Namibia Travel Guide

safarigo   Namibia  

Namibia is a unique and fascinating country. Attractions range from prime wildlife safaris to fascinating desert landscapes and a whole lot of unpopulated places between.

The highlights of Namibia have taken millennia to reach their present state. Nowhere is the age of the earth more evident than in the ancient landscape of the world's oldest desert.

Best Time to Visit

Unlike many other African countries, Namibia is an all year destination. The dry season is best for game viewing whereas the wetter (green) season is better for scenery, bird watching and general photography.

January, February, March & April:

Wildlife and game viewing: Animals, especially in Etosha, tend to spread out and not gather at the waterholes. However, this does not mean that one does not see animals. Many of the plains game like springbok and zebra, give birth during this time so lots of young to be seen. Animals like the lions, leopard and others stay in their territories and do not move away.

Desert and landscapes: This period is the best time to visit the Namib Desert with its green grasses, open and clear skies with some beautiful cloud formations.

Photography: This is an excellent time in the desert for landscapes, beautiful colours as well as ethnic people.

May, June, July & August:

Wildlife and game viewing: Water levels are dropping and animals start congregating at waterholes for their daily drink. Still quite a lot of vegetation so animals are a quite spread out. A good time for game viewing.

Desert and landscapes: Autumn and winter means cool and chilly evenings bringing crisp conditions, clear skies and pristine dunes and landscapes.

Photography: Fantastic months for photography. Landscapes, dune formations etc are at their best with little dust in the air giving clear and open skies.

September, October, November & December:

Wildlife and game viewing: This period can get very hot indeed which makes for excellent game viewing … again, a wide range of animals meeting at the waterholes. This is often during the heat of the day so good game viewing throughout the day. In the north of Namibia, the rains can start as early as December but game viewing is normally still excellent.

Desert and landscapes: All year destination but can get extremely hot from about 11h00 to 16h00.

Photography: Photography in Namibia is always good … game in Etosha, dunes at Sossusvlei, landscapes and ethnic people. Middle of the day and early afternoon is hot and the light would not be that good.

May to October – Dry Season

Wildlife congregates around rivers and waterholes, making animals easier to spot – it is the best time to visit Etosha
There are no clouds, it's sunny, and there is virtually no rain
There are no clouds, it's sunny, and there is virtually no rain
It gets cold at night and in the mornings – it's advisable to pack warm winter clothing during June, July and August for the cold morning game drives

October to April – Wet Season

After the rains, the scenery is greener and the rates are lower, because it's low season
This is the time of the year you can see newborn animals – migratory birds are present, and birding is at its best
Rains are mostly short showers in the afternoon and rarely have a negative impact on your trip
It gets very hot from October to February
It's more difficult to spot animals – this is especially true for Etosha

Weather & Climate

Mostly, Namibia has a subtropical desert climate characterized by great differences in day and nighttime temperatures, low rainfall and overall low humidity. Namibia experiences winter and summer at opposite times as Europe and North America and they correspond to the Dry and Wet seasons.

Dry Season – May to October – Winter

There is little to no rainfall during the entire winter and humidity is low. Wildlife will gather around waterholes and rivers when other water sources dry up.

May – It is the end of summer. The rains have stopped, but the scenery is still lovely and green. The nights aren't cold yet, and daytime temperatures are, on average, around 24-28°C/75-82°F.
June – The nights are getting cold and can drop below 10°C/50°F. In desert areas, it can be freezing. Daytime temperatures are still pleasant around 20-24°C/68-75°F.
July & August – The average maximum temperature is 21-25°C/70-77°F. The average minimum temperature is around 7°C/45°F but can fall to below freezing at night in the deserts and higher areas. Be sure to pack warm clothing for morning game drives.
September & October – September is a lovely month. It isn’t too hot yet, but the chill in the mornings is becoming less. It is dry, and the skies are clear. During October, the green vegetation is fading, and the heat gradually builds up.

