WELCOME TO NAMIBIA
Imagine the warmth of the African sunshine, the sound of magnificent wildlife and the quiet tranquillity of the arid open desert plains – this is Namibia. Home to the oldest desert, the highest sand dunes and the largest canyon in Africa, Namibia offers some of the most mesmerising scenery in the world.
We guarantee you will have incredible stories to tell …
Namibia Fast Facts
Size 825,418sq km, slightly more than half the size of Alaska, US. The terrain is mostly high plateau with the Namib Desert along coast and the Kalahari Desert in east. Namibia has a desert climate, it is hot, dry and rainfall is very sparse and erratic. The lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean at 0 m and the highest point is at Konigstein which measures 2,606 m. Namibia is the first country in the world to incorporate the protection of the environment into its constitution. Some 14% of the land is protected, including virtually the entire Namib Desert coastal strip..
South Africa occupied the German colony of South-West Africa during World War I and administered it as a mandate until after World War II, when it annexed the territory. In 1966 the Marxist South-West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) guerrilla group launched a war of independence for the area that was soon named Namibia, but it was not until 1988 that South Africa agreed to end its administration in accordance with a UN peace plan for the entire region. Namibia won its independence in 1990 and has been governed by SWAPO since. Hifikepunye Pohamba was elected president in November 2004 in a landslide victory replacing Sam Nujoma who led the country during its first 14 years of self-rule.
The economy is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Mining accounts for 20% of GDP. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Namibia is the fourth-largest exporter of nonfuel minerals in Africa, the world’s fifth-largest producer of uranium, and the producer of large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver, and tungsten. The mining sector employs only about 3% of the population while about half of the population depends on subsistence agriculture for its livelihood. A high per capita GDP, relative to the region, hides the great inequality of income distribution; nearly one-third of Namibians had annual incomes of less than $1,400 in constant 1994 dollars, according to a 1993 study. The Namibian economy is closely linked to South Africa with the Namibian dollar pegged to the South African rand. Privatization of several enterprises in coming years may stimulate long-run foreign investment. Mining of zinc, copper, and silver and increased fish production led growth in 2003.
Tourism in Namibia is a major industry, contributing N$7.2 billion to the country’s gross domestic product. Annually, nearly one million travelers visit Namibia, with roughly one in three coming from South Africa, then Germany and finally the United Kingdom, Italy and France. The country is among the prime destinations in Africa and is known for ecotourism which features Namibia’s extensive wildlife. Tourism in Namibia also has had a positive impact on resource conservation and rural development. Some 50 communal conservancies have been established across the country, covering 11.8 million hectares of land and resulting in enhanced land management while providing tens of thousands of rural Namibians with much needed income.
Almost 2 million people live in Namibia, it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Life expectancy is around 40 years. Birth rate is on average 4.6 per woman. 21% of the population is believed to have HIV/AIDS. Literacy rate is just over 84%..
The Namibia dollar (symbol: $; code: NAD) has been the currency of Namibia since 1993. It is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or alternatively N$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. It is divided into 100 cents.
The cold Benguela current keeps the coast of the Namib Desert cool, damp and free of rain for most of the year, with a thick coastal fog. Inland, rain falls in summer. Summer temperatures are high while the altitude means that nights are cool. Winter nights can be fairly cold, but days are generally warm and pleasant.
Two separate entities namely Telecom Namibia and Nam Post were established in 1992 following the commercialisation and service delivery systems in Africa. It has an exceptional network design with field-proven and up to standard technology with 24hr management and assistance country wide. Namibia’s cellular operators, Mobile Telecommunications Ltd (MTC) and lately LEO Ltd, provides services for 88 % of Namibia‘s population and covers 70 % of the country’s surface area. MTC and Leo has grown rapidly , expanding its coverage and services in Namibia to more than 70 towns and at least 500 000 customers, and entering into roaming agreements with over 60 countries and a hundred different mobile telecommunication networks. Most European, USA and UK based operators have roaming capability in Namibia. If roaming is to expensive for you, purchasing a local starter pack or hiring a local mobile phone on arrival is a cheaper option.
Namibia has 13 regions: . Zambezi; Erongo; Hardap; Karas; Kavango East/Kavango West; Khomas; Kunene; Ohangwena; Omaheke; Omusati; Oshana; Oshikoto; Otjozondjupa.
The National Flag is a symbol of our struggle for national unity. It symbolises peace, unity and a common loyalty to Namibia. The Flag is rectangular, with the colours arranged diagonally across it. The top left-hand triangle is blue, the centre band red and the bottom right-hand triangle is green. The colours are separated by narrow white bands. On the blue triangle is a golden sun with twelve triangular rays. The rays are separated from the golden centre by a blue ring.
