Stories and Traveltips

ID #4944

Travel Tips, Namibia, Southern Africa.

o    Climate. From the south through to the central and eastern areas, the temperature varies from 18-25oC during the day in winter, with cold nights and mornings, when temperatures can drop to below freezing point. Temperatures can exceed 35oC during the day in summer. The rainy season is from October through to March – i.e. it is a summer rainfall region.

In the west, close to the coast, daily temperatures range from 15 to 25oC due to the influence of the cold Benguella current. The weather can vary quite dramatically, with clear blue skies one day and heavy fog the next.

The northern part of the country enjoys a sub-tropical climate with daily temperatures varying from 26oC in winter to 43oC in summer, which is often accompanied by high humidity.

It is advisable to wear sunblock throughout the year and to make sure you have a hat and sunglasses. Pack something warm for the winter evenings and early mornings no matter which part of Namibia you intend to visit.

o    On the Road: Distances between destinations in Namibia are great, and travelling can be very tiring. Please remember to take regular breaks to stay awake and to remain alert.  Road signage is basic, especially on gravel roads. Note the following:

•    Drive on the left-hand side of the road.
•    The speed limit is 120-km per hour.
•    The suggested speed limit on all other roads is 60 to 80-km per hour.
•    Be very cautious when driving on sand or gravel roads. Keep to the left and watch out for sandy borders along the road. If one hits a sandy border at speed, you may overturn the vehicle.  Refrain from over-correcting if the vehicle starts to slide.
•    The wearing of seat belts is compulsory.
•    Avoid driving at night. If unavoidable, drive with your bright lights on whenever there is no oncoming traffic to enable you to see animals, wild or domestic, on or near the road.  Wild animals become more active at sunrise and sunset.
•    In dusty conditions, it is advisable to turn on your lights to be more easily observed by other road users.
•    Under rainy or wet conditions beware of slippery roads. In particular, be cautious on the salt roads in the western coastal region.
•    Tyre pressure plays an important role in determining the roadholding ability of your vehicle. Observe the recommended tyre pressures.
•    Make sure that your spare tyre is inflated and in good condition, that your jack is in working order and that the correct size wheel spanner is included in the kit. This is particularly important in the case of rented vehicles.

o    Border Posts. Thirty border posts are now operational, as follows

•    South Africa: Noordoewer (B1), Oranjemund, Ariamsvlei (B3), Velloorsdrift, Hohlweg and Klein Menasse
•    Botswana: Trans-Kalahari Post, Mohembo and Ngoma
•    Zambia: Katima-Mulilo

In the south: Two border posts are situated at Ariamsvlei/Nakop (B3) and Noordoewer (B1), both of which are manned 24 hours per day.  It is advisable to exercise patience with the officials as they are on duty for very long periods.

In the North: There are two border posts in the north, at Ngoma (Eastern Caprivi) and Mohembo.  They are open from sunrise to sunset. Please ensure that you carry a police clearance certificate if the vehicle is not registered in your name and a letter of authority from the owner.

In the East: The Trans-Kalahari Post is on the B6 at the Botswana border. It is open from 07h00 to 19h00. Note that this always refers to Botswana time. Make sure that you fill up at the border post, as there are no filling stations for approximately 400-km on the Botswana side of the border. Seat belts are compulsory for all passengers in Botswana. Adhere strictly to speed limits and be aware that electronic speed traps are used – even at night.  Ensure that you carry sufficient local currency. In general,

