Everything you need to know about your Namibian holiday
Dominated by the Namib Desert (whose Nama name means “Vast Place”), Africa’s most thinly populated country enthrals with its immense arid landscapes, bountiful wildlife and ancient rock art. What you will encounter is a comprehensive journey through most of Namibia’s gems; a country characterised by stark contrasts that teem with life and beauty. Curate your holiday experience and let us do the rest for you. It couldn’t be more easy or thorough.
Our Recommended Tour
Namibia is an ideal destination for travellers seeking an unforgettable African experience in a uniquely beautiful untamed wilderness. Touring Namibia is truly a pleasure. Visit the capital of Windhoek and the lovely coastal town of Swakopmund to discover remnants of the country’s German influence, reflected in the architecture, culture, cuisine and the annual Oktoberfest celebrations.
On arrival at Windhoek International Airport, you will make your way through to the car rental desk - where you will collect your rental vehicle.…You will drive to Olive Grove Guesthouse, situated close to the city centre in a quiet and peaceful area. This will be your home for the next three nights with your bed and breakfast included.
After spending three nights in the Olive Grove Guesthouse, you will travel to the coast. You will self-drive to the Delight Swakopmund located within a short walking distance to the “Mole”.…You will stay on a bed and breakfast basis for three nights.Guests will have the opportunity to relax in the beach and experience an effortless and memorable experience.
You bid the ocean farewell as you head towards the Etosha National Park. You will explore the park for the next four days - either in your own vehicle or a booked game drive in the camp.…Okaukuejo Rest Camp is located 17 kilometres from the southern entrance of the park and it is famous for its floodlit waterhole - where visitors can observe the wildlife congregating and interacting.This will be your home for the first two nights in the park with your bed and breakfast included. Highlights include sighting approximately 340 bird species such as crimson-breasted shrikes, 34 raptors and 12 types of lark birds. Guests will also enjoy game drives and exceptional sightings at night.
Today you travel a little further east towards Namutoni Resort. The resort centres on an old German Fort overlooking the King Nehale waterhole; an elevated decked walkway providing excellent …opportunities for enjoying the surrounding scenery, wildlife and the spectacular sunsets. Here you will be spending your last two nights with your bed and breakfast included. However, you will have the opportunity to explore game drives and nature walks that will give you the opportunity to encounter wildlife such as elephant, lion, rhino, giraffe and many more. Camping is also available.
Namibia is an ideal destination for travellers seeking an unforgettable African experience in a uniquely beautiful untamed wilderness. Very different to anywhere else in Africa, Namibia’s main attraction is its incredible dry-country landscapes and liberating sense of space. That said, as safari destinations go, Etosha National Park ranks right up there with the best, and the seals at Cape cross and coastal birdlife are also very special. …
When to visit Namibia?
- Overview of the seasons
- Namibia generally has a dry climate and you can visit the country year-round. However, deciding on the ideal month to travel to Namibia really depends on which regions and attractions you will be travelling to and what your interests are. For example, the dry months are best for wildlife viewing in places such as Etosha National Park, whereas the rainy summer months are best for birdwatching.
- In general, the dry winter season from May to September is the most popular time for travellers to visit Namibia: malaria risk is lowest, day time temperatures aren’t too hot (though nights between June and August in the desert are very cold), and in parks such as Etosha the combination of sparse foliage and the lack of rain forcing animals to congregate around waterholes makes wildlife spotting particularly easy.
- November to March are the hottest months in Namibia and temperatures in some regions can reach above 50 C (122 F) during the day. These months are also the rainy season, although many areas in Namibia receive little or no rain at all. During the wetter months, some tracks in the north eastern part of the country can become unsurpassable. These are the hardest months for spotting wildlife in parks such as Etosha and also carry the highest risk of malaria.
- January is midsummer in Namibia, when temperatures in most of the country are extremely hot, and some parts of Namibia receive heavy afternoon showers. The summer rains mean the foliage in Etosha National Park is at its greenest, making for beautiful photos and good birdwatching but wildlife spotting is more challenging than in the drier months. January is a good time to visit the Skeleton Coast as the weather is mild and sunny.
- It’s not advisable to travel to the Zambezi Region during the rainy months, as the area receives the most rainfall in Namibia and roads may be flooded. There’s also a higher risk of malaria.
- February is the wettest, hottest and most humid month in Namibia. It’s the low season, which means lower room rates and fewer other travellers. It’s tricky to spot wildlife in Etosha but it is birthing season, so if you’re very lucky you’ll get to see some newborn antelope calves.
- The rains start to ease off in March in Namibia but it’s still hot and humid. It’s still a good month for birdwatching but finding wildlife in places such as Etosha remains difficult due to the lush vegetation.
- April is a lovely time to visit Namibia especially if you’re a photographer: the weather is mild, the skies are clear and the landscapes are green. It’s still the low season so you can get good deals on room rates.
- May is a good month for Namibia travel, with moderate temperatures, green vegetation and clear skies. If you want to do a serious hike, the Fish River Canyon hike opens for the winter season in the beginning of the month.
