Cape Town - Namibia is no place for sissies. It is warm, it is cold, it is humid and dusty. There are insects and dunes and rivers and deserts. On a camping safari in Namibia, you will experience everything closer and more personal. The stars are brighter, the cold is colder, sounds are more intense. Namibia is an amazing place and experiencing it will leave you forever changed. Marinda Louw Coetzee has compiled a very practical girl's guide to packing for camping in Namibia.
A bag with wheels
Let them laugh. A tog bag with small wheels is so much easier to haul around. Even if your camping gear is carried by someone else, it helps a lot to be mobile. Look for a soft bag - never a hard-shell suitcase. It packs easier in a 4x4's limited space.
The right clothes
It is a dry country so you might not be able to wash more than your body. Bring a pair of 'technical' pants that dries overnight and a light long skirt that can double as short dress or be worn over swimwear.
For warmth (even in summer, yes) pack a good quality body vest like a sleeveless down waistcoat. Bring a sarong. Use for covering up when chilly at night, as a towel or just a light blanket in summer.
Camping in Namibia often means shared ablutions. Bring slops to wear in the showers. Make it a funky fun pair so you can be seen in public as well. Sneakers with knobbly soles are practical - you can do basic hiking, go rock-hopping and also wear them when exploring Swakopmund or Windhoek.
Toss in a small pair of pumps for a restaurant supper or when you want to dress up a bit.
You will travel long distances on gravel roads. It will be hot, so stay hydrated. Bring a water bottle. Most of Namibia's tap water is safe but often brackish. Add some lemon and ice to your water bottle to mask the taste or fill it up with shop-water. Make sure your bottle has a wide mouth and maybe a strap to hang it somewhere in the car?
Most of Namibia is dry and desert-like with the Namib Desert in the west and the Kalahari in the east. In summer the heat is relentless and in winter the air is icy and dry. Bring a good moisturiser for face and body. Coconut oil is good for an all-over, after-shower moisturiser, even for hair. Or sooth your skin with a good old olive-oil based cream? Lipbalm? Lip-ice is still the best.
READ: Saving secrets of the Namib Desert
Very handy in the hot humidity of the Zambezi Region, Kaokoveld and Damaraland. Very handy in the dry air of the central and south. Very, very handy when showering is out of the question. Follow it up with some baby powder...
Your tent will have a mosquito screen, but sitting at the campfire will leave you exposed and vulnerable to attact. Along the Kavango and Kunene Rivers, malaria might also be a risk. Wear long-sleeved clothes at dusk and dawn and use a spray-on repellent. Stick-on citronella stickers worked wonders as well and is safe on children's clothes.
Other essential items to pack include sunscreen, a wide-rimmed hat, eye drops, your phone and a camera (with extra battery). Namibia is well-stocked and you will find essentials in all the major towns. Pack little, pack light.
*Looking for a guided safari through Namibia? Marinda louw Coetzee travelled with namibiaexperience.com.