Namibia von A bis Z
Beverages can be purchased from the "Bottle Stores" (or Afrikaans "Drankwinkel"). Wine and beer are available at supermarkets and at most National Park foodstores. Namibia brews a beer of its own in Windhoek and Swakopmund, and complies with German purity standards. The wine is - with a few exceptions - imported from South Africa. The type of liquor licence a hotel holds is symbolised by "Y". A single "Y" means: Only beer and wine may be served and exclusively with meals. "YY" means: Only beer and wine served. "YYY" means: All types of liquor can be served.
The AAN Automobile Association of Namibia is part of the international AA's. You can, for example, acquire maps from them, if you produce your membership card from your home country. Address: Carl List House, corner Independence Ave/ Fidel Castro St., Tel 061-224201.
The Namibian Bank allows you to exchange all freely convertible currencies and traveller's cheques into Namibian Dollars. At bigger branches you find ATM's, where you can draw money with a credit or Maestro card. The banks are usually open on weekdays from 9:00 to 15:30. Some are closed at midday between 13:00 and 14:00 pm. The Namibian Dollar is on par with the South African Rand (1:1). At present (April 2011) 1 Euro equals about 10 N$.
Namibia - Angola
Ruacana: 7:00 - 18:00
Omahenene: 8:00 - 18:00
Oshikango / St. Clara: 8:00 - 18:00
Rundu: 8:00 - 18:00
Namibia - Botswana
Impalila Island: 7:00 - 18:00
Ngoma Bridge: 7:00 - 18:00
Muhembo / Shakawe: 6:00 - 18:00
Buitepos / Mamuno: 7:00 - 18:00
Namibia - South Africa
Klein Menasse / Rietfontein: 8:00 - 16:30
Ariamsvlei / Nakop: 24 hrs
Vellorsdrift / Onseepkans: 8:00 - 17:00
Noordoewer / Vioolsdrift: 24 hrs
Oranjemund / Alexander Bay: 6:00 - 22:00
Sendelingsdrift: 8:00 - 17:00
Mata Mata: 8:00 – 16:30
Namibia - Zambia
Wanela (Katima Mulilo) / Sesheke: 6:00 - 17:00
The company Intercape Mainliner maintains an overland bus service on the routes Windhoek - Mariental - Keetmanshoop - Upington - Cape Town and Windhoek - Okahandja - Karibib - Swakopmund as well as Windhoek - Otjiwarongo - Tsumeb. Tel 061-227487. email firstname.lastname@example.org
In Namibia, wild camping is neither permitted nor, for safety reasons, recommendable. If you would like to camp on private farm ground, ask the owner's permission. Nowadays a good number of camping grounds is available. The non-profit NACOBTA organization in Windhoek, financed by Development Aid, has established many beautiful and affordable camps in the country. They are being managed by locals and the profits go to the communities. Address: PO Box 86099, Windhoek, Tel 061-250558.
Car hire is usually quite expensive in Namibia because of the high insurance premiums the Namibian car rental agencies have to pay due to the high number of claims. All big rental companies, like Hertz, Avis and Budget, are represented in the country, while there are also a great number of interesting smaller businesses that offer 4x4's and caravans. By law they must be members of CARAN. For renting a car an international drivers licence is required. Border crossing to neighbouring countries must be arranged with the car rental company which issues border papers at a fee. Most companies don't allow their vehicles into Zambia or Zimbabwe.
The southern winter (May - September) in Namibia is characterised by pleasant day temperatures (about 25°C), while the nights are very cold; often below zero. One should bring both, summer clothes and warm jerseys. During the summer months, day temperatures can soar to well over 30°C while night brings little relief. Many people struggle to sleep well in the heat. For the summer months you will need light and airy clothes; sun-hats, sun-glasses, sun-tan lotion and firm shoes are indispensable.
In Namibia you can generally pay with the usual credit cards (VISA, MasterCard), but not at petrol stations.
Until Independence was granted in 1990, crime was virtually unknown in Namibia. However, the last decade has seen a great increase in crime, mainly due to the high unemployment rate and the influx of poor people to the urban slum areas. However, relative to the other African countries, Namibia is still one of the safest holiday destinations.
