Wednesday 7 March 2018

NAMIBIA: Peaceful And Expensive, Be Aware Of Tourist Robbery Always Coordinated By Taxi Drivers.

Namibia is in Southern Africa, bordering South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Zambia and the Atlantic Ocean.

Formerly a colony of Germany, Namibia was administered by South Africa under a League of Nations mandate after WWI, and annexed as a province of South Africa after WWII.

The South-West African People's Organization (SWAPO) launched a guerrilla war for independence in 1966, but did not gain independence until 1990.

Namibia officially the Republic of Namibia is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean.

Namibia shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east.

Although it does not border Zimbabwe, less than 200 metres of the Zambezi River separates the two countries.

Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence.

Its capital and largest city is Windhoek, and it is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.

The name of the country is derived from the Namib Desert, considered to be the oldest desert in the world. The name, Namib itself, is of Nama origin and means vast place.

Before its independence in 1990, the area was known first as German South-West Africa or Sudwestafrika, then as South-West Africa, reflecting the colonial occupation by the Germans and the South Africans.

The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by the San, Damara, and Nama peoples. Since about the 14th century, immigrating Bantu peoples arrived as part of the Bantu expansion.

Since then the Bantu groups in total, known as the Ovambo people, have dominated the population of the country and since the late 19th century, have constituted a large majority.

In 1878 the Cape of Good Hope had annexed the port of Walvis Bay and the offshore Penguin Islands; these became an integral part of the new Union of South Africa at its creation in 1910.

In 1884, the German Empire established rule over most of the territory as a protectorate or Schutzgebiet. It began to develop infrastructure and farming, and maintained this German colony until 1915, when South African forces defeated its military.

In 1920, after the end of World War I, the League of Nations mandated the country to the United Kingdom, under administration by South Africa. It imposed its laws, including racial classifications and rules.

From 1948, with the National Party elected to power, South Africa applied apartheid also to what was then known as South West Africa.

In the later 20th century, uprisings and demands for political representation by native African political activists seeking independence resulted in the UN assuming direct responsibility over the territory in 1966, but South Africa maintained de facto rule.

In 1973 the UN recognised the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) as the official representative of the Namibian people; the party is dominated by the Ovambo, who are a large majority in the territory.

Following continued guerrilla warfare, South Africa installed an interim administration in Namibia in 1985. Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa in 1990.

However, Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands remained under South African control until 1994.

Namibia has a population of 2.6 million people and a stable multi-party parliamentary democracy.

Agriculture, herding, tourism and the mining industry including mining for gem diamonds, uranium, gold, silver, and base metals form the basis of its economy.

The large, arid Namib Desert has resulted in Namibia being overall one of the least densely populated countries in the world.

The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by San, Damara, and Nama. From about the 14th century, immigrating Bantu people arrived during the Bantu expansion from central Africa.

From the late 18th century onwards, Oorlam people from Cape Colony crossed the Orange River and moved into the area that today is southern Namibia. Their encounters with the nomadic Nama tribes were largely peaceful.

The missionaries accompanying the Oorlam were well received by them, the right to use waterholes and grazing was granted against an annual payment.

On their way further northwards, however, the Oorlam encountered clans of the Herero at Windhoek, Gobabis, and Okahandja, who resisted their encroachment.

The Nama-Herero War broke out in 1880, with hostilities ebbing only after the German Empire deployed troops to the contested places and cemented the status quo among the Nama, Oorlam, and Herero.

South Africa occupied the colony in 1915 after defeating the German forces during World War I. It administered it from 1919 onward as a League of Nations mandate.

Although the South African government wanted to annex South West Africa into its official territory, it never did so. But, it administered the territory as its de facto fifth province.

The white minority of South West Africa elected representatives to the whites-only Parliament of South Africa.

They also elected their own local administration, the SWA Legislative Assembly. The South African government appointed the SWA administrator, who had extensive executive powers.

Following the League's replacement by the United Nations in 1946, South Africa refused to surrender its earlier mandate.

In 1966 the International Court of Justice dismissed a complaint brought by Ethiopia and Liberia against South Africa's continued presence in the territory, but the U.N. General Assembly subsequently revoked South Africa's mandate.

South Africa continued to exercise de facto rule while SWAPO expanded its guerrilla efforts to end that. In 1971 the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion declaring South Africa's continued administration to be illegal.

In response to the 1966 ruling by the International Court of Justice, South-West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) military wing, People's Liberation Army of Namibia, a guerrilla group began their armed struggle for independence.

It was not until 1988 that South Africa agreed to end its occupation of Namibia, in accordance with a UN peace plan for the entire region.

At 825,615 km2 (318,772 sq mi), Namibia is the world's thirty-fourth largest country after Venezuela. It lies mostly between latitudes 17° and 29°S (a small area is north of 17°), and longitudes 11° and 26°E.

