As with so many other destinations, there are quite a few things that we wished we had known before traveling to Namibia. We found that most of what we had heard about Namibia was actually correct. Even so, we still encountered a few surprises along the dusty gravel roads. Therefore, we have gathered everything you need to know for your trip. Below you will find 11 things that are good to know before traveling to Namibia.
#1 Namibia is not a cheap country to visit
Wherever you go on a road trip it always tends to be a pricey type of vacation. But we were actually a bit surprised by the prices in Namibia and that it is not as cheap as we first thought. Even so, it has been one of our favorite destinations to visit throughout our travels. And it is not like it is outrageously expensive, but you should set aside a good amount of money for your trip to Namibia.
#2 You can drink water from the tap
This one might be quite obvious, but you can actually drink water from the tap in Namibia. However, we did not drink tap water in Namibia. This was because of a combination of 2 things. 1) the water can be limited in Namibia and 2) we were afraid of stomach bugs, as we were camping the whole time. Nevertheless, we heard from both locals and other campers that the tap water was okay to drink.
#3 Pick the right season for your visit
The seasons change a lot in Namibia. This means that there are some seasons which are better to travel in than others. The best month to visit this stunning country is around September and October. This is the dry season which means no mosquitoes and therefore no malaria, as well as the wildlife viewings tend to be very good. But there is also a downside, as it is the most popular season to visit Namibia. Crowds can therefore be huge, and the prices tend to be at their highest.
May, June, July, and August are also some good months to visit Namibia. In the first two, you will find significantly fewer tourists, whereas the last two tend to be much colder. But when it comes to coldness, the nights are always cold in Namibia no matter which month you visit.
From November to April, it is the wet season in Namibia and therefore not ideal for a road trip in Namibia. First of all, the temperatures are unbearable reaching up to 45 or 50 Celsius degrees. Another thing to keep in mind is that the roads might get flooded when it rains. This is especially important to keep in mind as many car rentals do not allow for the cars to drive in the water – making a road trip a no-go.
#4 Driving in Namibia
You will spend a lot of your time in Namibia on the roads. We were a bit scared when we arrived in Namibia, as we almost only heard horror stories of people getting stuck and blowing tires. Most of the roads are gravel but definitely not as bad as we had heard. If you drive according to the conditions and adhere to the speed limits, you should not worry about driving in Namibia.
Another thing to remember is that they drive on the left side of the road in Namibia. But this is something that you get used to quite fast.
Lastly, we would recommend you print out your Google Maps directions for your road trip in Namibia. We had a GPS in the car but actually used the printed-out directions more, as the GPS did not have every destination.
#5 Do not be afraid to travel to Namibia
When we told family and friends that we were traveling to Namibia a lot of them asked whether it was safe. We definitely thought about it not being safe, but you can never really know before you have been there in real life. But Namibia is actually one of the safest African countries and there isn’t really anything to worry about. We felt very safe in Namibia and did not experience anything sketchy. Of course, you should use common sense and be careful with your belongings, especially when you leave your car and campsites. Other than that, you should not be worried about your safety in Namibia.
#6 Limited use of water and electricity
Water and electricity may be limited throughout Namibia. This is especially the case when you are road-tripping and staying at campsites. Therefore, you may encounter some camps where you are only allowed to charge one thing at a time if it is even possible to charge anything at all. Additionally, the showers often work on solar power. This means that the temperatures of the water might vary a lot. And in some places, you may be unlucky that water simply isn’t available. Consequently, power banks and some deodorants are live savers in Namibia.
#7 Travel planning is necessary
Namibia is a big country, and the distances can be huge. We would therefore recommend you do some research before your trip. Our 2-week travel itinerary is perfect if you want some inspiration or simply do not want to do the dirty work.
Travel planning is also necessary when it comes to accommodations. We recommend you book well in advance, as everything tends to be fully booked for months. We experienced that the campsites got booked very fast, and we were lucky to even find some campsites that were not fully booked.
#8 Do not drive between sunset and sunrise
Driving in the dark is not recommended in Namibia due to the wild animals. They tend to roam around in the dark – especially by the roads, and you definitely do not want to meet an elephant in the dark. Most of the rental companies in Namibia do not allow you to drive at night, so that might be as simple as that.
#9 A 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended
The number of paved roads in Namibia is very few and there is far between them. In order for you to travel around Namibia and visit some of the most incredible highlights of the country, you will need a 4-wheel drive. This will make your visit to Twyfelfontein, Etosha National Park, and the other attractions in Namibia way more comfortable and less risky.
#10 Wi-Fi and mobile network coverage come and goes
When you are traveling around Namibia you are really able to disconnect from the rest of the world, as the mobile coverage is very limited throughout the country. Additionally, you shouldn’t expect to have internet access every day. If you are lucky, you might find some in the common areas of campsites. But when you get it, it is often slow and unreliable. We bought a sim card during our road trip in Namibia but would not recommend you do the same, as there literally was not any data during most of our trip.
#11 Do not forget to complete your declaration
The last thing for you to know before going to Namibia is not to forget to fill out your declaration. When you arrive at the airport you will be asked to fill out a form before you are allowed in the country. In this declaration, you must fill in how much money you intend to use (everything over 100.000 NAD will cause extra questions at the counter). You also must know a physical address in Namibia, as well as the name of a contact person and their information. Luckily for us, we had our rental agreement at hand and could use their information. But now you know – it is a good idea to have these types of information at hand at the airport.