•    It is advisable to adhere strictly to immigration and customs rules. Third Party insurance can be purchased at border posts and will only cost five Pula or R10. Ensure that you have the correct money available, as change is not always available.
•    Documentary proof of ownership and police clearance certificates must be available and should be acquired before departure.
•    CVG (Commercial Vehicle Guarantee). It is required for entry into Zimbabwe and can be obtained from the local traffic department.
•    Arms and Ammunition. They must be declared, even if you are in possession of a South African permit.
•    Declare any electronic equipment, including cameras, camcorders, CD players, etc.
•    If significant purchases are made in Namibia, keep sales slips close to hand. You may be asked for proof of purchase.
•    GST is exempt on certain purchases by foreigners. Ensure you notify the place of purchase.
•    No handguns are permitted into Namibia. Hunting rifles are permitted but only if properly licensed and a permit has been issued in advance. It is not advisable to wait until you get to the border to apply for a permit. It is a lengthy process and can be quite nerve-wracking.
•    No hunting rifles are permitted through Botswana. If carried in Namibia in transit, they must be sealed while travelling through National Parks.
•    Ngoma and Trans-Kalahari Post: No fresh meat, fish or dairy products are allowed into or out of Botswana unless a permit is obtained in advance.
•    Taking a boat through Botswana, either from Namibia, South Africa or Zimbabwe requires a permit. This can be obtained from Gaborone.  Water fares should be obtained before departure.  We suggest you contact either the Botswana High Commission in Windhoek (+264 (61) 22 1914+264 (61) 22 1914 telephone) or Water Affairs Gaborone (+267 374 4372+267 374 4372 telephone, +267 352 2241+267 352 2241 fax).

o    Airports: Chief Hosea Kutako Airport (Windhoek International), Eros, Keetmanshoop, Oranjemund, Ondangwa, Oshakati, Grootfontein, Mpacha, Rundu, Rooikop (Walvis Bay), and Luderitz.

o    Harbours: Luderitz and Walvis Bay

o    Visas: Foreigners must be in possession of a valid passport and a valid visa where required. It must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended date of departure. All foreigners entering Zimbabwe must pay for a visa.  They are payable in $US. Rates and visas are obtainable at the border post. Budget for these extra expenses.

o    Health: Malaria can be a serious, even fatal disease if not treated promptly.  It is preventable. Malaria is endemic in northern Namibia, including Etosha. The Minister of Health declared Grootfontein, Otjinene and Gobabis to be high-risk areas in November 1997. It is recommended that travellers use prophylactics as well as a recognised lotion or spray. Consult your doctor as to the correct prophylactics. Chloroquinone and Proquanil are recommended.  Use a mosquito net at night, especially between 20h00 and 06h00. Nets treated with insecticide further increase protection.

Beware of swimming in rivers.  Apart from crocodiles and hippo, most African rivers also carry the bilharzia pathogen.

Blood in Namibia is only donated by selected volunteers. The Blood Transfusion Service carefully screens all blood and blood products for various transmissible diseases, including hepatitis and AIDS.  All testing procedures are carried out by qualified personnel to standardised, internationally recognised methods and are regularly subjected to strict quality controls. International organisations such as the WHO and the Red Cross recognise the high standard of the service.

o    Currency: The Namibian dollar is not accepted outside Namibia. To visit Victoria Falls you need Zimbabwe dollars. They cannot be purchased outside of Zimbabwe.  These are obtainable from Bureau de Change or banks. Beware of “black market” moneychangers. Botswana only accept Pula, Rands and $US. $US are the best currency for all countries. MasterCard and Visa are generally accepted. However, many vendors and some filling stations in rural areas and in towns will only accept cash.

o    National Parks: Permits are required when travelling to National Parks or Game reserves. Note that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism Offices are only open Monday through Friday from 08h00 to 17h00. Offices in Parks and Reserves are open over weekends.

o    Personal Safety. Remember that tourists in any country can become potential targets. To ensure that your visit is a memorable, happy one, please take the following precautions:

•    Always keep your vehicle locked
•    Do not leave articles visible in the car, and try to keep your vehicle in a secure area.  The use of a “car guard” is advisable.
•    Valuables should be locked away in a safe place
•    Be on the alert for pickpockets or suspicious looking persons
•    Make sure your travel insurance covers valuables
•    Make sure the numbers of your travellers cheques are on your receipt, and that it is kept in a safe place (not with your cheques)
•    Check the expiry date of your credit cards
•    Take out travellers medical insurance
•    When sightseeing, take only the essentials. Leave passports, plane tickets, travellers’ cheques etc in a safety deposit at your hotel.

