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Namibia

About Namibia

Geography

Namibia, located on the West Coast of Southern Africa, is one of the least densely populated countries on the planet. It has a population density of 2,6 people per square kilometre. In contrast, the United Kingdom has 395 people per square kilometre, and Germany 236. The Namib desert (meaning “vast place”) is considered to be the oldest desert in the world.

People of Namibia

The original inhabitants of Namibia were the SanDamara, and Nama peoples. The 14th century brought the Herero and the Himba peoples.  The largest ethnic group is now the Ovambo people. People of British, German and South Africa decent make up around 5% of the population due to historical rule of these nations. Namibia gained full independence from South Africa in 1990.

Weather Overview

December to March is generally hot in Namibia. Rain and thundershowers come in January. April and May may still have rain, as temperatures slowly start to drop. The dry winter months are from June to September. Winter days are moderate to warm, and the nights are cold. Expect frost inland and in the deserts. Temperatures start to rise again in October, with some rainfall bringing relief after the dry season.

 

Winter temperatures range around mid-20s Celsius (70s Fahrenheit). Summer temperatures are in the mid-30s Celsius (90s Fahrenheit).

Starry Nights

The Namibian skies are exquisite. Low population density, and almost no air pollution mean that there are millions of stars clearly visible at night. Some of the top venues for star gazing can be found here.

Travel Information

Cards vs Cash

Credit cards are accepted at most supermarkets, restaurants and accommodation establishments in urban Namibia. While Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, payment with American Express and Diners Club are not as commonly available. Expect to make cash payments when travelling in rural areas.

ATMs

Credit cards can be used to get cash from ATMs or banks. Visa and MasterCard are the most commonly accepted, as indicated by signs displayed on ATMs. Most banks in Namibia have ATMs.

Currency

Namibia uses the Namibian Dollar (N$). It is linked to the South African Rand (ZAR), which is also legal tender in Namibia. The Namibian Dollar and South African Rand operate on a one-to-one exchange.

 

If purchasing currency before arriving in Namibia, it is generally easier and cheaper to buy ZAR. South African Rand is more widely available internationally. Commissions on ZAR are lower than the rates charged for changing currency into N$ (commissions can be up to 25%).

Banking Hours

Banks are open from 9.00 am to 3.30 pm (weekdays), and from 9 am to 11 am (Saturdays).

Travellers Cheques

High commissions are charged when changing travellers cheques into Namibian Dollar (N$). Visitors should bear in mind that not many banks accept travellers cheques, so it is advisable to change travellers cheques whenever the service is available. Some Namibian hotels will exchange money, but rates are generally high.

Tipping

Tipping is welcomed everywhere, but is expected only in upmarket tourist restaurants, where a 10-15% tip is standard. Some restaurants automatically add a service charge. While taxi drivers are not tipped, it is customary to give N$2 to N$5 to petrol-station attendants who clean your windows and/or check the oil and water.

 

Note that tipping is officially prohibited in national parks and reserves.

 

At safari lodges, guides and safari vehicle drivers expect a tip, especially after spending several days with them.

Visas

Tourist visas are valid for three months. Visit the Namibian Consulate or Embassy in your country to get your visa. However, not all visitors to Namibia require a tourist visa.

 

Those nationalities which do NOT require a visa (for a maximum 90 day visit) include:

  • American
  • Australian
  • British
  • Canadian
  • German
  • Japanese
  • South African

 

To find out if need a tourist visa you can visit here and select your country of origin.

WWW

Limited WiFi is available at relatively low speeds at many lodges and accomodation, but this is not guaranteed. Internet cafés can be found in most major towns, and Windhoek and Swakopmund have several coffee shops and cafés offering WiFi Hotspots. Namibia works on a 3G mobile network system, with 4G networks only available in some areas.

 

Remote Places Photography will provide you with your own Namibian SIM card upon arrival.

 

In many rural and remote places, connectivity cannot be guaranteed. Expect very unreliable, or no connection in these places.