In 1993 the Namibian Dollar (N$) was introduced. It is on par with the South African Rand (1:1), because the two countries' economies are closely linked. It is even legal to pay with the South African Rand in Namibia.
Foreign Currency can be imported in unlimited amounts as cash or as travellers' cheques. Travellers' cheques can be cashed at any bank in Namibia. Accepted credit card are Visa-, Master- oder Diners Card. EC cards (Maestro) can only used to draw cack at Standard Bank branches. Per person a maximum of N$ 2000 may be brought in.
Namibia forms a Customs Union with the other Southern African countries. No customs on all personal items. Custom-free one can import things of pernal use and: 1 litre of liquor, 2 litres of wine, 50ml parfume, 250ml Eau de Toilette, 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars, 250g cigarette or pipe tobacco, other new or used items to the value of N$ 2000. All other items, including groceries are subject to harsh costums regulations. The import of a vehicle for own use requires a Carnet de Passage document, issued by the Automobile Association in your country. A refundable deposit must be paid. After your travels, you have to take the vehicle out of Namibia again; you are not allowed to sell it in Namibia or South Africa.
For imported domestic animals quarantine is mandatory. Forms for the im- and export of domestic animals can be acquired from the Namibian consulates. The import of parrots and rodents is categorically forbidden. No domestic animals are not allowed in Nature Reserves.
The tap water in Namibia is clean, good and drinkable, unless otherwise stated by the accommodation venue. When driving to remote areas, one should always take lots of bottled water along. Mineral water and ice for cooling are available at most petrol station and in shops.
Some car rental companies accept a basic national licence, if it is a plastic card. For possible road controls and in case of an accident it is advisable to have an international one. For crossing borders it is indispensable.
Driving a Car
In the whole of southern Africa one has to drive on the left side of the road. Besides your national driver's licence you should also take an international one along. In all urban areas, there is a speed limit of 60 km/h while on national/rural roads, the limit is 120 km/h. On gravel roads one shouldn't go faster than 80 km/h. Every year, there are many accidents due to people speeding on untarred roads. Windscreen damage can also be avoided on gravel roads if you keep your speed under control. Tourists, who are unfamiliar with the hazards of these gravel roads, tend to overestimate the vehicle's road traction. Speed controls are conducted by lazer guns, particularly in Windhoek, its surroundings. Parking offenders are heavily fined nowadays and seatbelt use is compulsory. Avoid travelling longer distances at night or in the twilight, because wild animals crossing the road are a real threat in Namibia. Most of the farms might be fenced, but kudu can easily jump two metre high fences. A collision with one of these heavy animals often proves fatal. If you have to drive at night, at least don't exceed 80 km/h.
The voltage in Namibia is 220-230 V, AC (identical to South Africa). Adapters are for sale at most supermarkets. Farmers often generate their own electricity with a diesel generator, which they usually only run during the day. At night it's candlelight or light from a 12 Volt battery.
Embassies and Consulates
Namibian Embassy in the UK
6 Chanders St., London WIMOLQ, Tel: 44-207 636 6244, Fax: 44-207 637 5694
UK Embassy in Namibia
116 Robert Mugabe Avenue, Windhoek, Tel: 061-274800, Fax: 061-228895
US Embassy in Namibia
14 Lossen St., Windhoek, Tel: 061-274800, Fax: 061-229792
Namibia Embassy in the USA
1605 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington DC, 20009, Tel: 202-9860540, Fax: 202-9860443
Italian Embassy in Namibia
cnr. Anna/Gerber St's, Ludwigdorf, Klein Windhoek, Tel: 061-228602, Fax: 061-229860
Visitors from Europe need for a stay of not more than 90 days only a valid passport (valid for at least 6 months longer than the departure date). There are special regulations for longer stays. Wrong dates on the stamps or other errors eventually are to the detriment of the visitor. Check immediately if all entries are correct. It is possible to import hunting rifles. The permit is issued at entry. You have to produce a fire arm licence from your home country.
The most popular fishing destination is the West Coast Recreation Area between Walvis Bay and the Ugab river mouth and further north up to Terrace Bay. Henties Bay is the fishing centre. Anglers mainly reel in Catfish, Steenbras, Snoek, Hake and Kabeljau. It is also popular to fish in dams and to go for Tigerfish in the Zambesi and Kwando rivers in the Caprivi. However, there are strict regulations concerning the amount of fish of particular species you are allowed to catch. Generally, a fishing licence is required, issued for a small fee by the Ministry of Marine Resources and Fisheries in Windhoek. Tel: 064-4101000.