Being situated between the Namib and the Kalahari deserts, Namibia has the least rainfall of any country in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Namibian landscape consists generally of five geographical areas, each with characteristic abiotic conditions and vegetation, with some variation within and overlap between them: the Central Plateau, the Namib, the Great Escarpment, the Bushveld, and the Kalahari Desert.

The Central Plateau runs from north to south, bordered by the Skeleton Coast to the northwest, the Namib Desert and its coastal plains to the southwest, the Orange River to the south, and the Kalahari Desert to the east.

The Central Plateau is home to the highest point in Namibia at Konigstein elevation 2,606 metres (8,550 ft).

The Namib is a broad expanse of hyper-arid gravel plains and dunes that stretches along Namibia's entire coastline. It varies between 100 and many hundreds of kilometres in width.

Areas within the Namib include the Skeleton Coast and the Kaokoveld in the north and the extensive Namib Sand Sea along the central coast.

The Great Escarpment swiftly rises to over 2,000 metres (6,562 ft). Average temperatures and temperature ranges increase further inland from the cold Atlantic waters, while the lingering coastal fogs slowly diminish.

Although the area is rocky with poorly developed soils, it is significantly more productive than the Namib Desert. As summer winds are forced over the Escarpment, moisture is extracted as precipitation.

The Bushveld is found in north-eastern Namibia along the Angolan border and in the Caprivi Strip. The area receives a significantly greater amount of precipitation than the rest of the country, averaging around 400 mm (15.7 in) per year.

The area is generally flat and the soils sandy, limiting their ability to retain water and support agriculture.

The Kalahari Desert, an arid region that extends into South Africa and Botswana, is one of Namibia's well-known geographical features.

The Kalahari, while popularly known as a desert, has a variety of localised environments, including some verdant and technically non-desert areas.

The Succulent Karoo is home to over 5,000 species of plants, nearly half of them endemic; approximately 10 percent of the world's succulents are found in the Karoo. The reason behind this high productivity and endemism may be the relatively stable nature of precipitation.

Namibia's Coastal Desert is one of the oldest deserts in the world. Its sand dunes, created by the strong onshore winds, are the highest in the world.

Because of the location of the shoreline, at the point where the Atlantic's cold water reaches Africa's hot climate, often extremely dense fog forms along the coast.

Near the coast there are areas where the dunes are vegetated with hammocks. Namibia has rich coastal and marine resources that remain largely unexplored.

Namibia is the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa and depends largely on groundwater.

With an average rainfall of about 350 mm per annum, the highest rainfall occurs in the Caprivi in the northeast, about 600 mm per annum and decreases in a westerly and southwesterly direction to as little as 50 mm and less per annum at the coast.

The only perennial rivers are found on the national borders with South Africa, Angola, Zambia, and the short border with Botswana in the Caprivi.

In the interior of the country, surface water is available only in the summer months when rivers are in flood after exceptional rainfalls.

Otherwise, surface water is restricted to a few large storage dams retaining and damming up these seasonal floods and their runoff.

Where people do not live near perennial rivers or make use of the storage dams, they are dependent on groundwater.

Even isolated communities and those economic activities located far from good surface water sources, such as mining, agriculture, and tourism, can be supplied from groundwater over nearly 80% of the country.

More than 100,000 boreholes have been drilled in Namibia over the past century. One third of these boreholes have been drilled dry.

Namibia's economy is tied closely to South Africa's due to their shared history. The largest economic sectors are mining,10.4% of the gross domestic product in 2009, agriculture (5.0%), manufacturing (13.5%), and tourism.

Namibia has a highly developed banking sector with modern infrastructure, such as online banking and cellphone banking.

The Bank of Namibia (BoN) is the central bank of Namibia responsible for performing all other functions ordinarily performed by a central bank.

There are 5 BoN authorised commercial banks in Namibia: Bank Windhoek, First National Bank, Nedbank, Standard Bank and Small and Medium Enterprises Bank.

The cost of living in Namibia is relatively high because most of the goods including cereals need to be imported.

Business monopoly in some sectors causes higher profit bookings and further raising of prices. Its capital city, Windhoek is currently ranked as the 150th most expensive place in the world for expatriates to live.

Taxation in Namibia includes personal income tax, which is applicable to total taxable income of an individual and all individuals are taxed at progressive marginal rates over a series of income brackets.

The value added tax (VAT) is applicable to most of the commodities and services.

Despite the remote nature of much of the country, Namibia has seaports, airports, highways, and railways. The country seeks to become a regional transportation hub.

It has an important seaport and several landlocked neighbours. The Central Plateau already serves as a transportation corridor from the more densely populated north to South Africa, the source of four-fifths of Namibia's imports.

