Namibia is one of the best destinations in Southern Africa. Namibia is the least known of the Southern African countries, yet her attractions are unparalleled: from the spectacular red dunes of the Namib desert to the wild Skeleton coast, the rugged Etosha National Park to quaint towns rich in culture and history.Namibia is also a thoroughly modern country and its constitution actively supports the sustainable use of natural resources and forward-looking ecosystem management.
November-April is summer in Namibia, when days are generally hot and sunny. Daytime temperatures can rise to 35ºC and night temperatures drop to around 14ºC – 18ºC. The coastal region is cool and dry throughout the year. The rainy season runs from February to March and average rainfall varies from less than 50mm along the coast to 350mm in the central region and 700mm in the far north-eastern region. Winter is from May-October, when days are dry, sunny and mild to warm while evening temperatures drop sharply. Daytime temperatures generally reach 23ºC and can drop to as low as 0ºC – 10ºC at night.
This is the largest conservation area in Namibia, measuring almost 50,000 km2 and incorporating most of the 130 million year old Namib Desert after which Namibia takes its name. Near Sossusvlei, the Sesriem Canyon has been gouged out of rock over the centuries by the Tsauchab River and is now mostly small pools of water on a gravel bed, attracting many birds and animals. To the far south of the park near Lüderitz, one can explore the deserted houses in the ghost town of Kolmanskop and to the west at Swakopmund, one can marvel at the fantastic rock formations of the “Moonlandscape” and visit Sandwich Harbour where the sand dunes meet the sea.
The southern section of the Skeleton Coast Park, which is accessible to the general public, lies between the Ugab and Hoanib Rivers and lures anglers from far and wide to its superb fishing grounds. This is, however, closely monitored by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Access to the protected northern area of this park, where the coastline is dotted with forgotten shipwrecks, is restricted to fly-in safaris.
Etosha National Park
This is one of the greatest and most special game parks in Africa, if not the world, because of the great variety of game and unique vegetation to be found here. It covers 22,270 km2 of land ranging from dense bush to open plains and in the heart of the park is the vast Etosha Pan (“the place of dry water”) which is parched and shimmering silver-white for most of the year, only filling with water about a metre deep in very rainy periods – whereupon enormous numbers of water fowl flock to breed. Game in Etosha includes several rare and endangered species such as black rhino and black-faced impala.
The northern areas of Damaraland feature some of Namibia’s least explored and rugged remote areas. Here, in one of the few remaining untouched wilderness areas of Africa, it is easy to see why the San people call Namibia “the land that God made in anger”. The emphasis is on the spectacular scenery, dominated by massive flat-topped mountains and crystal blue skies; the uniquely adapted smaller desert creatures and plants; the peace and tranquillity of being in such a remote area; and if you are extremely lucky, catching sight of the desert-dwelling elephant and black rhino that roam the area. Southern Damaraland offers such unique curiosities as the mystery of the Petrified Forest; the incredible collection of Bushman rock engravings at Twyfelfontein; the massive Vingerklip (Rock Finger); the Burnt Mountain of volcanic rock and the nearby formation of perpendicular basalt called the Organ Pipes.
The Caprivi Strip is an exciting destination for the adventurous traveller. With rivers, forests, swamps and waterways, it is a total contrast to the arid grandeur of the rest of Namibia. With its abundant bird life, the area is gaining a reputation as a retreat for bird-watchers and it is also known for game viewing either in open 4×4 vehicles, by river craft or on foot. Among the better known reserves in the Caprivi are the Mahango Game Reserve, the Mudumu National Park and the Mamili National Park. IMPORTANT: Note that at present there is a security risk in this area and travel to the Caprivi Strip is strongly discouraged at this time. Check with your travel agent before travelling anywhere in the region.
Languages spoken include Ovambo, Damara, Kavango and Herero, although the official language is English, with German and Afrikaans being widely spoken.
The unit of currency is the Namibia Dollar (N$), which is divided into 100 cents. This is fixed to the South African Rand. Notes are issued in denominations of N$200, N$100, N$50, N$20 and N$10. Coins are issued as N$5, N$1, 50 cents, 10 cents and 5 cents. The Namibia Dollar and the South African Rand are both legal tender in Namibia.