Quite a number of airlines service Windhoek, some on a daily basis. The flying time on a direct flight is 9 to 10 hours. Prices vary a lot, depending on the season and airline. The most expensive times are around Christmas and Easter as well as from July to September. Air Namibia services from Windhoek Keetmanshoop, Katima Mulilo, Oshakati, Walvis Bay, Luederitz, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Maun, Gaborone and Victoria Falls.
Groceries are available in any bigger village or town. although the range of food products is smaller than in Europe. A wide, and in places, excellent variety of goods is offered in Windhoek, Swakopmund and Otjiwarongo. In rural areas, however, and especially in the north, fresh produce like vegetables and fruit, is scarce. The price of groceries lies at about 80% of European standards while imported food tends to be much more expensive. The meat available is usually beef, and venison from kudu, oryx, springbok and ostrich. Fresh fish, crayfish, mussels and oyster are highly recommended in Swakopmund, Luederitz and Walvis Bay. A favourite with Namibians is "biltong", meat of the oryx antelope or beef, cut into thin stripes and dried in the sun. It is enjoyed as a snack with drinks or nibbled in between. The cuisine is in many places traditional German or international fare.
A 4x4 is not an absolute neccessity in Namibia. Most gravel and sand roads are in good condition and can be negotiated by normal light vehicles. But for some areas, like Sandwich Harbour or the Sossusvlei and particularly for Kaokoland and the Khaudum National Park, one has to have a 4x4. For the Kaokoveld even additional expedition equipment like a second spare wheel, extra tools, second tank, hilift jack, special maps and possibly a GPS etc are required.
Golf is popular in Namibia. One of the most beautiful courses is the Rossmund Desert Golf Course in Swakopmund. Lüderitz also has a course in the desert.
HIV / Aids
Aids is a huge problem in Namibia. The HIV prevalence officially amounts to 15%. Unprotected sexual contacts with locals are risky just as dirty syringes or blood transfusions.
Trophy-hunting by foreign hunters is an important source of revenue for Namibian tourism. The prices are relatively good for Europeans and North Americans. However, the law concerning hunting is very strict. The Namibian farmer issues the hunting licence. Information available at the Namibian Professional Hunting Association, PO Box 11291, Windhoek. Tel 061-234455. email email@example.com.
Before Independence, English and Afrikaans had been the only official languages. Now they are also Herero, Ovambo, Damara and Nama. The white population mostly speaks Afrikaans (60%) and German (35%). You can manage well with English and German.
20 kg luggage are allowed on flights. Hardbody suitcases can be hazardous on scenic drives and safaris.
The Namibia Tourism office in your home country will send you information on Namibia, including an official map free of charge.
The medical services are generally very good, at least in the larger towns. Private hospitals in Windhoek, Otjiwarongo and Swakopmund have a good reputation. Although most doctors are General Practitioners, there are also some specialists in the country. At present, only patients who require heart surgery need to go to Cape Town. The best private clinic is in Windhoek: Mediclinic, Heliodor Street, Klein-Windhoek, Tel 061-222687. Medical Air Rescue Service: ISOS, Tel 061-249777. Medrescue, 061-230505. Most remedies are available at the pharmacies in the bigger towns.
Ask your medical aid, whether you are covered when travelling in Namibia. If not, you should take out a medical travel insurance.
MTC Namibia has roaming agreements with 102 countries.
Shops are usually open on weekdays from 8.30 to 13:00 and then from 14:00 to 17:00. Saturdays; from 8:30 to 14:00. Some shops, e.g. the "Portuguese" ones, have longer opening hours. Banks open at 9:30 and close at 15:30 during weekdays, while they close as early as 11:00 am on Saturdays. Post offices are open on weekdays from 8:00 to 16:30 and 8:30 to 11:00 am on Saturdays.
