Welcome to Namibia!
Surface area: 824 268 km2
Independence: March 21, 1990
First President: Dr. Sam Nujoma
Current President: His Excellence Mr. Hifikepunye Pohamba
Division of power between executive, legislative and judiciary
Secular state - freedom of religion (90% Christian)
Freedom of the press / media
Namibia is divided in 13 Regions administered by Regional Councils
Overall, 42% of Namibia's landmass is under some form of conservation management including private game parks
and nature reserves, tourism concessions, communal conservancies, community forests and freehold
Highest mountain: Brandberg (Königstein 2573m)
Other prominent mountains: Spitzkoppe, Moltkeblick, Gamsberg
Perennial rivers: Orange, Kunene, Okavango, Zambezi and Kwando / Linyanti / Chobe
Ephemeral rivers: Numerous, including Fish, Kuiseb, Swakop and Ugab
Main sectors: Agriculture (mainly stock farming), Mining, Fishing, Tourism
Mining: Diamonds, uranium, copper lead, zinc, magnesium, cadmium, arsenic, pyrites, silver, gold, lithium minerals, dimension stones (granite, marble, blue sodalite) and many semiprecious stones.
Agriculture, Mining and Fishing account for more than 25% of the GDP, while tourism contributes nearly 4%
Biggest employer: Agriculture (46%)
Fastest-growing sector: Tourism
5 450 km tarred roads
37 000 km gravel roads
Harbours: Walvis Bay, Lüderitz
Main Airports: Hosea Kutako International Airport, Eros Airport
Rail network: 2 382 km narrow gauge
One medical doctor per 3 650 people
Two privately run hospitals in Windhoek with intensive-care units
24-hour medical emergency services
+/- 2 200 000 million
Density: 2.5 people per square kilometre
240 000 inhabitants in Windhoek (15% of total)
Official language: English
13 regions, 13 ethnic cultures
16 languages and dialects
Literacy rate: 65%
Life expectancy: 56 years
Population growth rate: 2.9%
94% of children attend school
Namibia's people: Himba, San, Herero, Owambo, Mafwe, Masubia, Caprivi, Basters, Tswana and people of European descent
Big game: Elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo, cheetah, leopard, giraffe
20 species of antelope
240 species of mammals (14 endemic)
250 species of reptiles
50 species of frogs
±800 species of birds
Endemic birds: Herero chat, Rock runner, Damari tern, Monteiro's hornbill, among others.
14 vegetation zones
120 species of trees
200 endemic plant species
100 plus species of lichen
Living fossil plant: Welwitschia Mirabilis
The Kalahari in the east of the country accounts 22% of the country
Savanna –type vegetation types are characteristic of 58% of the Namibian Landscape
Remaining 22% is represented by the forest savanna and woodlands of the far north and northeast
Average annual rainfall varies from a meager 10 mm along the coast to 700 mm in the northeast.
55% of the country is classified as arid or extremely arid.
The national average rainfall is 270 mm per year, except for the far south, which is a winter rainfall area.
More than 70% of the countries rainfall is recorded between December and March
The summer months are hot with temperature of 35C, or higher, are common in the south and north.
The winter days are pleasant, but minimum temperature can drop to below freezing in mid-winter.
Fog is common occurrence along the coast, but usually lifts about mid-morning and settles again in the afternoon.
TAX AND CUSTOMS:
All goods and services are prices to include value-added tax 15%.
Visitors may reclaim VAT.
- Currency: The Namibian Dollar (N$) is fixed to and equals the South Africa Rand. The South African Rand is also considered legal tender and is accepted most everywhere in Namibia.
- Credit cards/Travelers Cheques: Traveler's cheques, International Visa, and MasterCard credit cards are widely accepted. Holders of other cards are advised to clarify whether their card is acceptable in Namibia with a commercial bank. American Express and Diners Club credit cards are not accepted in Namibia.
WHAT TO PACK:
Cotton rather than synthetic clothing is recommended for Namibian summers. 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.
Essential items are binoculars, a sun hat, sunglasses, sun block, bathing towel, moisturizer, lip balm and mosquito repellent. Points for electric shavers (electric current 250 V AC) are available at major hotels and most state- owned resorts. It is advisable to bring battery-operated or conventional razors when visiting remote areas.
HEALTH AND SAFETY:
- We strongly recommend that visitors carry all their prescribed medication in their hand luggage.
- If travelling to Zambia and returning or transiting via South Africa, you will be required to show a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
- If you suffer from motion sickness we advise taking the necessary precautions before travelling, particularly for days when travelling by light aircraft.
- A first aid kit is always available in Namibian lodges. However, we recommend that you have the following available for personal use: aspirin, laxative, Imodium, antihistamine pills and ointment, band aids, electrolyte sachets and wet wipes.
- For up to date information, visit the WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION website www.who.int
While malaria is found mainly in the north of Namibia, it has also been reported in other areas. Visitors can reduce the risk of malaria by wearing long sleeves and long trousers, applying mosquito repellent on a regular basis to exposed skin, and where possible, by sleeping under a mosquito net. Should any of the following symptoms occur: fever, shaking or trembling, headaches, backache, diarrhea and/or vomiting, seek immediate attention and inform the medical practitioner of a recent visit to a malaria area.
This disease is caused by a parasite which lives in slow flowing water. Only travelers to the Caprivi and Kavango areas need be aware of bilharzia. Tourists should avoid drinking, swimming or washing in rivers.
This is one of the most common problems in Namibia, especially in the hot summer months. Because of the high evaporation rate one seldom notices water loss - perspiration evaporates almost immediately! To avoid dehydration, we recommend drinking two to three litres of water a day. Early warning signs are a dull, throbbing headache and unusual tiredness.
Tap water is safe to drink throughout the country, except for isolated rural areas, where the consumption of filtered or bottled water is advised.
The dry climate has been known to cause nose bleeds for the first few days after arrival.
SNAKES, SCORPIONS & SPIDERS
Although there are many species of snake in Namibia, they are seldom seen. Most snakes are timid and will disappear long before they're noticed by humans. Nonetheless, we suggest bush walks are undertaken with good walking boots, preferably with thick socks covering the ankles. When walking in long grass be sure to check your legs and clothes for grass ticks – especially in the rainy season
Scorpions and spiders are also seldom seen. They are more active in the rainy season, during the cooler evening and early morning hours. The best way to avoid being stung is to wear shoes. If by chance you encounter a scorpion or spider in your room, please ask your host to have it removed. Do not leave your shoes/boots outside at night – these provide convenient places for scorpions and spiders to hole up in – not to mention the fact that Jackals have an insatiable appetite for shoes of all makes and sizes!
If guests have visited or have been in transit in Zambia (this includes Livingstone and surrounds), a yellow fever vaccination certificate will be required on entering or transiting through South Africa and/or Mozambique. The certificate may be requested by customs and immigration officials.
Namibia is a peaceful, democratic, and relatively crime free democratic country and it is safe. However, as in any other place in the world, there are undesirable elements. Please take following precautions to ensure a safe and pleasant stay:
- Always keep your vehicle locked and the alarm system activated.
- Do not leave valuables in the car, especially not in full view. Lock luggage out of sight in the boot.
- Be on the alert for handbag snatchers and pick pockets.
- Make sure that the numbers of travelers cheques are kept in a safe place – separate from the cheques.
- Make copies of travel documents and keep these in a safe place - separate from the original documents.
Stolen Items: Should you be so unfortunate as to have a personal item stolen from your person or vehicle, please report to the nearest police station, where you will receive a claim number, and which can be used for insurance purposes.
- Wear a hat and sunscreen at all times. Never go walking without a supply of water – even if on a short walk. Keep a supply of water and some fruit or biscuits in your vehicle at all times.
- Credit Cards: Although we have very limited criminal activity in Namibia, please take precautions with cash and your credit card. During any credit card purchase, including those in restaurants, the merchant will bring the credit card machine to you. Please be sure to have your credit card in sight at all times.
- Cash withdrawal: Namibia has ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) available in most of the bigger towns
- Banking hours: vary from 08h00/09h00 - 16h00 on weekdays, and Saturday mornings to around 11h00.
