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Namibia travel: from red dunes to wild animals
Vast, endless roads. Towering red sand dunes. Rugged coastline. The traditional Himba tribe. The magnificent Etosha National Park with roaming wild animals. A Namibia travel experience is an amazing adventure full of highlights. You’ll sleep in beautiful small-scale ecolodges surrounded by nature and you can easily drive around by car. Taking your own road trip through Namibia will give you the chance to enjoy this incredible African country at your own pace.
A Namibia travel experience
The world’s oldest desert
When you’re talking about Namibia, you’re talking about deserts. But not just any kind of desert. In Namibia, you can find the oldest desert in the world. The Namib Desert is more than 80 million years old en covers an area of almost 1600 kilometres. Its unique fiery red dunes have been formed by the wind that blows in from the coast. Some dunes reach a height of nearly 300 metres. You won’t want to miss Dune 45, which stands at 170 metres high. The climb is somewhat arduous, but the view over the expansive desert is spectacular. For an extra special view, go at sunrise! It’ll make for an amazing Namibia travel experience.
A Namibia road trip
If you properly want to experience the vast, endless landscapes of Namibia, then you should do it with a road trip. A road trip through Namibia gives you all the freedom to explore the country at your own pace. You can easily drive a hundred kilometres without meeting a single person. Some roads are paved, but often you’ll drive on gravel roads. The gravel roads are very doable, as long as you drive carefully and stick to the speed limit. Taking a road trip will really give you the ultimate Namibia travel adventure. You can have a look at our travel suggestion for a Namibia road trip or ask Nina, our Namibia travel specialist, to help you design your ideal road trip.
Track desert rhinos on foot
Can’t get enough of wild animals during your Namibia travel journey? Drive further on to the more remote Damaraland, a dry savanna area with impressive table-top mountains, and experience tracking rhinos in the desert. You’ll start off in a jeep, but once your guide finds tracks, you’ll continue on foot. An adventurous way to go in search of rhinos!
A cultural experience
Namibia has various traditional tribes, such as the Himba tribe. You can visit a Himba village and learn all about their authentic way of life. Another famous tribe is the San, also known as bushmen. They live off of the surrounding nature and also enjoy sharing about their unique lifestyle.
A rugged coastline
Nambia’s coast is also known by it’s nickname the Skeleton Coast. And there’s a reason for this. Its coastline is so rugged that countless shipwrecks have washed ashore here over the years. Nowadays you can find large colonies of seals dotted along the coast. On your way, you’ll also make a stop in the city of Swakopmund. This German-looking city has a boulevard and several good restaurants where you can wind down after your Namibia road trip.
Go on safari
If you want to spot wild animals, then Etosha National Park is the place for you. It’s unbelievable how many different kinds of animals there are, let alone the numbers of animals you can find here. During dry season, you’ll find the animals gathered at watering holes for a drink, making it easy to spot them all. In Ethosa, you can find elephants, giraffes, zebras, leopards, rhinos and lions. There is so much to see that you can easily spend a few days here. You can even explore the park yourself by car. A great Nambia travel adventure!
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Know Before you Go
General Information and Insider Tips
Residents of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not need a visa for travel to Namibia of up to 90 days. For other countries, check visa requirements here.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months prior to arrival in Namibia. It is your own responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of valid and correct travel documentation.
Insider Tip: If you are travelling with children under 18, they need to take an unabridged birth certificate with them. Since 2015, this has been the new regulation set in place to curb human trafficking. Any children under 18 must carry this document with them to enter Namibia. For more information, have a look here.
There are no particular requirements for Namibia, but make sure all routine vaccinations are up to date (MMR, polio, tetanus, etc.). Hepatitis A and Typhoid are recommended, and depending on which areas you will be travelling to or what kind of activities (outdoor, animals) you might do, you may also need to be covered for Malaria and Rabies. It is best to ask your doctor which ones you may need. We recommend all vaccines be completed at least six weeks prior to travel.
