Namibia Travel Tips Part 2

In part 2 of the Namibia Travel tips on how to be Travel Savvy, we take a peak at safety, general rules and National Park regulations. Read on to find out more.

National Parks in Namibia

Sossusvlei_Sesriem

Sossusvlei – Namibia

As Namibians, we are very proud of the treasures we have. The oldest living desert with the highest sand dunes and a beautiful plant, endemic to the Namib Desert called the Welwitschia Mirabilis. This beautiful plant with its bizarre habits can survive in harsh conditions where rainfall is less than 25mm per year but still can live up to more than 1000 years. Thus, when visiting our parks and Nature reserves, there are a few very important factors to keep in mind.

Before you embark on your adventurous journey into the beautiful open spaces Namibia has to offer, visit an information centre to find out all about the rules and regulations of that specific Nature Park. Some parks require you to have a permit to enter designated areas, and not adhering to these rules can result in fines. To download your free Travel Planning Guide supplied by the Namibia Tourism Board click here.

Pets are not allowed in rest camps and game reserves, but I think its okay to take your husband with you though.

Please respect our parks, nature and the beauty of our country by not littering. The only mark you should leave is your foot print in the sand.

Etosha National Park - Game Drive

Etosha National Park

Do not collect, injure or tamper with indigenous plants, wildlife, historical artefacts or rock art.

Only make fires in designated places like in rest camps. It is prohibited to make fires in parks and to collect firewood in parks & reserves. Upon leaving make sure your campfire of the previous evening is extinguished.

When visiting parks and enjoying a game drive, please view game from a safe distance and stay in your car unless you are accompanied by a tour guide or park ranger. When traveling throughout the Etosha National Park you are not allowed to exit your vehicle. Although animals may seem relaxed, they are still wild and should be treated as such.

Drivers License

To drive in Namibia with a foreign driver’s license, make sure your license has been issued in English containing a photograph and signature. If your driver’s license is in another language other than English, you will need to either have an English translated and certified copy of your licence or an international English driving license.

In the case that your driver’s license is not in English, please note that both the national and international driving license have to be with you on person at all times. The international driving license is valid ONLY in conjunction with the national driving license!

In General

Here are some random facts and information about Namibia that might just come in handy.

Please visit your medical practitioner or travel health clinic before travelling to Namibia.

Save water and electricity by switching off unnecessary lights and take short showers. Resources like these are a scarce commodity in our country.

If you decide on camping and staying in a park, pick up anything lying around like your shoes or towels hanging over the bumper of the car. Petty thieves like the cunning jackal or the eager monkey will steal anything left outside, and once gone, you will not get it back.

Wear boots and closed shoes when going on hikes, to prevent tragic encounters with animals like scorpions and venomous snakes lurking around. This is where your torch comes in handy at night. After a hike in the veld, upon return, thoroughly check yourself and clothing for ticks.

The Namibian currency unit is the Namibian dollar (N$) and has the same value as the South African Rand. The Rand can be used for purchases in Namibia.

During the months of September to March, Namibia’s Time is GMT +2 but during the months of April and end of August, the time zone is GMT +1.

Desert Horse Campsite at Klein Aus Vista

Desert Horse Campsite

Safety

It is not wise to pick up hitchhikers and please do not give money / sweets to beggars and children. We do not want to encourage begging in the country.

Do not flash your cash and valuables. That heirloom piece on your finger dating back to the 1920’s, rather leave that at home. Travelling should be about no worries, and a bowl of fun. It is also a much safer option to carry your camera in its bag rather than around your neck.

When stopping and getting out of the vehicle make sure to take valuables like cameras, wallets etc. with you. Refrain from carrying large amounts of cash. Most places in Namibia accept Visa/MasterCard and ATM’s are widely accessible.

Gondwana Savvy Tip: Make 2 copies of all your travel documents, including passports, airline tickets, driving license, credit cards, itinerary, and all other travel documents. Leave one copy with a friend at home and the second set of copies should travel with you but kept in a safe and separate place from your original travel documents. This prevents you from being stranded when your luggage/belongings gets stolen or lost.

Caprivi Car Hire travel tip: During the rainy season be aware of flooded roads and flowing rivers. Never drive through water, if you are not sure how deep it is.

caaprivi car hire

Savannah Car Hire travel tip: Busy gravel roads have a phenomenon that cannot be found in Europe: so called corrugated roads. Sand and gravel are compacted by the frequent traffic and as the name indicates, the ground forms a sort of corrugated pattern. Driving on corrugated gravel roads calls for slow and cautious driving behaviour, as driving too fast decreases road adherence.

savanna car hire

Road signs in Namibia

Here we have a few general road signs in Namibia, some of which you may have never seen before.

roadsigns

Travel tips from our Facebook fans:

  • “cannot go without my camera! best travel tip : go with an open mind”
  • “Travel with Gondwana Collection Namibia will be my best travel tip.”
  • “I always travel with my “GONDWANA CARD”, enough petrol and water. “
  • “Travel with the right attitude! Don’t let things get you down, when they are not going as plan, or if its not like you imagined it. Savour every bit off the adventure…you never know, it might be your one and only time going there! “
  • “Have a good map. “