About half of the population depends on agriculture and largely subsistence agriculture for its livelihood, but Namibia must still import some of its food.

Although per capita GDP is five times the per capita GDP of Africa's poorest countries, the majority of Namibia's people live in rural areas and exist on a subsistence way of life.

Namibia has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world, due in part to the fact that there is an urban economy and a more rural cash-less economy.

The inequality figures thus take into account people who do not actually rely on the formal economy for their survival. Although arable land accounts for only 1% of Namibia, nearly half of the population is employed in agriculture.

About 4,000, mostly white, commercial farmers own almost half of Namibia's arable land.

The governments of Germany and Britain will finance Namibia's land reform process, as Namibia plans to start expropriating land from white farmers to resettle landless black Namibians.

Agreement has been reached on the privatisation of several more enterprises in coming years, with hopes that this will stimulate much needed foreign investment.

However, reinvestment of environmentally derived capital has hobbled Namibian per capita income. One of the fastest growing areas of economic development in Namibia is the growth of wildlife conservancies.

These conservancies are particularly important to the rural, generally unemployed, population.

An aquifer called Ohangwena II has been discovered, capable of supplying the 800,000 people in the North for 400 years. Experts estimate that Namibia has 7,720 km3 of underground water.

Providing 25% of Namibia's revenue, mining is the single most important contributor to the economy. Namibia is the fourth largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa and the world's fourth largest producer of uranium.

There has been significant investment in uranium mining and Namibia is set to become the largest exporter of uranium by 2015. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds.

While Namibia is known predominantly for its gem diamond and uranium deposits, a number of other minerals are extracted industrially such as lead, tungsten, gold, tin, fluorspar, manganese, marble, copper and zinc.

There are offshore gas deposits in the Atlantic Ocean that are planned to be extracted in the future.

According to The Diamond Investigation, a book about the global diamond market, from 1978, De Beers, the largest diamond company, bought most of the Namibian diamonds, and would continue to do so, because whatever government eventually comes to power they will need this revenue to survive.

Domestic supply voltage is 220V AC. Electricity is generated mainly by thermal and hydroelectric power plants.

Non-conventional methods of electricity generation also play some role. Encouraged by the rich uranium deposits the Namibian government plans to erect its first nuclear power station by 2018, also uranium enrichment is envisaged to happen locally.

Tourism is a major contributor (14.5%) to Namibia's GDP, creating tens of thousands of jobs, 18.2% of all employment directly or indirectly and servicing over a million tourists per year.

The country is a prime destination in Africa and is known for ecotourism which features Namibia's extensive wildlife.

There are many lodges and reserves to accommodate eco-tourists. Sport hunting is a large, and component of the Namibian economy, accounting for 14% of total tourism in the year 2000, or $19.6 million US dollars, with Namibia boasting numerous species sought after by international sport hunters.

In addition, extreme sports such as sandboarding, skydiving and 4x4ing have become popular, and many cities have companies that provide tours.

The most visited places include the capital city of Windhoek, Caprivi Strip, Fish River Canyon, Sossusvlei, the Skeleton Coast Park, Sesriem, Etosha Pan and the coastal towns of Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Luderitz.

The capital city of Windhoek plays a very important role in Namibia's tourism due to its central location and close proximity to Hosea Kutako International Airport.

According to The Namibia Tourism Exit Survey, which was produced by the Millennium Challenge Corporation for the Namibian Directorate of Tourism, 56% of all tourists visiting Namibia during the time period, 2012 – 2013, visited Windhoek.

Many of Namibia's tourism related parastatals and governing bodies such as Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Air Namibia and the Namibia Tourism Board as well as Namibia's tourism related trade associations such as the Hospitality Association of Namibia are also all headquartered in Windhoek.

There are also a number of notable hotels in Windhoek such as Windhoek Country Club Resort and some international hotel chains also operate in Windhoek, such as Avani Hotels and Resorts and Hilton Hotels and Resorts.

Namibia's primary tourism related governing body, the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), was established by an Act of Parliament: the Namibia Tourism Board Act, 2000 (Act 21 of 2000).

Its objectives are to regulate the tourism industry and to market Namibia as a tourist destination.

There are also a number of trade associations that represent the tourism sector in Namibia, such as the Federation of Namibia Tourism Associations the umbrella body for all tourism associations in Namibia.

he Hospitality Association of Namibia, the Association of Namibian Travel Agents, Car Rental Association of Namibia and the Tour and Safari Association of Namibia.

Namibia has the second-lowest population density of any sovereign country, after Mongolia. The majority of the Namibian population is of Bantu-speaking origin, mostly of the Ovambo ethnicity.

Ovambo forms about half of the population residing mainly in the north of the country, although many are now resident in towns throughout Namibia.

