All the facts you need to know about the country itself.
Full Country Name Republic of Namibia
Area 4,825,000 sq km
Population 2.486 million (UN 2015)
Capital and largest City Windhoek
Borders Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Religion Christian is the main religion of Namibia followed by other indigenous religions
Time Zone Standard time is two hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time
Languages English, Afrikaans and German followed by indigenous languages (Owambo, Herero, Nama, Damara)
Country Dialling Code +264
Namibia is a gem for those in search of the wilderness. Namibia is a large and sparsely populated country on Africa’s southwest coast, which has enjoyed more than a decade of stability since achieving Independence on 21 March 1990. Today Namibia is a peaceful country, which is economically prosperous as a result of its productive mining, fishing, tourism and agricultural industries.
Namibia is known for its contrasting landscapes. There is the brooding desolate Namibia Desert, said to be the oldest in the world, with its high dunes and awe-inspiring sense of space. The central plateau, with its thornbush savanna and rugged mountains rising abruptly from the plains, gives way to the majestic Fish River Canyon in the South. In the North of the country, landscapes range from dense bush and open plains of the great Etosha Pan, to woodland savanna and lush riverine vegetation.
The Etosha National Park, the third largest in Africa, owes its unique landscape to the Etosha Pan, a vast shallow depression of approximately 5 000 km2. A series of waterholes along the southern edge of the pan guarantee rewarding and often spectacular game viewing. Germanic influence can still be found in the country’s good road infrastructure, well-equipped rest camps throughout the country and most cities’ architecture. Namibia is the perfect choice for nature lovers and amateur photographers alike.
When to Travel
When to Travel
There is no right time to travel to Namibia, just the right time for you! Here we go through the benefits and downsides of each season.
As it is a desert the winter is cold and the summer is hot so pack accordingly!
Peak Season: July - October
Peak season in Namibia is over the winter months. This period tends to offer cool and dry conditions.
Benefits to visiting Namibia in the peak season:
- This is when temperature is most pleasant.
- There is less vegetation and wildlife congregate at water sources making it easier to spot them.
Downsides of visiting Namibia in the peak season:
- Prices are at their highest at this time of year.
Rainy Season: January - May
The rainy season can be disruptive in desert areas in Namibia, with flooding being an issue in some parts, even with minimal rainfall. This is a more prominent issue in the north and west of the country.
Benefits to visiting Namibia in the rainy season:
- Excellent value for money.
- There is little rain and the rains usually only last a couple of hours so the rain itself it doesn’t impact the whole day .
- You can enjoy a more exclusive safari, as there are fewer people.
Downsides of visiting Namibia in the rainy season:
- Animals are more difficult to spot, as there is more water around so they don’t need to congregate at permanent water sources.
- It is extremely hot, especially in the Namib Desert.
- A 4X4 vehicle is advised at this time of the year as the rains affect roads. This can make your trip more expensive, and it can sometimes disrupt the journey.
Here is the “need to know” information about visas for Namibia.
Do I need a Visa to Travel to Namibia?
At the time of writing, no visa for Namibia is required for travellers on Australian Passports.
- You must hold return or onward flight tickets.
- It is important to have two blank pages side by side in your passport for the entry and exit stamps to be issued. If there is insufficient space, entry into the country may be denied.
- Visitors must also be in possession of onward travel documents and have sufficient funds for the duration of their stay.
Please double check this with Bench Africa or your travel agent as this may change at any time
What you need to know about your finances for your holiday in Namibia.
- The unit of currency is the Namibian Dollar (N$), which is divided into 100 cents.
You Should Know..
- The Namibia Dollar and the South African Rand are the only legal tender in Namibia and both can be used freely to purchase goods and services.
- The Namibian dollar is fixed to and equals the South African Rand.
Is Namibia the right choice for you and your family? Here’s what you need to know about travelling with children.
CONSIDERATIONS WHEN TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN
- Distances can be vast in Namibia, which is a consideration when travelling with younger children.
- You may have to book separate game drives for children under a certain age however self-drive holidays could be a great way to get around this problem. This also means that you can travel at your leisure and stop when you need to.
WHY CHOOSE Namibia FOR YOUR FAMILY HOLIDAY?
- Namibia is a relatively safe country to travel, which makes it ideal for families.
- It has good medical amenities and due to the dry weather there are less maladies to be concerned about.
Although there are many camps and lodges that are not set up for children, there are some that are more child-friendly. If you speak to one of our consultants they can tailor-make an itinerary specifically for you and your family.
Although electricity in Africa is a lot more reliable than it used to be, here’s what you need to be aware of.
