We had been wanting to travel to Namibia for nearly a year before we finally had the chance. We were convinced that camping in rural locations while surrounded by nature was unreal after seeing so many stunning pictures on Instagram and reading so many blogs about road trips across the nation. We also conducted study and discovered that Namibia was significantly safer than South Africa, its neighbor. Looking for a Great African Experience? Safari World Tours – Best African Safari Operator.
As a result, we purchased a ticket, rented a vehicle with a tent on the roof, and created a thorough 3-week schedule. We described our experience renting a truck here. The process was straightforward yet time-consuming.
Most of what we had heard about Namibia turned out to be true, we discovered. But there were also a few unanticipated surprises that we ran into. To make sure you are prepared for everything in this stunning country, read the 9 things to know before visiting Namibia.
1. It’s Really Expensive to Travel in Namibia
In light of the fact that road travels are usually expensive, Namibia is not significantly more expensive than any other nation. But when you factor in the costs of renting a 4×4 truck with a tent (if that’s your preferred mode of transportation), gas, groceries, park admission fees, and the cost of camping per person, it quickly adds up.
Even though we were eating packs of ramen noodles for dinner every night, we chuckled at how we managed to spend $300 every day.
Simply put, it’s really simple to lose $300 every day without doing anything else but driving, eating, and sleeping. Costs for campsites should range from $15 to $20 per person per night. Additionally, the price will skyrocket if you want to go on a guided safari or stay in luxurious lodges.
Make sure to plan your spending wisely and include a small safety net in case your car or any of your camping equipment breaks down. And purchase a lot of wine because it’s the only thing here that’s inexpensive.
2. A 4-Wheel Drive Vehicle is Highly Recommended
In Namibia, there aren’t many paved roads. You’ll feel more at ease traveling to the most magnificent sights in the nation, such Etosha National Park, if you rent a vehicle with 4-wheel drive and, even better, high clearance. more so if it has been raining.
Instead of camping, we briefly contemplated hiring a smaller car and sleeping in hotels, but we quickly realized that would have been a tremendous mistake. We appreciated being able to drive on supposedly dangerous routes without fear of totaling our rental vehicle. And just in case, our truck came with three spare tires.
For your trip, if you decide to rent a regular-sized automobile, make sure to check the road conditions each morning before leaving. And before you leave the rental car place, ensure sure you have a spare tire with good tread.
3. Namibia is Safe… Relatively…
Everyone who lived in Namibia that we spoke to gushed about how secure the country is. They would invariably reply, “Oh no, you don’t want to go around at night here,” when we said we were planning to stroll to a restaurant for supper or explore the town after sunset.
Additionally, someone insisted on “monitoring our car” every time we stopped to go to the grocery store or grab a bite to eat at a restaurant. Even during the daytime when there are many other cars and people nearby. For our own peace of mind, we decided it was worthwhile to leave them a small gratuity.
We discovered during our journey that Namibia is undoubtedly safer than South Africa, though certainly not as safe as we had anticipated. The threat is more opportunistic than it is physical, but you should use the same level of caution you would in any major metropolis. Keep your automobile doors secured at all times, even when driving, and never leave anything expensive in plain sight inside.
4. Everything Takes Longer Than You Think it Will
Most rental car companies have policies about nighttime driving. There are wild animals around, but it can be very challenging to see them at night. Visitors are strongly advised to restrict their driving to the period from sunrise to sunset. Additionally, it can be challenging to fit all of your daily responsibilities in during those hours given the significant distances you’ll need to go.
It’s simple to take your Google Maps directions at face value while arranging your daily journeys. We can leave at 10 am and still have plenty of time because Google says it will only take us three hours. However, in practice, it will definitely take you closer to 6 hours, and you’ll wind up cutting back on the amount of photo stops and snack breaks just to make it to camp in time for dark.
Make sure you give yourself adequate time to complete your task. Particularly while visiting Etosha National Park, where failure to leave the park before dusk may result in a fine!
5. You Won’t be “Roughing It” in Namibia
We’ve gone days without taking a shower and had to use the vast outdoors as our toilet on numerous occasions when we’ve made road trips. When we could no longer stand the smell of our own bodies, we took showers in petrol stations or rivers.
Namibia most definitely isn’t like that (unless, of course, you choose to wild camp).
Every campground we came across offered clean restrooms, hot showers, shaded campsites, and flushing toilets. Additionally, a lot of them provided camping areas with freshwater faucets, picnic tables, and power. Many even had sparkling pools and Wi-Fi!
If you’re not a seasoned camper and you’re worried about your impending trip, relax! This “glamping” is manageable even for those who are really high maintenance.
6. You’ll Spend a Lot of Your Time Driving in Namibia
During our three weeks in Namibia, we easily put on five additional pounds. There aren’t many options for trekking, and driving is the most convenient way to reach the majority of the country’s sights. You will also spend a significant chunk of each day in the car because everything takes longer than you anticipate and you have to schedule your driving around daylight hours.
In Namibia, it might be difficult to maintain a healthy weight and the lengthy drives can be quite monotonous. The Skeleton Coast Drive has a few truly incredible stops, but much of it is just, well, desolate. Nothing very remarkable to look at, and traveling on the washboard roads is unpleasant.
To keep oneself engaged on long travels, confirm with the rental car company that your truck has Bluetooth or auxiliary cord connectivity (or bring an FM transmitter if it doesn’t).
7. Locals Try to Flag You Down
Numerous Namibians will try to stop you as you drive through the country, particularly in the north. They might demand food, money, or water from you, or they might want a ride (many residents rely on hitchhiking as their main mode of transit).
It is particularly prevalent on the road that connects Opuwo and Epupa Falls. If you’re not prepared for it, it could be a little unsettling. A man even ran up to our car and tried to get us to stop. We gave some workers along the route water, and we gave several Himba women rides. However, if we had stopped for everyone, it would have taken us a very long time to go forward.
If you’re not completely at ease, don’t feel forced to pick somebody up or stop for them. Keep some fruit, vegetables, or water in the front seat of your car to give out to the locals if you want to.
8. A Regular Travel Adapter Won’t Work in Namibia
The majority of plug types from all around the world are supported by a typical universal travel converter like this one. But sadly, the plugs you’ll need for Namibia and South Africa have very large prongs and call for a unique adapter. Make sure to purchase one tailored to this area either before you depart or when you arrive at the airport.
9. Everyone Wants a Tip in Namibia
Sadly, the majority of people in Namibia continue to live in poverty even though tourism is constantly growing there. Additionally, this can occasionally result in desperation, which is why you might encounter or learn about opportunistic crimes like auto theft.
Many locals have come up with innovative solutions to both issues. A kid or a man in an official-looking vest will probably approach you when you pull into a parking lot and offer to babysit your car while you’re inside. If you are taking a short journey, budget 2-3 NAD or 5 NAD if you expect to be gone from your car for an hour or longer.
Since the conversion rate at the time of writing was 13.91 NAD to $1 USD, unless you are dining out, you won’t typically tip more than $1.
You’ll also be expected to tip:
- You’re gas station employee For petrol pumping and windshield washing, give 5–10 NAD.
- the market employee in charge of bagging your items. Per bag, 1 NAD is adequate.
- Parking lot security personnel (unless you have a car guard).
- 10% or more while dining out.
- It’s usual and expected to tip at hotels. Most establishments include a “tip box” at the front desk that is accessible to anyone.