The land area of Namibia is slightly over 800.000 km2 (twice the size of Germany), making it a large country to travel in. Most of the highlights of Namibia are spread out all over the country and in order to see the main attractions, one has to drive long distances. Around 80% of the roads in Namibia are either hard gravel roads, sand roads or salt roads, making fast driving not as safe as your normal highway roads in some western countries. The maximum advisable speed on these roads is 80 km/hour.
• NETWORK IS LIMITED THROUGHOUT MOST OF THE COUNTRY
MTC is the largest mobile service provider in Namibia, operating on the GSM 900/1800 frequency, which is compatible with Europe and Australia but not with North America (GSM 1900) or Japan. The other provider is Telecom Namibia.
Namibia has comprehensive coverage across the country, although in reality it is rather hard to get a signal outside the major towns and along the major highways. The more remote you are, the less likely you will get coverage.
Both providers offer prepaid services. For visitors to the country, you are better off paying a one-off SIM-card fee then buying prepaid vouchers at the ubiquitous stores across Namibia.
• INTERNET ACCESS
Internet access is firmly established and widespread in Namibia, and connection speeds are fairly stable. There is also an increasing number of wi-fi- hotspots in the country and most hotels, lodges and guesthouses offer wi-fi internet access for their guests.
While on the road, we would recommend making sure your phone is stocked up with audiobooks, podcasts and some epic road tunes to get you through the many, many hours you will be spending on the road.
• MONEY MATTERS
Both Namibia and South Africa are part of the Common Monetary Area, which means that the Namibian Dollar (NAD) and the South African Rand (ZAR) are valued 1:1. If you are traveling to both countries, you can freely use both NAD and ZAR in Namibia, but the NAD cannot be used in South Africa. Also if you are travelling to Botswana in combination with Namibia, it will be difficult to exchange NAD into Botswana Pula.
While paying with credit cards is possible in many place in Namibia, it is advisable to carry enough cash with you. It is not always possible to rely on your bank card to pay as many smaller campsites, fuel stations or restaurants have no credit card facilities.
• TIPPING CULTURE
In Namibia, as in much of the rest of the world, tipping is always voluntary, and should depend on the quality of service received. This said, we would encourage visitors to tip in appreciation of good service, but please keep in mind the importance and extent of the work someone is doing for you.
Before thinking about the amount or how to tip, think about who to tip. Many people work to make your travel a success, including the guides, the game rangers, the back-of-house team and the camp manager. A
With the above in mind, 10% tip is customary in restaurants. Elsewhere, we would recommend the following rule of thumb:
To your guide or game-ranger: N$/ZAR40–50 per guest per half-day activity (morning or afternoon excursion), or N$/ZAR80–100 for a full-day excursion
To the lodge staff: N$/ZAR40–50 per guest per day
• WATER MATTERS
Most of the water in Namibia is borehole water often pumped from around 100 metres deep. This water is fine for human consumption, although sometimes it does have a special taste to it. In certain areas like Etosha and Swakopmund the water can have a very brackish (salty) taste. If your coffee tastes slightly different than what you are used to, it is due to the water. If you are in doubt as to the drinking quality of the tap water, ask your accommodation if it is drinkable.
Please bear in mind that Namibia is a desert country. Turn off the tap, do not take long showers, and in general try to conserve water.
• WEATHER CONDITIONS
When travelling in Namibia, you can expect some typical desert weather conditions. It can get very hot in during the day and very cold at night. When planning your activities, make sure you take the weather patterns into account. Due to the dryness of the weather, be prepared for dry skin, lips, and hair.
WHAT TO BRING
• Binoculars, camera and a field guide
• Sunscreen, hat and sunglasses to protect you from the extreme sun
• Mosquito repellent, net and prophylaxis for the northern half of the country
• Neutral-coloured, cool material clothing for safari. Note that evenings can get cold so you might consider bringing a buffer jacket.
• Wind and waterproof jacket
• Small beanbag for steadying camera while in safari vehicles
• Travel insurance
• Yellow fever vaccination certificate
• A South African–style adapter for electrical appliances