Voltage & Frequency
The general voltage is 220 and frequency is 50 Hz. Lodges in the more remote areas of Namibia do not have electricity and generally utilise generator power by day for lighting and refrigeration.
- As the sockets can vary a ‘Travellers Adaptor Set’ is recommended.
- Voltage sometimes fluctuates and whilst power cuts are rare, they are not unknown. It is useful to carry a torch.
Travelling by road in Africa may seem daunting to some so we have put together some information so that you know what you can expect.
- Please note that road surfaces vary from tarmac, gravel, sand and occasionally vehicles may travel “off road”.
- Additionally, if visiting remote areas or National Parks and Reserves, the roads may well be rough, bumpy and in a poor condition and may be affected by adverse weather conditions.
Here are our recommendations to thumb through either before you leave for your trip to Namibia, or whilst on safari.
- This is Namibia – Gerald Cubitt & Peter Joyce
- The Living Deserts of Southern Africa – Barry Lovegrove
- Etosha: A Visual Souvenir – Darryl Balfour
- Namibia: The Beautiful Land – David Bristow
Tipping is a delicate and sensitive issue and many people ask us for tipping guidelines, here is all the information you should require.
Tipping is usually considered customary in Africa although not as widespread as the United States or Europe. It is always at your discretion. If you feel that someone has gone the extra mile to make your stay more enjoyable, a tip would be considered a nice way of saying thank you.
To help you budget for your trip, the following is given as a guideline only (shown in South African Rand):
Driver (per person per full day): ZAR 50.00
Guide (per person per full day): ZAR 100.00
Camp Staff (per person per full day): ZAR 50.00
Hotel porters (per bag): ZAR 15.00
Restaurant (per person per meal): ZAR 15.00
A la Carte dining (% of the bill): 10%
Here are some numbers you might need.
Consulate General of Namibia
GPO Box 3370, Sydney NSW 2001, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9818 8544 Web: www.namibianconsulaustralia.com.au
Australian Embassy (South Africa)
292 Orient Street, Arcadia Pretoria, South Africa
Tel: +27 12 423 6000
Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Namibia so we suggest you contact the Australian High Commission in South Africa.
Namibia lends itself very well to self drive holidays. Here’s what you need to know.
You need to know...
- Although Namibia is widely regarded as a safe destination on a self-drive itinerary you do need to be prepared to drive long distances (typically 5-6 hours from place to place) and seeing very few other tourists. For this reason it is recommended all self-drive clients book a satellite phone.
- It must also be noted that on entry into National Parks, a local fee will have to be paid.
- Self-drive clients will be met by a local representative on their first night in Namibia. This will provide you with an opportunity to discuss your progress and ask any questions you may have.
- Please note, an International Drivers Licence is required when hiring a car in Namibia.
- Petrol stations in Namibia do not accept credit cards and currently work on a cash only basis.
At Bench Africa we carefully select the properties that we use, and one size certainly does not fit all. Here is a list of all the different types of accommodation awaiting you in Africa.
We recommend this for the more intrepid travellers who want to get their hands dirty! Guests will put up their own tents and may be required to help around the campsite. The basics are catered for, as well as two-man tents and sleeping mats and campsites preselected to stay at along the journey. The amenities at these campsites can vary quite drastically depending where you are in Africa and what you pay. For example in the Serengeti there is no running water at the campsites, however in other parts of Africa the campsite may have a swimming pool.
Fully Serviced Camping
For those that want to experience a traditional safari, under canvas but would still like the chance to relax and take time to enjoy their environment we would recommend fully serviced camping. On arrival the mobile camp is set up and ready to go. The tents are spacious and can be really quite luxurious, often with camp beds and en-suite bathrooms, as well as a full staff of chefs, waiters and other helping hands. Here you will have lighting, hot water and cold drinks but you still have that amazing feeling of being at one with nature!
Luxury Tented Camping
Luxury tented camps are a very popular choice on safari because these camps are very intimate, usually with no more than 20 tents on site. These luxury tents offer spacious rooms with electricity, proper beds, as well as en-suite bathrooms with running hot and cold water. The cuisine and service is of a very high standard and you will eat like a king, with 3 decadent meals a day, as well as snacks. All luxury tented camps offer an all-inclusive package to incorporate meals, local drinks and game viewing activities. At night you can still go to sleep, under canvas with the sounds of the African wilderness around you. This is how you do safari in style!
