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Africa Advice: 9 Essential Namibia Travel Tips

Namibia Travel Tips
A giraffe sighting from the car, taken with my telephoto lens through the window

After spending nine days in Namibia this winter, I’ve officially added it my “world’s most underrated destinations” list. If you’re visiting Africa, I highlight recommend it.

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.

Moral of the story, buy this converter or bring a global converter and purchase a converter locally in Namibia.

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.

namibia travel tips
A zebra, as spotted from my vehicle window. Taken with my telephoto lens.

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.

namibia travel tips
Photo: Aromaflage

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.

namibia travel tips
Sandboarding in Namibia

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?

Jessie Festa standing in front of grafitti wall

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  1. Jesper, The Biveros Effect on at 6:24 pm

    We recently came back fr op m a trip to Namibia and South Africa. Two really amazing countries. Namibia really felt safe as you said and it was nice to see the german influence, even had some people who tried to speak German with me – not really successful 🙂

    • Jessie Festa on at 7:58 am

      @Jesper: I was very surprised myself. I’d never known before going for myself!

  2. Chris on at 11:59 am

    Totally agreed about the wine and beer, though there are a few wineries in Namibia now that you can try. Mor expensive and less good than South African wine, but I guess you gotta try it once.

    What were your favorite Namibia travel experiences?

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