The Ultimate Namibia Travel Guide

Wide open spaces, friendly people, breathtaking wildlife, enormous red dunes, ghost towns and more stars than you could imagine – here’s our Ultimate Namibia Travel Guide.    

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Namibia’s total population of 2.1 million people covers a vast 825,615 km2 – that is only 2.5 people per km2. This stat has three consequences: (1) wide open roads – perfect for an African road trip, (2) wide open spaces – perfect for photographing the stunning landscape and (3) friendly people – because strangers are rare commodities.

Though Namibia is famous for its amazing wildlife and  its gargantuan red desert dunes, there is so much more to it. Find out what awaits when you go venture off the beaten path and go on an African adventure beyond safaris, sun hats and sand dunes. And when night falls, Namibia has you covered whether you dream of sleeping under the stars in the middle of nowhere or glamping in 5-star luxury. (Check out these three videos of Namibia if you are not quite convinced you need to pack your bags yet).


In this Guide:

  • Our Top 10: Things to Do and See in Namibia
  • Essentials: Everything you need to know before you go
  • FAQ’s: Your questions answered (updated regularly)
  • Useful Links: For additional research and booking
  • PLUS: Download our FREE Namibia Travel Guide

Download this post as an eBook (it’s Free)!

Want to save this information for later? Or even better, take it with you on the road in Namibia? Awesome! We spent (way too many) hours putting together a pretty awesome eBook for you – The Ultimate Namibia Travel Guide

It includes all the information you will find in this guide (our top 10, essential travel tips, FAQ’s and links) as well as a few BONUSES: loads more amazing photos from Namibia, the Namibia border checklist, a detailed itinerary for Northern Namibia and a detailed budget for a self-drive safari.


Our Top 10

1. Etosha National Park

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Etosha National Park (located in Northern Namibia) is a 22,000 km2 stretch of untouched beauty, abundant wildlife, wide open plains, big stormy skies and close encounters at campsite waterholes. Look forward to sunrise and sunset game drives, midday lazing around the pool and evenings relaxing around the waterhole watching the night time activity.

 More information: Want to see more amazing photos from Etosha? Here are 20 Breathtaking Photos Of Wild Animals In Etosha National Park that will definitely have you adding it to your bucket list.

2. Sossusvlei

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Sossusvlei (located in the Southern part of the Namib Desert) is a magical landscape. Featuring some of the largest dunes in the world surrounding the famous Dooie Vlei – a clay pan dotted by the blackened skeletons of dead camel thorn trees.

 More information: Be transported to another world in this photo essay of Sossusvlei’s gargantuan red desert dunes, families of dead camel thorn trees frozen in cracked, white clay and sprinkles of life. Magic >>> Sossusvlei : A Collection Of Photos From Another World

3. Fish River Canyon

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Photo credit: Holes in my soles

The Fish River Canyon (located in the South of Namibia – close to the South African border) is the largest canyon in Africa. It features a ravine measuring 160km in length which stretches to 27 km wide and 550 meters deep in places. The Fish River Canyon hiking trail is the perfect way to see this spectacular sight. The epic trail stretches 88km along the Fish River and ends at Ai Ais. It takes 5 days to complete and will test your limits (with great reward).

4. Skeleton Coast

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The wreck of Eduard Bohlen by George Steinmetz – National Geographic Stock

The Skeleton Coast, located in the Northern part of the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia and south of Angola, is an inhospitable stretch of coastline covering 16,000km2. Deriving its name from the fact that many a ship has run a ground here due to thick ocean fog (caused by the upwelling of the cold Benguela current), rocky coastal shallows, strong winds and heavy surf. It has also resulted in this section of surf becoming part of the pro-surfer bucket list.

5. Kolmanskop

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Kolmanskop, located 10km outside the coastal town of Luderitz in Southern Namibia, is a real ghost town. Once a thriving diamond town, the opulent architecture was abandoned when the diamonds dried up. Nature ran its course and encroached – leaving all the buildings knee-deep in sand.

 More information: Once a thriving diamond town, now a ghost town being swallowed by the desert. Take an eery walk through Kolmanskop as the Namib desert encroaches.

6. Desert Animals

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Gemsbok Herd by Michael Poliza

Seeing gemsbok and other antelope in the desert might be somewhat common place, but in the dry season desert elephant and even desert lions can be spotted along the Hoanib River.

7. Spitzkoppe

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Spitzkoppe, located in central Namibia just off the B2 between Swakopmund and Okahandja, is a group of bald granite peaks believed to be more than 700 years old. Rising from the vast nothingness of the Namib desert, this is the perfect spot to do some stargazing, rock climbing and hiking.

 More information: We camped here for two nights in December 2014 and absolutely loved it. Find out why we think Spitzkoppe is the Best Campsite In Namibia.

8. The Caprivi Strip

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Photo credit: Travel News Namibia

The Caprivi Strip, located in the far North of Namibia, is a narrow protrusion of Namibia eastwards. The strip is the easiest access route from Namibia to the Victoria Falls and Botswana’s Chobe National Park and is also considered one of the top 10 birdwatching destinations in Africa. Besides birds, expects to see hippos, crocodiles, lions, giraffes, waterbuck, and antelopes.

