Namibia is a country of great diversity, with deserts, rivers and floodplains, incredible wildlife, friendly people and spectacular landscapes. It is one of those places that touches your heart, and the memories will stay with you forever. While some destinations are considered easy to travel to without any preparation in advance, Namibia requires some reading and attention to every bit of advice. But once you’ve gathered all the information, you will have a fantastic experience. For first-time visitors, I prepared an article on everything you need to know before traveling to Namibia for a smooth experience. 

Disclosure: *This post contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link.*

About Namibia

Namibia is a southern African country on the continent’s west coast, bordering South Africa, Botswana and Angola. Its area is slightly over 800.000 km2, hence the name Namib, which means the land of open spaces. 

Namibia is the second-least-densely populated country after Mongolia, with an average of just three people for every square kilometer.

It houses the oldest and only desert in the world where large mammals like elephants, rhinos, lions and giraffes can be found. It is also the country with the highest dunes in the world: Sossusvlei Sand Dunes.

The official language of Namibia is English, which makes life easier for every fellow traveler. 

Why visit Namibia?

If you’re dreaming of traveling to Africa but have no idea where to go first, start with Namibia. It’s one of the safest countries in Africa, where you can roam freely without thinking about safety. You could drive for hours and not see a single human or car. The best part is that not many decide to visit this African country, so only a few tourists are around! For now!

There are many beaches and coastlines to explore. Admire the stars shining brightly above your head while camping. Stop at the iconic Tropic of Capricorn sign for the perfect Instagram photo. Hit the desert for sand dune climbing with amazing views. Indulge in some local cuisine and the best seafood plates. 

Best time to visit Namibia

In terms of weather, there are a few things to know before traveling to Namibia. 

The best months for visiting are May to October, the country’s dry season. The advantages of traveling to Namibia during the dry season are the lack of mosquitos, the pleasant temperatures during the day (but it can get cold at night in Damaraland or Etosha), and clear, sunny skies. The animals are concentrated around water sources, so the wildlife viewing is amazing. The disadvantage is that it is also the peak travel season when locals and foreigners tend to visit the country, so make sure to plan and book well in advance.

From November to April, the country’s rainy season is also the summer season. 

At this time of year, bird watching is good, and you can see newborn babies. There is hardly anyone around, so you won’t have to book in advance. 

The disadvantage of traveling to Namibia in the rainy season is that the wildlife is not extraordinary. The animals won’t get to the water sources because there’s water everywhere. You might drive for hours without spotting wildlife, but you could easily spot one while driving around. 

amazing landscape of Deadvlei, Namibia

How much time do I need in Namibia?

Namibia is one of the best countries for an ultimate road trip, but it is HUGE, and it’s impossible to cover too much in a few days.

People usually devote two weeks to their holiday in Namibia. But to understand Namibia, you should concentrate on the south or the north during those two weeks. Otherwise, you’ll spend most of the time driving, chasing places and seeing nothing. 

If time allows, and you want to cover as much as possible, assign four to six weeks to explore the whole country.

Visa for Namibia

European Union (except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia), United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as most Commonwealth nationals, do not require a visa to enter Namibia and can stay for up to 90 days.

Most international flights arrive at Hosea Kutako International Airport, a 45-minute drive from Windhoek, Namibia’s capital. This airport is a good starting point for Namibia tours and is where your ultimate adventure begins. 

Money in Namibia

Namibia’s currency is the Namibian Dollar (N$), which used side-by-side with the South African Rand as it is valued at 1 to 1.

ATMs are located throughout Namibia, and this is unquestionably the simplest way to manage your money while traveling.  You may receive either South African rand or Namibian dollars when withdrawing or changing money.

Credit and debit cards are accepted in most gas stations, shops, restaurants, campsites, and lodges.

One of the few things to know before traveling is that tipping is expected everywhere in Namibia, so make sure you have some small domination on you. When you park your car in the city, at a shopping mall, gas station, tourist sites, or other areas, you will often see men asking for money to watch your car. It’s a standard method in Namibia, so don’t get discouraged.

Is Namibia safe?

It is the first thing that everyone asks. Now I can definitely say that it is one of the safest countries we’ve visited and the safest in Africa. 

From the car rental company, we were advised not to help anyone with a puncture other than tourists, not to take hitchhikers, and not to ask for help when we saw a group of local men, but instead to reach for tourists’ help or older people.