Other ethnic groups are the Herero and Himba people, who speak a similar language, and the Damara, who speak the same click language as the Nama.

In addition to the Bantu majority, there are large groups of Khoisan such as Nama and San, who are descendants of the original inhabitants of Southern Africa. The country also contains some descendants of refugees from Angola.

There are also two smaller groups of people with mixed racial origins, called Coloureds and Basters, who together make up 8.0% with the Coloureds outnumbering the Basters two to one. There is a substantial Chinese minority in Namibia; it stood at 40,000 in 2006.

Whites, mainly of Afrikaner, German, British and Portuguese origin make up between 4.0 and 7.0% of the population.

Although their percentage of population decreased after independence due to emigration and lower birth rates they still form the second-largest population of European ancestry, both in terms of percentage and actual numbers, in Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa.

The majority of Namibian whites and nearly all those who are mixed race speak Afrikaans and share similar origins, culture, and religion as the white and coloured populations of South Africa.

A large minority of whites around 30,000 trace their family origins back to the German settlers who colonized Namibia prior to the British confiscation of German lands after World War One, and they maintain German cultural and educational institutions.

Nearly all Portuguese settlers came to the country from the former Portuguese colony of Angola. The 1960 census reported 526,004 persons in what was then South-West Africa, including 73,464 whites (14%).

Namibia conducts a census every ten years. After independence the first Population and Housing Census was carried out in 1991; further rounds followed in 2001 and 2011.

The data collection method is to count every person resident in Namibia on the census reference night, wherever they happen to be. This is called the de facto method.

For enumeration purposes the country is demarcated into 4,042 enumeration areas. These areas do not overlap with constituency boundaries to get reliable data for election purposes as well.

The 2011 Population and Housing Census counted 2,113,077 inhabitants of Namibia. Between 2001 and 2011 the annual population growth was 1.4%, down from 2.6% in the previous ten–year period.

The Christian community makes up 80%–90% of the population of Namibia, with at least 75% being Protestant, and at least 50% Lutheran.

Lutherans are the largest religious group, a legacy of the German and Finnish missionary work during the country's colonial times. 10%–20% of the population hold indigenous beliefs.

Missionary activities during the second half of the 19th century resulted in many Namibians converting to Christianity.

Today most Christians are Lutheran, but there also are Roman Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, African Methodist Episcopal, Dutch Reformed and Mormons of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Islam in Namibia is subscribed to by about 9,000 Muslims, many of whom are Nama. Namibia is home to a small Jewish community of about 100 members.

According to the 2011 census, the most common languages are Oshiwambo the most spoken language for 49% of households,Nama/Damara (11.3%), Afrikaans (10.4%), Kavango (9%), Otjiherero (9%).

The most widely understood and spoken language is English. Both Afrikaans and English are used primarily as a second language reserved for public communication.

Most of the white population speaks either German or Afrikaans. Even today, 103 years after the end of the German colonial era, the German language plays a role as a commercial language.

Afrikaans is spoken by 60% of the white community, German is spoken by 32%, English is spoken by 7% and Portuguese by 1%.

Geographical proximity to Portuguese-speaking Angola explains the relatively high number of Portuguese speakers; in 2011 these were estimated to be 100,000, or 4–5% of the total population.

Namibia boasts remarkable natural attractions such as the Namib desert, the Fish River Canyon Park, Etosha National Park and the Kalahari desert.

Its people speak nine different languages, including some of the Khoisan languages which include the clicks that present an enigma to most native English-speakers. Namibia produces some of the world's highest quality diamonds.

Regions of Namibia

- Caprivi, The panhandle in the north-east of the country. With two major rivers, the Caprivi is one of the few areas of Namibia that have water.

- Northern Namibia, North of the Ugab river mouth to the border with Angola.

- Central Namibia, Between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Ugab river mouth.

- Southern Namibia, South of the Tropic of Capricorn.

Cities of Namibia

- Windhoek, Namibia's capital and largest city.

- Keetmanshoop, Small town on the rail lines and highway, jumping off point for treks in the Fish River Canyon Park.

- Lüderitz, Colonial-era German coastal town.

- Ondangwa and Oshakati, Twin towns in the heart of Owamboland, northern Namibia.

- Outjo, Gateway to the Etosha National Park, Koakoveld and Damaraland.

- Swakopmund, Coastal town, a mecca for Namibians on holiday.

- Tsumeb, Mining town east of Etosha.

- Tsumkwe, rural desert town surrounded by San (Bushmen) villages.

- Walvis Bay, Desert sports.

- Warmquelle

Other destinations in Namibia

- Brandberg Mountains, The highest mountain in Namibia at 2 573 m.

- Etosha National Park a gem of wildlife

- Kolmanskop, A ghost town just outside Luderitz.

- Waterberg Plateau Park, Another good place to watch wildlife.