Safari Lodges vary considerably in size and architectural design but essentially these are much more permanent structures, often with many more rooms than luxury tented camps. They will often have a swimming pool and conferencing facilities. A lodge will celebrate the nature surrounding it and will usually blend in with its surrounds and built making natural, locally sourced materials.
This would commonly be the largest of all the accommodation types but again can vary quite dramatically in style, size and the amenities that it offers. There is typically a reception area, with rooms opening directly onto a hallway. They would be less exclusive that the aforementioned accommodation types, with restaurants and other facilities open to the public.
A boutique hotel is a 5-star establishment providing all the features and facilities of a standard hotel but is always unique and very stylish. These properties are usually smaller and more intimate than a hotel and offer a very high-end service.
- Hotels, lodges and tented camps in Africa range from good tourist standard to award- winning deluxe properties. On occasions it may be necessary to change a hotel, lodge or camp due to various reasons, which would be out of the control of Bench Africa. In this situation we will make every effort to give you as much advance warning as possible. In the event of this happening we may not be able to send out up-to-date information on this substitute property.
- For more information on the individual hotels, lodges or tented camps where you will be staying please refer to your itinerary or speak to one of our Africa experts.
Here are some guidelines for travelling by light aircraft in Namibia.
- Please ask the local operator at your hotel/lodge to reconfirm all onward flights prior to departure to ensure the flight timings are still correct.
- Most departure taxes (domestic and international) are included on tickets, however some regional and private airports have taxes to be paid for locally.
GENERAL LUGGAGE & WEIGHT RESTRICTIONS ON LIGHT AIRCRAFT
The maximum baggage allowance on the light aircraft utilized for transfers between game lodges is 20 kg per person in a soft bag. This includes photographic equipment and hand luggage.
- Only soft bags will be accepted – no wheels, frames or rigid structures can be transported, as they physically cannot fit into the aircraft.
- The maximum dimensions of the soft bags, that can be accommodated, are as follows: 25 cm wide x 30 cm high and 62 cm long. Please note that the baggage compartments on light aircraft are only 25 cm high, so pilots must be able to manipulate the bag into the compartment.
- Please inform us in advance if your personal body weight exceeds 100 kg, as an extra seat must be purchased for safety and comfort.
What to Pack
What to Pack
Here we have listed our recommendations of what you should pack for your Africa travels.
- Formal clothing is generally not needed throughout most of Africa. We recommend that you limit your luggage to the basics. More formal attire is usually only required when staying in the more prestigious city hotel establishments and on luxury rail journeys such as Rovos Rail or the Blue Train, in South Africa.
- On a wildlife safari, casual cotton clothing is the most practical. Calm neutral colours such as tan or khaki are a good idea although a bush outfit is not essential. Some form of headgear is recommended, and sunglasses are essential. A warm fleece or jacket is advisable for colder evenings and early mornings. A lightweight raincoat may be useful as some seasonal rains can occur.
- Heavy footwear is not required, but sturdy, comfortable walking shoes or boots are recommended for nature walks, with a change of shoes (such as trainers) for the camp.
- The dress code is informal at all of the camps and it is advisable to bring long sleeved shirts and trousers for the evenings to minimise insect bites.
- Good laundry facilities are readily available at many hotels, game lodges and camps, and often on a complimentary service where the amount of luggage is restricted. However, on a busy itinerary it is advisable to check that your clothes will be ready before your departure. If your trip contains any light aircraft flights, then you may be subject to some very strict baggage restrictions. You will be limited to a certain weight, often between 15–20 KG. Bags also have to be soft-sided cases so that they can fit in the hold. These restrictions cannot be avoided, as there simply is not the capacity on these small planes so bear this in mind when you are packing for your Africa trip.
- It is always a good idea to dress in layers on activities to accommodate the early morning and late afternoon change of temperature. Winter months will definitely require a warm jacket and perhaps a beanie, gloves and a scarf.
- Hat for protection from the sun
- Good quality sunglasses preferably polarized
- Camera, charger and adaptor
- If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you bring along a pair of glasses in case of dust irritation.
- Good walking shoes, trainers as well as sandals
- Socks (long socks, if you are doing a gorilla trek)
- Long trousers/slacks
- T-shirts/long-sleeved cotton shirt for cooler evenings
- Sweater/fleece/raincoat. These may be required for early morning and late afternoon game activities throughout the year.
- Lip balm
- Sports bra – ladies, you may need this for bumpy game drive
- Swimming costume
- Basic medical kit (aspirins, elastoplasts, Imodium, antiseptic cream etc
- Malaria tablets AND anti-histamine cream
- Insect repellent (many lodges do supply sprays)
- Protective suntan lotion particularly for pale and sensitive skins
- Tissues or ‘wet wipes’
Food & Drink
Food & Drink
What you can expect from the food and drink in Namibia.