The sun symbolises life and energy. The colour gold represents warmth and the colour of our plains and the Namib Desert.
Blue symbolises the Namibian sky, the Atlantic Ocean, our marine resources and the importance of rain and water.
Red represents the Namibian people, their heroism and their determination to build a future of equal opportunity for all.
White refers to peace and unity.
Green symbolises Namibia’s vegetation and agricultural resources.
- Animal: Oryx
- Bird: Crimson-breasted Shrike
- Flower: Welwitschia
- Motto: “Unity, Liberty, Justice”
English is the official language and is widely spoken. However, the majority of older Namibians (those educated before independence) speak English only as a third language; therefore, the standard is fairly poor. English is more widely spoken in the north, as it was adopted as a medium of instruction earlier than in the south. Older Namibians in the South are more likely to speak Afrikaans or German. Major indigenous languages include Oshiwambo, Otjiherero, Nama, Damara, Rukwangali, various San languages,and Silozi.
Christian 80% to 90% (Lutheran 50% at least) and indigenous beliefs 10% to 20%.
Tap water is potable. However, ensure that you take bottled water with you when travelling to remote rural areas and the bush.
Animals and Plants
Namibia’s landscape is vast and varied. It has seventeen national parks and game reserves within fourteen vegetation zones ranging from several variations of desert vegetation to semi-desert, mopane, mountain, thorn bush, highland, dwarf shrub, camel thorn and mixed tree and shrub savannahs and the forest savannahs and woodlands of the north east. A desert plant that has caused much interest amongst botanists worldwide is the living fossil, Welwitschia mirabilis, endemic to the Namib Desert and one of the oldest plants known to man. Big game: ,Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Buffalo, Cheetah, Leopard, Giraffe, Antelope.
The Namibia electricity supply is 220/240 volts AC. With a few exceptions (in deep rural areas) electricity is available almost everywhere.
There are 29 Airports in Namibia. Ai-ais Airport; Arandis Airport, Arandis; Bagani Airport, Bagani; Eros Airport, Windhoek; Gobabis Airport; Grootfontein Airport; Halali Airport; Hosea Kutako International Airport, Windhoek; J.G.H. Van Der Wath Airport , Keetmanshoop; Karasburg Airport ; Lianshulu Airport, Caprivi; Luderitz Airport, Luderitz; Midgard Airport, Midgard; Mokuti Lodge Airport , Mokuti Lodge; Mount Etjo Lodge Airport, Mount Etjo Lodge; Mpacha Airport, Mpacha; Namutoni Airport, Namutoni; Okaukuejo Airport ; Omega Airport, Omega; Ondangwa Airport; Ongava Game Reserve Airport ; Opuwa Airport; Oranjemund Airport, Oranjemund; Oshakati Airport, Oshakati; Otjiwarongo Airport, Otjiwarongo; Rooikop Airport, Walvis Bay; Rundu Airport, Rundu; Swakopmund Airport, Swakopmund; Terrace Bay Airport , Terrace Bay
Travel by Road and Rail
Namibia’s roads are very good, with primary routes paved, and secondary routes of well-graded gravel. An all-wheel drive vehicle is not necessary except on tertiary roads and the Skeleton Coast. Driving at night is very dangerous because there is a lot of wildlife on the roads. Traffic drives on the left. Namibian roads eat tires. Always check your spare and inspect your tires often. It’s a good idea to purchase the tire insurance that your rental car company might offer, too. Gas stations typically do not accept any form of payment except cash. If you are on the back roads of Namibia, it’s always wise to stop and top-off your tank when you see a service station. Fuel shortages are also common so always be prepared for the possibility of not being able to buy as much gasoline as you may like.
The national railway company of Namibia, TransNamib, operates trains (and buses) to destinations all over Namibia via their StarLine passenger service. The StarLine scheduled service conveys passengers via special coaches hooked on the back of freight trains. These passenger coaches offer comfortable airline-style seating with air-conditioning and (sometimes) video entertainment. Vending machines provide refreshments on long journeys.
Foreign nationals from the following countries/territories do not require a visa to visit Namibia: Angola, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Singapore, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Zambia and Zimbabwe. All visitors require a passport valid for at least 6 months after date of entry into Namibia.
