Greenwood Guides
Namibia

General Travel Information

Driving :: Car hire :: Prices :: Mobile/Cell phones :: Advance booking :: Telephone numbers :: Wildlife :: Tipping :: Time of year

Namibia is a big country and knowing where to stay has always proved a problem for independent travellers there in the past. Until now, despite the wealth of information on accommodation available, there has never been any help in making the choice, i.e. while many brochures are distributed for free at the airport etc, there was no selective and evocative guide-book hand-picking places with charm and leaving out the rest. Which is were we come in.

I knew the accommodation gems were there somewhere... but where? What I really needed was a resident expert to show us the way.

Just when I was pondering this very issue, Lily emerged out of my email inbox like the genie from the bottle, and our wishes were granted. She has lived in Windhoek for a few years now and has spent a great deal of that time travelling to every out-of-the-way corner of the country staying at lodges and B&Bs. In fact she tells me that, with her husband at the wheel, they have driven 60,000km in just two years. Her interest was not merely that of the holiday-maker, although her enthusiasm for the wonders of nature to be found across Namibia is certainly catching. She had already written two books on accommodation in Thailand and The Phillipines. By the time we were in contact she already knew which places we wanted for the most part.

The photos (most of which were taken by Lily) and descriptions tell their own tale. It looks entirely enticing. edible almost!

This is the first countrywide guide to great places to stay in Namibia with all the information you need for independent travel freely available within the pages of this book. As always the places to stay that Lily has chosen are all run by friendly enthusiastic people. This is the sine qua non of GG selections. But beyond this you will see a huge variety in styles of accommodation, in rates, in geographical position etc. Our view is always that great places to stay are found right across the price spectrum. And that a great guide-book will offer you all sorts of different excitements while never compromising on the essence of hospitality.

If you are about to make use of the entries for Namibia, well, frankly I am jealous!

Simon.

The next part of this introduction is by Lily herself.

Driving

You can drive a saloon car on many roads in Namibia: the main tarmac roads from Windhoek to Swakopmund, to Etosha or to Rundu/Katima Mulilo/Kasane; and also on the many excellent dirt roads of the country. But you will definitely feel more comfortable with a 4x4 on the dirt roads. If it rains a 4x4 is definitely the best plan. However, in some parts of Damaraland (for example), if the river is flooding (a rare occurrence), even with a 4x4 you might wait from a few hours to a few days for the water level to drop. That is Namibia for you! So it is always a good idea to check with the place you are going to visit to see if you're going to need a 4x4 and if, during the rainy season, the rivers can be crossed. (In Kaokoland you would need GPS, but the only accommodation that we have in Kaokoland, Serra Cafema, is accessible only by plane.)

All the dirt roads are very well signposted, quite amazing in the middle of nowhere! In my experience, the best map - even if it is not always perfect - is "Map Studio Tourist Atlas - Namibia" published by Struik, and this can be bought in CNA. This map is also very useful as it indicates the fuel stations.

Take care to refill your tank every time you find a fuel station, as there are not that many in some parts of the country.

Car Hire

If you get enough time to visit and have a tight budget, it is much cheaper to rent a car in South Africa than in Namibia.but you will have to drive a long way. For example Cape Town to Windhoek is about 1400km. You can make interesting stops on the way, of course, but the distances generally in Namibia are huge.

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Prices

Accommodation is Namibia is more expensive than in South Africa, despite the fact that it is generally not as sophisticated. This is a pity, but you have to consider the fact that the guest farms or small lodges are often very remote, and that makes everything more logistically difficult and therefore expensive to run. For example in some places the owners have to drive 2 hours - or sometimes even 4 hours! - to do their shopping. So be prepared to spend a little more, but I never met anyone who felt that Namibia was bad value for money.

In Namibia there is a wonderful sense of wilderness. You can drive for hours without passing another car. The average size of a farm, for example, is 8,000 hectares! As you drive through most of the country you will see amazing landscapes of red sand dunes, fascinating rock formations and many animals and plants that don't exist anywhere else. The Caprivi Strip is very different - lush and green - and it is cheaper than Botswana and Zimbabwe although you will see the same kind of wetland terrain and wildlife.

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Mobile/Cell phones

In Namibia, many places have no coverage for cell phone. They work in the main towns (Windhoek, Swakopmund, Rundu, Katima Mulilo) but more whimsically in other parts. A word of advice: try calling from the highest point of the road or guest farm.

Advance booking

This is essential across the whole country except perhaps in the cities.

Telephone numbers

To call Namibia from the UK dial 00264, then drop the 0 from the local code.

The numbers given in the Namibian chapter are all from within Namibia.

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Wildlife

On the main roads you will see signboards with symbols of a kudu crossing, or a warthog crossing etc.This might seem quaint, but one day in a 100km stretch we counted 50 warthogs on the bend of the roads! Many accidents occur because of kudu or oryx crossing the road - this occurs mostly at dawn, but not only. Or on dirt roads. As they are often excellent, people forget that they are driving on a dirt road and go too fast. It is advisable to keep your maximum speed down to between 80km and100km an hour on dirt roads.

Tipping

* In restaurant you give 10%, and if you pay by credit card, you write down the tip you want to give and add it to the bill.

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Time of year

All seasons are nice in Namibia, so there is no obvious best time to visit. It depends what you are looking for.

Winter in Namibia is approximately from June to end of August. During the day it is 20 to 25 degrees, very agreeable for hiking. At night, the temperature can drop to 4 degrees, or even to around zero.

Summer is approximately from November to March. It can be pretty hot during the day, 30 degrees or more in some desert areas.

In good years, there is a small rainy season in November. The main rainy season usually starts in January and ends in April, but in some regions, such as the south the rains come only every 2 years or even less frequently, and never last long. Except in the Caprivi, you will never have whole days of rain. The rain lasts for one or two hours a day. Namibia is beautiful after the rains, all green and blooming. It is hard to imagine that it's the same country that was so dry and yellow before!

But during the rains it is more difficult to see animals.

In the Caprivi, when the rain starts, the elephants go deep into the forest, but the hippo are still there and it is a good season for birding. It is very hot and humid during the rainy season in the Caprivi.

In Swakopmund, it is cool most of the time all year round (14 to 18 degrees during the day) and misty, except during summer where the temperature is very pleasant. Namibians love to go to Swakopmund to escape the heat. The sea is generally freezing (around 12 degrees) - that's what I think, anyway, but some people don't seem to mind! - because of the Benguela current. That explains the huge seal colony in Cape Cross. In summer the water can reach the dizzy heights of 20 degrees.

Lily.

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