9. Epupa Falls

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Photo credit: Trek Earth

Epupa Falls, located in the far North of Namibia, creates the border between Namibia and Angola. The river is 0.5 km wide, has series of waterfalls (spread over 1.5 km).

10. Twyfelfontein

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Twyfelfontein, located in the North West of Namibia, is home to one of the largest concentrations of rock petroglyphs in Africa and was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2007. The surrounding area also features the Organ Pipes, the Burnt Mountain, the Doros crater, and the Petrified Forest.

 More information: Though we found the Organ Pipes and Burnt Mountain somewhat disappointing (especially after driving there at 5km/h due to bad corrugation), the area surrounding Twyfelfontein was great for experiencing rural life in Namibia. See what else there is to Namibia besides the highlights reel here >>> African Adventures: Beyond Safaris, Sun Hats And Sand Dunes

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Essentials

Getting There

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Either fly to Windhoek or drive from South Africa or Botswana. Due to the fact that Windhoek (Namibia’s capital) is not exactly an airport hub, many visitors decide to fly to Johannesburg or Cape Town instead and then to connect from there.

Fly to Windhoek

Air Namibia flies directly to Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport (located 45 minutes East of Windhoek). There are flights from Cape Town (three times daily) and from Johannesburg (four times daily), with one flight per route going onwards to Frankfurt. Other airlines that service these routes include British Airways and South Africa Airways.

Drive to Namibia

Combine a trip to Namibia with a visit to Cape Town. Rent a car and drive the 18 hours to Windhoek along well maintained roads with great scenery. Break the trip up by spending a night on the West Coast of South Africa or camp at the Fish River Canyon.

 More information: Crossing the border from South Africa into Namibia is really not something to lose sleep over, but we decided to compile a quick Namibia border checklist just in case >>> Namibia Border: A Complete Checklist (Incl. Border Post Times)

Getting Around

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Namibia is a big country with a relatively small population. So public transport is not really an option. For those not brave enough to take Namibia on alone, many overland truck safaris operate here. Most independent travellers, however, opt to rent a car and go on a self-drive safari.

Overland Trucks

Overland truck safaris starting in Windhoek, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Botswana offer the opportunity to see the Namibian landscape from a converted truck, sleeping under the stars in tents and meeting other travelers. This is a great and affordable option for solo travelers.

Self-drive Safari

With the tarred B-roads bisecting the country and many well-maintained C-roads to chose from, Namibia is the ideal location to hit the open road. Most of the major attractions can be reached in normal rental cars but venturing further North and onto Botswana will require a 4×4 vehicle.

 More information: In December 2014 we set off on a self-drive safari through Northern Namibia taking detailed notes on our route, the condition of the roads, distances covered and the cost of fuel. If you are planning to tackle the self-drive option, this is the perfect place to start >>> Self-Drive Safari: Northern Namibia (Detailed Route And Roads)

Daily Budget

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The daily budget for a trip to Namibia will vary greatly based on your mode of transport and type of accommodation but should be in the region of $50 per day per person for a self-drive, camping safari.

Avg Camping Costs

Spitzkoppe Camp: N$120 pp, Aabadi Mountain Camp: N$75 pp, Oppi-Koppo Restcamp: N$80 pp, Okaukuejo Resort: N$462 pcs, Halali Resort: N$440 pcs, Namutoni Resort: N$462 pcs

Key: pp = per person; pcs = per campsite

Avg Food Costs

soda: N$7, ice cream: N$15, beer: N$19, cappuccino: N$22, slice of cake: N$25, breakfast (mid-range): N$50, main meal (mid-range): N$70

More information: On our 19 day/ 6,690km/ self-drive/ camping adventure to Namibia in December 2014 our total cost averaged out at $52 per person per night. This did not include vehicle rental (since we used Adam’s panel van). You can see the exact breakdown of these costs here >>> Budget Namibia: Typical Costs And Saving Tips For A Self-Drive Safari Through Namibia

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FAQ’s

Do I need a visa?

Entry to Namibia is visa-free for 90 days for the citizens of many countries – to see the full list click here. And for more entry requirements, read our post about the Namibian Border.

When is the best time to go?

The best time to visit Namibia is between May and October. These dry, winter months are ideal for game viewing since animals gather at campsite waterholes in their hundreds. Though the night time temperature can drop quite low, day time temperatures are mild (and definitely more pleasant that the heat of summer).

What is the internet like in Namibia?

A local sim card and data can be purchased at many of the convenience stores in major centres. However connectivity once outside of major centres was very bad. Free wifi is available at coffee shops/ restaurants in major centres. Occasionally (but not often) wifi was available at campsites/ road side restaurants/ lodges but was so slow that it was not worth the hassle.

Should I bring currency or are ATM’s freely available?

The local currency, the Namibian Dollar, is pegged to the South African Rand. As such the Rand will be accepted for payment everywhere in Namibia (though change is given Namibian Dollars). Currency exchanges and ATM‘s are available in all major centres and accepted Visa/ Mastercard/ etc. It is advisable to always keep a fair amount of cash on hand – especially since many of the small town petrol stations only accept cash.