- Cell phone coverage is largely restricted to towns and cities with irregular coverage in-between.
- Fuelling (gas/petrol) stations only accept cash, no credit cards are allowed. Most of the bigger towns as well as National Parks have fuel stations available.
- Business hours: Monday to Friday, 08h00 – 17h00. Saturdays' most shops close around 14h00; Sundays and Public Holidays shops are usually closed with a few exceptions for bigger grocery stores.
- Hitchhikers: It is illegal to pick up hitchhikers on any road in Namibia
- Time changes: Namibia has a twice-yearly time change, from winter to summer and vice versa:
- Summer time: GMT + 2 hours = First Sunday in September to first Sunday in April
- Winter time: GMT + 1 hours = First Sunday in April to first Sunday in September
Self-drive in Namibia
- Namibia has about 5,000 km of tar road and 40,000 km of gravel road.
- Visitors do not need a 4WD car for most regions of Namibia, but a SUV-style car may be helpful.
- The Namibian road system is LEFT HAND drive.
- It is compulsory for the driver and all passengers to wear safety belts
- Speaking on cellular phones while driving is illegal.
- The speed limit on tarred national roads is 120km per hour. We recommend our visitors do not exceed 100km per hour. The maximum speed limit on gravel roads is 80km per hour. Not all gravel roads are the same! Please adjust the speed according to the condition of the road. The speed limit in towns and villages is 60km per hour unless otherwise stated
- Avoid driving at night, sunrise or sunset – visibility is low and animals are active during these times. In some areas, cattle, horses, donkeys, goats and wildlife graze on the side of the road - warthogs and baboons tend to cross the roads without warning.
- In dusty and misty conditions it is advisable to switch on the headlights.
- Observe road traffic signs, particularly those which indicate a gentle or sharp curve ahead, cattle grid or drift (dry river bed). In all cases, reduce speed.
- In rainy weather beware of slippery roads, wash-aways and running or standing water in drifts and river beds. Check the depth of water before attempting to cross. In most cases the water level will drop after a few hours.
- Check the availability of fuel on your itinerary. Plan ahead and fuel the car at every opportunity as petrol stations are few and far between. Please note that fuel may only be purchased with cash. The service at petrol stations is not self-service – a fuel attendant will assist you.
- Police roadblocks: There may be police roadblocks on entering and/or exiting the larger towns or cities. Stop and wait until the official indicates that you may pass. They may ask to check your driver's license or passport.
- We advise tourists to have their Passport and Driver's License with them at all times
- Tire pressure is very important for your vehicle to have good road holding. Observe the pressure recommended by the manufacturer of your vehicle.
- Check engine oil, water and tire pressure when the engine and tires are cold.
- Access roads to guest farms usually have plenty of potholes, so drive slowly and with caution.
- Although flat tires can be repaired at the nearest service station, these are mostly located in populated areas, so visitors should be able to change a tire. Before departing with a hired vehicle, check that the appropriate tools and the spare tire are in the car.
- Most rental car companies have a detailed set of free regional Namibia maps
DRIVING ON GRAVEL ROADS
- Travel speed should not exceed 80 km/h and we suggest turning on the car lights on as the vehicle is easier to notice in the gravel dust cloud
- With on-coming traffic, reduce speed and keep to the left of the road –be aware of sand build up on the outer edge of the road.
- Avoid overtaking on gravel roads; but if necessary, wait for a long, clear stretch of road ahead. Ensure the driver of the other vehicle is aware of you –pull a little to the right where you can see and be seen. When passing, stay on the right hand side of the road until well clear of the other vehicle before returning to the left-hand side – as tires throw out stones on gravel roads which could shatter the windscreen of the vehicle you are passing. Bear this in mind when passing donkey carts and pedestrians in rural areas and slow down!