Things that bite

During hot summer months, and in bush and river areas, there are lots of biting insects. Bites can be painful, so insect repellent spray or cream is useful.

 

There are snakes, scorpions and spiders in Namibia, but they prefer to stay far away from you. The Remote Places Photography team will help you if you are bitten. If possible, take a photograph, or try to remember the size and colour of the creature that bit you. Most snakes, scorpions and spiders in Namibia are not poisonous.

 

There is the risk of malaria in many regions around Namibia. Some areas present higher risks than others at different times of the year, so travellers are advised to consult their medical practitioners before visiting Namibia. Take the necessary anti-malaria precautions if in doubt.

 

You can avoid mosquito bites by covering your skin with long-sleeved shirts and long trousers, especially after sunset. Exposed skin can be protected with insect repellent and, where necessary and available, there will be a mosquito net for you to sleep under.

Drinking water

Drink bottled water. While the water is perfectly safe to drink in most places, drinking bottled water is a sensible precaution for visitors to Namibia.

 

Remote Places Photography will provide water while you travel by road, and water is available at all our accommodation.

Sun

The sun is extremely strong, even in winter when there may be cloud cover. The sun is probably the most dangerous feature of your Namibian experience. Heat-stroke, heat exhaustion and sunburn are often problems for travellers to Namibia. However, they are easy to prevent.

 

  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
  • Wear thin, light clothing that covers your skin and is not too tight.
  • Cover your head with a hat that also shades and protects your neck, preventing sunburn.

Use high factor sunscreen, especially when sunbathing. It is advisable to apply sunblock daily, even when catching a tan, as the sun is very strong.

Vaccinations

It is generally advised that you are up-to-date with diphtheria, hepatitis A and tetanus.

 

Other vaccines to consider are:

  • cholera
  • hepatitis B
  • rabies
  • typhoid

 

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers arriving from countries where there is a risk of yellow fever transmission.

Medical Emergency

A comprehensive first aid kit and basic emergency medications are available on all Remote Places Photography expeditions. The team members have good first aid experience in the bush. If a doctor is needed, we will go to the nearest available medical centre, by air or road, depending on what the situation requires and accessibility.

 

Most accomodation personnel includes one member of staff who is trained to deal with minor injuries, illnesses or conditions that commonly occur locally. If you need urgent medical treatment, you will be evacuated immediately to a major private hospital in Windhoek or Swakopmund.

 

It is essential that your medical insurance covers the cost of air evacuation and private hospital treatment while in Namibia.

Food

Some vegetarian options are available at most accomodation and larger hotels. There are limited options for vegans, and it is rare to find Halaal or Kosher options. Catering for those with certain food allergies may be possible. Please let us know well in advance so that we can advise you on what options are available.  Alternatives to a typical Western diet are limited in Namibia.

Safety First

Although not extensive, there is some crime in the major Namibian cities of Swakopmund and Windhoek. Please check with your accommodation regarding safety in urban areas. In remote areas, leaving the lodge or camp alone at night is not permitted. There are many wild animals and the terrain can be extremely dangerous.

 

In remote areas, you will need to travel with the RPP team to get from place to place. If you prefer to make your own way to a particular destination, then you will need to hire a qualified guide. This is to ensure your safety and is required by Namibian regulations. The cost for hiring a qualified guide is not included in the expedition rate.

Namibia Checklist

  • Camera & lenses, tripod, filters, other essential equipment
  • Carry bag for equipment, protection for equipment (sun and sand)
  • Cash (South African Rands/Namibian Dollars)
  • Cards (Visa and MasterCard most widely accepted)
  • Chronic medication, allergy information and medication
  • Comfortable clothing, walking shoes and socks
  • Equipment insurance
  • Hat
  • Identification documents, visa, vaccination certificates, international driver’s license (optional)
  • Insect repellent
  • Medical insurance, including evacuation by air
  • Mobile phone (optional)
  • Pith helmet (optional)
  • Power & USB cables, adaptors
  • Solar power packs, external hard drives
  • Sunglasses (good quality)
  • Sun block & after sun lotion