Honestly, I found the Namibians very kind, friendly, and always helpful.

However, as anywhere else in this world, be vigilant and stay safe at any time. Never leave anything valuable in your vehicle, and don’t wander alone at night (that goes mostly for cities like Windhoek, Swakopmund, or Walvis Bay).

sweet little girls playing with us in Spitzkoppe

Is there malaria in Namibia?

Malaria is a risk in some parts of Namibia, especially in the north.   

If you’re traveling to Namibia between May and October and covering the southern part of the country exclusively, you’ll be happy to hear you don’t need to worry about Malaria. Mosquitos need water to reproduce, and you won’t see much water around, especially in Etosha or the desert.

However, there is a high risk of malaria throughout the year in the Caprivi Strip, Kunene and Kavango regions in the northern part of the country. If you are visiting this region, fill out your malaria prescription before traveling to Namibia, and take enough with you for the entire trip. 

Do you need travel insurance in Namibia?

We never leave home without travel insurance designed to cover our expenses if something goes wrong. If you’re still on the lookout for travel insurance for your trip to Namibia, I highly recommend HEYMONDO, a trusted insurance provider for leisure and business trips, backpackers, long-term travelers, and digital nomads. Their travel insurance protects against theft, flight delays, injury, illness, cancellations, and much more

Check out their rates HERE.

Internet in Namibia

The easiest way to access the internet in Namibia is to buy a local Data package from the MTC store located in the arrival area at Windhoek airport. Arm yourself with enough patience because it’s going to take forever.

If you don’t want to waste precious time, you can buy a local SIM card at kiosks, shops, malls, or convenience stores. 

The Wi-Fi connection is often slow and unstable in Namibia. Most of the time, we could only check our emails, and uploading/downloading was a mess. However, overall, it was better than expected. Another thing to know before traveling to Namibia is that Wi-Fi at lodges or campsites is unreliable; rely only on your SIM card.  

Get an eSim before traveling to Namibia

Because phones have become our most important devices, it’s necessary to have a data connection as soon as you step foot in a different country. 

After immigration and visa, having to wait in another line to get a local SIM card is one of the things I despise the most. 

Your home data plan might only work if you paid for a much more expensive package, finding Wi-Fi connections in airports or train stations might be tricky, and seeking a local store to buy a SIM card might be exhausting. Forget all of that!

You just purchase an e-SIM, install it on your phone, and activate the plan when you’re ready to use it. Getting out of the plane and instantly connecting to data was a game changer for me. I didn’t have to waste time standing in line to get a local SIM card or finding a Wi-Fi connection to book a taxi to reach my hotel.

If you ask me, getting an e-SIM is a quintessential part of traveling to Namibia. There is no physical installation and no long-term commitments. And the best part: You can always top up or purchase a new plan through the app. Pretty convenient, right? Find the best data plan for Namibia HERE.

empty roads in Namibia

Shopping in Namibia

People often buy wooden masks, figures and bowls, vibrant fabrics, and Namibian wine to bring back home. When purchasing souvenirs in Namibia’s markets, bargaining is almost obligatory.

There are plenty of supermarkets in Windhoek and Swakopmund, like Pick&Pay, Spar, or Chequers, where you can stock up on groceries if you’re camping. Make sure you have some small notes on you for the men guarding your car while shopping.

Some random prices:

Water: 35N$/5-litre bottle. You can refill it at any petrol station or a convenience store for 10N/bottle.

Beer: 25N$/can – Alcohol is sold everywhere: supermarkets, gas stations, restaurants, and bars. But keep in mind that it’s against the law to buy alcohol in shops or liqueur stores on Saturday or Sunday. All the fridges are chained, so don’t even ask!

Meat: Pork Neck chops, 122N$/kg. Braai is famous in South African countries, so if you want to grill some meat, you will find charcoal and firewood at every petrol station or convenience store.

Milk: 20N$/1 liter, Apples: 28N$/kg, Pear: 33N$/kg, Pineapple: 22N$/piece, Bananas: 24N$/kg, Ginger biscuits: Oh my god, they are so delicious, definitely something to try: 13N$.

Prices in Namibia

Accommodation can vary from budget hotels ranging from $30 to $90 to luxury hotels reaching up to $400 per night.

