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  • Overview

    Namibia is a country of vast and astonishinglandscapes. Home to the world's oldest desert, and one of the leastdensely populated countries on earth, there is plenty more thanjust rock and sand in South West Africa.

    The Namib desert plays host to some truly incrediblesights. The breath-taking ochre dunes of Sossusvlei are some of thehighest in the world, the treacherous Skeleton coast lies to thenorth, populated with thousands of rusting shipwrecks, and perhapsmost dramatic of all, Damaraland is home to the Spitzkoppe rockformations, bizarre petrified forests, and oasis-like valleys.

    Cities such as Swakopmund and Luderitz stand as timewarps, pretty relics of German colonial rule. Windhoek, thecapital, is a modern oasis in the desert, offering shelter from theharsh African plains and a great start or end point to an Africandesert adventure.

    Just north of the border with South Africa, the FishRiver Canyon may well be one of Africa's greatest naturalphenomenon, 100 miles (160km) long, up to 17 miles (27km) wide, and1800 feet (550m) deep. Etosha National Park in the north is one ofthe world's great theaters for wildlife viewing. Waterholes aroundthe iconic Etosha Pan are oases for the vast herds and bigpredators that roam the salt flats. Caprivi, on the tiny strip ofland in the north east of the country, connects Namibia withVictoria Falls and the Chobe National Park in Botswana, and is ahaven for wildlife in its own right.

    Early Portuguese sailors sought to avoid what theycalled 'the sands of hell'. Today, visitors have discovered thevast potential of Namibia, a country rich in natural resources,with desert landscapes, sunshine, wildlife, and a stark barrenbeauty.

    Travel in Namibia is a celebration of dramaticlandscapes. Whether on an organised tour or going solo in a 4x4,visitors cannot fail to be astonished by the Namib desert and themany other natural phenomena they will stumble across. Mosttourists start in Windhoek, the capital, getting their bearingsamong the German colonial architecture before venturing out intothe great unknown. Heading in any direction brings its rewards.

    South leads to the Fish River Canyon. There is a fiveday hike along the canyon floor, or for the less adventurous, daytrips out to a view point, or a stroll along the edge of thecanyon. North heads to Etosha National Park. Stay in stunning bushcamps such as Halali or Okaukuejo and witness Africa's herds arriveat the waterholes in their thousands. The extreme north of thecountry, the Caprivi Strip, hosts exciting new wildlife havens suchas Nkasa Rupara National Park, and Bwabwata National Park, both nowthriving with new game, and especially birdlife.

    Swakopmund, on the west coast, is Namibia's adventurecapital where activities include dune boarding, quad biking, hotair balloon tours, and many more. It is also the gateway to thevast Namib desert. Visitors can camp nearby in Sesriem and get uppre-dawn to visit the colossal Sossusvlei dunes. Sunrise from Dune45 is a truly unforgettable experience. Further inland, Damaralandplays host to the prehistoric rock art of Twyfelfontein andBrandberg. The imposing formations of Spitzkoppe, Africa'sMatterhorn, are favoured by experienced climbers.

    The Owambo region is Namibia's cultural centre andhome to the Himba people, a culturally rich tribe notable for theirstriking dress. Guided walks in the region are available tovisitors who seek a window into the traditional way of life in thedesert.


    One of the most popular highlights in Namibia are the clay pansof Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert. The dunes are among the highestin the world, reaching more than 960 feet (300m) and are a wondroussight of endless rolling shapes and sharp crests sculpted by thewind. The beautiful black and white Oryx antelope is occasionallyspotted in the meagre shade of the thorn trees, lizards leave theirtiny trails on the pristine mounds of sand, and the black 'toktokkie' beetle is commonly seen stumbling over the red claysurface. The area is also home to ostriches and springbok. Thedunes are located roughly 37 miles (60km) from the Sesriem Gate,which is the entrance to the park.

    Opening time: Sunrise to sunset.
    Sossusvlei dune Sossusvlei dune Judith Duk

    Christuskirche is a prominent landmark in the historic centre ofWindhoek. A 79-foot (24m) spire tops the sandstone church, existingas a national monument. Its portal and altar are Italian marble,and its gothic revival face is unique by virtue of its Art Nouveauelements made from quartz sandstone. Interestingly, the stainedglass windows, a gift from Emperor Wilhelm II, were installedbackwards until the late 1990s when a tourist noticed the error.The church is a delight to explore, especially for those interestedin architecture. The Parliamentary Gardens are wonderful for astroll and a picnic, and are just around the corner form thechurch. There is also a small craft market nearby.

