After traveled through Namibia for almost two weeks, I have collected important informations on how things in this country are working. Therefore, I tried to summarize my top 10 most important information’s you need to know before traveling to that country.
1. Useful general information’s
All right, so here are five main facts about Namibia to start with: The official language is English and Afrikaans, the currency is Namibian Dollars, the time zone is UTC+2, Namibia is independent (from South Africa) since 1990 and last but not least, Namibia is the most beautiful country I have ever been to – seriously!
2. Safety in Namibia
Is Namibia safe? That’s honestly the most asked question I received after coming back from Namibia. From what I experienced, I would say: Yes, Namibia is safe! To be honest, I have had some concerns about the safety there, but right from the beginning onwards, I felt super safe there. Within these ten days, we never had a situation or experience where I felt unsafe or in danger. Everyone is just super lovely and absolutely friendly! However, be aware: We have not visited Windhoek or any other city in Namibia. So my impression only counts for the more deserted part of Namibia. To what I heard from people I met, especially Windhoek is not 100% safe, and you should be careful there after it is dark.
3. How to plan the travel route
Namibia offers so much to see and the distances in between are immense, so you need to have a good travel route. As we only had ten days, we more focused on the north of Namibia with the Etosha National Park, a must see when traveling to this beautiful country!! Here you get spoiled with the most beautiful and impressive wildlife. Also to mention is the Caprivi Strip even more north with some exceptional Safari. If going more to the south, Sossusvlei, Fish River Canyon and Kolmanskop are a must visit there. Additionally, Namibia offers an impressive coast, including the Namib desert, Walvis Bay, and the Skelton coast.
Personal tip: Plan your trip in advance! And with “in advance” I do not mean like one week before departure! For example, many lodges might be even booked out a few months in advance. Work out exactly where you would like to go, what you would like to see and where you want to stay that night. You are not having phone connection everywhere, so prepare your route in advance to avoid some unpleasant aberrations. Also, consider the seasons in Namibia as it can get very busy during high season there. We decided to travel in April as during that time everything is still very green from the rainy season before and the temperatures are lovely and warm (around 30 degrees). The Namibian winter (June/July/August) can be pretty cold and absolutely dry, and in the Namibian summer (January/February/March) it gets crazy hot – so for us, it sounded like April is THE perfect month. Our travel route: 10 days Safari trip in Namibia.
4. Wifi and cellular
Namibia is a vast country (twice as big as Germany) with only 2,5 Million inhabitants; this means 2,8 people per square kilometers, so not every square meter is covered. From our experience, I can recommend you to get a SIM card with cellular data at the airport in Windhoek from the provider mtc as they have quite good coverage all over Namibia. We bought two 7-days valid SIM cards with 4GB data volume each for around 7€ per card. Despite we knew we would have WIFI in our lodges, we did not trust on that – which was a good idea as the WIFI was pretty bad in every lodge! Nevertheless, be prepared not to have good connection 24/7. It is even possible to be without any signal for hours or days, but I guess it’s good for everyone sometimes not to be online all the time!
5. Transportation in Namibia
Namibia is THE perfect country for a road trip! Therefore, renting a car to explore Namibia by yourself driving, might be the best option to travel through the country. Here, I would recommend you to rent a 4x4 SUV as the streets are not the best.
Important things you need to know for renting a car: Get a full protection, have a second stage tire with you, and control the vehicle exactly before leaving the rental station! According to the immense distances in Namibia always have your car tank half full and carry enough water (10L) and food around. Driving there is absolutely fascinating but also very deserted! We passed three cars in total within a 6 hours’ drive, so in case you have a car damage, it might take a while to get help.
6. Namibian Roads
Driving in Namibia is very adventurous and also very fun! If you are used to good German highways, then driving in Namibia will be a massive change as only about 5800km are tar roads. The remaining 41000km are gravel and sandy streets. Many of them are in quite a good condition, but there are also some that are a bit more difficult to drive on, especially in the rainy season. Accordingly, the optimal speed for these roads is between 60 and 80km per hour (consider that in your route planning). Generally, driving in Namibia is very strenuous as there is left traffic, the streets can be very bad, and you constantly have to look out for animals. I encourage you not to drive faster than the maximum allowed/recommended speed. Every year, many accidents happen on the roads, mostly due to increased speed and no more control over the car. Despite everything, we luckily only had positive experiences with the roads in Namibia, and I would also highly recommend everyone driving a car there.
The distances in Namibia are immense and not to be underestimated. As mentioned above, the country is vast with its 824.116 km². For example, it’s an 11 hours’ drive (1100km) from Keetmanshoop (in the south) to the Etosha National Park (in the north) - and if google maps tell you 11 hours I would count with 14-16 hours! One crucial point you need to know about distances and driving in Namibia: Never trust google maps! I know this sounds odd, but we only used traditional maps as google directed us twice onto streets that didn’t even exist. Before planning your route, have a look at the distances and keep an eye on the roads condition and the speed limits! A 300km drive in Germany, for example, is not the same as a 300km drive in Namibia, I’d say you need the double of time for that.
8. Where to stay/ Lodging
Generally, there are three different types of accommodations in Namibia: The most common one is renting a 4x4 SUV with a roof tent and stay on campsites. We did not stay that way, but when I come back to Namibia, I will definitively try out this version as well. Many National Parks such as Etosha and Sossusvlei (sand dunes) only allow to enter after sunrise and before sunset. The only way to get around this is to stay overnight on one of the campsites in the parks. Alternative to camping it’s possible to stay in typical accommodations such as B&B or Airbnb apartments. Thirdly, Namibia offers many lodges spread all over the country. Mostly, they are located at more deserted and spectacular places. We decided to only stay in lodges, which have been a fantastic experience. To get a detailed overview of our lodges have a look at this blog post: 10 days Safari trip in Namibia.
9. Costs - Is Namibia expensive?
Yes, Namibia is quite expensive! Lodging and accommodations are not that cheap. Therefore, this country might not be the best for a backpacking budget trip! For sure it is still an affordable country, and some things are even less expensive than in Europe. This includes eating, fuel, and entering fees of national parks. For example, we spend around 250 Euro for fuel for our ten days’ road trip, and we were driving a lot! Accommodations on the other side are not cheap, mostly they start around 30-50 Euro, but the more luxurious lodges are around 200-400 Euro a night which is pretty expensive for a country like Namibia. If you go for a cheaper version – camping – you can travel on a lower budget (campsites start at around 15 Euros). I would even say that camping is the most adventurous way to explore Namibia as the camping locations mostly are pretty epic!
10. Giving tip
In Namibia, many people are very dependent on tips, as basic salaries are very low. We received the following recommendations for tip in advance, but we usually gave a bit more than the recommended below:
Restaurant: 10% of the total amount
Petrol station: NAD 5 for the person who is filling up your fuel
“Car guard”: NAD 10 for someone who is looking after your car
Travel guide: NAD 100 per person per day
Lodge personal: NAD 250 for a two nights’ stay
AND that’s it! Now you know the most important ten things for Namibia, and I really hope you liked them. If you have any further questions about my trip or about Namibia, do not hesitate to contact me at any time!
Also check out our Namibia travel video: