Namibia shares borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. Wedged between the Kalahari and the South Atlantic, Namibia is home to the oldest desert of the earth. Despite its parched reputation, Namibia is one of the world’s best wildlife destinations.
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Some coach services operate between major towns and locations in Namibia. Minibuses can also be found in Namibia’s towns, though are often cramped and generally don’t service tourist areas that lie off the beaten track. Train services are fairly limited in Namibia, so might not be the best option for getting around.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, Environment, & Weather
Namibia covers a total area of 824,292 square kilometres. There are five geographical areas in Namibia: the Central Plateau, the Namib Desert, the Great Escarpment, the Bushveld and the Kalahari Desert. The flat Central Plateau occupies the middle of the country, with the Namib Desert to the south west, the Kalahari Desert to the east, and the Bushveld to the northeast. As for the rugged Great Escarpment, it runs north to south through the southern half of the country. Despite being a desert, the Kalahari region is home to over 5,000 species of plants, nearly half of them endemic to Namibia.
Namibia has a dry and arid climate, with more than 300 days of sunshine per year. Namibia experiences dry and mild winters, and hot summers, with most of the country’s rainfall occurring in the summer. Depending on when you intend to travel, check the weather reports and dress accordingly.
World heritage sites
There are 2 properties in Namibia listed on the World Heritage List, with a further 8 sites listed on the Tentative List. You can view the listed properties here: (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/na). Namibia’ listed properties include:
Twyfelfontein, which contains one of the largest concentrations of rock engravings in Africa
Namib Sand Sea, which covers an area of over three million hectares and uniquely features dune fields influenced by fog.
Festivals & Events
Numerous festivals and events dot the calendar in Namibia. The country’s former struggles for independence are commemorated in events such as Heroes’ Day (held in honour of Namibian independence fighters) and Independence Day, which celebrates Namibia’s official emergence as an independent nation in the late 20th century. Germany’s former presence in Namibia is still marked however by cultural events such as Oktoberfest, the famous beer festival of German origin. As the nation’s capital and largest city, Winhoek is host to many of the country’s biggest events, including the Bank Windhoek Arts Festival, a festival dedicated to the arts, and Windhoek Karneval, a colourful and festive event marked with exuberant musical performances and parades.
Understanding Namibia: The Trials of Independence, by Henning Melber
A History of Namibia: From the Beginning to 1990, by Marion Wallace
The Black Rhinos of Namibia: Searching for Survivors in the African Desert, by Rick Bass
Epic Land: Namibia Exposed, by Amy Schoeman
Eating & Drinking
Namibian food features a blend of cooking techniques of indigenous groups (such as the Herero and San people) and the culinary influences of Germans and Afrikaners. Game meat is a common feature in Namibian food, with kudu, springbok, oryx, eland, ostrich, zebra, and even crocodile meat found on the menu in Namibia. German and Afrikaner culinary influences shine through in dishes such as potjiekos, a meat and vegetable stew dish slow cooked in an iron pot. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, mopane worms are a local delicacy in northern Namibia, though more familiar fare can be found in the form of Namibia’s fine seafood, including Namibian oysters and kabeljou (silver cob fish).
A legacy of Germany’s former occupation is beer brewing, with German-style beers popular throughout the country. Other notable beverages in Namibia include oshikundu (an alcoholic drink made from fermented millet) and herbal rooibos (redbush) tea.
Health & Safety
Generally speaking, Namibia is safe to travel in, though always exercise common sense while travelling.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The electricity supply in Namibia runs at 220V and 50Hz. Namibia uses the Type D and Type M electric plug types, so make sure you have the right travel adaptor with you.
Etosha National Park
Kolmanskop ghost town
Spitzkoppe rock formations
Namibia has a single time zone, Central Africa Time (UTC+2). Daylight savings in Namibia commence on the first Sunday of September and conclude on the first Monday of the follwing April.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you tip an appropriate amount for services. Tipping is not compulsory in Namibia, though it is appreciated. Drivers and tour guides may expect a tip, as might hotel porters.
Wifi should be freely accessible in most hotels, cafes and restaurants within urban areas, though internet acces may be more sporadic in rural areas.
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Namibia. Many providers will allow you to pay a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Responsible travel tips for Namibia
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although some locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of either Namibian dollars or South African rand in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Before departing on your trip, contact your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.