o    Namibian Standard Time

•    Summer Period: UTC (Universal Co-ordinated Time, which is the same as GMT) +2h00 from the first Sunday of September until the first Sunday in April.
•    Winter Period: UTC +1h00 from the first Sunday in April until the first Sunday in September.
•    Caprivi operates on the same time as Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe throughout the year.

o    General Tips

•    Petrol stations are available throughout Namibia. However, they do not accept credit cards as a form of payment. Cash or petrol cards (limited to urban areas) are acceptable.
•    Cellphone coverage is limited to major towns only.
•    All tap water is drinkable unless otherwise advised. Note however that if you are used to drinking mineral water the tap water may cause some irritation. Make sure that you have adequate drinking water when travelling in remote areas.
•    Ice and firewood are available at many filling stations. Be sure to replenish supplies before entering remote areas.
•    Please respect local customs
•    Water is a scarce commodity in Namibia – use it sparingly.

o    Telephone and Telecommunications: Most of Namibia is serviced by automatic telephone exchanges. Some rural areas still have manual exchanges. In such cases, dial the exchange code and wait for the operator to reply. Then state the desired number. When calling Namibia from overseas, dial the international access code (09 or 00 in many countries) followed by the Namibian international code (264), the town dialling code (leave out the zero in front of the town code) and the required number. For example, a telephone number in Windhoek such as (061) 253981(061) 253981 is dialled as follows: +264 61 253981+264 61 253981

o    Guidelines in Remote Areas. A few guidelines for visitors to remote areas such as Kaokoland and Damaraland:

•    Be aware that you are entering remote areas. Do not take risks.
•    Beware of crocodiles in the Kunene River
•    If not familiar with wild animals like elephant, rhino, snakes, scorpions, etc, remain cautious and maintain your distance
•    Stay on existing roads.  Consider walking to lookout points rather than driving since the eco-systems are fragile and need to be treated with care. Physical damage caused by tyre tracks sometimes takes years to recover.
•    Do not attempt to go up van Zyls’s Pass
•    Litter, waste, toilet paper and cigarette butts spoil the landscape. Burn toilet paper, pick up all rubbish and take back what you brought in.
•    Don’t cut down trees for firewood. Collect only the minimum of dry wood and do not light unnecessary fires. When entering western valleys where the firewood is rapidly being depleted, carry all your own firewood.
•    Bury your fireplace before continuing with your journey and do not leave food, tins or anything else in the ashes.
•    Use water wisely. Rely on your own resources and fill up at the Kunene River.
•    Do not collect or destroy plants and do not follow or chase animals with your car.
•    Behave responsibly when entering dry riverbeds to observe elephant.
•    It is not advisable for motorbikes and Quads to enter dry riverbeds.
•    Do not leave your vehicle in the presence of wild animals
•    The indigenous peoples of Kaokoland, the Ovahimba, attract attention because of their traditional way of life. Please bear in mind that they deserve your respect. Be polite and modest in your encounters with them. Ask permission to enter villages or to take their photographs. Do not give them liquor, medicines or foreign items and do not dish out money excessively – rather trade with maize, sugar or tobacco. Refrain from attempting to acquire their heirlooms or jewellery. It is prohibited to walk around cemeteries or to take photographs of burial places without permission from the headman.  Empty villages may not be entered. They may be deserted only because of their nomadic lifestyle.

There are campsites at Sesfontein, Warme Quelle, Khowarib, Purros, Epupa and Otjinungwa with fireplaces, showers and toilets for your convenience. Please make use of the facilities and be prepared to pay between N$10 and N$40 pp per night as a contribution to the local community and for maintenance. AVTravel

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Last update: 2014-03-28 08:11
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.2

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