Last but not least

The most important thing to do on a holiday is to not take yourself too serious, but make use of the chance to be a tourist. Look on the bright side when things go wrong. Dance under the stars with the native folk singing tongue clicking songs. Be adventurous and try strange cuisine like the Mopane Worm and just indulge in whatever the immense beauty and culture of Namibia has to offer. Let the golden sand sprinkle its magical dust on your skin and the glowing sun kiss your skin. And remember – wear sunscreen. (Don’t clean the car before you had the chance to either take a proper photo or at least show off to your friends how much fun you had)

If you missed the 1st part of our travel tips please click here.

Compiled by :

Jessica Schoombee

Jessica Thomas is a local freelance writer. She is an eccentric young lady who has a love affair with writing. Get on board her journey of discovery.

(1571)

Experience Namibia with Gondwana’s story-factory

Gondwana distinguishes itself from other lodge companies by offering its guests a more enriching experience – bringing Namibia’s story to life. Many charming tales that would have been lost with time have been recorded and have appeared in the weekly newspaper columns Gondwana History and Stamps & Stories. Furthermore, they have been published on our website and compiled into books.

‘Storytelling’ has also been used to explore themes at several lodges, conveying a story via their décor and design, adding character and charm.

Nama legend about the birth of the Fish River Canyon. (Photo: Gondwana Collection)

Nama legend about the birth of the Fish River Canyon. (Photo: Gondwana Collection)

At the Canyon Village, for example, guests can familiarize themselves with the way of life, culture and history of the local Nama: beautiful murals illustrate scenes from everyday life and portray renowned personalities such as Nama Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi, or they revive the gripping Nama legend on how the Fish River Canyon was formed.

Canyon Village lies at the foot of a sweeping rock face in Gondwana Canyon Park. (Photo: Gondwana Collection)

Canyon Village lies at the foot of a sweeping rock face in Gondwana Canyon Park.       (Photo: Gondwana Collection)

The latest addition is Nama culture applied to real-life situations: the female staff members wear traditional Nama garments when they serve guests at the dinner buffet. In the 19th century Nama women copied the dresses of missionaries’ wives.

Wearing traditional Nama costume, some staff members of the Canyon Village pose in front of a mural. (Photo: Canyon Village)

Wearing traditional Nama costume, some staff members of the Canyon Village pose in front of a mural. (Photo: Canyon Village)

One of the traditions and beliefs of the Nama is even displayed three dimensionally – in the shape of a pile of stones on the parking area in front of the lodge. Information boards in English, German and Khoekhoegowab (Nama) explain the purpose of the stones. This is the story:

Haiseb’s Graves

They have been there since time immemorial, in many parts of Namibia: piles of stones, usually next to ancient paths and passes or sometimes in the vicinity of watering places. Among the Nama they were known as Haitsi Aibeb (the grave of Haiseb, a deity) and held in great respect.

Information boards on Haitsi Aibebs in front of the reception of Canyon Village. (Photo: Gondwana Collection)

Information boards on Haitsi Aibebs in front of the reception of Canyon Village.           (Photo: Gondwana Collection)

Travellers who came across a Haitsi Aibeb added a stone, a stick or a twig – occasionally a few drops of water or diluted honey, some venison or tobacco. They then knelt down and said a prayer, often starting with “Haiseb, khō tsî da ge ra (Haiseb, we bury you)”. Those on a longer journey asked for a favourable course or good hunting. Upon leaving the site they were not allowed to look back – this was a general rule when leaving an extraordinary place. Refusal to show deference towards Haitsi Aibeb was equal to provoking misfortune or an accident.

The pile of stones in front of you is intended to keep alive the memory of old customs which are no longer practised. Add a stone, ask for a good trip – and do not look back when you continue on your way!

And there is another aspect of the Nama culture which our guests are introduced to as soon as they arrive at the lodge: a donkey cart is waiting to take the luggage to the respective chalets. Donkey carts with merrily waving passengers can be encountered on the gravel roads all over rural Namibia and are still an essential mode of transport.

The donkey cart in the Canyon Village is used for transporting luggage. (Photo: Canyon Village)

The donkey cart in the Canyon Village is used for transporting luggage.                       (Photo: Canyon Village)

(1419)

Namibia Travel Tips Part 1

The biggest adventure when travelling is usually the trip you forgot to pack any toiletries or you have been driving for km’s on end before realising your GPS malfunctioned. Even though it seems like a nightmare at the time, you stumble upon undiscovered jewels.

View and book accommodation with Gondwana Collection Namibia. Collage of pictures : Gondwana lodges in Namibia

This is for you if you are on the verge of travelling to Namibia, and have absolutely no clue what to pack, where to stop and smell the flowers or which law to obey. Well actually you have to obey all of them. An insight in a nutshell of how to be travel savvy in Namibia.

