Namibia travel advice

Cultural travel advice

Silvanus Imongua, known as Pally, grew up in the township of Mondesa, just outside Swakopmund. He first stepped on a sand board at the age of 17 and was hooked. He now runs Ultimate Sandboarding. Here's his Namibia travel advice for visitors to Swakopmund:
"Some people say that township tours are a bit strange, and they refuse to do it because they think it will be like going to a zoo and taking pictures. But Mondesa is lively, people are really nice, and a tour is a way for tourists to give something back to the community. People have to make a living - and if tourism is a way for them to do it, then why not? You get to see all the stuff in the township - the food, the dances, the cultures - it's really good for tourists to see how life is here. It's very different from Swakopmund, where people spend the day indoors and you just don't see anyone outside."

Desert tips

Stephan Brückner created the Wolwedans Camps and Lodge in the NamibRand Nature Reserve with the intention of protecting the reserve, promoting sustainable tourism and training and empowering local employees. Here's his top Namibia travel advice: "I have to say Sossusvlei is completely overrated, and NamibRand is totally underrated. These days there are thousands of people going to Sossusvlei - there's very little privacy and it's hard to find a dune that hasn't got tracks all over it. Other places close by will give you a much more intense nature experience, but people just tend to tick off the big destinations - it's a shame how much they miss en-route."

Photography advice

Paul van Schalkwyk was an award-winning Namibian photographer and filmmaker. He travelled extensively in search of the perfect shot - while getting charged by elephants and rhinos, and braving extreme weather. He sadly died during an air crash in March 2014. Here is the advice he shared with us: "In Namibia, dust jumps onto the camera sensor like you won't believe. Make sure you change your lens in an enclosed space where there's hopefully less dust around. And bring something to clean your sensor, because you are going to use that on a daily basis.
Finally, I find that some of my best works have come from the journey to the destination, so my motto is 'the journey is the destination.' I think that any photographer visiting Namibia would be well rewarded if they keep that in mind. Once you start tuning into the surroundings, it's amazing what you can actually capture."

Shopping tips

Award-winning travel writer Emma Gregg shares her advice for shopping in Namibia:
"You're bound to feel inspired - so take a good camera and leave space in your luggage for souvenirs such as handmade textiles, carvings, baskets and bowls. The Old Breweries Craft Centre in Windhoek is a good place to browse, and the streetside craft market in Okahandja isn't bad. Both sell stuff from all over southern Africa (and beyond), so if you'd like something genuinely local, ask the advice of someone in the know."

Health & safety in Namibia

HEALTH

Tap water is perfectly safe to drink almost everywhere - but check with campsites and in extreme north/northwest before using the water there. Most of the country is malaria free, with the exception of the far north and Caprivi. There are plenty of good pharmacies in the main towns, and decent hospital facilities in Windhoek. The food is of high quality and varied. Be careful of temperature extremes: very cold winter nights and extreme heat during day. Keep kids well hydrated, and request a cool box in your vehicle for drinks. Even in cooler temperatures it is easy to burn fast - always cover up, and wear a hat and sunscreen.

SAFETY

Namibia is generally very safe for travelers. Exercise the same precautions as you would back home: don't have valuables on show, and don't walk through the townships at night unless accompanied by a guide. It is safer to call a taxi than hail one on the street - your accommodation should be able to arrange this for you. Avoid driving outside of the towns at night - the roads are not lit and vehicles are in danger of colliding with roaming wildlife.

Our top Namibia Vacation

Namibia self drive safari

Namibia self drive safari

Stunning self-drive safari through north and south Namibia

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If you'd like to chat about Namibia or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Namibia advice from our travelers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Namibia travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
Packing earplugs might just help you sleep when the lions and jackals are conspiring against it!
- Sarah Schmitz
No need to take lots of spare clothing. Clothes washed at night were dry by morning. - Anthony Mayo

Water is drinkable virtually everywhere, so you don't need to keep buying bottles. - Pat Powell

Safari clothes are that dusty green because whatever you wear you will end up that colour if you do any serious traveling in Africa! - Jane Lloyd Francis

If you go during the wintertime, do not forget warm clothes. A woollen cap is not a "gadget", especially in the south. - Denis Robin
Go with the flow! Three-walled, roofless showers may not be what you'd choose at home but campsites with features like this were one of the highlights
- Helen Bray
Talk with the guides - they are a mine of information. - Stuart Sutcliffe

I learned a new method of washing clothes, stamp on them when you are in the shower - environmentally friendly as well. Remember an alarm clock. - Demelza Potter

In the daytime the dry, warm air was wonderful but it dries up your skin very quickly - so do take moisturising cream. - Anson Paul

Take a water bottle - the local water is safe to drink and it means you don't throw away so many plastic bottles. - Alison Templeton

With so many wonderful sights, being able to charge camera batteries is a must. I took a UK three-socket adapter with a short lead and wired up a plug bought in Windhoek on the first day. This enabled the whole group to charge batteries. - Richard House
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: [Page banner: Eric Bauer] [Topbox: hans wakataitea] [Photography advice: Rui Ornelas] [Health & safety: Pete Dominguez] [Review 1 - Sarah Schmitz: Pieterjan Grobler] [Review 2 - Helen Bray: Jorge Láscar]
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