Namibia - in the south-west of Africa between the Orange River in the south and the Kunene River in the north - is an arid, rough land, a different world, but still inviting, strangely familiar and easy to travel. Namibia is a photographer's paradise, a land of contrasts and clear colours. It is not the right place for those, who like busy beaches and have fun in crowds. But if you love nature, stillness, great landscapes, desert and expanse, you will become fond of Namibia for life. It is one of the most scarcely populated countries on earth
Windhoek (approx. 350.000 inhabitants)
English is the official language. Other languages in Namibia are Afrikaans, German, Oshivambo, Nama / Damara, Otjiherero, Kavango, Caprivian, San, Tswana and other dialects. In general you should manage well with English and German.
Most visitors enter Namibia at Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek. It lies about 40 kilometres east of the city. The Eros Airport closer to town is being used for domestic, regional flights and by local charter companies only. At present the national airline Air Namibia flies 7 times per week directly from Frankfurt to WindhoekOther than that Condor, Qatar Airways, KLM and Ethiopian Airlines have also recently introduced direct flights to Windhoek. All other airlines, such as Lufthansa, South African Airways, and others, service Windhoek via Johannesburg only, which increases the travel time by a few hours, depending on where you are arriving from.
Passport and visa matters:
The formalities of entry are uncomplicated for EU and US citizens for a stay of up to three months. The visa is issued free of charge at entry. Your passport has to be valid for another 6 months after you departure from Namibia. Special rules and regulations apply for a longer stay.
No vaccinations are required for Namibia. The North of the country falls within the malaria risk zone; It is recommended that travellers should to take appropriate precautions. Since no malaria prophylactic offers total protection the best precaution is to protect oneself from mosquito bites (protective clothing, mosquito nets, and repellents). Furthermore you should be attentive for flu-like symptoms after returning home, and, if applicable, advise your doctor that you were travelling in a tropical / subtropical / malaria-prone area recently.
The duty free allowance per adult includes new or unused goods up to a value of N$1 250, as well as all items for personal use. No meat and meat products, fruit and vegetables may be imported. This rule also applies if you enter the country by car from South Africa.
In 1993 the Namibian Dollar (N$) was introduced. Its strength is on par with the South African Rand (1:1), because the two countries' economies are closely linked. It is even legal to pay with the South African Rand in Namibia.
Best time to travel:
Namibia has a pleasant climate and can be visited throughout the year. The best time might be the months from April to June, when the temperatures are around 25 degrees during the day and the nights are cool and ideal for a good night's sleep. The dry winter months (July to September) are also a good time to visit this desert country. The day temperature usually stays above 20 degrees, but on the Central Plateau and in the Namib Desert the nights can be freezing. With 300 days of sunshine on average per year, Namibia is truly a sunny place. Only during the summer months from November to April does precipitation occur, mostly as heavy thunderstorms, and, in general, the weather is very hot and humid then.
The Namibian Bank allows you to exchange all freely convertible currencies and traveller's cheques into Namibian Dollars. At bigger branches you will find ATM's, where you can draw money with a credit card, often also with a normal debit card. The banks are usually open on weekdays from 9:00 to 15:30 and on Saturdays from 09:00 to 11:00.
In Namibia you can generally pay with the usual credit cards, apart from remote areas. Petrol stations generally do not accept credit cards.
Shops are usually open on weekdays from 8.30 to 13:00 and then from 14:00 to 17:00. On Saturdays they are open from 8:30 to 14:00. Some of the bigger super markets such as Spa, Pick 'n Pay, Woermann & Brock and Shorite/Checkers have longer opening hours and are often also open on Saturdays and Sundays. Post offices and banks are open on weekdays from 8:00 to 16:30 and 8:30 to 11:00 am on Saturdays.
Until Independence was granted in 1990, crime was virtually unknown in Namibia. However, the last decade has seen a constant increase in crime, mainly due to the high unemployment rate and the influx of poor people to the urban areas. However, compared to other African countries, Namibia is still one of the safest holiday destinations.
The voltage in Namibia is 220-230 V – 50 hz. The electric outlets require 3-pole plugs, but adapters are for sale at most supermarkets.
We suggest that you bring along sufficient memory cards for your camera, as these are often fairly expensive in Namibia and you will probably only find a decent selection in Windhoek and Swakopmund. For good wildlife photos, a light-intensive zoom lens with image stabilizer are usually required. But, we also suggest to bring a wide-angle lens as this will help you capture the grand, wide open landscapes that Namibia is renowned for. In general, you are not allowed to take photos just anywhere, but you should avoid taking pictures of military or police installations and personelle. If you wish to photograph people, please always ask their permission first.
Driving / 4 x 4
For travelling Namibia comfortably, it is best to use a rental car. Public transport is practically non-existent. The condition of Namibian roads is generally good and well maintained, but we do suggest that you have a vehicle with a higher ground clearance (usually 4x4 models), when traveling on gravel roads. In the whole of southern Africa including Namibia driving is on the left side of the road. An international driver’s licence together with your normal drivers licence is required for all foreigners from outside of the SADC region. In all urban areas, there is a speed limit of 60 km/h while on national/rural roads; the limit is 100 km/h. For safety reasons you should not exceed 80 km/h on gravel roads. . Otherwise, the traffic rules are basically the same as those in Europe.
Avoid travelling longer distances at night or in the twilight, because wild animals crossing the road are a real threat in Namibia. Most of the farms might be fenced, but kudu can easily jump two metre high fences. A collision with one of these heavy animals often proves fatal. If you have to drive at night, at least don't exceed 80 km/h.
A lot has been developed in recent years, which entails that there are accommodation establishments available within any price range, from backpackers, small B&B's and comfortable middleclass hotels to luxurious game lodges of the highest standard. There is also a sufficient number of camping sites throughout the country.
It is customary to give a tip of 10% of the bill in restaurants, if the service was satisfactory. Porters receive between N$ 5,- to N$ 10,-. It is also customary to tip petrol station attendants between N$ 5,- and N$ 10,-.