We’d love to see more of Africa and plan on hitting up Tanzania and Kenya in 2017. And hopefully soon, we can make it to Namibia as well. Jennifer of the blog, From Mississippi with Love, who wrote about Victoria Falls, recently went and here are her practical tips.
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Namibia is one of those incredible countries that not many have heard of, which probably adds to its deserted allure. It sits on the southwestern coast of Africa, just north of South Africa. Having declared independence from South Africa in 1990, the country boasts of incredibly scenic desert landscapes, architecture reminiscent of its German colonial heritage, and a different kind of safari than Serengeti or the Masaai Mara.
Crossing immigration at Hosea Kutako International Airport was pretty seamless. Have your proof of yellow fever vaccination handy as they do check. For US citizens, Namibia is visa on arrival. After passing through immigration, there are counters to change money, ATMs to withdraw money, and areas to buy phone packages. Leaving the airport was slightly less straightforward as you are supposed to negotiate with your cab driver prior to getting in. In the end, we paid N$300 to get to Windhoek (~45 minute drive) and N$200 to come back after our trip ended.
Air Namibia and South African Airways are the two most popular airlines coming into Windhoek and offer direct flights from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lusaka, amongst others. The service on Air Namibia and on South African Airways (flew Air Namibia in and South African out) was pretty great. Flight attendants came by every fifteen minutes or so to refill drinks (alcohol included!) and hand out snacks.
Another option of getting into the country is via land. Many people opt to drive from Cape Town through Fish Canyon to get to Namibia, a route that is supposedly extremely scenic.
Namibia operates off the Namibian dollar (~15 N$ to 1 USD). Most places will also accept the South African Rand. ATMs are located throughout the country, though if you are in the desert or on safari, definitely carry cash as you may not be able to easily withdraw money.
Getting around Windhoek on public transit is possible and fairly easy with their bus system. However, going out into the country side proves a little more difficult on public transit. Car rentals are highly common. Most rentals are manual transmission, so be prepared for very limited availability if you can only drive automatic transmission. While the big roads are mainly paved, I would recommend renting a 4×4 to explore some of the more exotic places.
Most people communicate very effectively in English. German and Afrikaans are also widely used.
From desert camps to massive sand dunes, Namibia is ripe with adventure for thrill-seekers and nature-lovers alike.
- Windhoek:The capital, which is very clean and modern. Extremely easy to get around (by bus, taxi, and foot). Offers historical sites around every corner, suntanning / drinking on hotel rooftops, shopping at malls with most of the large brands present, and a wide range of food options.
- Swakopmund / Walvis Bay:A thrill-seekers mecca on the coast that offers sky-diving in onesies, ATV’ing, sandboarding throughout the sand dunes, and delicious seafood and wine dinners.
- Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei:The most famous shots of Namibia probably comes from this valley of dunes in the Namib Desert, home to Dune 45, Big Daddy, and Mama. Sunrise over the desert is something spectacular, and definitely hike up Big Daddy (approx. 30-45 minutes) for the 5 minute run down. Formerly a lake, Deadvlei is equally stunning with it’s cracked tiled earth and dead trees amidst the massive sand dunes.
- Solitaire: On our way back to Windhoek, we stopped at Solitaire for the cheetah excursion, where you are able to see cheetahs as up close and personal as you’ll ever want to see them!
Other destinations I didn’t get to visit but am excited for a reason to go back to Namibia: Skeleton Coast (stretch of coast known for shipwrecks), Etosha National Park (desert safari in the north of Namibia), Fish River Canyon (a stunning stretch of canyons in the south on the way to Cape Town).
About the Author
Growing up in rural Mississippi, Jennifer always dreamed of exploring the world. Since those days, she’s developed irresistible wanderlust and called a number of places home: US (San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Philadelphia), England, Malawi, Liberia, Israel, and most recently, Kenya. She’s in love with her sports teams (the New Orleans Saints and Manchester City), running (currently training for the Berlin marathon), and adrenaline sports (skydiving, cliff jumping, bungee jumping, sandboarding). One day, she hopes to utilize her love of cooking and sports by opening up her own Southern-style boozy brunch sports pub. Follow her on her blog, From Mississippi with Love or @jennnnnwong on instagram.
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