Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana and Zimbabwe to the east, and South Africa to the south and east. At 825,418 km2, Namibia is triple the size of Great Britain and has a very low population density of 2.5 inhabitants per square kilometre. The main reason for this being the harsh desert and semi-desert conditions and the resultant scarcity of surface water.
The Namibian landscape consists generally of five geographical areas, each with characteristic abiotic conditions and vegetation with some variation within and overlap between them: the Central Plateau, the Namib Desert, the Escarpment, the Bushveld, and the Kalahari Desert. Although the climate is generally extremely dry, there are a few exceptions. The cold, north-flowing Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean accounts for some of the low precipitation. The Namib Desert, in the west, stretches from the north of South Africa up to Angola and is characterized by huge expanses of sand dunes in its central part. In the north and south it has predominately gravel fields. Inland the desert meets the ‘Escarpment', a mountain wall of up to 2000 metres. Namibia's highest mountain is the Brandberg at 2573 metres. The Escarpment gives way to the Central Plateau where the majority of Namibia's towns and villages lie, including it's capital Windhoek. Further to the east lies the Kalahri Basin, which reaches heights of 1000 metres in places. Another distinct geographical area, is the north-east in the relatively rainy Kavango and Caprivi region. It is flat and covered with dense bushveld.
The time in Namibia is GMT + 1 hour.
Half of all Namibians speak Oshiwambo as their first language and Afrilkaans is the most widely understood language in the country. Since independence in 1990 English is now the official language and all younger Namibians will speak good English. We do recommend that you take a pocket phrase book and learn some basics in Afrikaans such as common greetings.
Namibia's climate is typical of semi-desert terrain, hot days and cool nights. The coastal regions are cooled by the cold Benguela current, causing fog and inhibiting rainfall. With 300 days of sunshine on average per year, Namibia is truly a sunny place. Only during the summer months from November to the end of March does rain occur, mostly as heavy thunderstorms. Winter is from May to September with wonderful warm days which are contrasted by very cold nights, when temperatures often drop close to freezing.
The unit of currency in Namibia is the Namibian Dollar. For up to date exchange rates visit: www.xe.com
It is not necessary to purchase local currency prior to travel. Sterling, euros and US dollars are readily exchanged in Windhoek. We suggest you carry your travel money in the form of cash as it can be time consuming to change travellers cheques. Additionally, you will be able to get currency from bank ATM's in Windhoek and in Swakopmund. Credit cards can be used to purchase goods and services and it is a good idea to carry one in case of an emergency.
UK, USA, Canadian, Australian and most (but not all) EU passport holders do not require a visa for Namibia. A passport with at least 6 months remaining validity is required.
Be aware that many of our Southern African trips cross several borders.
*Important Note: If travelling to Victoria Falls, please check your itinerary to see if your accommodation is the town of Victoria Falls which is in Zimbabwe, or in the town of Livingstone which is in Zambia. If you visit the falls (on the border) and wish to cross the bridge to the other side you will require a visa for both countries. The UNIVISA (for Zimbabwe and Zambia) is usually the best option.
You should attend your own doctor and dentist for a check-up. Your doctor will have access to the most up to date information on the required vaccinations for the country you are visiting. In general we recommend vaccinations against the following: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, & Hepatitis ‘A'.
A very good online resource is the NHS travel website at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Additional Sources of Information
Namibia Insight Guide. Apa
Lonely Planet Namibia.
Namibia - The Bradt Travel Guide. Chris McIntyre
Namibia Handbook: The Travel Guide. Sebastian Ballard and Nick Santcross
Namibia (Footprint Travel Guide Series). Lizzie Williams
Namibia: ITMB Publishing.
Namibia: Reise Know-How Verlag 1:1,250,000
Namibia (Globetrotter Travel Map). 1:2,000,000. New Holland Publishers Ltd