After spending nine days in Namibia this winter, I’ve officially added it my “world’s most underrated destinations” list. Although safe and easy to navigate, it’s important to prepare with some internet research. To help, I give you my top essential Namibia travel tips based on my own personal experience in the country.
1. Bring The Correct Converter
All four of the people on my tour brought the wrong converter. I even brought the one that works for 150+ countries — and it didn’t work in Namibia. I was luckily able to purchase a local converter in the grocery store and use it with my European converter. The other girls in my group who had brought British converters weren’t able to hook theirs up to these converters, and had to purchase car chargers with USB ports and charge up in our vehicle.
2. The Locals Speak English
While many locals speak multiple languages like Afrikaans, tribal languages and German (Namibia has a rich German history and presence, especially in the coastal city of Swakopmund), English is the national language. Locals were easy to understand and communicate with in English outside of the traditional villages.
3. A Telephoto Lens Is Recommended
Even though I didn’t go on safari I was still very happy I brought my telephoto lens, though most visitors do do game drives in Etosha National Park and other reserves. Even if you don’t, this camera lens is helpful for getting close ups of sites like shipwrecks off the Skeleton Coast, flamingos in the world’s largest flamingo breeding ground in Walvis Bay and random animal sightings along the way like ostrich, zebra and baboons.
4. Sunscreen, Lightweight Long Sleeves & Hats Are Uber Essential
You’ll likely be on malaria medication which makes skin sensitive to the sun, and even if you’re not the desert sun is strong. I barely burn and even with sunscreen felt the pain. Bring essential gear to stay covered — I recommend a light scarf shawl — and aloe to soothe burned skin.
5. Mosquito Repellent & After Bite Are Musts
Speaking of protection, while bigger cities like Windhoek and Swakopmund didn’t really pose a thread from mosquito-born diseases, as you go into the bush this will become an issue. I love DEET-free Aromaflage as it’s an all natural perfume and mosquito repellent. I also find After Bite to be the most soothing remedy for itchy bites.
6. The Wine Will Be South African; The Beer Will Be Namibian
I thought because Namibia was so close to South Africa it would have its own local wine; however, I couldn’t find any. Instead, Namibia is proud of its local beer culture. It’s rich — potentially, again, due to the strong German heritage — and brands like Windhoek, Camelthorn and Hansa provide crisp, refreshing brews for the warmer climate.
7. Namibia Is A Great Solo Travel Destination
Namibia has reliable transport, plentiful accommodation (including hostels and a backpacker trail), a solid tourism infrastructure and is relatively safe. To be honest, I felt just as safe as I do back home in New York where I’m from, if not more so. Moreover, because the locals speak English it’s easy to communicate your needs and get assistance.
8. Vaccinations Are Recommended
Check with your local travel doctor, but for the trip I needed a Typhoid booster and malaria pills. If I didn’t already have them I would have also needed Hepatitis A and B boosters. If you’ve been to a Yellow Fever region recently you’ll also need to show your yellow papers to prove you’ve been vaccinated.
9. Bring Antihistamines & Immune Boosters
You’ll likely be bouncing around from coastal towns to desert dune landscapes, inhaling sand and changing climates. My whole group had sinus issues, so make sure you have tissues and antihistamines to combat it. I personally use saline solution to clear out my sinuses in the morning and night. I’d also recommend some immune boosters like Airborne and all-natural ginger candy, always good to have when traveling anywhere as flying, changing time zones and disrupted sleep can wreak havoc on the body. If you wear contact lenses like me, the desert is a smart place to bring eye drops for contact lenses to keep them moist.
Have any Namibia travel tips to add? Please share in the comments below!
Beyond The Big Five: Notes From A South African Safari [Blog Inspiration]
Sands Of Silence: On Safari In Namibia by Peter Hathaway Capstick [Great Reads]
The Unforgettable Photograph: 228 Ideas, Tips, and Secrets for Taking the Best Pictures of Your Life by George Lange [Travel Essentials]