    Address: Corner of Fidel Castro Str and Robert Mugabe Ave
    Opening time: Monday to Friday 7:30am-2:30pm.
    Christuskirche Christuskirche Roger Zenner
    Skeleton Coast National Park

    The Skeleton Coast National Park is infamous for inaccessibleshores and rough waters. The local San used to call it 'The LandGod Made in Anger', while Portuguese sailors named it 'The Gates ofHell'. It's a barren yet hauntingly beautiful destination forphotographers, its natural formations creating a surreal world allits own. The Skeleton Coast National Park has some interestingattractions, including the Agate Mountain saltpans, the claycastles of the Hoarasib, and the large Cape fur seal colony at CapeFria. Known as a great surfing destination and for having astunning night sky, the heavens are undimmed by humansettlements.

    A wreck on the Skeleton Coast A wreck on the Skeleton Coast Verdi
    Alte Feste (Old Fortress)

    The Alte Fest, also known as the Schutztruppe Fort, served asthe German colonial power's military headquarters until after WorldWar One and today houses the state historical museum. Germancommander Curt von Francois laid the foundation stones in 1890,making it one of the oldest buildings in Windhoek and a significantnational monument. In fact, the modern city more or less grewaround the fort. Today, the museum's exhibition informs visitors ofNamibia's history from its San origins to German occupation in 1884and the resulting struggle for independence. The museum is a bitold-fashioned and rundown but still interesting. Emphasis is on therevolutionary struggle, with fascinating old photographs.

    Address: Robert Mugabe Avenue
    Opening time: Monday to Friday 9am-6pm, Saturday and Sunday10am-12:00pm and 2pm-6pm (winter time closing time is17.00).
    Windhoek's Old Fortress Windhoek's Old Fortress Alexander Johmann

    Swakopmund is an enchanting little seaside town in the middle ofthe Namib Desert, with many colonial buildings and a distinctlyGerman character. The region's food specialities include rocklobster, fish, and Swakopmund oysters. Swakopmund is known as aparadise for extreme sports, and popular activities include sandboarding, paragliding, dune carting, hot air ballooning, sharkfishing, and quad biking. The stretch of coast is also famous forits beach angling. Visitors who aren't looking for death-defyingactivities will enjoy attractions in Swakopmund like the Cape CrossSeal Colony, the National Marine Aquarium, and the Rossmund DesertGolf Course, one of only five all-grass desert golf courses in theworld.

    Swakopmund coastline Swakopmund coastline Judith Duk
    National Botanic Garden

    The National Botanic Garden of Namibia is a 12 hectare (30 acre)nature reserve in the heart of Windhoek, where tourists can hike,picnic, and learn about the country's fascinating plant life. Thesmall nature reserve only opened to the public in the 1990s. Thegardens are great for birdwatching, with lists of plants and birdsfound in the reserve available at reception. Guided tours are alsoin operation but should be booked in advance. The gardens can getvery dry in winter, between June and September, and are at theirmost splendid when the plants are lush and in bloom during therainy season, which is the best time to visit.

    Opening time: Monday to Friday: 8am to 5pm. First Saturday of everymonth: 8am to 11am.
    National Botanic Gradens, Windhoek National Botanic Gradens, Windhoek Thomas.macmillan

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    The climate of Namibia is generally a hot and dry one. Rainfalloccurs exclusively in the summer months, between November andFebruary, when some humidity and heavy thunderstorms are sure to beexpected.

    Even during the rainy season, thunderstorms tend to be localisedand occur more in the centre and east of the country, while thedesert receives markedly less rain. Summer is very hot and theNamib Desert should be avoided at this time as temperatures areoften above 104ºF (40ºC) and extremely uncomfortable.

    The coast is cooler and often foggy in summer. Average wintertemperatures during the day range between 64°F (18°C) and 71°F(22°C) and the days are pleasantly warm and sunny. But the nightscan be very cold, especially in the desert, with frost covering theground in the mornings.

    The best time to visit Namibia is during the winter months fromMarch to October. April and May are green and fresh, while June andAugust are the best for game viewing as animals tend to congregatearound waterholes, making them easy to spot. September and Octoberare also fantastic for game viewing, but it can be very dry anddusty.