- Avoid sudden stops turns of the steering wheel
- Avoid sudden and/or hard braking
Charter flights afford travelers the ability to reduce travel time, access remote locations and experience Namibia's spectacular landscapes from above. Many lodges are so isolated they can only be reached by plane. Fortunately, Namibia is blessed with plenty of good landing strips. Almost every lodge and location has one nearby. Charter flights might be a more expensive option but are perfect for group travels, VIP safaris or simply as an add-on 'flight-seeing' day trip. The aircraft vary in size but most air charter companies us the Cessna 210. With an air taxi, the flight departure and drop off times are scheduled by the air charter companies the day prior to departure, to fit in with their flying schedule, therefore travel times cannot be advised in advance. In chartering a private aircraft, departure and drop-off times are scheduled to suit the client.
LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS ON CHARTER AIRCRAFT
- For safety reasons light aircraft transfers have a restriction of 15kg luggage plus 5kg of hand luggage (20kgs total) per person, packed in SOFT bags.
- Please note that if your luggage is overweight or in the incorrect bag type – you may be asked to re-pack and/or you may have to book additional seats or a private charter at extra cost to accommodate your luggage.
- Please do not bring hard suitcases or suitcases with wheels as they will not fit on a light aircraft.
It is of particular importance to advise your agent if one of your travelling party is over 100kg as this information needs to be passed onto the light aircraft company whilst making your booking, for safety and logistical reasons. There may be additional charges levied, depending on the policy of the individual charter company.
You will need to present your passport at border crossings, and some passport holders may require a Visa to enter prior to arrival. Check with your local embassy/consulate requirements.
Self-drive visitors may be required to show an authorization letter from the rental company allowing them to take their rental vehicle across the border as well as written proof of vehicle insurance. Self-drivers may also be required to prove they comply with local road safety standards by carrying certain equipment (i.e. fire extinguisher, reflective vest, triangle in case of breakdown, reflective tape or buttons on the front & rear of the vehicle) and these requirements should be checked before picking up your rental vehicle. They may also be required to pay certain cross-border taxes and charges to customs in order to temporarily import the vehicle. Although these opening times were correct at the time of writing it is worth checking the opening times before your arrival (especially if you are using one of the smaller borders.
|Ruacana||08:00 – 19:00||07:00 – 18:00|
|Omahenene||08:00 – 19:00||07:00 – 18:00|
|Oshikango||08:00 – 19:00||07:00 – 18:00|
|Katitwe||06:00 – 18:00||06:00 – 18:00|
|Rundu||06:00 – 18:00||06:00 – 18:00|
|Katima Mulilo||06:00 – 18:00|
|Ngoma||06:00 – 18:00||06:00 – 18:00|
|Muhembo||06:00 – 18:00||06:00 – 18:00|
|Tsumkwe||06:00 – 18:00||06:00 – 18:00|
|Buitepos/Mamuno||07:00 – 24:00||06:00 – 23:00|
|Velverdiend/Mata Mata||08:00 – 16:30||07:00 – 15:30|
|Klein Manasse/Rietfontein||08:00- 16:30||07:00 – 15:30|
|Ariamsvlei/Nakop||24 Stunden||24 Stunden|
|Velloorsdrif/Onseepkans||08:00 – 16:30||07:00 – 15:30|
|Noordoewer/Vioolsdrif||24 Stunden||24 Stunden|
SEASONS IN NAMIBIA
Namibia displays weather typical to that of a semi desert country with days hot and evenings cool. During the winter months days can be quite mild but night times bring fiercely cold temperatures. Travelers to Namibia are advised to pack for both scenarios with layering being the best choice. Dress warm for chilly mornings in such a way that you can peel off later to enjoy the warm sunny days. The best times to visit Namibia are June to October. Weather is fair and with the dryer conditions wildlife tend to congregate around the waterholes as supplies slowly run dry. This also beats the immense heat of the summer days
- Winter (May-September) During the day the mercury tends to hover between 10oC and 25oC, making the days pleasant and warm. Frost is not very common although Namibia has recorded small layers of snow on very rare occasions in the south. The evenings can be quite chilly with temperatures coming to rest at about -1oC to 5oC.
- Summer (October-April) Rainy Season
Namibia offers visitors an incredible variety of biomes to visit. From the Namib Desert to the lush green areas of the north, the country is an all-in-one experience. The rainy season extends from October to April and for the northern areas usually encompasses an average of up to 700mm in some areas. The dry southern areas usually measure up to 150mm with the desert areas receiving only about 20 to 50mm, enough though to inspire the well adapted desert flora to flourish. Rains do not often disrupt traffic flow, however do take care when traversing the northern areas. Flash floods do occur so be careful when driving in the rural and outback areas. Due to Namibia's desert climate of hot days and cool evenings, visitors are encouraged to pack for both scenarios.
Many safari camps and lodges run on generators and few have 24 hour electricity. Some camps will not have plug points in guest accommodation but will generally have power points in the main camp area for charging batteries. The most commonly used systems in Namibia are a round, three-pronged plugs and European two-pronged pin plugs. To be on the safe side, we suggest purchasing an international adaptor before travel.
Namibia offers wonderful safari experiences for families. The general minimum age for children is 12 years but many camps allow for children between 6 – 12 years with applicable conditions. Wildlife activities may be restricted and are at the discretion of the guide. Conditions such as private vehicles and limited activities may apply depending on the camp or lodge. Some properties will require that children under the age of 12 years share with an adult. A greater number of lodges are building family rooms but these are typically limited to one unit per property and early booking is essential. There might be discounts for children but these are dependent upon on the lodge and the time of year.
FOOD AND DIETARY
You will enjoy a wide variety of meals during your stay and all camps attempt to include an "African" flavour in their menus. On safari, many camps and lodges are booked on a fully inclusive basis, however please note that with respect to drinks this is based on local beverages and not premium brands. Please check your itinerary for details. In major towns it is more common that you will be booked on a bed & breakfast basis. Specific dietary requirements are catered for provided your travel professional was notified at the time of your booking. Please note that specialist gluten free/vegan foods are not always available, and guests need to disclose their particular requirements with their travel agent. Any food allergies need to be notified well in advance.
English is the official language of Namibia and widely spoken with all guides and general staff in camps and lodges having a good command. In the broader population however, not everyone will speak English fluently as many have grown up speaking different tribal languages.
- You may not take photographs or use video equipment near military and government institutions, borders and/or airports. Always ask for permission before taking photographs of people.
- If you are travelling with a significant amount of photographic equipment (large lenses, tripods etc.) you may need to pay for an additional seat on any charter flights to accommodate the equipment. Please advise your travel professional.
They are many places to purchase souvenirs like crafts, including baskets, beadwork, masks and woodcarvings. There are shops in most of the towns, which sell local crafts and many camps and lodges also have small curio boutiques.
While tipping is not a requirement, it is a generally accepted form of saying "thank you" throughout the world and highly appreciated by all levels of staff. Tipping should reflect the level of service you have received throughout your trip and if you are dissatisfied with the level of service, it is not compulsory. On the other hand, if you have received exemplary service from your guide, housekeeper or general hotel/camp staff, you may wish to give more than usual. Tips in USD or Euro are generally accepted
VISAS & TRAVEL DOCUMENTS
The following documents should be with you during travel:
- Airline Tickets and/or any e-ticket references for your commercial flights
- A certified colour photocopy of your passport and other important documents for use in case of lost or stolen originals (kept separately from the originals).
- Valid passport – with at least 6 months validity and six empty pages.
Citizens of certain countries are required to obtain visas well in advance for travel to Namibia. Please note that certain visas can take up to 3 months to be processed so please consider this when booking.
NB: It is the responsibility of the visitor to check visa regulations and restrictions as applied to their passport before final confirmation. For up-to-date Visa requirements please check with your local embassy or consulate.
- Waterproof/zip lock bags for storing personal items and memory cards to keep dust free and/or dry
- Torches/flashlights will be provided at most lodges.
- Camera equipment, binoculars, batteries, spare camera batteries and spare memory cards for digital cameras are essential as the opportunity to download photos is limited
- We strong suggest that visitors take out travel insurance prior to visiting Namibia. Camps and lodges in Namibia have strict cancellation charges and travel insurance is therefore recommended to recoup expenses in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
- Cover for cancellation and curtailment, medical insurance lost or damaged baggage and emergency evacuation is highly recommended for all safaris.