About Namibia

Facts about Namibia

Covering 824,269 sq km, Namibia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world with only 1,8 million people. Namibia is divided between new and old. The towns and cities have modern amenities and excellent infrastructure, many still dwell in traditional homesteads, hunting and herding their livestock. Namibia is better off than many other countries in the region, particularly because of its diamond wealth, though the distribution of this wealth is not always fair. Namibia's government is effecient and forward thinking; health and education standards are very high. The country is really interesting because it is so different whereever you go. You can easily use more than a month, but two weeks is the absolute minimum.

When to go?

Namibia can be visited all year around as the climate is continually warm and dry. So there is no bad time to visit Nambia, but depending upon what you wish to see and do there are certain months which is better than others. The average temperature in winter (May to September) is 18-25° C. The summer months (December to March) can be brutal with the average temperature of 35° C often up to 40° C or more; so this may not be the best time to visit for those who struggle with the heat. Though the cost is always cool because of the cold Benguela Current. With 300 days of sunshine per year at least, Namibia is definitely a sunny country. In the deserts as all desert regions days are hot and especially in the winter the nights get very cold. In July particularly, there are frosts. So be prepared for some extreme weather with hats, sunblock and sunglasses and a jacket when it's getting cold.

After heavy rain the animals in Etosha do not have to rely on the waterholes , so this is not the best time for wildlife watching. But birdwatching is best after the rains. December and January are the busiest tourism-months for tourism, because of South Africa and Namibia's holiday, so be sure to book car and accomodatation in advance. And July and August because of the European school holidays.
Hiking should not be attempted during the hot summer months.
 

Namibia's Beautiful Nature

Around 60 % of Namibia is semi-desert. The red sanded Kalahari Desert to the east and to the west lies the millions of years old Namib. The Namib desert goes right out to the cold Atlantic Ocean. In the Namib Desert Namibia's premier holiday town Swakopmund can be used as a base for day trips to the seal colony at Cape Cross.

Etosha National Park is in the North with its shimmering pan, where a network of waterholes gives life to a large number of animals - the big attraction. Mahongo and Khaudum game parks to the east also offer excellent game-viewing in a more wilderness atmosphere.
To the north are the stony plains of Kaokoland and Damaraland that have free-roaming rhino and elephant and some unuasual rock formations. A four-wheel-drive is required for an expedition to Kaokoland, but several tourist attractions in Damaraland and the southern part of the Skeleton Coast National Park are easily accessible by car.

Fish River Canyon in the south is Africa's second largest canyon , and is Namibia's answer to the Grand Canyon in USA. Ai-Ais, with its thermal springs, is tucked away among mountainous terrain along the Fish River.
The dune sea surrounding Sossusvlei, can only be explored from Sesriem, on the edge of the Namib Desert. The rugged Naukluft Mountains are a hikers' paradise.
 

Namibia's Culture

Namibia's people have mostly assimilated the Western Culture imposed on them by the colonists, so there is little to be seen of traditional dress and culture, except in the remote parts of Namibia. The Owambo people constitute approximately half of the Namibian population and are divided into eight groups. More than 50% of the Owambo people are members of the two largest groups, the Kwanyama and the Ndonga. The Herero and the Owambo, represent the backbone of modern Namibia. Their cousins, the Himba, still wearing traditional clothing in the remote Kaokoveld - they are the last nomadic, herding people in Southern Africa.
The oldest inhabitans of Namibia are the Bushmen, or San. Today Botswana and Namibia are the last refuge of these ancient and fragile tribes, struggling to keep a sense of identity in the modern world. The largest consentrations of San people live in the former Bushmanland (The Kalahari Desert) and in Western Caprivi.

Languages:

English is the official language of Namibia.
Languages spoken by Namibian people are: * Owambo languages 50,6% * Damara/Nama 12,5% * Kavango languages 9,7% * Afrikaans 9,5% * Herero 8,0% * Caprivi languages 4,7% * San languages 1,9% * English 0,9% * Tswana 0,4% * Other languages (including German) 1,0%
And just think about - there are only 1,8 million people to speak all these languages.
 

Namibia's early History in Brief

- The San-hunter-gatherers or Bushmen were the earlist inhabitans in Namibia, they were culturally distinct and spoke different languages.
- The Khoikhoi who migrated several hundreds of years ago had sheep and later cattle. They moved about constantly in search of grazing, and the remains of their settlements can be seen througout Namibia.
- Buntu-speaking people also migrated into Namibia and settled in the north of the country.
- The Herero, a nation of pastoralists, settled in central and eastern Namibia.
- The Oorlom Nama, crossed the Orange River in the early 1800s
- The Basters came to Namibia from the Northern Cape in the late 1860s.
- The first European to set foot along the Namibian coast was Diego Cão, the Portuguese explorer, who landed at Cape cross in 1486.
- It was not until March 1878 that Britain annexed Walvis Bay and the area arround.
- Germany also began extending its influence in Africa, and in 1884 an area surrounding Lüderitz was declared a protectorate. And by the end of 1884 German rule was firmly established.
 

Namibia's local customs

* Be sensitive to the numerous of customs relating to behaviour when visiting tribespeople in their rural environment. And always ask before photographing local people.
* Before asking whatever it is you want of a person, take a moment to ask how they are, etc. It greatly improves the response.
* Dress in Namibia tends to be casual and most people on holiday wear shorts, sandals and a T-shirt.
* Are you going for a gamedrive or viewing? Wear green, muted browns and khaki coulours as these are less likely to attract mosquitoes at dawn and dusk.
* Eating in a upmarket lodge, restaurants and bars in the evening? Then you are expected to wear more formal clothes, when trainers, sandals, jeans and shorts are not appreciated.

Tipping?

* Waiters, hotel porters, stewards, chambermaids and tour guides expect 10-15%.
* It is common practice to tip petrol pump attendants - up to N$5/US$0,80 for a fill up, oil and water check and comprehensive windscreen clean.
* But make sure your tips go where you intend!
* Photographing local people, for exampel the Himba should be followed by a tip of some kind, which should always be negociated first.