- Sossusvlei, The most popular entry point for people wanting to visit the Namib desert.

- Skeleton Coast, The northern coastal part of the Namib desert, named for the dozens of ships that were beached in the thick fog that is frequent where the desert meets the Atlantic.

- Spitzkoppe, the Matterhorn of Namibia.

- Fish River Canyon Park, The second largest canyon in the world.

- Opuwo, capital of Kunene Region and an ideal starting point for stocking up before venturing further into Kaokoland and the rest of NW Kunene.

- Kaokoland, home to the Himba tribe, desert elephants, desert lions, Epupa Waterfalls and many more attractions in this north-western corner of Namibia.

- NamibRand Nature Reserve, The largest privately owned nature reserve on the continent and the only International Dark Sky Place on the continent as well.

Inhabited from the dawn of time by the San, also known as the Bushmen, invaded by the Bantu, colonized by the Germans who called it South West Africa and taken over by South Africa after WWI, Namibia is in many ways quite similar to South Africa.

Since it was ruled under the apartheid system, Namibia also has many of the problems resulting from that system.

It is important to be aware that race is a common part of Namibian discourse. Namibians will refer to the race of others more frequently than travellers from places where race is typically not an issue.

Because of apartheid, race is an issue in many spheres of life, so it comes up a lot. In spite of this, the various races do get along well in Namibia, and it is fairly uncommon to find racial tensions flaring.

Apartheid was never implemented as strictly in Namibia as in South Africa, so racial tensions are generally lower.

Namibia is similar to South Africa, and if you're used to travelling in one country, travelling in the other country is quite easy.

There are some subtle differences. For example, in South Africa a non-white person may choose to speak English rather than Afrikaans.

Whereas among Namibia's mixed-race population who call themselves colored in Namibia and South Africa Afrikaans is a proud part of their culture, and many people still speak German.

Public holidays in Namibia:

January 1. New Years' Day

March 21. Independence Day

Easter weekend. Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday: a four day long weekend in March or April set according to the Western Christian dates.

- May 1. Workers Day

- May 4. Cassinga Day

- May 25. Africa Day

- August 26. Hereros peoples' Day

- December 10. Human Rights Day

- December 25. Christmas Day

- December 26. Day of Goodwill (Family Day)

Nationals of Angola, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, United States of America, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe may enter Namibia visa-free for up to 90 days.

Nationals of Hong Kong and Macau may enter Namibia visa-free for up to 30 days.

Visitors not from the above countries need to apply for a visa from the Namibian consulate in their country of origin or the Ministry of Home Affairs, Private Bag 13200, Windhoek.

If you require a visa to enter Namibia, you might be able to apply for one at a British embassy, high commission or consulate in the country where you legally reside if there is no Namibian diplomatic post.

For example, the British embassies/consulates in Al Khobar, Jeddah and Riyadh accept Namibian visa applications this list is not exhaustive.

British diplomatic posts charge £50 to process a Namibian visa application and an extra £70 if the authorities in Namibia require the visa application to be referred to them.

The authorities in Namibia can also decide to charge an additional fee if they correspond with you directly.

All visitors require a passport valid for at least 6 months after exit from Namibia.

Always verify the dates stamped into your passport, because there have been cases where corrupt officers stamp wrong dates to fine people for overstaying when they leave, and these fines are huge.

Hosea Kutako International Airport, located 45 minutes east of Windhoek, is the main entry point for air traffic. Air Namibia operates flights from Frankfurt, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Victoria Falls and Maun to the international airport.

Flights between the smaller Eros Airport and Cape Town are also available. South African Airways and no-frills Kulula operate flights from South Africa, too. See Discount airlines in Africa for more options.

There are 9 commonly used border posts with neighbouring counties:


- Oshikango (Santa Clara)

- Ruacana


- Buitepos (Mamuno). On the Trans-Kalahari-Highway, connecting the B6 and A2 between Gobabis and Ghanzi e

- Mhembo (Shakawe).

South Africa

- Araimsvlei (Naroegas). Connecting the B3 and N14 between Karasburg and Upington

- Verloorsdrift (Onseepkaans). Connecting the C10 and R358 between Karasburg and Pofadder.

- Noordoewer (Vioolsdrift). Connecting the B1 and N7 between Keetmanshoop and Springbok

- Oranjemund (Alexander Bay).


- Wenela (Sesheke).

The most convenient international bus service into Namibia runs from Cape Town and Victoria Falls. There is also service from Johannesburg. See Intercape Mainliner for schedules and fares.

Using a combination of buses, hitchhiking and kombis you can also get to Namibia from anywhere in Botswana.

The regular overnight train from Upington in South Africa to Windhoek, operated by TransNamib, has been discontinued. It is no longer possible to get into or out of Namibia by train.

