When is the best time to visit Namibia? Well anytime…depending on what you want to do!
Namibia presents lots of game viewing opportunities, but this is Not Big Five country. However, to really escape into the vast open space of Africa, there is no better place than Namibia.
Unlike the Sahara which is lots of sand and not much else, Namibia has quite a lot of sand, a lot of wild animals in places, and where the are no wild animals, many great places of interest, clean cities and charming seaside towns. With architecture reflecting it colonial German past, and some of the restaurants, the beer and the friendly guest houses... it's just like Germany in Africa - but with out the freezing snow.
December to March: Days are usually humid with the possibility of rain as afternoon thunderstorms. These local showers generally only in the centre and east of Namibia, and not so likely in the desert regions.
April to May: The air is more free of dust and is becoming drier. The landscapeis also becoming greener and fresher.
June to August: These are the best game viewing months. Conditions become cool down and even more dry, with cold nights the can fall below freezing in several desert areas. The wildlife up north concentrate around the only waterholes.
September to October: Things begin warming up and game-viewing in most areas very good. The down side is that there is a lot of airborne dust which, in settling on the vegetation, make the color appear "flat".
November: Some years the dry, hot conditions may persist. Occasionally clouds gather with the possibility of thunderstorms.
There is wildlife to be seen in Namibia, especially in the Caprivi and Etosha Regions in the winter months. If it is unique concentrations of animals you are hoping to see then its best to come in the winter months from April to October. This is when the animals are searching for water and congregate at the waterholes. A bonus is that it is cooler as the summer heat is extremely oppressive.
Game viewing is at its best towards the end of winter from September to October. Another reason that this is a good time to visit is that most of Namibia's roads are gravel and travelling to many parts of the country in the wet season can be treacherous.
There are tarred routes between the boarders and major cities. Namibia is really a driving destination, whether it's a self driving tour or as part of an overland tour, it's best to be in a 4x4 vehicle when travelling in Namibia.
The peak tourist season is between June and October and it is also the Namibian school holidays in July so you need to plan your accommodation well in advance. In winter the temperatures are cooler at around 25-30 Celcius making travel more comfortable.
The wet season in Namibia is from November to April. As the country is 90% desert there are only small areas that become green and lush. In the summer months when the rains arrive, the game disperses from the springs and waterholes it gathered at during the winter months, and you won't see animals in such a high concentration as in winter. This is also the season when the animals give birth, so there is always something special to see.
Many of the lodges and the roads are located near the waterholes, which the animals move away from in the summer months as there is water elsewhere. Travelling to the more remote regions of the country is difficult at the best of times, but during the summer months becomes very difficult.
In the summer months it is better to visit the Namibian coast and areas such as Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. At this time of year it is cooler on the coast than in the interior regions. Some visitors also wish to visit the Skeleton Coast, however this is one of the remotest destinations on Earth and it is best that you fly into it.
The weather here is fairly stable, its cooler and often mist will drift in from the sea. If it's birdlife you are coming to see, many migratory birds arrive in the summer months with the rains. The Etosha Pan fills with water and you can see many migratory water bird species. You can also usually see thousands of pink Flamingos and Blue Cranes. The nearby region of Damaraland is also known for its spectacular species of birds such as the Herero chat and Monteiro's hornbill.
One of the main attractions of Namibia is Sousselvlei which is famous for its red and golden sand dunes. These are best in the winter months when the air is clear of dust and clouds so you get the contrast of the skies with the dunes. That is not to say that they are not stunning year round.
The best time of day to visit is in the early morning as soon as the park opens at 6 am. You want to capture the morning light on the dunes which turns them many beautiful colours. In the middle of the day it is very hot and the light is too bright to achieve beautiful photographs.