Namibia is a country of fascinating scenic beauty, the big part of the country is dominated by the Kalahari and Namib Deserts. It encompasses the massive dunes of the Sossusvlei area, the desolate stretches of beach along the Skeleton Coast and Damaraland, with a dramatic contrast of desert, deep canyons and high mountain range. And the Etosha National Park which offers the superb game viewing.
Although British nationals can enter Namibia for a holiday or private visit of up to 90 days without a visa, there have been cases where visitors have only been given permission to stay for periods much shorter than 90 days, sometimes as short as only 7 or 10 days. Before leaving the immigration desk in the airport arrivals hall, check that you have been given permission to stay in Namibia for the duration of your intended visit up to the maximum allowable of 90 days and that you have been given a correctly dated entry stamp by Namibian Immigration officials, as this will be checked on departure.
Overstaying the time granted or an incorrect or missing entry stamp could lead to detention, arrest and a fine.
If you intend to work or stay in Namibia for a period over 90 days, you must get a visa from the Namibian High Commission in London before you travel.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Namibia and have at least 1 completely blank page for Namibian immigration to use. If you are also going to travel in South Africa, you should be aware that although South African authorities state they require 1 blank passport page for entry, some officials insist on 2 blank pages. If you plan to take this route, make sure you have a total of 3 blank pages.
The Namibian authorities will not accept British passports extended by 12 months by British Embassies and Consulates under additional measures put in place in mid-2014.
Yellow fever vaccination is required for travelers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK ETDs are valid for entry into, transit and exit from Namibia. Your ETD should be valid for a period of at least 6 months from the date of entry into Namibia.
Travelling with children via South African airport, If you’re transiting through South African airport with children, see our South Africa travel advice page for information and advice about the documents you’ll need to carry.
Contact your GP around 8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventative measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices.
There are good medical facilities in Windhoek. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. Even with fully comprehensive travel insurance, private hospitals in Namibia may insist on proof of payment (cash or credit card) before starting treatment. They may also insist you pay up front, reclaiming from your insurer at a later date. Medical evacuation from remote areas can take time.
Some people suffer skin problems and/or dehydration due to Namibia’s hot and dry climate. Make sure you carry a good supply of drinkable water.
The 2013 UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic estimated that around 200,000 adults aged 15 or over in Namibia were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 13.3% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 211111 (in Windhoek) or 10111 (elsewhere) and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Credit cards and Cirrus bankcards can be used in some Namibian cash machines although the charges for withdrawing cash can be expensive. The Namibian Dollar is tied to the South African Rand, which is also legal tender in Namibia.
Muggers in Windhoek often target foreign tourists. Attacks can take place even in busy city center locations in broad daylight. Be alert to your surroundings if you are returning to your guest house or hotel, especially after dark.
Keep car doors locked and windows shut, especially in heavy traffic. Keep valuables off the seats and out of sight. Gangs sometimes try to gain entry to vehicles at busy intersections in Windhoek, including during the day. Theft from vehicles, particularly at service stations, is common. If possible don’t leave your vehicle unattended at fuel stops.
There have been reports of thefts from mail by Post Office workers in Namibia. Any valuable parcels or documents (eg bank and credit cards) should be sent by registered mail, and preferably by a reputable commercial courier company.
Don’t hail taxis from the street, particularly in Windhoek, as these have been involved in thefts from foreign tourists. Ask your hotel, guest house or tour operator to recommend a reputable taxi company. Don’t enter townships at night unless you are accompanied by someone with local knowledge.
Safeguard your valuables and cash. Use a hotel safe if possible. Keep large amounts of money, expensive Jewellery, cameras and cell phones out of sight. Don’t change large sums of money in busy public areas. Keep copies of important documents, including passports, in a separate place. Beware of pickpockets in town centers. Remain with your group when visiting parks and game reserves.
There have been cases of credit card skimming at some hotels and lodges around the country. Okakuejo Lodge in Etosha National Park has been identified as a hotspot for this. When paying by credit card, keep the card in full view at all times and always check your statement carefully.
If you travel along the Trans-Caprivi Highway between Rundu and Katima Mulilo (in the Caprivi Strip), or in other remote areas of northern Namibia, you should travel during daylight hours and stick to well-travelled routes. The Namibian authorities are clearing unexploded ordnance from areas that are barred to public access.
You can drive in Namibia using a UK photo driving license. If you wish to hire a car, you should also bring the paper counterpart with you. You must carry your license at all times and produce it on request at the police check points leading in and out of Windhoek and other major towns and cities. If you hire a car, pay particular attention to the insurance cover provided. Most policies will not cover accidents that do not involve other vehicles or animals. Given the higher than normal probability of an accident on a gravel road because of its condition, you should take out fully comprehensive insurance on any hired vehicle. You are not allowed to use a mobile phone whilst driving.
There have been a number of fatal accidents on gravel/dirt roads. Don’t exceed 80kmh on gravel. Punctures are common. If possible, carry 2 spare tyres and plenty of water.
During the rainy season (normally January to April) many gravel roads deteriorate. Check with your destination on the local road conditions before setting off. Avoid driving at night outside towns as wildlife and stray livestock pose a serious hazard.
Make sure your travel insurance covers you for any adventure activities you plan to undertake (eg quad biking, dune boarding and hot air ballooning).
Local laws and customs
Drug taking and smuggling is an offence. Punishments can be severe.
Homosexuality is tolerated but Windhoek’s only openly gay bar is regularly shut down by drug squad raids.
There are no formal rules limiting photography by tourists in Namibia, but some people have been detained for taking pictures of State House and properties where the President is residing. Parts of Namibia require a permit to enter (eg the Cape Cross Seal Colony) and you should check about photography when applying for permits. If the army or police are protecting a building or place, check before taking any photographs. If in doubt, don’t take pictures.