- Desert temperatures drop off in June: while day times are pleasant, nights can be freezing. Without rain, the landscape has become much drier, and vegetation sparser, making this a good time for a visit to Etosha, where it’s just started to become easy to spot animals congregating around waterholes.
- July is the driest month of the year, so it’s an excellent time to visit the game parks, especially Etosha, where it’s easy to see hundreds of animals vying for space around waterholes. Day time temperatures are mild and night time temperatures can drop well below freezing.
- August is a popular time to travel to Namibia, so be sure to have your lodging booked far in advance. It’s an excellent time to see wildlife in the parks and it’s a good time to do outdoors activities in the desert as day time temperatures remain mild (although be prepared for freezing nights). In August you can see beautiful carpets of wild spring flowers covering the arid |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
- September is an ideal time for visiting Namibia: day time temperatures are still pleasant, and nights are a bit warmer. It’s still dry, so game viewing is excellent. Early to mid-September is the last time you can hike the Fish River Canyon before it gets too hot, and it’s also the last month to catch the wild spring flowers in |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
- October gets very hot and dusty in Namibia, though it’s still a good time to visit Etosha in terms of dry landscapes and easy wildlife spotting. This is the best month for spotting southern right, humpback and minke whales as they pass through the Atlantic Ocean near Walvis Bay.
- The first rains of summer generally start in November and the temperature drops a bit, although much of the country doesn’t receive much rainfall. This month is the end of the season for the migration of whales which you can spot from Walvis Bay. November is a good time to visit the Skeleton Coast National Park, as the weather is mild.
- With the summer rains in December, Namibia’s arid landscapes turn to green, attracting migratory birds, making this an ideal time for birdwatchers. December is a busy time of year to travel in Namibia because of the Namibian and South African school holidays over the Christmas and New Year period so be sure to book in advance for lodging and campsites.
- Travelling to Namibia
If you’re flying to Namibia from the US, it’s easiest to travel to Johannesburg in South Africa and catch a two-hour connecting flight to Windhoek in Namibia. Travellers from Europe have the option of direct flights to Windhoek from Frankfurt on Air Namibia or from Cologne-Bonn on Eurowings or from Amsterdam on KLM or connecting flights via Johannesburg from London on British Airways or South African Airways. Qatar Airways flies to Windhoek from several European cities via Doha.
If you’re travelling by car in South Africa or Botswana before your trip to Namibia, it’s easy to cross the Namibian border with your hired car – just let the rental car company know beforehand so that they can provide you with the paperwork you’ll need to bring the car across the border.
- Getting around in Namibia
Namibia is a huge country without many public transport options, so hiring a car is by far the best way of getting around. Namibia’s roads, both tarred and gravel, are in good condition and are well maintained, making it easy to do a self-drive holiday. It’s a good idea to have both a GPS (or offline map on your smartphone) as well as a paper map for navigating.
You don’t need to hire a 4x4 to drive around Namibia – 2WD sedan cars are able to drive on the gravel roads – but it is preferable to have a car with high ground clearance especially for the ungraded dirt secondary roads. If you’re travelling in Namibia’s remoter regions such as the Skeleton Coast National Park, Kaokoveld and Damaraland, you’ll need a 4x4. You’ll also need a 4x4 to explore Khaudum National Park, Nkasa Rupara National Park and parts of Bwabwata National Park in the Zambezi Region.
Some car rental companies offer vehicles fully kitted out for camping tips, with rooftop tents, freezers, gas cookers, camping chairs and tables, sleeping bags, jerry cans and cooking sets.
Namibia has one of the world’s highest rates of road accidents, and it’s recommended to take out fully comprehensive insurance to cover you for any damage or accidents that may happen on your trip.
- Wildlife in Namibia
In the north of the country, Etosha National Park is Namibia’s unmissable wildlife destination. During the dry season when water is scarce, the park’s animals gather around waterholes making game viewing as easy as parking your car in the right spot. Along with herds of springbok, zebra and blue wildebeest, you’ll see lots of elephant and lion and, if you’re lucky, cheetah. You’ll also get to see desert animals such as oryx, meerkat, ostrich and bat-eared foxes.The park is the best place in Africa to spot black rhino, while black-faced impala and damara dik-dik are two other special species: they are only found in one other place – across the border in Angola.
To the south of Etosha, Waterberg Plateau Park is home to some rare species, such as sable and roan antelope as well as black and white rhino and Namibia’s only breeding colony of Cape Vultures.
Among the rugged mountains of Damaraland, in Namibia’s northwest, are free-roaming populations of desert elephant (which are incredibly rare – the only other place in the world where they are is Mali) and desert-adapted black rhino and lions. Namibia’s most rewarding wildlife experiences include tracking black rhinos and elephants against spectacular desert backdrops.
