Travel to Namibia

Namibia

Namibia is a country of startling contrasts that straddles two great deserts: the Namib (after which it is named) is the oldest desert on the planet, and its sea of red sand lies along the Atlantic coastline, while in the eastern interior lies the Kalahari, a vast and sparsely vegetated savannah that sprawls across the border into neighboring countries.

Over the years, there have been a number of cultural influences that have all added to the unique atmosphere of Namibia. At various times Germany, Great Britain and South Africa have all governed the territory, but it was with the eventual independence of Namibia in 1990 that the country was able to develop its multi-cultural character and reinvent itself. There is a rich and colorful uniquely African vigor that now freely blends in with the European influences on architecture, food, customs and art, all merging to create a distinctive Namibian character.

All this is in interesting juxtaposition with the expansive landscapes that surround the cities. The many national parks and game reserves boast a huge variety of wildlife in a kaleidoscope of differing environments: giraffes amble across the blinding white saltpans of Etosha National Park, gemsbok plunge headlong up impossibly steep red dunes at Sossusvlei, and seals in their many thousands colonize lonely beachheads along the Skeleton Coast. Astonishing contrasts are everywhere for the visitor to savor, enjoy and photograph.

Namibia has rapidly become a well-known safari destination with a difference, famed for its remote and intimate lodges, interaction with the indigenous people as well as the wildlife, and offering unique opportunities to become involved with the cultural heritage of all its peoples.

Overview

Namibia is a country of startling contrasts that straddles two great deserts: the Namib (after which it is named) is the oldest desert on the planet, and its sea of red sand lies along the Atlantic coastline, while in the eastern interior lies the Kalahari, a vast and sparsely vegetated savannah that sprawls across the border into neighboring countries.

People

Namibians are of diverse ethnic origins. The principal groups are the Ovambo, Kavango, Herero/Himba, Damara, Colored (including Rehoboth Baster), White (Afrikaner, German, English, and Portuguese), Nama, Caprivian, San, and Tswana.

The Ovambo make up about half of Namibia’s people. The Ovambo, Kavango, and East Caprivian peoples, who occupy the relatively well-watered and wooded northern part of the country, are settled farmers and herders. Historically, these groups had little contact with the Nama, Damara, and Herero, who roamed the central part of the country vying for control of sparse pastureland. German colonial rule destroyed the war-making ability of the tribes but did not erase their identities or traditional organization. People from the more populous north have settled throughout the country in recent decades as a result of urbanization, industrialization, and the demand for labor.

Language

The official language is English. German and Afrikaans are also widely used and there are numerous African languages and dialects which fall into two main groups, namely Bantu and Khoisan

History

Namibia was, due to its barren coastline, colonized by the Europeans as one of the last African countries. It was the German merchant and adventurer Adolf Luederitz from Bremen, who bought in 1883 the bay of Angra Pequeña from Nama Chief Joseph Fredericks from Bethanien. He also bought the area in a 20 mile radius around the bay. The purchase price was then 10 000 Reichsmark and 260 guns. The bay is today known as Luederitz Bay.

In 1884, the German Empire took over the “protection” of Luederitz’ possessions. A tiny corps of the “Kaiserliche Marine” landed in the bay and raised the German flag. From 1884 to 1914, Namibia was a “German Protectorate” called “Deutsch Südwestafrika”. The German Empire sent the “Deutsche Schutztruppe” (Protection Corps). It had the task to transform the area between Oranje and Kunene into a German colony. German settlers were supposed to buy land and freely and safely establish farms. For this purpose the indigenous population, mainly Nama and Herero, was to be subjugated.
 
Initially the colonization proceeded more or less peacefully. Treaties were negotiated with Nama and Herero representatives. In these “Protection Agreements” both groups were assured of military support. In return, the Nama and Herero agreed to let German settlers take possession of their land and use it agriculturally.

Eventually the Herero and the Nama realized that the German colonization threatened their subsistence and their traditional way of life as free cattle and goat herders so both population groups rose in armed rebellion. These military conflicts lasted until 1908 and resulted in the total defeat of the black population.

At the beginning of the First World War, South Africa occupied the area and in 1920, she was given the country by the League of Nations as a mandate. When this was abolished in 1966 by the UN, South Africa rebelled and the result was many years of military struggle between South Africa and the Namibian liberation movement SWAPO, which was supported by the United Nations. On March 21, 1990 the political independence of Namibia was finally granted and a democratic constitution drawn up. SWAPO won the first free elections and became the strongest party. Its leader Dr. Sam Nujoma became the first Namibian President.

Travel Guide

Currency

The currency in Namibia is the Namibian Dollar (NAM$), which is fixed to and therefore equivalent to the South African Rand (ZAR). The Namibian Dollar and South African Rand are the only legal tender in Namibia and can be used freely to purchase goods and services. The Namibian Dollar, however, is not legal tender in South Africa.

Travelers’ checks and foreign currency can be exchanged at any of the commercial banks, which are well represented throughout the country. Visitors may bring any amount of foreign currency into the country. Further information and assistance can be obtained from any commercial bank in Namibia.

Weather

The climate is typically semi-desert with hot days and cool nights. Midsummer temperatures may rise to over 40 degrees Celsius. Winter days are warm, but dawn temperatures may drop to freezing. Along the coast it is cool with low rainfall and fog prevails from late afternoon until mid-morning.

The rainy season lasts from October to April. The rest of the year is dry and cloudless. Namibia averages 300 days of sunshine a year.