Petrol / Petrol Stations
The network of petrol stations in Namibia is good, although not so dense as in Europe. Also smaller towns have a petrol station. Only cash is accepted as payment. Mostly Diesel, 95 Unleaded and 97 Super (leaded) are available. The petrol stations are servicd (no self-service) and a small tip of about 2 - 5 N$ is adequate, especially if the attendant has washed your windscreen. Currently a litre petrol costs about 8 N$.
You are allowed to take photos anywhere. If you want to photograph people, it is polite to ask their permission first. If you photograph with analogue material, bring your films along, as they are rather expensive in Namibia. Protect your camera from dust, especially when you drive with open windows. For good wildlife photos, a strong tele-lense with autofocus is the best option.
The police is present in all bigger towns. The national emergency number is 10111.
1. January: New Year
21. March: Independence Day
22. March: 2. Independence Day
1. May: Workers' Day
4. May: Cassinga Day
25. May: Africa Day
26. August: Heroes Day
10. December: Human Rights Day
25. December: Christmas
26. Dezcember: Family Day
Changeable public holidays: Good Friday - Easter Monday - Easter Sunday - Ascension Day. Public holidays, which fall on a Sunday, move to Monday.
The Namibian railway network covers some 2000 kms and is linked in the south to the South African. However, the trains are slow. For example: almost 9 hours to get from Windhoek to Swakopmund. The luxurious Desert Express is of interest for tourists. It operates three times a week between Windhoek and Swakopmund. The train has air-conditioning, sleeping and restaurant cars. Tel 061-2982600. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The condition of Namibian roads is generally good and well maintained. You can travel the country on 6000 kms of tarred road and 40000 kms on gravel roads easily in a normal sedan. The sand, salt and gravel roads are easy to drive, unless it is pouring with rain. "C" roads are generally in better condition than "D" roads. Particularly in mountainous regions they can be bumpy.
Government schools: Mid December to mid January; end of April to mid May; end of August to beginning of September. Check separate page for details.
Various species of snake live in Namibia, some poisonous ones among them. However, most travellers never get to see snakes, because they tend to move off at the slightest disturbance, with the exception of the puffadder. Remember, snakes don't attack unless threatened or stepped on, and don‘t chase you. Don't walk around barefoot or stick your hand in holes in the ground or in rocks. Should you still get bitten by a snake, keep calm. Any available bandage should be tied tighly above the bitten area to slow down the spreading of the venom through the body. Note precisely what the snake looked like, and consult the nearest doctor who will administer the required anti-venom. If you have been blinded by a Spitting Cobra, the venom must be washed out immediately with milk; water can also do.
Namibia's coastal waters are with temperatures between 12°C and 16°C, not warm enough for swimming, due to the cold Benguela current.
Taxis are available at the international airport in Windhoek, in the towns of Windhoek, Swakopmund, Okahandja, Otjiwarongo, Oshakati, Walvis Bay and in some other towns. Taxis can only be booked telephonically or taken directly at the taxi stand (in Windhoek in Independence Avenue opposite the Kalahari Sands Hotel). All taxis are equipped with a taxometre. Tariffs vary.
The Namibian telephone net is satisfactory. Namibia has a fully developed modern mobile net which works in the bigger towns. One can phone everywhere in Namibia with GSM dualband.
In the Namibian summer, time is ahead of Central Europe for an hour, while in winter it falls an hour behind.
It is customary to give a tip of 10% of the bill in restaurants. Porters receive 2 to 5 N$ and a petrol station attendant about 2 N$.
Namibia has a pleasant climate and can be visited throughout the year. However, from December to February the weather gets very hot and humid.
For Namibia no vaccinations are required. Some countries recommend vaccinations against tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A and B. Malaria-prophylactic (like Lariam) is only necessary, if you are planning to visit areas north of the Etosha Park or in the Caprivi. It is most essential to cover yourself from mosquito bites, since no remedy offers total protection. Cover yourself as completely as possible and rub the remaining exposed skin: neck, face, hands, wrists, ankles with Tabbard. If you still contract malaria, despite taking medicine, you are going to be defenseless against the virus. On return from a malaria infested area, watch out for symptoms and see a doctor immediately, if they arise to get medication as early as possible. Proof of a recent yellow fever vaccination is required, if you enter from a yellow fever area.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
VAT is charged at 15%. If one has bought expensive items, one can produce the tax invoices and get a VAT refund at the Hosea Kutako Airport.