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Namibia

Vast open spaces, desert coastlines, and spellbinding night skies
Overview

For wild, arid grandeur, no place in sub-Saharan Africa rivals Namibia. This stark land of towering dunes, petrified forests, tabletop mountains, and star-studded night skies is truly a world apart. Namibia also offers prime opportunities to see some of Africa’s most exceptional mammals, including cheetahs, gemsboks, and the desert-adapted elephant.

With its unique mix of savanna, scrubland, and rugged mountains sandwiched between the Namib and Kalahari deserts, Namibia is a vast and awe-inspiring place. Seen from the air, it’s an otherworldly landscape where “fairy circles” of sand dot the grasslands, and the world’s oldest desert hugs the foggy Atlantic. Views at ground level are just as stunning, whether you’re spying an elegant gemsbok silhouetted against the soaring apricot-colored dunes of Sossusvlei, or watching a fiery red sunset transition to inky blackness over Etosha’s sprawling salt pans.

Namibia is a wildlife-watcher’s paradise. As locals will proudly tell you, over 40 percent of the country is under conservation management. In the stark white landscape of Etosha National Park, lions, giraffes, elephants, zebras, and countless other mammals converge in search of scarce water sources, offering outstanding opportunities to observe predator and prey in close proximity. Elsewhere, safari-goers can track cheetahs on foot, thrill to the bounding leaps of springboks, or follow elephants down dry riverbeds, observing their remarkable adaptations to this forbidding environment.

Humans have left their own bewitching traces on Namibia’s sparsely populated land, from the spectacular rusting shipwrecks along the Skeleton Coast to prehistoric giraffe petroglyphs on Twyfelfontein’s sandstone walls. Equally fascinating are Namibia’s contemporary cultures, such as the seminomadic Himba people, who continue to live in harmony with this special place.

Read more about Namibia

Country Highlights & Attractions

  • View lions, black rhinos, and other big game at Etosha National Park
  • Catch the changing light over the world’s tallest dunes at Sossusvlei
  • Survey shipwrecks from the air along the fog-shrouded Skeleton Coast
  • Admire ancient petroglyphs on the rock walls of Twyfelfontein
  • Track desert-adapted elephants down dry riverbeds in Damaraland
Wildlife

Wildlife in Namibia

Namibia’s vast, arid landscape offers some of Africa’s most memorable wildlife experiences. After the rains, a Noah’s Ark of creatures flocks to the country’s water holes. Equally compelling is the chance to track individual desert-adapted species, learning about their fascinating strategies for survival in Namibia’s forbidding environment.

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Cheetah

Namibia is home to approximately 25% of the world’s wild cheetah. The AfriCat Foundation, a local conservation group, offers safari-goers the thrilling chance to track these beautiful creatures on foot.

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Desert-Adapted Elephant

Namibia’s remarkable desert-adapted elephants only need an occasional drink. They forage with care along dry river courses, where their dung helps fuel the growth of future food sources.

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Oryx (Gemsbok)

Found on Namibia’s coat of arms and throughout the country, the oryx, or gemsbok, is a Namibian icon. You’ll never tire of seeing these regal animals with their spectacular horns.

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Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill

The southern yellow-billed hornbill is just one of the 620 bird species you’ll find in Namibia’s desert- scape. You’ll often hear this bird referred to as the “flying banana” due to its large yellow beak.

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Klipspringer

The klipspringer antelope’s unique adaptations include a thick, insulating coat which protects it from desert extremes, and a unique hoof shape that allows it to easily climb and jump among boulders.

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Caracal

Largest of the African small cats, the caracal has tufted ears, believed to be an adaptation to make it appear larger when walking in tall grass.

Country Facts

Vast and sparsely populated, Namibia is a hospitable country whose friendly and diverse people have made responsible tourism a national priority. Protected lands, both public and private, make up 45 percent of the country—a land area almost the size of Germany! Although Namibia’s desert climate is one of extremes, it contains some of the world’s richest game parks, such as Etosha, along with enormous dunes in the west, and the dramatic coastal scenery of the Skeleton Coast.