Other wildlife associated with these reserves includes African wild dog, cheetah, spotted hyena, giraffe, zebra, warthog, baboon and vervet monkey. The country supports around two dozen species of antelope, ranging from the outsized eland and stately spiral-horned greater kudu, to the gregarious blue wildebeest and impala, to arid-country specialists such as gemsbok and springbok and the diminutive forest-dwelling red and blue duikers.
In far north-eastern Namibia, the Zambezi Region (formerly known as the Caprivi Strip) offers a different wildlife experience to the rest of the country, thanks to its heavy summer rainfall, rivers and water sources. This is where you can see hippo and crocodile and it’s one of the only places in the country where buffalo occur. A highlight of the Zambezi Region is water-based wildlife viewing either from boats on from mokoro (traditional dug-out canoes).
Stretching along Namibia’s northern coastline, the Skeleton Coast National Park has one of the world’s biggest breeding colonies of Cape fur seals at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve. There are around 100 000 seals here year-round, and if you visit the reserve in November and December you’ll see their tiny pups – and perhaps a stalking jackal.
In central Namibia, there’s marine wildlife to see on boat and kayaking trips from Walvis Bay to spot seals, whales and dolphins. Central Namibia also has two places to do animal tracking: search for cheetahs and leopards at Okonjima Nature Reserve near Otjiwarongo and track rare and extremely elusive pangolins at Erindi Private Game Reserve.
Southern Namibia isn’t a prime big game region, though if you want to see the animals of the Namib Desert (oryx, springbok, kudu, zebra, giraffe, hartebeest, leopard, hyena, jackal and fox) the NamibRand Nature Reserve, a huge conservation area with spectacular scenery and a low density of visitors, is your best bet. An unusual wildlife highlight of southern Namibia is the herd of around 150 wild horses that roams freely in the desert between Aus and Lüderitz – the world’s only desert-dwelling wild horses.
- Namibian culture
Namibia’s sparse population of only 1,8 million people in a land area of 830 square kilometres makes it one of the most sparsely populated countries in Southern Africa. The San Bushmen are descendants of Africa’s Stone Age tribes and are considered Namibia’s oldest inhabitants. Confined to the desert and semi-desert regions of Namibia, their survival skills in such a harsh climate are renowned the world over.
Bantu-speaking populations include the Himba, Ovamba and Herero people, who are also extremely adept at living in the stark landscape of Namibia.
German colonialists introduced a strong German-influence in Namibia, as evidenced by their language, cuisine and architecture.
- Languages in Namibia
Namibia has a remarkable diversity of spoken languages: around 30 in total.
English is the official language in Namibia, and almost everyone that you’ll meet on your travels will speak English, even though it’s the first language of less than 1% of the country’s population. Nearly half the population speaks Oshiwambo dialects, while the other main languages are Khoekhoe, Afrikaans, Kwangali, Herero and German.
- Changing money in Namibia
The Namibian dollar is pegged to the South African rand. If you’re travelling to Namibia after spending time in South Africa, rands are accepted everywhere in Namibia (although Namibian dollars are not accepted in South Africa). You can draw cash from ATMs in Namibia using your international bank cards.
Many hotels, lodges and restaurants in towns will accept credit card payments, but you do need carry enough cash with you to cover yourself for places that don’t accept cards. You’ll also need cash for park entrance fees and tips.
Few petrol stations will accept cards for payment of petrol, and while there are usually ATMs at bigger petrol stations, many small stations will not have an ATM, so have enough cash for filling up with petrol in rural areas.
- Shopping in Namibia
Namibia’s capital city Windhoek has shopping malls and craft markets (the Namibia Crafts Centre is a highlight) where you can buy any clothing items or travel gear you may have forgotten to pack, as well as souvenirs such as baskets, pottery, carvings, art and jewellery, leather goods, to take home. Swakopmund also has a number of souvenir and jewellery shops and art galleries.
When you travel around Namibia you’ll find craft markets and curio stalls in tourist areas, villages, along roadsides and near the entrance gates to national parks such as Etosha.
A blockbuster combination of sublime landscapes that will make you feel like you’re on another planet, some of the best wildlife viewing on the continent, a host of fascinating desert-adapted plants and animals and jaw-dropping natural wonders make Namibia a country you’ll never forget.
Namibia’s scenery and sights are as astonishing as they are varied, ranging from the Namib – the world’s oldest desert – a vast and beautiful wilderness that covers much of the country in sandy plains, dune seas and savanna, to where dunes meet crashing oceans on the dramatic Skeleton Coast, to rugged granite mountains adorned with ancient rock art, the giant cracked salt pan of Etosha National Park and the dizzying depth of the Fish River Canyon.
Adventure is always just around the corner in Namibia. Whether it’s tackling a challenging 4x4 route in a remote area, hurtling down a sand dune on a board, or sky diving above the desert, there are endless ways to experience the country with some adrenaline-inducing fun.
To seal the deal, the network of well-maintained roads, excellent tourist infrastructure and a wide range of lodging options mean that Namibia is both one of the safest and easiest countries in southern Africa for self-guided travelling and a strong contender for this world’s best road tripping destination.