© Photo safari from Wolwedans Lodge. Sossusvlei
A magnificent country to explore, Namibia is considered the ideal destination for those looking for a more rugged self-drive safari experience. A land of endless space, fresh air and rugged yet beautiful scenery, Namibia will shock your senses into serenity.
Situated on the south-west of Africa wedged between a beautiful and rugged piece of coastline, Namibia shares borders with Angola, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa. Spanning across 825 418km2 (318 696 square miles) Namibia is situated between the Namib and the Kalahari deserts and is known to receive the lowest amount of rainfall in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.
A photographer's dream destination, Namibia offers landscapes of ever changing contrasting sights with incredible scenery, abundant wildlife and unspoilt natural beauty that is guaranteed to take your breath away.
Highlights of a visit to Namibia include top tourist destinations and activities such as the incredible Etosha National Park, the red Sossusvlei Dunes and the hauntingly beautiful Deadvlei, the Fish River Canyon and the intriguing Kolmanskop Ghost Town.
But it is not the activity highlights that you will remember the most when you visit the country. The details that will almost seep into your soul are the small aspects. The feeling of the warm sun on your face as you drive down a dusty gravel road.
The time spent sitting staring out at the landscape with nothing but strange rocky outcrops, burnt red sand and long tall grasses stretching for as far as the eye can see. The breath-taking display of stars, galaxies and satellites that await you at night, when the lights are out, and you find yourself staring upwards for hours.
The silence, simplicity and a sense of wonder at the beauty of nature - these are the details that will stay with you and they are also what will call you back when you leave.
Driving in Namibia
Firstly, this is really 4x4 country. Especially if you want to see everything of any interest. The average sedan vehicle is okay if you are just travelling between the major centres. But, if you have any other plans they had better include a 4x4 as the first item on your "What You Need List". The second item on your list is: Extra Spare Tyre, followed by: 2 x 10 litre jerry cans for extra fuel. You never know. Then you had better have a GPS and a decent road map.
After this, you can worry about passports, visias, money, health certificates, food, water and what to pack. Without the first 4 items, nothing else will matter. Namibia is a vast, expansive, massive country. If you are doing a self-drive adventure then you will want to make sure that you fill up with petrol at every given opportunity, even if your tank is only half empty. There are long stretches of road with no establishments, towns, dwellings, petrol stations or convenience stores. There are even stretches of road with no road.
The main B1 highway that runs up the spine of the entire country from the border of South Africa in the south, through Namibia's capital Windhoek and up to the border of Angola is the main tarred road in the entire country.
There are other smaller tarred roads such as the B2 from Windhoek to Walvis Bay and Swakopmund and the B4 from Keetmanshoop to Luderitz, but other than those, most of the roads are varying qualities of gravel road, best accessible by SUV and 4x4. Average vehicle at your own peril.
©Photo safari from Wolwedans Lodge. Sossusvlei
With these expansive distances between the main towns or attractions you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time driving - which is the actual reason for doing the journey. These distances provide ample opportunity for stopping along the way to take in the extensive stretches of unspoilt landscape that lie before you.
TAKE NOTEIt is highly recommended that you allow plenty of time to get from one location to another, and you should always aim to be at your final destination before sunset. Driving at night or in twilight is dangerous as there are animals such as kudu or Springbok wandering about.
Hit a kudu at 60kph and you will be doing the rest of your journey in a breakdown vehicle when you finally manage to get one. And here endeth your holiday.
Climate of Namibia
The country has a semi-arid to sub-humid climate and summer temperatures are known to soar to above 40°C (104°F) during the day in the summer months, but they have also been known to plummet to below 0°C in the evenings. Namibia can be divided into four main regions, each of which seem to have their own climate. Subsequently the best time to travel depends on the region you want to visit.
When to Go
While the different areas of the country experience fairly different climates, the best time to visit Namibia, if you are planning on exploring most of the country, is between July and October
when the heat is not too unbearable.
The best time to visit Windhoek and the central area of Namibia is between May and September
when the weather is cooler and dry.
The summer months between November and March
are usually very hot and humid with a lot of rain which can make the roads difficult to navigate or impassable.
The southern regions are best visited towards the end of winter, around August and September
as the summer once again can be extremely hot. If choosing to visit during this period remember to pack extra layers of warm clothing as the evening temperatures can be very cold and crisp.
The Namib coast line where Walvis Bay and Swakopmund are located are usually best visited between October and May
as this is when the weather is most pleasant, and much cooler than the roasting interior.April to September
is the best time to experience Namibia's top safari park; Etosha as this is when the temperatures are slightly cooler and there is less water around which results in more animals gathering at the watering holes.
If you are wanting to visit the Caprivi strip for bird-watching then the summer months are definitely the best time to visit but if you are heading there with the goal of game viewing then the months of April to October
are the best time to travel as there is virtually no rain and the game viewing is much better.
The Namibia dollar and the South African rand are the accepted currencies in Namibia and are virtually interchangeable. You may even find that you pay with rands and receive dollars back as change.