Namibia Helpful Travel Information
Formerly a colony of Germany, Namibia was administered by South Africa under a League of Nations mandate of
WWI, and annexed as a province of South Africa after WWII. The South-West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) launched a guerrilla war for independence in 1966, but did not gain independence until 1990.
Namibia boasts remarkable natural attractions such as the Namib desert, the Fish River Canyon Park, Etosha National Park, Kalahari Desert, etc. Its people speaks nine different languages, including some of the Khoisan languages. Namibia also produces some of the world’s highest quality diamonds.
Cultural and Language Considerations
English is the official language and is widely spoken. However, the majority of older Namibians speak English only as a third language, after German and Afrikaans. Other major indigenous languages include Oshiwambo, Otjiherero, Nama, Damara, Rukwangali, various San languages, and Silozi.
Inhabited from the dawn of time by the San, also known as the Bushmen, invaded by the Bantu, colonised by the Germans (who called it South West Africa) and taken over by South Africa after WWI, Namibia is in many ways similar to South Africa. Apartheid was however never implemented as strictly as in South Africa, so racial tensions are generally lower.
Getting around – transport systems and fuel stations
Hosea Kutuko International Airport, located 45 minutes east of Windhoek, is the main point for air traffic.
By car there are 9 commonly used border posts with neighbouring countries and the same goes for the bus services. When travelling by car ensure you have enough cash on hand for petrol or diesel and a small tip for the attendant filling up your vehicle is not uncommon. Namibia’s roads are generally very good and an all terrain vehicle is generally not required unless you are going to go on to tertiary roads or the Skeleton Coast. Beware of driving at night though as there is a lot of wildlife on the roads.
Currencies and ways to pay
Both the Namibian Dollar and South African Rand is legal tender in Namibia, although change will usually be given in Namibian Dollar.
Banks in Namibia will convert Namibian Dollars for South African Rand and vice versa without charge or paperwork. Since any bank or currency exchange outside of Namibia will charge a substantial amount to change currency, it is advisable to make use of a Namibian Bank before leaving the country.
It is also advisable to carry proof (eg. ATM receipts) that money you are taking out of the country is money that you brought into the country in the first place.
ATMs are available in most major cities and towns.
Health, Safety and Emergency Information
Namibia is a peaceful country, but has a relatively high crime rate. Therefore be careful around ATM’s, don’t walk around late at night, beware of pickpockets and be vigilant with your cash and valuables.
Namibia’s HIV infection rate is 25%. The medical system is modern and capable of attending to whatever needs you may have. This applies to government and private hospitals alike. The northern part of Namibia is a malaria risk zone, so take the necessary precautions.
Namibia’s water supply is usually safe to drink, except where indicated otherwise. Camp sites however get their water directly from the river, so consume bottled water instead when camping.
Embassies and high commissions contacts (www.lonelyplanet.com):
Angola- Tel 227535, 3 Dr Agostino Neto Str, Windhoek
Botswana – Tel 221941, 101 Klein Windhoek, Windhoek
Canada – Tel 251254, Suite 118, Sanlam Centre, 154 Independence Avenue, Windhoek
Finland – Tel 221355, 5th Floor, Sanlam Centre, 154 Independence Avenue, Windhoek
France, Tel 229021, 1 Goethe St, Windhoek
Germany – Tel 273100, 6th floor, Sanlam Centre, 154 Independence Avenue, Windhoek
Italy – Tel 228602, Anna and Gevers Sts, Ludwigsdorf, Windhoek
Kenya -Tel 226836, 5th floor, Kenya House, 134 Robert Mugabe Avenue, Windhoek
Malawi – Tel 221391, 56 Bismarck St, Windhoek West
South Africa – Tel 205 7111, RSA House, cnr. Jan Jonker St and Nelson Mandela Dr, Klein Windhoek, Windhoek
UK – Tel 223022, 116A Robert Mugabe Ave, Windhoek
USA – Tel 221601, www.usembassy.namib.com, 14 Lossen St, Windhoek
Zambia – Tel 237610, cnr Sam Nujoma Dr and Mandume Ndemufeyo Ave, Windhoek
Zimbabwe – Tel 228134, Gamsberg BLDG, cnr Independence Ave and Grimm St, Windhoek
Satellite and Mobile Networks
Mobile phones are very common and run on the GSM network. There are internet cafes in Windhoek, Swakopmund and Opuwo, and hostels often have access as well.
Border and Entry Requirements
Tourists may enter Namibia for up to 90 days. Visitor can confirm if they require a visa (most bordering countries don’t need a visa) by contacting the Namibian Consulate in their country or with the Namibian Ministry of Home Affairs on tel +264 6 292 9111.
If you do require a visa, you might be able to apply for one at a British Embassy, high commission or consulate in the country where you legally reside if there is no Namibian diplomatic post.
All visitors require a passport valid for at least 6 months after date of entry to Namibia.
You will need a return or onward air ticket when you fly to Namibia. Saying you will travel via other means to bordering countries will not suffice. Also be sure to have an address of where you will be going and always verify the dates stamped on your passport.
Namibia’s climate corresponds with its geographical subdivisions. In the arid Central Namib daytime temperatures can go to over 40 degrees Celsius, however, that same evening can drop to below 0 temperatures again. Rainfall is heaviest in the northeast, which enjoys s subtropical climate.