Wet Season – November to April – Summer

November – The heat continues to rise, and by November, it is very hot, but the humidity is still low, keeping it quite pleasant. On average, the daytime temperature is above 30°C/86°F but can be a lot higher in the deserts. Clouds are starting to build up in the afternoons.
December – The first rains usually arrive and with them the temperature drops. The landscape changes after the first rains and everything comes to life.
January & February – This is midsummer. It tends to be hot and humid with maximum temperatures around 30-35°C/86-95°F with peaks of over 40°C/104°F in the desert. There may be torrential downpours in the afternoon but not every day. Mornings are usually clear.
March & April – Rainfall will decrease and stops around April. It cools down after the rains and the nights start to get cold again. Average daytime temperatures are around 25-30°C/77-86°F

Popular Routes

Popular Routes Where Wildlife Viewing Is a Major Part of the Tour Enjoy the best of Africa at your own pace. Namibia’s great roads,ample car hires, and exceptional record on safety make it a fantastic destination for travelers who like to have some flexibility in their itinerary and explore places off the beaten path. All you need is a reliable vehicle, an international driver’s license, a good map and a sense of adventure

Planning Your Route 

Deciding on a route is the most difcult - and most fun - part of planning your self-drive holiday through Namibia.Determining the appropriate amount of time to spend at a destination and the driving times between can seem daunting. But don’t fret; there is plenty of help out there. You just need to know where to look.

Self-Drive Operators

Tour operators with local knowledge are an invaluable resource when planning a self-drive holiday in Namibia.Their on-the-ground knowledge and expertise are good assets throughout the planning process. It’s best to do some research frst and get an idea of which destinations you would like to visit, prioritizing those that you simply cannot miss. Once you have your list of destinations, an operator will work with you to create an itinerary for the amount of time you have in Namibia.

Classic Namibia Itinerary (14)

This is an example of a classic two-week Namibia self-drive safari.As you’ll see, the circular route means no long distances between attractions and no backtracking.

Day 1: Windhoek

Arrive in Namibia’s capital, check into your guesthouse and then head over to the famous Joe’s Beer House for some delicious game steaks, including kudu, zebra and springbok, and wind down with an ice-cold Windhoek lager.

Day 2: Central Highlands

Get up close with some of Namibia’s big cats by paying a visit to our renowned conservation organizations, AfriCat and the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

Day 3-5: Etosha National Park

The famed 
Etosha National Park is your next destination. Spend your days taking leisurely drives through park, with frequent stops at waterholes along the way to sit and watch the animals in this magnifcent setting.

Day 6: Twyfelfontein

Leave Etosha through the Andersson Gate and head west for a visit to Twyfelfontein, Namibia’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site.Twyfelfontein hosts some of Africa’s largest and most important rock-art concentrations – some date back 6,000 years!

Day 7: Damaraland

Explore the magic of 
Damaraland, including the Burnt Mountain,the Petrifed Forest and the Organ Pipes – a mass of basalt slabs in a ravine. Here, you also have the opportunity to experience local culture at the Living Museum of the Damara.

Day 8: The Skeleton Coast

Drive through the desert landscape of northwestern Namibia to the cool and often foggy 
Skeleton Coast. Visit one of the many famous shipwrecks which give the area its name, and see thousands of seals laying upon the rocks at Cape Cross Seal Reserve.

Day 9: Swakopmund

Spend the day in the coastal town of Swakopmund with its distinctive German character rooted in the German colonial era of the previous century. This is your chance to take on Namibia’s towering dunes on a quad bike, go shark fshing, beach angling, sky diving or sand boarding.

Day 10: Walvis Bay

Further adventure awaits, with options for kite surfng; kayaking; 4x4 trips into the dunes; angling from a boat; day trips to visit the Topnaar people by the Kuiseb River; township tours; day visit to Sandwich Harbour; dolphin cruises in the bay; or bird watching on the lagoon.

Day 11: Namib Naukluft Park 

Head south on the C14 towards Sossusvlei through the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Stop at Solitaire for coffee and a slice of Moose’s famous apple pie before spending the night at the foot of the petrifed dunes.

Day 12: Sossusvlei

Awake before sunrise and enter the park at Sesriem for the 64km drive between the high, red dunes of Sossusvlei. Hike up the famous Dune 45 or even taller Big Daddy, and continue into Deadvlei with its photogenic camelthorn tree skeletons. Return to Sesriem for a stroll into Sesriem Canyon and a desert sundowner.

Day 13: Sossusvlei

Start your last day on safari with an iconic balloon trip over the dunes as the sun rises, followed by a champagne breakfast in the middle of nowhere. Take in the vastness of the landscape, spot desert dwelling animals, and take your last 100 photos for the family back home.

Day 14: Spreetshoogte pass

Take the scenic Spreetshoogte pass back to Windhoek. Relish in the memories of your amazing trip and use the plane ride home to start

How to Choose a Vehicle 

Car rental companies are frequently asked which vehicles are the most suitable for Namibia. Below are some important factors to consider when renting a vehicle:

• 4WD vehicles cost more to hire and run, but have good ground clearance and are normally ftted with tires that are better suited to Namibia’s roads.
• 2WD vehicles have less ground clearance and carry less.
• 2WD camping cars come equipped with everything you’ll need.
• 4WD camping cars come equipped with everything you’ll need and are more versatile than normal sedans or other two-wheel-drive vehicles equipped for camping.
• Motor homes are usually better suited to tarred roads as they tend to be top heavy and have poor ground clearance.
• Major attractions such as Swakopmund, Sossusvlei and Etosha can be reached on paved or gravel roads in a 2WD vehicle.

What to Pack

Thorough planning is a vital prerequisite for any camping trip. Imagine erecting your tent and fnding you forgot to pack the tent poles, or trying to light a campfre without matches. All visitors wishing to travel independently through the awesome, but sometimes isolated,Namibian landscapes should ensure that they are fully equipped and self-sufcient. Travellers using either their own car or hiring an unequipped vehicle will fnd several specialist outlets in Windhoek, including Cymot (Greensport), Bushwhackers and Safari Den, where equipment can be purchased. Those preferring to simply hire equipment can contact Camping Hire, amongst others.The choice between ground tents and vehicle rooftop versions is a personal one. The latter is preferred by many for its ease of use and integrated mattress, superior view, better probability of catching the breeze and less chance of encountering scorpions and other creepy crawlies.
There are many excellent sleeping bags on the market; a down flling being ideal both for its warmth on cool nights and for its lightness.

Here is a sample packing list

Table and chairs, a small stove (gas or methylated spirits), a potjie (a classic black three-legged cooking pot), pans, plates, bowls, mugs, cutlery, kettle, braai (barbecue) grid, copious water containers or jerry cans, washing-up bowl with liquid soap and cloths, a good cool box and preferably a fridge securely wired to your vehicle. Further kitchen equipment includes knives, a chopping board, vegetable peeler, can and bottle opener, corkscrew, scissors, salt, pepper and spices, tongs and an extremely useful head-mounted torch. Firewood should always be purchased in a pre-packed form, never collected loose in the bush. Take along a small hatchet, frelighters and matches, two powerful torches and plenty of spare batteries. Vehicle spares should include a spare wheel (preferably two), air compressor or pump, tyre gauge, battery leads, towrope, shovel and basic toolkit. Lastly, remember to take along sensible clothing and footwear,
hats, sunblock, anti-malaria treatments if travelling to an affected region, toiletries and personal items. And don’t forget binoculars, a camera, a battery charger and spare memory cards!

How Much to Budget

Budgets for self-drive safaris will vary depending on accommodation, dining, and other miscellaneous expenses.Meeting up with fellow travellers and sharing costs is one way of reducing your budget.

The following are a list of standard items to help you prepare a rough budget estimate:

• Full tank of unleaded petrol for an SUV: N$800
• Campsite: N$120 per person per night
• Dining out: N$60-150 per person
• Beer: N$12
• Park Entrance Fees (foreign visitors): N$80-100

Money and Internet Access

Withdrawing Money/ATM Machines

Money can be withdrawn with credit and debit cards at most ATM machines, located in all big towns throughout the country. Keep in mind that no ATM facilities are available in small towns and villages. Money can also be withdrawn with a credit card over the counter at most banks.

Using Credit Cards in Namibia

Credit cards are useful in major cities and luxury accommodation facilities but may not be accepted in smaller establishments and shops in small towns, and never at street markets or rural craft centers (though Windhoek’s main Craft Centre will accept them).

International Visa and MasterCard are generally accepted and Diners Club, American Express mostly in large shops and big establishments. Keep the exchange rate in mind and also the fact that additional fees will be charged for using the facilities.

Internet Access

The majority of accommodation facilities have Internet access available to their guests, and some restaurants and coffee shops have Wi-Fi. Internet cafes are found in all major towns

Getting There

There are few direct flights to Namibia, and most people have a stopover in OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) Johannesburg, South Africa. Some of the main airlines flying to Johannesburg have add-on connections. This often includes an overnight in Johannesburg.

Namibia's main airport is Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) located 40km/25mi east of Windhoek, the capital. Onward travel is either by small aircraft or car. Because of excellent roads and safety in Namibia, many people choose the self-drive option. In most other cases, your local tour operator will arrange pick-up from the airport and all further transportation as part of the tour.