Dresscode

The worst is to be under or overdressed. You packed your bag according to the weather channel, expecting cool temperatures. As you get ready to take on your first day of your long awaited African safari, you step outside and the heat grabs you by the ears with scorching temperatures. To add a touch of colour to the already purple drama, you realise, you packed the wrong shoes.

Woman in Namibia - Image by: Tanya Meyer

Image by: Ron Swilling

Comfortable shoes for those evening leisurely strolls are a must off course and boots ladies and gentlemen, comfortable hiking boots. You’re gonna need em’.

When it comes to packing the right clothes for Namibia : there are two secrets. Number 1 – expect four seasons; chilly mornings, excruciating hot days, windy afternoons and freezing nights. This sequence is not a definite, and varies from region to region but can change in an instant. The second important thing to remember is to dress like an onion – layered.

What to pack

The words of Baz Luhrman suddenly jump to mind: ”If I could offer you one tip, sunscreen would be it. Sing, stretch, read the directions even if you don’t follow them, but trust me on the sunscreen”.

A handy list of items to pack :

  • camera and extra memory cards
  • batteries & more batteries
  • adaptors
  • a first aid kit
  • small sewing kit (yes really it does come in handy),
  • mosquito and bug repellent
  • enough bottled water
  • a hat
  • sunglasses
  • lip balm
  • a map / GPS
  • binoculars
  • a flashlight
  • emergency numbers of the area
  • copies of your travel documents
  • toilet paper
  • matches (use with proper care).

Make a list before you start packing, to ensure you are prepared. If you realise upon arrival you have forgotten something, don’t let it turn your dream break into a travel apocalypse. Find the nearest shop, replace it with an alternative and just enjoy your holiday. Who cares if you have no make-up on or if your socks don’t really match? You’re on holiday. Wear pink and green socks as a pair. You might just attract a nosy chameleon.

After a safari in Africa, WC Fields said: “Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water”.

Driving Protocol

It is not advisable to travel alone for the simple reason; you will start getting lonely and howl at the moon. Not really, but it’s more fun to travel with friends and family. Have a selection of your favourite music on hand to make the long winding roads a bit shorter.

A Donkeycart in Namibia - Typical transport

As a self driver in Namibia, it is important to know, we drive on the left hand side of the road. Be very cautious and make sure you obey our laws and regulations like wearing your seatbelt.  All passengers in the car must wear their seatbelts and it is important to have your valid driver’s license and travel documents on hand.

The speeding limit in urban areas is 60km/h, and on tarred roads outside urban areas 120km/h. This may differ in area, region and suburb but road signs will help you along the way.

Savvy tip : Gondwana Collection Namibia recommends

caprivi car hireCaprivi Car Hire travel tip : Leave your itinerary with the Car Rental Company, or another preferred place. If you do not arrive at your destination, there are people who know where you might be.

savanna car hire

Savannah Car Hire travel tip : Driving in deep sand can be made easier by lowering the air pressure in the tyres to increase the gripping area.

The speeding limit on gravel roads are 80 km/h and a safe speed to drive is between 60 – 80km/h. Extra care and caution should be given as these roads can be unpredictable and when speeding; it is easy to lose control of the car. Some of the roads seem fairly smooth but don’t give in to the temptation to drive too fast. Also be very cautious when driving in sand and on sandy roads. They are the most unpredictable and dangerous.

Typical 4x4 offroad track in Namibia - Image by: Ron Swilling

Image by: Ron Swilling

Do not drive off main roads; this may cause you to get either lost or stuck somewhere under the Milky Way, surrounded by only stars and the sound of the night. Actually that sounds great, right? No, don’t do it. Getting lost is not a joke, especially in the desert areas. Stay on the main roads as indicated on the map or GPS. This is not just for safety reasons but to protect our eco system. Some areas are home to plants like the extensive fog lichen field north of Swakopmund.

The one factor I cannot stress enough is to drive safely, with utmost caution and care in Namibia. The condition of roads differs like day and night and if you do not know how to drive in certain conditions, like sand and mud, the consequences can be preposterous.  Do not try to be brave and macho; rather take on unknown roads and situations with caution.

When driving in remote areas, make sure you have enough fuel to reach your destination, adequate amount of water, snacks, and a tire emergency repair kit. Although fuel is widely available in Namibia it is sensible to fill up regularly just to be sure.

Image entry recieved in Gondwana VW Jubilee competition

It is highly recommended not to drive after dark. Destinations in Namibia are sometimes situated far from each other and it can be dangerous, especially animals out on their midnight stroll, attracted to the road by the lights of cars. A much safer option is to sleep over and continue your trip the next day. This way, you get to meet more people and experience a lot more on your trip. Stop frequently to take a break from driving, stretch your legs and get some fresh air.

For part 2 of Namibia Travel Tips click here.

Compiled by :

Jessica Schoombee

Jessica Thomas is a local freelance writer. She is an eccentric young lady who has a love affair with writing. Get on board her journey of discovery.

 

 

(1927)