    Hosea Kutako International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 28 miles (45km) east ofWindhoek.
    Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the first Sundayin April to the first Sunday in September).
    Getting to the city: A bus into the city is available after each flight arrival. Aprivate shuttle service operates sedans, minibuses, or coaches,transferring individuals and groups to destinations in Windhoek andelsewhere in the country.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Thrifty,Alamo, Enterprise, Inter Rent, and Hertz.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available and it is about a 40 minute drive into thecity.
    Fascilities: The airport has two bureaux de change, a VAT refund centre, anATM, restaurants, public telephones, a post office, duty free shop,VIP lounge, conferencing facilities, and an information desk. Thereare also several restaurants and a café.
    Parking Short-term and long-term parking is available.
    Walvis Bay Airport
    Location: The airport is located nine miles (15km) east of WalvisBay.
    Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the firstSunday in April and the first Sunday inSeptember).
    Getting to the city: An airport shuttle bus is available, bookings should be made inadvance.
    Car Rental: Avis and Budget have car rental kiosks at the airport.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available and the trip to into Walvis Bay takesroughly 15 minutes.
    Fascilities: Facilities at the airport include a restaurant, gift shop,mother's room, post box, public phones, mobile telephone rentals,and internet facilities.

    The official currency is the Namibian Dollar (NAD), divided into100 cents. Its value is equal to the South African Rand, which isaccepted as legal currency in Namibia. Major credit cards areaccepted, while foreign currency can be exchanged at any bank orbureau de change. ATMs are available in larger towns only.


    English is the official language, but many people alsospeak Afrikaans and German. There are also several indigenouslanguages spoken, mainly in the rural areas.


    Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round three-pinplugs are standard.

    Entry Requirements:

    Passports must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond theperiod of intended stay in Namibia. No visa is required, fortouristic or business-related stays of up to three months.

    Passports must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond theperiod of intended stay in Namibia. No visa is required, fortouristic or business-related stays of up to three months.

    Passports must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond theperiod of intended stay in Namibia. No visa is required, fortouristic or business-related stays of up to three months.

    Passports must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond theperiod of intended stay in Namibia. No visa is required, fortouristic or business-related stays of up to three months.

    Passports must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond theperiod of intended stay in Namibia. No visa is required fortouristic or business-related stays of up to three months.

    Passports must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond theperiod of intended stay in Namibia. No visa is required fortouristic or business-related stays of up to three months.

    Passports must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond theperiod of intended stay in Namibia. No visa is required, fortouristic or business-related stays of up to three months.

    Passports must be valid for a minimum of six months beyond theperiod of intended stay in Namibia. No visa is required fortouristic or business-related stays of up to three months.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    All foreign passengers to Namibia must have confirmedreturn/onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation fortheir next destination. Additionally, visitors should ensure thatthey have at least two blank pages remaining in their passports,for entry and departure endorsements from the Namibian ImmigrationService. Note that a yellow fever vaccination certificate isrequired to enter Namibia, if arriving within six days of leavingor transiting through an infected area. All travellers must have apassport that is valid for at least six months beyond the period ofintended stay in Namibia.

    Travel Health:

    Typhoid, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B vaccinationsare recommended for travel to Namibia. Safety regulations inNamibia require all visitors to have a yellow fever certificate ifarriving from an infected area. There is a malaria risk in thenorthern region of Namibia during the rainy season (January toApril).

    HIV/AIDS is prevalent and precautions are essential,although travellers are seldom at risk unless engaging inunprotected sex. Cholera outbreaks do occur and visitors shoulddrink only boiled or bottled water, avoiding ice in drinks.

    There has been an increase in the incidents of rabiesamong dogs in Windhoek, so travellers at risk of animal bitesshould consider a rabies vaccination. There are good medicalfacilities in Windhoek, but medical insurance is essential astreatment is expensive.

    Outside of the main cities, medical treatment may behard to come by. Travellers to Namibia should seek medical adviceat least four weeks prior to departure. For peace of mind, it isbest to take prescription medications along when travelling.

    Medicines should be kept in their original packagingand accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor,detailing why the medication is needed.


    Tips of 10 percent are expected where a service charge has notbeen included in the bill. Tour guides, game rangers, and trackersrely on tips for their income and should be tipped accordingly.

    Safety Information:

    The majority of visits to Namibia are safe and trouble free. Butstreet crime and pickpockets are on the increase in Windhoek andother town centres. Theft from vehicles is common, especially atservice stations, and valuables should be kept out of sight and thecar locked.

    Avoid using taxis if possible and never take one alone, takingspecial care when travelling in the Caprivi Strip. One shouldtravel in daylight hours only, both for general safety and to avoidlivestock which wander onto roads causing accidents.

    Additionally, stay on the main tarred highway as there is a riskof undiscovered landmines left over from the Angolan civil war. Theterrorism threat in Namibia is very low, with no major incidents ofviolence against foreigners reported. At all times, travellersshould carry identification like photocopies of passports.