Known in colonial days as South West Africa, Namibia gained its independence from South Africa in 1990. Today it is a multiparty democratic republic, with a president and a national assembly elected every five years, and a national council elected every six years. The capital city is Windhoek.

Language & People

The official language of Namibia is English, although prior to 1990 both English and Afrikaans were official national languages and Afrikaans is still widely spoken. Among Namibia’s indigenous languages and dialects, Oshiwambo has the largest number of speakers (nearly half of the population). A multiracial country of 2.2 million people, Namibia has 11 ethnic groups, of which the Oshiwambo people constitute the majority (about 70 percent). Roughly 90 percent of Namibia’s people identify themselves as Christian.

Food & Drink

Namibia’s diverse mixture of local and European cultures has resulted in a varied cuisine. Namibians definitely appreciate meat, often in barbecues, and Namibian beef is considered of very high quality. A local thick grain porridge or “pap” is a staple of the diet. African lager-style beers are also popular.

Weather & Elements

Namibia’s geography is mainly arid desert. Inland, temperatures are generally warm to hot during the day and quite cool at night. Coastal Namibia’s climate is distinctive for its fog and even less frequent rainfall. In the winter months (May to September), daytime temperatures in the interior range from 64° to 77° F, with below-freezing temperatures and ground frost common at night—be sure to pack appropriately! In the summer (October to April), average daytime temperatures range from 68° to 93° F. Extremely hot temperatures of around 100° F are common in the far north and far south of the country.

Namibia is an attractive year-round destination. For birding, the best months are Nov–Apr; for botany, Dec–May; for mammals, Jul–Oct; and for diversity, May–Jun.

Entry Requirements & Visas

U.S. citizens: Passports are required and must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the dates of travel. Visas are not required for stays of up to 90 days.

For most up-to-date visa information, and for non-U.S. citizens, see the Embassy of Namibia website: namibianembassyusa.org.

For visa and passport assistance, we recommend Travel Document Systems: traveldocs.com.

Currency

Namibia uses the Namibian dollar (N$). As of November 2014, $1 USD = 1 N$. For up-to-date exchange rates, visit www.oanda.com.

The N$ and South African rand are both used in Namibia. Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, exchange offices, and authorized hotels. It’s best to withdraw sufficient cash before leaving Windhoek as access elsewhere is limited. ATM machines and credit cards can be used only in larger towns, cities, and some lodgings. Do not over-exchange into Namibian dollars as they can be difficult to change back if not used. If using USD, be sure to carry only post-2006 dollars. Older bills will not be accepted. Departure taxes can be paid in USD or local currency.

Immunizations & Health

No immunizations are required to enter Namibia.

Malaria medication, hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations are generally recommended for all travelers. However, requirements and recommendations change frequently, so always check directly with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC: www.cdc.gov/travel; 800-232-4636), a travel clinic, and/or your personal physician for the most current information. Plan ahead for immunizations, as some require administration several months prior to departure.

Electricity

Alternating current of 220V/240V and 50Hz is used in Namibia. Plugs are typically type D or type M.

Phone & Internet

Namibia country code: +264
International access code calling out of Namibia: 00

  • Cell-phone coverage throughout Namibia is extensive, but cannot be guaranteed at all times, especially in remote areas.
  • Internet access is generally very good in towns and villages, but less dependable elsewhere.

For more information about Namibia, see the national tourism board website: www.namibiatourism.com.na.

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Guides
Perez Kamukuenjandje

Perez Kamukuenjandje

Perez comes from a large family of Herero speakers in the northeast of the country. He started his career as a guide by attending a number of guiding and ranger courses in the Namib and in South Africa. Since then, he has completed the formal Namibian national guide-training courses that will give him the highest nonspecialist guiding qualification possible. He is a natural entertainer and is in great demand, as many of those who have traveled with him return for a second (or third) safari – but only on the condition that Perez be their guide again.

Perez has great knowledge of the natural world, and his lively intelligence and wit make him a fascinating guide and traveling companion. Perez is a great enthusiast and an “all-rounder” – he receives unequivocal top ratings from former guests for his guiding skills and his company when traveling around the region.