If traveling from a country that has yellow fever, you will be required to show proof of yellow fever vaccination.
The safety of our clients is of the utmost importance to us, and our local experts are always well-informed about the current situation in Namibia. For up-to-date information about safety, security and travel warnings, please refer to the US State Department, UK Foreign Travel Advice, or your local government resource.
Sockets use the round three-pronged (Type D and M) plugs. Electricity in remote eco-lodges may not be reliable, so bring a flashlight/torch. You may also want to consider a portable USB charger for your electronics.
At Better Places Travel, you book your own international flights. Your travel expert will gladly advise you on the best option. Read here for more information and tips.
When to go
The best time to travel in Namibia is between October and mid-December and between mid-March and mid-April. The is when temperatures are between 25 and 40 degrees Celsius. The most rain falls between January and April. Read more about the best time to travel here.
Insider Tip: Namibia has complex ecosystems. Though the largest part has a desert climate, the country also has a steppe climate from northeast to southeast.
The official language of the country is English, but Oshiwambo is the most widely spoken language in Namibia.
Insider Tip: Namibia has a rich linguistic diversity. From its indigenous inhabitants (San, Nama and Damara peoples) to later immigrants (Bantu, or Ovambo, people) to occupation by the German forces in the late 19th and early 20th century to administrative rule by South Africa before their full independence in 1990, Namibia has had a myriad of linguistic and cultural influence over the years.
Despite having a history of colonization under the Germans and administrative rule under South Africa’s apartheid government, Namibia has a rich cultural heritage to this day. The country has 13 different ethnic groups, of which the Owambo, Herero, Himba, Nama and Damara peoples are only some. Each has it’s own language and cultural traditions, which are still practiced today. Even so, you’ll also still notice a lingering European influence, such as in the town of Swakopmund, a colonial town with German-like architecture. The mix of all these cultures makes for a fascinating learning experience.
The local currency is the Namibian Dollar (NAD).
The Namibian Dollar is linked to the South African Rand, which can also used in Namibia as legal tender (though, conversely, the NAD cannot be used in South Africa). Credit cards are accepted at most supermarkets, restaurants and accommodations in urban Namibia (with Visa and Mastercard mostly commonly accepted). However, in rural areas you will most likely only be able to pay in cash.
Insider Tip: Credit cards can NOT be used to buy petrol.
- Restaurants – A 10% service charge may be added to your bill. If one isn’t included, leaving 10% is appreciated in more upmarket restaurants.
- Cabs – No tipping, but you can give 2-5NAD to petrol station car window cleaners
Insider Tip: Tipping is officially prohibited in national parks and reserves.
What you pack will depend on when and where you visit. Summers can be hot (milder on the coast) and winter temperatures in the country’s interior can fluctuate. Layering is generally a good practice. Dress is generally casual, although you’ll want nicer evening clothes for going out in the cities (higher-end restaurants, shows, etc.).
Must-pack items- entire country
- Mosquito repellant
- Simple medical kit with over-the-counter drugs and first aid (including anti-diarrheal and stomach meds)
- Hand sanitizer or wet wipes
- All prescriptions
- Flashlight/torch for possible power outages
- Tissues in case toilet paper is unavailable
Must-pack items- coastal areas and cities:
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Flip flops or sandals for beach areas
- Light sweater or jacket for evenings (something heavier for winter)
- Microfiber towel or sarong for beach-going
- Shorts, t-shirts, casual pants, sundresses, etc.
- Nicer evening wear
- Umbrella for occasional summer thundershowers
Must-pack items- safari:
- Comfortable closed-toe shoes or hiking boots
- Light jacket or fleece for cool mornings
- Warm jacket if traveling in colder months
- Wide-brimmed safari hat
- Light-colored clothes (khaki is best; white will get dusty and dark will attract mosquitos)
- Binoculars for wildlife spotting
- Telephoto camera lens