Despite the vast distances in Namibia, most people get around by land, and not air. If renting a car, plan to have plenty of cash on hand to fill the tank with petrol. Petrol stations typically do not accept any form of payment except cash.

A small tip for the attendant pumping your petrol of NAD 3-5 is quite common. If you are on the back roads of Namibia, it's always wise to stop and top-off your tank when you see a service station.

Fuel shortages are also common so always be prepared for the possibility of not being able to buy as much petrol as you may like.

Namibia's roads are very good, with primary routes paved, and secondary routes of well-graded gravel. An all-wheel drive vehicle is not necessary except on tertiary roads and the Skeleton Coast.

Driving at night is very dangerous because there is a lot of wildlife on the roads. Traffic drives on the left. Namibian roads eat tires. Always check your spare and inspect your tires often.

It's a good idea to purchase the tire insurance that your rental car company might offer, too.

Namibians often estimate the time to drive between places according to their experience driving quickly on dirt or untarred roads.

Before you reserve a car let the rental company send you a copy of it's rental agreement. Most of them have many and sometimes absolutely ridiculous restrictions. Take your time to compare them according to your needs.

Europcar Car Hire (Car Hire). Car rentals in Namibia.

Kalahari car hire (Car hire Windhoek), 109 Daan Bekker Street, Windhoek.

CABS Car hire Namibia (Car hire Windhoek), 282 Independence Ave, Windhoek.

Windhoek Car Hire (Windhoek Car hire), 124 Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo Street, Windhoek.

Thrifty Car Rental. Offers 24 hour car rental service for a scenic drive through Namibia

AAA Car Hire. Sedan, 4WD and bus rentals in Namibia.

Dial A Cab (Taxi Service in Windhoek). 24 hours a day.

It is quite easy to get around using combies, shared or long-distance taxis. Just ask around to find out where the taxi rank is sometimes there are several taxi ranks, each one with departures to different areas of the country. Drivers are not in the habit of overcharging foreigners.

TransNamib, Operates air-conditioned buses and trains to destinations all over Namibia via their StarLine service.

The national railway company of Namibia, TransNamib, operates trains and buses to destinations all over Namibia via their StarLine passenger service. Some routes available are:

- Windhoek-Otjiwarongo-Tsumeb

- Windhoek-Gobabis

- Windhoek-Swakopmund-Walvis Bay

- Windhoek-Keetmanshoop formerly also to Upington in South Africa but not any more

- Walvis Bay-Swakopmund-Tsumeb

The StarLine scheduled service conveys passengers via special coaches hooked on the back of freight trains. These passenger coaches offer comfortable airline-style seating with air-conditioning and sometimes video entertainment.

Vending machines provide refreshments on long journeys. StarLine.

Other rail services operating in the country are:

Desert Express. The Desert Express is a luxury tourist train that traverses Namibia regularly, taking tourists to such destinations as Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Etosha National Park. Buses are used to transport visitors from train stations to the various sights.

Westwing, Offers both scheduled and charter flights throughout the country

Several tour companies operate in Namibia. Each is unique in services offered but most operate with safety in mind.

On a Safari with Boundless Journeys guests see Namibia's highlights and off-the-beaten-path locations.

Stay on private reserves at luxurious properties where star beds are available, explore the remote and otherworldly landscapes with a local, expert guide on foot, bike, ATV, plane, and vehicle.

Twice-named as a Best Tour Operator by Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards with safaris in Namibia including the highlights and off-the-beaten path adventures.

Apex Expeditions leads a two-week Namibia safari, driving and fly-in that includes Etosha National Park, Damaraland, Skeleton Coast, NamibRand Nature Reserve, and the nomadic Himba tribes.

Lodges and camps are outstanding, and safari guides are well-known field leaders from South Africa.

For experienced off road drivers, with extensive gravel and sand long distance experience, there is one motorcycle rental company in Windhoek. They rent recent BMW Off road motorbikes, with optional GPS and paniers.

As most vehicle rental companies, they can help with the planing of your tour. NamiBIke Adventure cc, 17 Parsival Street - Academia - Windhoek. 08.00 to 17.00. Motorcycle rentals in Namibia. 1.200 N$ to 2.600 N$ per 24h00.

Major indigenous languages include Oshiwambo, Otjiherero, Nama, Damara, Rukwangali, various San languages,and Silozi.

English is the official language and is widely spoken. However, the majority of older Namibians, those educated before independence speak English only as a third language; therefore, the standard is fairly poor.

English is more widely spoken in the north, as it was adopted as a medium of instruction earlier than in the south. Older Namibians in the South are more likely to speak Afrikaans or German.

Afrikaans is spoken by many and is the first language of the Coloureds and the Afrikaners.

English is spoken as a first language by the remaining English families, and German is spoken by the Namibians of German descent, who tend to be in Windhoek, Swakopmund and various farms scattered through the country.