Orlando Haraseb

Orlando Haraseb

Orlando is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced guides in Namibia, as well as a man with a wide spectrum of experience from previous jobs. He is the former captain of the Namibian national football team, whose full-time job at the time was as a policeman. Early in his guiding career, he moved on to work at Hobatere Lodge in northern Damaraland to be near his family, and spent the next three years learning about birds and birding from Steve Brain – one of the best specialist birding guides in Southern Africa.

Since 2005, he has been the senior guide as well as guide “trainer” with our local partners. In addition to his work as a safari guide, he is also the deputy chairman of NATH (Namibian Academy for Tourism and Hospitality) and is a regular lecturer on guide-training courses there. Orlando has completed all of the formal Namibian national guide-training courses and has the highest nonspecialist guiding qualification possible, as well as being a specialist birding guide.

Orlando is very popular with those who travel with him, and he more often than not rates a 10 out of 10, as well as being named one of the highlights of the safari. He has strong beliefs, strict professionalism, and great depth of character. As a result, he is interesting and informative company on safari – and with a great sense of humor.

Elvis Nghimutina

Elvis is a very articulate and intelligent guide who comes from the north-central region (former Ovamboland), although his immediate family is based in Swakopmund. He is very interested in world affairs and local politics (knowing many of the local politicians who come from his area), so is an interesting companion with whom to discuss such issues and often from whom to gain unusual insights.

Elvis is also extremely well informed on a wide variety of naturalist subjects and is particularly well versed in the ways of the desert, having spent several years as a guide based on the Namib Rand Nature Reserve, first at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge and then at Wolwedans Dune Lodge. Elvis is a great guide and traveling companion who receives consistently excellent ratings from the guests he has accompanied around the region. Guests fully appreciate the insights he offers in order to “bring the country alive,”

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Dry Season

Grass is short, so it’s easy to spot wildlife that is concentrated near waterholes.

Temperate Season

Ideal Safari season – wildlife is easy to track, and the weather is temperate.

Rainy Season

Tropical downpours mean an ideal season for birding and photography.

Light Rains

Cooler weather & nighttime rains mean animals are more active during the day.

Dec, Jan, Feb & Mar: Namibia’s green season sees hot, humid weather with likelihood of afternoon rainstorms in parts of the country. Rainfall here is only a fraction of what you’ll expect in neighboring countries. The beauty of travel at this time of year includes spectacular skies and clear air, a blooming desert, migratory birds, and antelope calving season – with predators in attendance. Average high: 86-90. Average low: 61-63.

April & May: These are beautiful months in Namibia following the rains, with fresh air and temperate climate with evenings cooling down. Wildlife is active and greenery remains in the landscape.

Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept & Oct: Namibia’s high season, with little to no rainfall during Namibia’s summer, wildlife is concentrated around what water sources are available. The temperatures are cool and comfortable early in the season (often downright cold in the evenings during the months of June, July and August) and begin to warm up again by September and October. Average high: 70-86. Average low: 45-59.

Read more about The Best Time To Visit

1 Namibia Safaris

Namibia

Etosha, Sossusvlei & Skeleton Coast 10 Days / 9 Nights

Activities: Active Safaris, The Big Five, Classic Game Drives, Cultural VisitsDiscover the timeless wonder of Africa’s oldest desert, from soaring dunes and prehistoric petroglyphs to ancient lakebeds where desert-adapted rhinos, elephants, and big cats roam.

Read more Highlights & Departures
Safari From $6,798 USD per persontrip details

Highlights

  • Explore the rock paintings, outcrops, and petrified forests of Twyfelfontein
  • Watch great mammals come to drink by the waterhole at your bush camp in Etosha National Park
  • Delve deep into the ecology of Africa’s great cats at the AfriCat Foundation
  • Track leopards, cheetahs, rhinos, and desert-adapted elephants through Namibia’s awe-inspiringly vast and arid landscapes
  • Contemplate Namibia’s dazzling night sky from the comfort of your remote bush camp in the dunes

Departure Dates


May 2-May 11Jul 12-Jul 21Sep 13-Sep 22

Also available as a Private departure - choose your own dates!

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