Health Requirements

Malaria is prevalent only in the north of the country.  Malaria prophylaxis is not required in Windhoek, but is suggested for travel to the north.  Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/

Visa Requirements

A passport and visa are normally required.  Bearers of U.S. passports who plan to visit Namibia for tourism for less than 90 days can obtain visas at the port of entry and do not need visas prior to entering the country.  Travelers coming for work or study, whether paid or voluntary, must obtain a work or study permit prior to entering Namibia.  Passports must have at least six months of validity remaining beyond the traveler’s planned date of arrival in Namibia.
All travelers traveling to or from Namibia via South Africa are strongly encouraged to have five or more unstamped visa pages in their passport.  Travelers merely transiting South Africa (those not stopping over or exiting the international terminal in South Africa) should not require visa stamps and may require fewer blank pages for travel.  South Africa and Namibia both require at least two unstamped visa pages – one for the entry stamp and one for exit.  Visitors who do not have enough blank visa pages in their passport risk being denied entry and returned to the U.S. at their own expense.

Credit Cards

Most hotels/lodges, restaurants, travel agencies and the bigger shops will take major credit cards – Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.

Electrical Appliances

220 volts AC, 50hz. Outlets are of the round three-pin type

Water

All water from taps is purified and visitors need have no hesitation in drinking it.  Bottled water is readily available.

Map

A: Alexandria
B: Amboseli National Park
C: Arusha
D: Aswan
E: Bazaruto Island
F: Benguerra Island
G: Botswana
H: Bwindi Impenetrable NP
I: Cairo
J: Cape Town
K: Cape Winelands
L: Central Kalahari Region
M: Chobe National Park
N: Denis Island
O: Desroches Island
P: Drakensburg
Q: Dubai
R: Dubai Beaches
S: Dubai City Center
T: Dubai Desert
U: Dubai Marina
V: Durban
W: Eastern Cape
X: Eastern Cape Safaris
Y: Egypt
Z: Ethiopia
AA: Etosha National Park
AB: Franschhoek
AC: Garden Route
AD: Greater Kruger National Park
AE: Greater Winelands
AF: Hermanus
AG: Hwange National Park
AH: Johannesburg
AI: Jordan
AJ: Kafue National Park
AK: Kampala
AL: Kariba
AM: Kenya
AN: Kigali
AO: Knysna
AP: Kruger National Park
AQ: Kwazulu Natal
AR: La Digue
AS: Lake Manyara NP
AT: Lake Nakuru
AU: Lewa Wildlife Conservation
AV: Linyanti/Savuti Region
AW: Livingstone
AX: Lower Zambezi National Park
AY: Luxor
AZ: Madagascar
BA: Madikwe Game Reserve
BB: Mahé
BC: Maldives
BD: Mana Pools National Park
BE: Masai Mara
BF: Mauritius
BG: Mombasa
BH: Mozambique
BI: Nairobi
BJ: Namibia
BK: Ngorongoro Conservation Area
BL: North Island
BM: Okavango and Moremi GR
BN: Oman
BO: Oudtshoorn
BP: Plettenberg Bay
BQ: Port Elizabeth
BR: Praslin
BS: Queen Elizabeth National Park
BT: Quirimbas Archipelago
BU: Rwanda
BV: Sabi Sands
BW: Samburu National Park
BX: Selous Game Reserve
BY: Serengeti National Park
BZ: Seychelles
CA: Sharm El Sheik
CB: Sheik Zayed Road
CC: Silhouette Island
CD: Skeleton Coast National Park
CE: Sossusvlei
CF: South Africa
CG: South Luangwa
CH: Stellenbosch
CI: Sun City
CJ: Sun City and Surrounds
CK: Swakopmund & Walvis Bay
CL: Tanzania
CM: Tarangire National Park
CN: Timbavati Region
CO: Uganda
CP: Umhlanga
CQ: Victoria Falls
CR: Vilanculos
CS: Volcanoes National Park
CT: Windhoek
CU: Zambia
CV: Zanzibar and Pemba Island

Destinations

Explore the rest of our Namibia destinations:

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This Destination

Namibia

Related Destinations

Alexandria
Amboseli National Park
Arusha
Aswan
Bazaruto Island
Benguerra Island
Botswana
Bwindi Impenetrable NP
Cairo
Cape Town
Cape Winelands
Central Kalahari Region
Chobe National Park
Denis Island
Desroches Island
Drakensburg
Dubai
Dubai Beaches
Dubai City Center
Dubai Desert
Dubai Marina
Durban
Eastern Cape
Eastern Cape Safaris
Egypt
Ethiopia
Etosha National Park
Franschhoek
Garden Route
Greater Kruger National Park
Greater Winelands
Hermanus
Hwange National Park
Johannesburg
Jordan
Kafue National Park
Kampala
Kariba
Kenya
Kigali
Knysna
Kruger National Park
Kwazulu Natal
La Digue
Lake Manyara NP
Lake Nakuru
Lewa Wildlife Conservation
Linyanti/Savuti Region
Livingstone
Lower Zambezi National Park
Luxor
Madagascar
Madikwe Game Reserve
Mahé
Maldives
Mana Pools National Park
Masai Mara
Mauritius
Mombasa
Mozambique
Nairobi
Namibia
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
North Island
Okavango and Moremi GR
Oman
Oudtshoorn
Plettenberg Bay
Port Elizabeth
Praslin
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Quirimbas Archipelago
Rwanda
Sabi Sands
Samburu National Park
Selous Game Reserve
Serengeti National Park
Seychelles
Sharm El Sheik
Sheik Zayed Road
Silhouette Island
Skeleton Coast National Park
Sossusvlei
South Africa
South Luangwa
Stellenbosch
Sun City
Sun City and Surrounds
Swakopmund & Walvis Bay
Tanzania
Tarangire National Park
Timbavati Region
Uganda
Umhlanga
Victoria Falls
Vilanculos
Volcanoes National Park
Windhoek
Zambia
Zanzibar and Pemba Island

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