German is one of the leading commercial languages as well. Portuguese is spoken by immigrants from Angola.

Namibia is a land of much natural beauty. To truly appreciate the country, you need to get out in the countryside, either on a tour or by renting a car, and take in the deserts, the mountains, the villages and all that Namibia has to offer.

One of its most dominant features, and the one for which the country is named, is the Namib Desert that stretches for nearly a 1000 km along the Atlantic coast.

As one of the oldest deserts in the world, its sand takes on a distinctive rust colour and it has some of the highest sand dunes in the world.

Sossusvlei is the most accessible part of the desert and is a magical place with its towering dunes that shift hues as the sun rises and sets.

Further south, near the South African border, is Fish River Canyon, one of the largest canyons in the world.

Stretching for 160 km, it is reaches 27 km across at its widest and nearly 550 m down at its deepest. In the north of the country is the empty and mostly inaccessible Skeleton Coast National Park.

It's a seemingly barren expanse of stone and sand famous for its fog and the number of shipwrecks along the coast.

Perhaps not as plentiful as neighbouring Botswana or South Africa, Namibia still has plenty of African wildlife to see.

This includes some local subspecies, such as desert lions, desert elephants and the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra, which are adapted to the harsh desert climate.

Grazing animals like gemsbok, ostrich and springbok are also common. Namibia's national parks are an excellent place to start and one of the most famous is Etosha National Park in Northern Namibia.

The park surrounds the Etosha salt pan, which attracts animals, particularly in the drier winter months, because it is a source of water in a very dry land.

Other notable spots to view wildlife are Waterberg Plateau Park, the parks of the Caprivi and the remote Kaokoland.

Namibia has a German influence from colonial times that is still reflected in some of its buildings. Windhoek has a number of interesting buildings like the Christuskirche, the train station and the castle-like Heinitzburg Hotel.

Luderitz is a colonial-era town with distinctive German Imperial and Art Nouveau styles. Nearby is the abandoned mining town of Kolmanskop. Once a thriving center for diamonds, the miners moved on and the sand dunes have moved in, but tours are still available.

The official currency of Namibia is the Namibian Dollar (N$), which is subdivided into 100 cents. Namibia along with Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland is a member of the Southern African Common Monetary Area, and as such the Namibian Dollar is pegged 1:1 to the South African Rand (ZAR).

Both the Namibian Dollar and South African Rand are legal tender in Namibia, though change will usually be given in Namibian Dollars.

Banks in Namibia will convert Namibian Dollars for South African Rand and vice versa without charge or paperwork.

Since any bank or currency exchange outside Namibia including other members of the Common Monetary Area will charge a substantial service fee to change currency, it is advisable to make use of a Namibian Bank before leaving the country.

It is also advisable to carry proof for example, ATM receipts that money you are taking out of the country is money that you brought into the country in the first place.

Automated teller machines are available in Windhoek, Swakopmund, Luderitz, Tsumeb, and other towns and cities. It is best to use only teller machines that are inside a mall or other building.

Many machines have guards in the larger centres. Always be careful to make sure no one is watching you enter your PIN, and be vigilant about typical scams e.g. machines that seem to eat your card and won't give it back after you enter the PIN.

Credit and debit card fraud is a major problem in the country. Make sure you get a receipt for all processed and cancelled transactions.

When entering your pin for a purchase, it is often customary for clerks to navigate past the sale price confirmation screen on POS terminals by clicking ok to the total sale amount on your behalf.

While not a best practice for electronic financial transactions, it's usually not an ill intended manoeuvre on the part of the cashier. If you remain aware while completing transactions, you shouldn't have any problems.

Prices in shops are fixed, but prices in open markets or from street vendors are open to bargaining.

In most towns you will be approached by many locals to buy souvenirs. When this happens a no thanks will usually suffice and they will leave you alone. It is common to haggle.

Try to buy as much as possible from small shops instead of bigger ones, it's the best way to help the poor local population.

The cross-border money transfer facilities are limited and expensive, with one of the poorest currency buying-and-selling rates, because government does not want the money to be sent out of the country.

There's a western union office across the street from the US embassy in Windhoek.

Namibians have a very high intake of meat. It is possible to be a vegetarian in Namibia.

Fruits and vegetables that you will find in Namibia include avocados, bananas, onions, oranges, pineapples, kiwi fruit, potatoes, and celery.

Also fairly common are peanuts, beans, rice, couscous, millet, tomatoes, corn, bread, and pasta. Many of these foods are imported and therefore relatively expensive, in addition to being limited due to seasonal availability.

If visiting Windhoek, you will find local and international cuisine in the many diverse restaurants and cafes. Pretty much anything you want, you will find here.