Food could get a little pricey at the campsites and lodges, which makes sense because they are so isolated, but nothing was over the top. We’d usually pay around $10-15 for dinner each night.

Fortunately, Namibia has supermarkets where you can find a variety of snacks, ready-to-eat meals, and ingredients to cook your meals if camping.

For our 4×4 rooftop tent Toyota Hilux, the budget version, we ended up paying around $ 30 a day. It was a bargain, for sure! 

Activities and entrance fees were also affordable. Hot air balloons and helicopter rides are more expensive, but with many other activities available, you can skip those.  

abandoned car wreck in Solitaire, Namibia

Renting a car in Namibia

Public transport doesn’t really exist in the country, so if you’re not going to take a tour, you’ll most likely need to rent a car

You’ll be navigating your car over gravel roads most of the time, on the left-hand side of the road, with a max speed of 80km/h, and sometimes even slower due to potholes.

Most tourists rent a 4×4 car, which you will see often during your holiday! However, it is possible to drive around in a standard SUV.

Find the best rental rates HERE.

You should check the tire pressure as often as possible, as correct pressure is vital in maintaining grip and prolonging tire life.

The roads can sometimes be exhausting, so driving much daily is not an option. Always plan your driving times accurately. Navigation is easy using either online or offline Google Maps.

Namibia is a rough land but still very easy to drive. It’s such a trouble-free country to navigate on your own that I dare to say that anyone could do it.  A little heads up: fill up with fuel whenever you can, especially when traveling through the more remote areas.

Distances from Windhoek to:

– Etosha National Park, 433km, 4h30′ drive

– Sossusvlei, 370km, 5h drive

– Swakopmund, 350km, 3h30′ drive

– Spitzkoppe, 277km, 3h drive

Renting a 4×4 rooftop tent car in Namibia

Renting a 4×4 rooftop tent car in Namibia can be quite expensive. Still, considering that accommodation prices can be really high, especially in the National parks, this option is the best when traveling to Namibia.

We’ve opted for a car from Savanna Car Hire, and I can highly recommend them. We had some minor problems with the fridge, and they were very responsive and helpful. 

If you really want to keep your expenses to a minimum, you might want to rent a budget car. These are usually older models with more miles on board (ours had 178.000km), and they do not have a crossing-border option, hence the lower price.

Our Car Rental Deal: 

4×4 Rooftop Hilux, BUDGET OPTION

N$12.285/ €758/ $840 / 13 days rental, with a reduced excess option, also included: N$14.000/ €58 / $64/day.

our 4x4 rooftop rented car in Namibia

Punctures in Namibia

I keep hearing people talk about punctures. Yes, slow punctures are common; if they happen, you can easily fix them at a service station.

Some of our friends got three punctures during their three-week road trip in Namibia. We’ve even helped others get their tires fixed since they had no clue what to do. 

I’m unsure if it was a matter of luck, but fortunately, we never had to deal with this problem. We were extremely cautious about constantly checking the tire pressure, speed and road conditions.

Constantly checking the tire pressure of our 4x4 rooftop car in Namibia

Camping in Namibia

Our self-drive road trip around Namibia was one of the best travel experiences. With such a diverse landscape, exciting wildlife, few tourists and plenty of outdoor activities, renting a 4×4 rooftop car and camping in Namibia was the best decision we ever made. Of course, it would have been easier to rent a normal 4×4 and book accommodation along the ride, but luxury is something I can experience everywhere in the world. 

Namibia is an excellent country to camp, and I highly recommend it to anyone, even if you’re a rookie. 

The campsites usually have good facilities: electricity, running water, private or communal toilets and showers, a restaurant or bar, a small shop for necessary groceries, and a pool to chill out. Remember to book well in advance, especially in high season!

One thing to know before traveling to Namibia is that some lodges offer pre-booked meals only. If you don’t intend to cook but rather have lunch or dinner at one of the campsite’s restaurants, please book in advance. 

What to pack

Make sure to pack warm clothes as well, especially a warm jacket. It can be handy for early mornings and late nights.

Always have a headlamp on hand as it gets dark early in Namibia. It turned out to be the most crucial accessory for us. 

Always have a cotton shopping bag with you, as it is small, light, and always needed. It can serve many purposes, such as carrying out your shopping, taking your toiletries to the ablution blocks, organizing some things inside your car, and pretty much everything else.

