Namibia’s name is derived from the Namib Desert, which is believed to be the oldest desert in the world. This unique geological feature is renowned for the haunting, pristine quality of its landscape. It is this feature that most characterizes the country and is home to some of the country’s top tourist destinations, notably Sossusvlei, Sandwich Harbor and Skeleton Coast Park.
Far from lifeless and barren, the desert features an unusual variety of desert-adapted flora and fauna, including a large number of endemic plant, bird, reptile and insect species. Many of these species are of particular scientific interest and attract scientists from around the world.
CLIMATE: Namibia has a dry climate typical of a semi-desert country where droughts are frequent. The days are mostly warm to very hot, while the nights are generally cool. Average daytime temperatures in summer range from 20°C to 34°C and average nighttime temperatures in winter range from 0°C to 10°C. There are big differences between the arid desert of the south and the semi-desert areas and the tropical northeast with its abundant summer rains. The best time to visit Namibia is from April to October.
CURRENCY: 1 Namibian dollar = 100 cents. The rand is accepted as legal tender. Traveler’s checks are accepted almost everywhere. Traveler’s checks in German marks, USD or Swiss francs are recommended. Credit cards are generally accepted in most hotels as well as Namibia Wildlife Resorts where MasterCard, Visa (not always Diners Club and Amex) are accepted, Namibian dollars, Rand traveler’s checks and guaranteed bank checks. Credit cards are not accepted for fuel.
ELECTRICITY: 220 volts, 50Hz. The plugs are round 3-pin.
HEALTH: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers over 1 year of age coming from infected areas. Visitors are advised to take pre-arrival precautions against malaria (risk exists from November to June in northern regions such as Ovamboland and the Caprivi Strip, as well as Omaheke and Otjozondjupa and throughout the year throughout the Kavango and Kunene rivers), hepatitis A, polio and typhoid fever. Tap water is safe.
LANGUAGE: English is the official language. In shops, hotels and restaurants, Afrikaans and German are often spoken.
HOLIDAYS: New Year’s Day (January 1); Independence Day (March 21); Good Friday (April 9); Easter Monday (April 12); Labor Day (May 1); Cassinga Day (May 4); Ascension Day (May 20); Africa Day (May 25); Heroes’ Day (August 26); Goodwill Day (October 7); Human Rights Day (December 10); Christmas Day (December 25); Boxing Day (December 26).
SHOPPING: wood carvings; basketball; ceramics; fur coats and jackets, especially Swakara; gold jewelry; individually designed hand-woven rugs and karakul wool rugs; semi-precious stones and diamonds from Namibia; herero dolls
SOCIAL CONVENTIONS: There is a Christian majority. Western customs and courtesies are observed. Business suits are worn in winter; in summer, safari suits are acceptable.
TIME DIFFERENCE: GMT +2 (GMT +1 during April-August)
TIPS: 10 percent of the bill is customary.
DESCRIPTION OF THE TEN BEST ATTRACTIONS:
The capital; a bustling small town with a ‘continental’ feel; many places of interest including the Gibeon Meteor Fountain, the National Art Gallery of Namibia, Tintenpalast, the Namibian Craft Center and the National Botanical Garden; shopping.
Fish River Canyon:
One of the most spectacular geological phenomena in Namibia; contains the hot springs of Ai-Ais, rugged mountainous lands, the Fish River Canyon (the second largest gorge in Africa) and the Huns Mountains with an isolated and otherworldly landscape and an abundance of interesting xerophytic plants; experienced trekkers consider the 4-5 day trail to be one of southern Africa’s top challenges.
Naukluft Park The monumental dunes lie at the end of an erosion channel formed by the Tsauchab River; they are star shaped.
Etosha National Park:
Namibia’s first conservation area and one of the largest game reserves in Africa; its defining feature is the Etosha Pan, a vast shallow depression of approx. 5000 km²; the elephants here are reputed to be the largest in Africa; Of the 114 species of mammals found in the park, several are rare and endangered; bird life is interesting during the rainy season.
Skeleton Coast Park:
An aura of mystery and impenetrability surrounds this park with its many shipwrecks, dense coastal fogs and cold sea breezes; Of special interest are the clay castles of Hoarusib, the salt flats near Agate Mountain, the seal colony at Cabo Frio, and the wrecks along the coast.
Lush riparian forests and seasonal floodplains; some of southern Africa’s top birding spots, especially the Caprivi Game Park; also known for its arts and crafts, for example, pots and baskets with their distinctive beauty and symmetry; shop at Lizauli Traditional Village and a variety of artisan centers; other activities include angling, for example, tiger fishing and wildlife viewing on boat cruises.
The most famous ghost town in Namibia, located in Sperrgebiet, approximately 10 km from Lüderitz; the museum tells the story of this abandoned mining community.
Popular for its old-world charm and laid-back atmosphere; distinctive German colonial character; historic buildings and modern aquarium; renowned for kudu leather shoes.
Cape Cross Seal Colony:
Home to the largest and best known of the 223 Cape fur seal colonies that breed along the coast of South Africa and Namibia; during the November/December breeding season, up to 150,000 seals gather here; off the coast are protected bird islands.
One of the main tourist places in Namibia; a series of waterfalls where the Kunene River drops 60 m over a distance of approximately 1.5 km, dividing into a multitude of channels and forming a myriad of rock pools; it is possible to swim in these pools, but keep an eye out for crocodiles.