Namibia's nightclubs are always happening and always open late, pretty much until the last person leaves. They are mostly located in bigger cities: Windhoek, Swakopmund and Oshakati.

There are not many bars, though there is very good beer, and there are a lot of shebeens. The flagship beer of Namibia is Windhoek Lager, an easy-drinking filtered beer, not dissimilar to many German brews.

There are a number of Hotel chains that operate nationally

Big Sky Lodges, 22 Promenaden Road, Windhoek. Big Sky Lodges operate 5 establishments in strategic areas of Namibia. Each is unique to their environment but all offer the same distinctive attention to service .

Wolwedans Collection of Camps & Lodges, NamibRand Nature Reserve. Wolwedans operate a collection of intimate luxury camps and lodges on the NamibRand Nature Reserve.

It is extremely difficult for foreigners to get work permits in Namibia. With over 51% unemployment, the government is not enthusiastic about letting people in who would take jobs from Namibians.

All semi-skilled and unskilled positions must be unconditionally filled by local Namibians. It is possible to get a work permit to volunteer, though this requires going through the same drawn out process as the normal work permit.

An employee's salary is normally paid in Namibian dollars and income tax Maximum Rate is 37% and is based on different income slabs, is deducted by the employer.

Its Capital city, Windhoek is currently ranked 150 overall, most expensive place in the world for expatriates to live.

Volunteering Even though it might be a long process to get a volunteer work permit in Namibia, the country offers many different opportunities for volunteering and giving back, such as community or educational work, and wildlife conservation with the big 5.

There are many ways to get in contact with the desired volunteer project, one of which is a comparison platform. On Volunteer World for example, you can search and compare all volunteering options in Namibia.

Namibia is a peaceful country and is not involved in any wars. With the end of the Angolan civil war in May 2002, the violence that spilled over into northeastern Namibia is no longer an issue.

Namibia does, however, have a relatively high crime rate. Be careful around ATMs. For men, it is not prudent to walk or ride taxis alone in Windhoek or Oshakati after midnight.

For women, it is not prudent after 9 p.m. Pickpockets can be a problem. Lately, there are many armed robberies reported; in most cases, tourists get robbed of belongings carried with them in a bag.

For home security, electric fences are installed in almost every house in Windhoek.

Most reported robberies take place just outside of the city centre. The police report that taxi drivers are often involved: they spot vulnerable tourists and coordinate by cell phoning the robbers.

Take these warnings in context; if you are alert and take some common sense precautions, you should have no problems.

Travellers should have no problem visiting the townships, but do not visit the townships alone unless you are familiar with the area. If you have been travelling in Southern Africa for a few months, you probably know what you are doing.

Namibia has a serious problem with driving under the influence of alcohol. The problem is aggravated because most people consider it no problem. When driving or walking on weekend evenings, be especially alert.

Be aware of tourist robbery in the Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Henties Bay areas. This problem is larger than commonly reported in the media.

The HIV infection rate in Namibia is about 25%.

Namibia's medical system is modern and capable of attending to whatever needs you may have. Staff are well trained and so HIV transmission in hospitals is not an issue.

This applies to government and private hospitals alike, though line-ups are often shorter at private hospitals, and there have been cases of incorrect diagnosis in government hospitals.

The northern part of Namibia is in a malaria-risk zone, so consult a doctor before leaving, and take appropriate malaria precautions when travelling in these areas.

Namibia's water supply is usually safe to drink, except where labelled otherwise. Campsites next to rivers often get their water directly from the river, so do not drink it.

Having said all this, make sure you consult a physician specializing in health issues of Southern Africa, as well as things like the Centre for Disease Control web page. Make sure you satisfy yourself of the safety of anything you're getting into.

Namibians are very proud of their country. It is a well developed country albeit still a developing nation with all the modern amenities and technologies.

Namibians have been exposed to a surprisingly wide variety of peoples during the United Nations supervising of the elections, as well as from various volunteer organizations.

They are not offended by Westerners wearing shorts, nor by women wearing pants. It is not uncommon to see Afrikaners with thick, knee-high socks keeps snakes from getting a good bite and shorts walking about.

It is customary when greeting someone to ask them how they're doing. It's a simple exchange where each person asks How are you? or the local version "Howzit?" and responds with a correspondingly short answer, and then proceed with whatever your business is about.

It's a good idea to do this at tourist info booths, in markets, when getting into taxis, even in shops in Windhoek, though it's normally not done in some of the bigger stores in the malls.

Namibia's country code is 264. Each city or region has a two-digit area code. When calling long distance within Namibia, prefix the area code with a '0'.

Mobile phones are very common and run on the GSM network, using the same frequency as Europe and the rest of Africa. There are Internet cafes in Windhoek, Swakopmund and Opuwo, and hostels often have access as well.

Tourism Observer

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