You need a return or onward AIRticket when you fly to Namibia; if you don’t have one the airline will not take you there (Air Berlin will inform you about this at check in time!). Saying you will take the bus to South Africa will not do. They will not let you in if you don’t have an address where you are going, so be sure to have one. Always verify the dates stamped into your passport, because there have been cases where corrupt officers stamp wrong dates to fine people for overstaying when they leave, and these fines are huge.
Health and safety
The HIV infection rate in Namibia is about 25%. Namibia’s medical system is modern and capable of attending to whatever needs you may have. Staff are well trained and so HIV transmission in hospitals is not an issue. This applies to government and private hospitals alike, though line-ups are often shorter at private hospitals, and there have been cases of incorrect diagnosis in government hospitals. The northern part of Namibia is in a malaria-risk zone, so consult a doctor before leaving, and take appropriate malaria precautions when travelling in these areas.
Namibia is a peaceful country and is not involved in any wars. With the end of the Angolan civil war in May 2002, the violence that spilled over into northeastern Namibia is no longer an issue. Namibia does, however, have a relatively high crime rate. Be careful around ATMs. For men, it is not prudent to walk or ride taxis alone in Windhoek or Oshakati after midnight. For women, it is not prudent after 9 p.m. Pickpockets can be a problem. Lately, there are many armed robberies reported; in most cases, tourists get robbed of belongings carried with them in a bag. For home security, electric fences are installed in almost every house in Windhoek
Some useful information on Travelling in Namibia
Credit Cards: Very important: Please never leave your credit card out of sight, under no circumstances.
Cash withdrawal: Visa and MasterCard credit cards are generally accepted. No Credit cards are accepted at petrol filling stations.
Very important: Please never accept any help from strangers
B most banks in Namibia are open from 08h30 to 15h30 on Mondays & Fridays, and 09h00 – 15h30 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Saturdays the banks are open from 08h30 to 11h00. Banks are closed on Public Holidays and on Sundays.
Fuelling (gas) stations: accept cash only. Most of the bigger towns have fuelling stations available. When travelling between towns, fill your gas tank at every station, as distances between gas stations are great.
Animals on roads:
- Take special care near animal crossing warning signs or signs warning of the absence of fences. The signs are there for a reason.
- If you see one animal, expect that there are others nearby.
- Use your high beams whenever possible. They will give you more time to spot and react to animals in the road.
- Slowing down a little gives you and the animal more time to react – Be especially cautious at night
Shopping hours in Namibia
Most major shopping centers and malls operate 7 days a week, but you will find that in the smaller towns and rural areas that shops are closed on a Sunday.
Monday – Saturday: 09:00 to 17:00
Sunday: 09:00 – 14:00
Hitchhikers: It is not suggested that you pick up hitchhikers on any road in Botswana.
Stolen Items: Should you be so unfortunate as to have a personal item stolen from your person or vehicle, please report to the nearest police station, where you will receive a claim number, and which can be used for insurance purposes.
Useful telephone numbers
Namibia Police Emergency +264 (61) 10111
City Police – Crime Prevention Unit (24 hrs) +264 (61) 290 2239 / 290 2018
City Police – Fire Brigade (ambulance, accidents and injuries) +264 (61) 211 111A City Police – Traffic Division
Crime Stoppers – (anonymous information to police) +264 (61) 254 299
Aeromed +264 (61)249 777 / 230 505
MedRescue + 264 (61) 230 505/6/7
Medi-Clinic Windhoek +264 (61) 222 687
Windhoek Central Hospital +264 (61) 203 9111
Roman Catholic Hospital +264 (61) 237 237
Rhino Park Private Hospital (day hospital only-no casualties) +264 (61) 225 434
Health & Safety tips on your tour in Namibia
Namibia is renowned for its warm sunny climate, even during winter. Visitors should wear a waterproof SPF sunscreen of at least 20 for the body and 30 for the face. Children and those with fair skin should wear SPF50 and hat especially between 11am and 4pm, reapplying frequently, especially after swimming. Sunglasses are also recommended as the African sun glare is also strong. Even on days when there is cloud cover, the same precautions should be taken, as the sun’s rays are magnified through the cloud. There’s no point in getting badly sunburned and then not enjoying your holiday to the fullest.
Generally out in the early spring can be found in long grasses and trees. They may carry tick-bite fever, however it is easily treated. To help protect yourself, wear long trousers tucked into white socks, making the ticks more visible, and a hat to protect against ticks falling from trees. Always check your clothing and body for ticks, especially the legs, behind the knees, groin area, as well as the scalp and behind the ears.
Avoid drinking or swimming in stagnant water that is not flowing or inhabited by fresh water snails.