- Most lodges and safari camps have restaurants and licensed bars, and the food offered ranges from good basic meals to gourmet style. The standard of food in lodges and camps is generally very good.
- Bottled water is available in all tourist centres. It is advisable to drink at least 2-3 litres of water per day whilst on safari as dehydration can occur quickly, especially in the summer months.
- It is best to assume that water is NOT safe to drink unless it has been boiled. It is always wise to double check locally if in any doubt.
Wine tends to be imported and may be expensive; however, local beer and local spirits are reasonably priced and easily available as are soft drinks (Pepsi, Coca Cola etc) and bottled water.
It is vital that you visit your doctor at least 6 weeks prior to travel.
- We are not health proffessionals and as such we recommend you speak to your GP or local Travel Doctor for up-to-date information and advice.
- Malaria: It is recommended that precautions against malaria be taken for travel to some regions in Namibia. We suggest you contact your doctor for advice on which prophylactic is recommended.
Make sure that you are covered from the moment you place your booking with us!
Our Tips for Choosing Insurance
- We strongly recommend you take out Comprehensive Travel Insurance at the time of booking your trip.
- Note, it is essential that you are fully aware of the Terms and Conditions of your travel insurance policy therefore we recommend that you read your policy
Here is some “need-to-know” information about taking photos in Africa.
- Photographing of airports, Government buildings, etc is prohibited.
- Some local people strongly object to photographs being taken without permission, but will sometimes agree upon payment of a small tip. Please check with your guide.
- Film and memory cards are generally available, but stocks can be limited and could be expensive, so we suggest you carry with you adequate supplies.
- Telephoto lenses for game viewing, lens hood and ultra violet filters will be useful – bring your dust cover.
- Batteries can be recharged at most lodges and hotels, but it is advisable to bring spares.
- 7 Easy-to-Follow-Tips to take Mesmerising Wildlife Photos
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Although Africa is now safer to travel than it ever has been it is important to take note of the following information.
- Doors should be locked when driving after dark.
- Don’t walk alone at night in city streets, isolated beaches or remote areas.
- Travellers should not display unnecessary signs of wealth (e.g. mobile phones, money, and expensive jewellery) on the streets.
- Leave all your valuables including passports locked in the room safe where available.
Safety on Safari
- The wild animals are not like those found in theme parks – they aren’t tame.
- Most of the safari camps are unfenced and dangerous animals can (and do!) wander through the camps. Many of the animals and reptiles you will see are potentially dangerous. Attacks by wild animals are rare, however, there are no guarantees that such incidents will not occur. Bench Africa, our staff members, associates, agents, or their suppliers cannot be held liable for any injuries caused during an incident involving the behavior of wild animals.
- Please listen to the camp staff and guides. The safety precautions need to be taken seriously, and strictly adhered to.
- Do not go wandering off on your own without a guide – even to your rooms. After retiring to your rooms at night, do not leave them.
- Observe animals silently and with a minimum of disturbance to their natural activities. Loud talking on game drives can frighten the animals away.
- Never attempt to attract an animal’s attention. Do not imitate animal sounds, clap your hands, pound the vehicle or throw objects.
- Please respect your driver/guide’s judgment about proximity to lions, cheetahs and leopards. Don’t insist that he/she takes the vehicle closer so you can get a better photograph. A vehicle driven too close can hinder a hunt or cause animals to abandon a hard-earned meal.
- Litter tossed on the ground can choke or poison animals and birds and is unsightly.
- Never attempt to feed or approach any wild animal on foot. This is especially important near lodges or in campsites where animals may have become accustomed to human visitors.
- Refrain from smoking on game drives. The dry African bush ignites very easily, and a flash fire can kill animals.
A little handy advice to get the best out of your shopping in Africa!
- There is an abundance of wonderful souvenirs and crafts to buy. Look for colourful materials, sisal bags, wood or stone carvings, unusual artwork, handcrafted jewellery, woven goods and attractive basketry are recommended.
- Bargaining is expected at markets and roadside stalls, but not in shops. The locals may start off with highly inflated “tourist prices” and you will need to bargain until you feel you are paying what the product is worth.
- Cash in local currency is accepted, as well as US Dollars, while credit cards may only be accepted in larger shops.
- Do not purchase ivory, rhino horn, animal furs/hides, tortoise shell, coral, game skin, trophies or elephant hair bracelets. These items are prohibited as hunting was banned in 1976.