Is Namibia safe?

Namibia is definitely one of the safest places in Africa to visit. Sticking to well-traveled routes and obeying the rules (of both the road and the game reserve) will generally ensure a hassle-free visit. There are of course some risks to be aware of:

  • in the far North and along the Caprivi strip: be aware of some ordnance left over from Namibia’s war of independence – it is advisable to stick to main roads.
  • in Windhoek (the capital): as is always the case in major city centres, street/ petty crimes are higher – it is advisable to be aware of people around you and to keep car windows/ doors shut when driving through.
  • in game reserves: the warning signs are there for a reason – don’t get out your car when warned not to do so – animals can often be hidden in plain sight and might be startled. Obviously don’t feed animals (well it seems obvious to me). Stick to the speed limit in game reserves – it might feel slow but there is nothing as heartbreaking as hitting an animal.
  • in campsites: check shoes and sleeping bags for snakes and scorpions.

Is malaria a risk?

Most of the country is malaria free, with the exception of the far north and Caprivi. According to Fit for Travel: “Malaria risk is present throughout the year in the Kunene River, Caprivi and Kavango regions. There is a high risk of malaria during November to June in the following regions: Ohangwena, Omaheke, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto and Otjozondjupa. There is very low risk of malaria an all other areas of Namibia throughout the year.”

Questions

Do you have a question we have not answered here? Then please send it to us and we will do our best to answer it (or at least point you in the right direction). Drop us a mail or reach out on social media and we will do our best to get back to you.

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Links

Plan Your Trip

  • Namibia Tourism – The official website of the Namibia Tourism Board. Check out their suggested tourism routes – we loosely followed the Arid Eden Route’s Welwitchia Experience on the way up to Etosha.
  • Open Africa – A social enterprise that “establishes tourism routes that offer travellers authentic experiences while generating income for local businesses in rural Africa”. We love that they provide an opportunity to hang out with real locals and at the same time tread lightly. Use their “Routes” section to book accommodation/ experiences on your self-drive safari on any of the Namibia Tourism route (above).
  • Etosha National Park – The official website for the park – filled with information about accommodation and wildlife. Also be sure to have a look at their free downloadable maps.

Book Flights

  • Air Namibia – Namibia’s official airline carrier, flying from Windhoek to Cape Town and Johannesburg daily (one flight onwards to Frankfurt) as well as regular flights to Luanda (Angola), Maun (Botswana), Victoria Falls, (Zimbabwe), Lusaka (Zambia), Accra (Ghana) and Harare (Zimbabwe).

Get Travel Insurance

  • World Nomads – Never ever make the mistake of not getting travel insurance. We have spent quite a bit of time researching all the option and have found that World Nomads offer the best rates and great service when things do go wrong. Plus the ability to get and edit insurance online in seconds is a major plus.

Book Accommodation

  • Namibia Wildlife Resorts – NWR (owned and managed by the Namibian government) is the official booking site for many of the resorts in some of the best locations in Namibia’s parks. We camped at Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni (what they term “classic” camps) and took some awesome photos of wild animals.
  • Airbnb – we always love to live like locals, so we booked a great apartment in Swakopmund on Airbnb when we attended our friend’s wedding. Swakopmund is a small town and easy to walk around.

If you are new to Airbnb, click this link to sign up and receive $25 travel credit.

  • Spitzkoppe Campsites – Arguably the best campsites in Namibia – well we thought so at least. Such a spectacular setting with the best stars we have ever seen. Read our blog post to see some of the great photos we took there. And if you feel like glamping instead of camping, also check out Spitzkoppe Mountain Camp.
  • Aabadi Mountain Camp – Our campsite close to Twyfelfontein. We loved the outdoor shower built around a tree, manually fired up by lighting the fire underneath the hot water.
  • Oppi Koppi Rest Camp – Our campsite close to Kamanjab. This was the first spot we could connect to WIFI – need I say more ***heaven*** Located very close to the Galton Gate entrance to Etosha, this is a good spot to restock before heading into the park.
  • Onguma Tented Camp – We were treated to two nights in the luxurious Onguma Tented Camp after a few too many days of camping and can highly recommend this experience. Don’t click here if you don’t want to feel jealous.

Buy Prints

  • Rabinowitz Photography – All the photos on Love Love Travel (except where expressly credited to someone else) were taken by us – well mostly by Adam. Adam is a fine art photographer and exhibits his work in South Africa. If you would like to buy any of his print, please have a look at his website. Framed prints can be delivered to major centres in South Africa, whereas unframed prints are shipped in rolls internationally.

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Share This

We hope you loved this Namibia Travel Guide. We loved putting it together and can’t wait to update it on our next trip to Namibia.

Hopefully next time we will get to stop off at the Fish River Canyon, make it to the far North to meet Himba, swim in the shadow of the Epupa Falls, photograph desert animals in the Hoanib River bed, 4×4 over the Skeleton Coast and sneak into Botswana (legally) via the Caprivi Strip.

In the meantime, we would love it if you shared this post.

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