Having microfiber towels while traveling in Namibia is super handy, as they dry quickly, are more absorbent, and pack very small.

Best tours in Namibia

Let others do the job for you if you don’t feel like putting together an itinerary. Traveling around places is easy when you choose organized tours and you can get great prices when you book in advance. Here is a small selection of the best tours in Namibia:

Experience the wildlife and scenery of Etosha National Park in an open vehicle on a classic safari tour—a paradise for any wildlife enthusiast. Catch a glimpse of elephants, lions, antelopes, and other big game species native to the park. Check the best rates HERE.

Sail out on a catamaran and try to spot the ocean’s “Big 5”: whales, dolphins, mola mola, leatherback turtles and seals. Start your day trip at Walvis Bay Waterfront at 8:30 am and enjoy a relaxing morning at sea, which includes refreshments and snacks. Sail out into the bay, take in the panoramic views of the Pelican Point peninsula and relax on a luxury catamaran! Check the best rates HERE.

Experience the thrill of a quad bike through Namibia’s boundless expanse of shifting sand dunes. This activity starts in Swakopmund and you’ll get the chance to ride down the Devil’s Dip and ride the berms, spirals and slopes as you cruise towards the Table Top, a great dune that offers a spectacular view of the sea. Check the best rates HERE.

If you would like to spend time in Windhoek, set off first on a city tour. You will be picked up from your accommodation, visit the Christ Church and the Old Fort, gaze up at the Houses of Parliament-National Assembly and Parliament Gardens and discover the Katutura Township, a community empowerment project. Check for the best rates HERE.

Best places to visit in Namibia

Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is the best game-drive park and an essential tourist destination in Namibia. With several entrance gates, Etosha is HUGE. The opening/closing times of the gates change weekly and are based on Sunrise and Sunset, so start as soon as possible since wildlife is very active in the early morning. It is easy to navigate the park, although it’s vast and you need at least two days to explore it.

girl spotting an elephant in Etosha National Park

Damaraland

Damaraland is one of the most scenic areas and one of Namibia’s least populated regions. The area offers spectacular rock formations made out of numerous red boulders, and it’s a must on any Namibia road trip itinerary. Damaraland highlights include the prehistoric petroglyphs at Twyfelfontein, the petrified trunk trees at Petrified Forest, and the rock formations that resemble Organ Pipes. Those attractions are doable in the space of 3 hours. Beware, the closing time is 5 pm!

Skeleton Coast

Drive toward the ocean and discover the Skeleton Cast, a 500-kilometer stretch between the old German colonial town of Swakopmund and the Angolan border. Here, you’ll find the world’s largest breeding colony of Cape fur seals, Cape Cross. You would never expect to see so many seals in one place. There is a walkway above the ground for people to walk along and take pictures. It is highly unusual to get so close to wildlife to see both adults and cute seal pups playing around. 

Sossusvlei

Sossusvlei is one of Namibia’s most iconic sites. With unique dead trees surrounded by red-orange sand dunes, it is a must-see for anyone traveling to Namibia. Spend the day climbing Big Daddy dune (the largest in the area), then explore the Deadvlei mud pan before walking to the much less visited Hiddenvlei.

view over the dunes in Sossusvlei, Namibia

Spitzkoppe

Spitzkoppe Nature Reserve is home to a collection of granite mountains dating back more than 120 million years. With vast open spaces, lovely hiking trails, amazing rock formations and some of the best night skies in the world, Spitzkoppe completely exemplifies the whole desert camping experience. 

the road leading to Spitzkoppe, Namibia

Traveling to Namibia. Final thoughts

Planning can be overwhelming, so you have to read as much as possible about this dream destination. You definitely don’t need to join a tour to visit Namibia. It’s better to rent a car, take it slow and enjoy what you see along the road.

Namibia is scenically spectacular, and traveling on your own terms allows you to completely immerse yourself in the scenery, uncover off-the-beaten-path places and really appreciate the country.

Traveling to Namibia-related posts

If you want to find out more about this amazing country, be sure to read my articles!

NAMIBIA ROAD TRIP ITINERARY

4X4 SELF-DRIVE TRIP TO SOSSUSVLEI

4X4 CAMPING IN NAMIBIA AND WHAT TO PACK

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