    Local Customs:

    It is best to check before taking pictures of State House orproperties where the President is residing, as well as anybuildings guarded by the army or police. Homosexuality iscriminalised in Namibia, although these laws may not always beenforced.


    Business in Namibia is somewhat formal, although drinking andsocialising are an important part of building good workingrelationships. Standard business etiquette applies. Dress tends tobe formal, with more lightweight materials worn in the hotterseasons, and punctuality is important.

    People shake hands on greeting and leaving, and should generallybe polite and professional. English is the language of business,though German and Afrikaans are widely spoken. Business hours areusually 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.


    The international access code for Namibia is +264. The outgoingcode is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 forSouth Africa). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)61 forWindhoek.

    A GSM 900/1800 mobile network covers most towns and majorhighways. Large parts of the country are not covered by the mobilenetwork. A satellite phone is a good backup option for thoseheading off the beaten track.

    Internet cafes are pretty common in Windhoek and Walvis Bay.Wifi is increasingly available in hostels, hotels, lodges andguesthouses, but the signal rarely extends beyond the receptionarea.

    Duty Free:

    Travellers to Namibia over 16 years do not have to pay duty on400 cigarettes, 50 cigars and 250g of tobacco; 2 litres wine and 1litre spirits or liquor; 50ml perfume and 250ml of eau de toilette;and gifts to the value of N$50,000.

    Useful Contacts:

    Namibian Tourist Office, Windhoek: +264 (0)61 290 6000 or

    Namibia Embassies:

    Embassy of Namibia, Washington DC, United States (alsoresponsible for Canada): +1 202 986 0540.

    Namibia High Commission, London, United Kingdom (alsoresponsible for Ireland): +44 (0)20 7636 6244.

    Foreign Embassies in Namibia :

    United States Embassy, Windhoek: +264 (0)61 295 8500.

    British High Commission, Windhoek: +264 (0)61 274 800.

    Canadian Consulate, Windhoek: +264 (0)61 251 254.

    South African High Commission, Windhoek: +264 (0)61 2057111.

    Australian High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa (alsoresponsible for Namibia): +27 (0)12 423 6000.

    Irish Embassy, Lusaka, Zambia (also responsible for Namibia):+260 211 291 298.

    New Zealand High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa (alsoresponsible for Namibia): +27 (0)12 435 9000.

    Namibia Emergency Numbers : In most of the country, 10111 is the emergency numberfor police.

    Twyfelfontein boasts the largest concentration ofancient rock art in the country, and is a UNESCO World HeritageSite. The petroglyphs primarily depict game animals such asgiraffe, antelope, elephant, and lion, and the oldest carvings maydate back 10,000 years. Most are believed to be around 3,000 yearsold. Translated as 'uncertain fountain', Twylfontein got its namefrom a farmer who doubted the spring's ability to sustain theircattle for a long period. Visitors can't enter the site without aguide due to previous vandalism. The uniquely-designed visitorinformation centre features an exhibition, kiosk, and souvenirshop. Other stunning sights in the area around Twyfelfonteininclude the Organ Pipes, the Doros Crater, and the PetrifiedForest.

    Twyfelfontein Twyfelfontein Judith Duk
    The Spitzkoppe

    The natural beauty of the Spitzkoppe is spectacular: an islandof bald granite peaks situated in an endless grassy plain that isvisible for miles around. Groot Spitzkop is often referred to asthe 'Matterhorn of Africa' because of its similarity in shape, andit is one of Namibia's most famous mountains. Nearby are the LittleSpitzkoppe and the Pontok Mountains. Many San rock paintings existin the Spitzkoppe area and these ancient artworks are thrilling toseek out. At the foot of Groot Spitzkop, Rhino Rock boasts some ofthe best surviving examples of prehistoric rock paintings. Sadly,many have been destroyed. The area is also renowned for itsbreath-taking sunrises, which turn the rocks from pale orange toflaming gold.

    Groot Spitzkop Groot Spitzkop Judith Duk

    The Brandberg Massif is famous for its thousands of rockpaintings and engravings. Its most celebrated piece is the 'WhiteLady', estimated to be around 2,000 years old. The painting shows amale with the white colour representing body paint which suggestsit is a medicine man. Discovered in 1955, there has been a greatdeal of controversy over the meaning and origin of the painting.The mountain is a sacred place for the San tribes in the region.Brandberg's highest peak is Königstein, and at 8,550 feet (2,606m),it is the highest mountain in Namibia.

    White Lady, Brandberg White Lady, Brandberg Judith Duk