not feel any turbulence as you are travelling at the current wind speed. The tranquillity of your flight will give you plenty photographic opportunities and unsurpassed views. Due to the desert temperatures this activity is offered in the mornings only. The duration of the excursion is approximately three and half hours. The Hot Air Balloon flight itself takes about one hour and ends with an exclusive Champagne Breakfast at the landing spot in scenic nature.
Enjoy a massage treatment, with a selection of accommodations also offering an in-house service. A little pampering here amid time to explore the reserve is the perfect beginning or mid-way to a Namibian safari. These treatments that span from massages to facials, manicures and pedicures.
The waters of the Namibian coast are some of the richest fishing grounds in the world. Namibia is a hotspot for anglers with thousands of fishermen flocking to the coast in search of something for the record books. The most popular angling spots are area between Paaltjies and the Northern boundary of Sandwich Harbour, coastal strip from Henties Bay to Swakopmund, Dorab National Park (extending from North of Swakopmund to the Ugab River), Mile 8, 72, 108 and Mile 14 Beach Resort, Die Drom at Wlotzkasbaken, Jakkalsputz, Bennie se Rooi Lorrie, Sarah se Gat, Torra Bay and Terrance Bay
A range of brief cruise expeditions are offered in Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. These cruises cover the viewing the abundant marine life of Namibia in close proximity be it it’s seals, dolphins or whales. A small number of leisurely sunset cruises are offered to those that desire to view a sunset over the Atlantic.
Will I have mobile reception and/or access to internet?
There are two mobile service providers in Namibia. MTC and TN Mobile. For the majority of travellers, we would recommend, if you are buying a local sim, choose MTC. MTC has by far the better coverage around the country. Namibia is an extremely sparsely populated country. There are large virtually uninhabited stretches. The mobile coverage reflects this, and outside of the main towns is sketchy, especially for data. Most hotels and lodges offer internet facilities, but do not expect the type of speeds you would get in most other areas of the world.
Is it safe to drive in Namibia?
Traffic drives on the left side of the road. Roads are generally well maintained. There are 64,799km of road, of which only 7841km are tarred. The remaining is graded gravel – in most main areas kept in good condition and easily accessible by a 2wd vehicle and in some areas, there are sand tracks of varying condition.
Are ATMs found in main cities and towns?
You will be able to withdraw cash in Windhoek, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, and Luderitz, but we should be wary about being able to do so in other places. Make sure to have enough cash on you to make it to your next major destination, as credit cards aren’t widely accepted.
Can I travel overland from South Africa to Namibia?
Though it is probable, it is not commended, as the distances are lengthy. As you may only have inadequate time available for travel Namibia, instead choose rather to fly into Windhoek and road travel from there.
Besides Etosha, are there other areas where I can go on Safari?
The Zambezi Region (Caprivi strip) in northern Namibia also offers safari experiences. It is a wetland environment illustrated by the formation of the Okavango, Chobe, Kwando and Zambezi rivers. While a not many of lodges are found, wildlife figures are to a certain extent low in contrast to other safari areas.
Which is better: A charter flight or overland transfer?
While this generally determined on your finances – charter flights can be quite pricey affair – overland road travel is also a fantastic way to tour the country, and the means of transport for visitors who may perhaps not be at ease in small, light charter planes.
Can I swim in the sea?
A cold ocean current, the Benguela Current, flows north from Antarctica in the Atlantic beside Namibia. This means that the water off the Namibian coast is never warm enough for a swim, and often chills the air.
Does Namibia offer good value for Money?
Yes – Namibia is one of the inex countries in Africa. It uses the Namibian dollar (NAD), which is 1:1 with the South African rand, and all prices are about on par with South Africa. Depending on your chosen method of transport and accommodation preference, Namibia can easily be done on an economical basis. Almost all places in Namibia accept the South African rand.
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