Getting There and Getting Around Namibia

Between 180,000 and 400,000 tons of salt are harvested in Namibia each year and crystals are often sold, on the honor system, by the side of the road. Credit: Kathrina Szymborski Between 180,000 and 400,000 tons of salt are harvested in Namibia each year and crystals are often sold, on the honor system, by the side of the road. Credit: Kathrina Szymborski

The best time to visit Namibia is in the dry season, from April to December. In particular, the dry season offers the best game-viewing in Etosha National Park. Water scarcity draws the animals to the park’s springs.

To avoid complications at the airport, it’s best to have a passport valid for at least six months beyond your intended departure date and to have a valid return ticket. Citizens from the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and many European countries do not need visas to enter Namibia. 

The only vaccination that is required for entrance to Namibia is yellow fever. You’ll need to display your yellow card at the airport as proof that you’ve been vaccinated. Malaria prevention medication is recommended for certain parts of the country, including Etosha. Check with your local travel health clinic before leaving to see if any other vaccinations are recommended. 

South African Air serves the capital city of Windhoek, which we reached via Johannesburg, South Africa. We rented a truck in Windhoek from a company called AfriCarHire. Public transportation is definitely an option; if you travel that way, however, make sure you build plenty of wiggle room into your schedule to account for scheduling complications and multiple layovers. 

To explore Namibia by car, you need a sturdy four-wheel drive; be aware that most rentals have manual transmissions. Once you get out on the road in Namibia, always refuel whenever you get the chance (even if your tank isn’t near empty) and consider keeping a jerrycan full of fuel in the back of your truck. In Namibia, which has the second-lowest population density of any country, after Mongolia, you could go for days without seeing another person much less a gas station. 

There are low-cost, mid-range and luxury accommodations throughout Namibia. My father and I spent most nights in our sleeping bags in the truck bed. That gave us freedom. We could go wherever we wanted without worrying about making it to any particular destination by a set time. Instead, when we got tired, we pulled over wherever we happened to be and went to sleep. The uncertainty over what we’d see when we opened our eyes each morning added an extra element of excitement to the trip. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 - 06:00