Namibia is a desert country known for its stark beauty and its wild, productive coastline. It is relatively sparsely populated, although more remote areas (like Damaraland) are inhabited by a wide variety of culturally diverse indigenous tribes. It is rich in diamonds, wilderness, and wildlife, and is home to some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth.
Namibia is located on the west coast of Southern Africa. It borders South Africa to the south, and Angola to the north. In the country's northeast corner, the Caprivi Strip shares its borders with Angola, Zambia, and Botswana.
Namibia has a total land mass of 511,567 square miles/ 823,290 square kilometers. Comparatively, it's slightly more than half the size of Alaska.
According to the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook, Namibia has a population of just over 2.2 million people. The average life expectancy for Namibians is 51 years, while the most populous age bracket is 25 - 54, which accounts for just over 36% of the population.
The official language of Namibia is English, although it is the first language of only 7% of the population. German and Afrikaans are widely spoken amongst the white minority, while the rest of the population speaks a number of different indigenous languages. Of these, the most commonly spoken are the Oshiwambo dialects.
Christianity accounts for 80 - 90% of the population, with Lutheran being the most popular denomination. Indigenous beliefs are held by the remaining percentage of the population.
The country's official currency is the Namibian Dollar, which is linked with the South African Rand and can be exchanged for the Rand on a one-to-one basis. The Rand is also legal tender in Namibia. Check this website for the latest exchange rates.
Namibia enjoys a hot desert climate and is typically dry, sunny and warm. It sees a relatively limited amount of rainfall, with the highest precipitation taking place during the summer months (December - March). The winter months (June - August) are both the driest and the coolest.
When to Go:
Weather-wise the shoulder seasons (April - May, and September - October) are typically the most pleasant, with warm, dry days and cool evenings. Game-viewing is at its best during late summer and early spring, when the dry weather forces wildlife to congregate around available water sources; though the wetter summer months constitute the peak time for birding.
Renowned as Namibia's top wildlife destination, Etosha National Park is home to four of the Big Five, including elephant, rhino, lion, and leopard. The park's many waterholes are considered some of the best places in the world to spot the endangered black rhino, as well as other rare African animals like the cheetah and the black-faced impala.
Shipwrecks and the skeletons of long-dead whales dot this wild coastline, where elephants wander through sand dunes that plunge directly into the freezing Atlantic Ocean. A desolate place that seems custom-made for the adventurous traveler, the Skeleton Coast offers the opportunity to experience nature at its most pristine.
Fish River Canyon 500
The largest canyon in Africa, Fish River Canyon is approximately 100 miles/ 161 kilometers long and in places up to 1,805 feet/ 550 meters deep. During the cooler months, it is possible to hike the length of the canyon, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in its spectacular, arid scenery. The hike takes around five days to complete.
A vast salt and clay pan edged by soaring sand dunes, Sossusvlei, and the surrounding area is home to some of the country's most dramatic landscapes. The view from the top of Big Daddy dune is world-famous, while the skeletal thorn trees of Deadvlei have to be seen to be believed. Surprisingly, wildlife abounds in the desert.
Namibia's main gateway is the Hosea Kutako International Airport, situated 28 miles/ 45 kilometers east of Windhoek. This is the first port of call for many visitors, with the majority of flights arriving either from Europe or from neighboring South Africa. Air Namibia, Lufthansa, South African Airways and British Airways all have regularly scheduled flights, with most stopping at Johannesburg en route.
It is also possible to travel overland to Namibia, with several buses offering routes to Windhoek from Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa. Buses are also available from Botswana and Zambia. For most visitors from North America and Europe, Namibian visas are not required for stays shorter than 90 days; however, it's always best to check with your nearest Namibian embassy.
There are no compulsory vaccines for visitors to Namibia unless you're traveling from a yellow fever country (in which case you must carry proof of your yellow fever vaccination with you). However, it's a good idea to ensure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date, including Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Typhoid. Malaria is a problem in northern Namibia, so if you're traveling to any of these areas, you will need to take anti-malaria prophylactics.