A Beginner’s Guide To Visiting Namibia
Namibia is often called ‘Africa for beginners’, yet very few North Americans choose to visit the country, with most opting for more tourist-friendly countries like Kenya, Botswana or South Africa. While Namibia might not have the “luxury” travel options its more famed neighbours enjoy, the land of the brave has enough to entice the more adventurous of us. Read on to discover some reasons why you should take the plunge and visit Namibia when you have the opportunity.
They Speak English in Namibia
A lot of North Americans are unsure about visiting a country where they will have a difficult time being understood. You won’t have a problem in Namibia. Despite the fact that there are approximately eight other popular languages (Afrikaans, German, and many local languages) English is the official language. All road signs are in English, and although you may meet some rural people who only speak their local language, there will always be someone close by who can translate.
There are around 700 species of birds in Namibia! Ornithologists and amateur birdwatchers will delight in discovering a new variety of bird everyday, most of which boast beautiful and colourful long plumage. Oh, and be prepared to meet a new parliament of owls every night.
You can go camping!
The easiest and most popular way to tour Namibia is with your own vehicle. The local public transportation system isn’t the easiest, but if you have your own vehicle you can go anywhere. It’s also common, and a great idea, to do a self drive camping tour of Namibia, and there are a LOT of campgrounds in Namibia.
The Desert is Truly Beautiful
Namibia gives us a whole different perspective on the desert and the different landscapes that the desert presents to you. While there certainly are some long boring sections of desert scenery, there is also very stunning scenery that makes you wonder how it can possibly occur naturally.
Protection of the Environment
If you are an ethical traveller, you may be interested to know that Namibia was the first African country to incorporate protection of the environment into its constitution. The Government of Namibia has reinforced this by giving its rural communities the right to manage their wildlife through communal conservancies. These conservancies are clearly defined tracts of land, registered with government, where local communities manage their natural resources through a democratically elected committee and approved management plans.
It is a safe and politically stable country
The country is very safe, and the people are friendly. There are only two million people in the whole country, and 40% of all reported crime occurs in the capital city of Windhoek. As long as you take basic precautions, there is very little to make you feel unsafe in Namibia.
Even though Etosha is a world class wildlife park that you should definitely make part of you itinerary, you don’t really need to be in a National Park to experience wildlife. Yes, you’ll see everything in Etosha – lions, elephants, rhinos. But you’ll also see animals simply wandering near the side of the road outside of parks. Make sure to always be carrying a camera or camcorder.
The Different Cultures
Namibia has people who you will not find anywhere else in the world. People who continue living with ancient traditions and lifestyles without the pressures and conveniences experienced in most of the world. One of the highlights of any trip will be spending a few hours with the Himba people in the north-western region of the country.
Probably not known by many, but Namibia has a lot of premier hiking trails. November and December aren’t really the best time of year to hike in Namibia because it’s summer and it’s often too hot to go hiking. The best time of year to visit for that type of outdoor activity is from April through October. Fish River Canyon offers the most well known hiking opportunity, a five day excursion along the riverbed at the bottom of the canyon.
Namibia has the best beer in Africa!
Of course the most important reason to visit any country is the quality of it’s beer! Namibian beer is brewed to the highest German standards and Namibians are passionate about their beer!
So, what do you think? Are you curious about this relatively unknown African destination? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.