Quick guide to Namibia: Visa-free travel for South Africans

2018-05-29 11:54
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Gemsbok standing on a red dune in Sossusvlei

South African quick guide to Namibia (Photo: iStock)

Namibia may be a desert country, but its richness lies within its natural attractions, both landscape and of the animal kingdom, as well as its vivid cultures.

With some of the highest dunes in the world, you can take on the wilderness with a tent under hot sunsets, or feel the breeze of quiet stretches of beaches that go on for miles, without seeing another person.

You can also hike the second-largest canyon in the world, or you can visit a traditional Himba village where you can learn more about their daily lives and their traditional craftsmanship.

The best part - it's just a border hop away from South Africa!

SEE: Spectacular Namibia: Adventuring along Skeleton Coast, Damaraland and Etosha

Here we take a look at one of the top ten searched African destinations for South Africans and what you need to know should you want to visit:

Visa requirements: No visa required for South Africans with a valid passport for stays of up to 120 days. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months and have at least 2 blank pages.

Continent: Southern Africa

Visa requirement: Visa on arrival for South Africans, valid for 90 days.

Capital: Windhoek

Medical requirement: You should use malaria prevention if you're going far north in the country near the Kaprivi, but other than that no medical requirements besides the usual.

Currency / Exchange Rate: Namibian Dollar - N$ is linked to the rand exchange rate. Note you can use rand in Namibia but not the other way around, so use up your Namibian Dollars before crossing the border back to South Africa)

National Carriers: Air Namibia

Main airports: Hosea Kutako International Airport (Windhoek), Eros Airport (Windhoek), Walvis Bay Airport

Time Zone: Same as SA

Plugs: Same as SA

Public transport: Minibus taxis is mostly the only option within towns and the city, and you can use a bus or shuttle between towns.

Best time to visit: In the interior the best time is between April and November, and on the coast it's between November and April when it gets too hot inland.

Climate: Dry and arid, with fog on the coast in the mornings and thunderstorms in the interior in summer.

Food specialities: Meat, meat and more meat – it’s very cheap there, even game meat, as it’s one of the country’s main exports. Mostly it's very similar food to South Africa, with heavy German influence like 'rohack brotchen',  which is raw mince on an open bread roll, normally served with raw onion and pickles.

Language: English (Official), Oshiwambo, German, Afrikaans.

WATCH: Namibia hilarious burn on Trump's 'shithole countries'

Useful phrases:

Hello

Gutentag / Goeie dag / Wa lalapo

Goodbye

Auf Wiedersehen / Totsiens / Kalapo nawa

My name is ….

Ich heisse … / My naam is … / Edhina Lyandje O…

Thank you.

Danke / Dankie / Tangi unene

Yes

Ja / Ehe

No

Nein / Nee / Ahawe

Do you speak English?

Sprichst du Englisch? / Praat jy Engels? / Ohopopi oshinglisha?

Water

Wasser / Water / Omeya

Where is [hotel/toilet/beach etc.]?

Du hast … ? / Waar is …? / … oge li peni?

SEE: Discover Namibia: 3 Top routes to explore

Travel tips

  • Namibia is an extremely dry country with severe water scarcity, so make sure you stay hydrated and take a 5-litre water can with you when going into rural areas just in case.
  • The sun is extremely harsh, so even if you think 'you don't burn that easily', put on sunscreen whenever you remember and wear a hat.
  • Snakes, spiders and scorpions are prevalent throughout the country, so always check your bed and shoes before jumping in.
  • Be prepared to haggle at curio markets and only ask the price of something if you really, really want it - they won't let go after that.
  • If you're self-driving through the country, be prepared for long distances between towns where you may not see a soul or building for hours, so check your petrol, water and food. 

SEE: Avoid disaster with these 10 travel tips from the experts

Top attractions in Namibia

  • Sossusvlei

This is a salt and clay pan surrounded by massive red dunes. A stunning landscape, the area also boasts the Deadvlei, where ancients dead trees in cracked earth make for great photos. Although it may look lifeless, mammals like the ostrich, springbok and gemsbok still roam here.

SEE: A girl's guide to packing for a camping trip in Namibia

  • Etosha National Park

This parks is more than a hundred years old, home to a variety of animals, including endangered species like the rhino. The park's Dolomite Camp has the best sunsets and sunrises, while Oaukejo Rest Camp has a watering hole bringing all the animals to the yard. 

  • Skeleton Coast

Where the desert and the sea meet, the Skeleton Coast consists of long beaches with great fishing. The coastline also hosts the largest Cape fur seal colony in the world. Moving inland, you can go on the hunt for the oldest living plant in the world - the Welwitchia.

SEE: Namibia's Skeleton Coast: A 4x4 adventure full of surprises

  • Otjikandero Himba Village

The Himba in Namibia still live according to their tradition customs. Various tours offers a chance to visit one of these villages, where you can learn more about their daily lives. The Himba is also known for their crafts - especially their jewellery and well worth a buy as a souvenir.

  • Fish River Canyon

This is the second largest canyon in the world. The Fish River's origin is in Namibia's Naukluft Mountains and ends at the Hardap Dam in Mariental. The canyon's main hiking trail is 85km long and ends at the Ais-Ais Hot Springs. Please note though that this is only for experienced hikers.

SEE: Hiking the Otter Trail 101