Namibia is a country in Southern Africa, bordering Zambia, Botswana, Angola, South Africa and the Atlantic Ocean. This country is known for its wonderful natural attractions such as the Kalahari desert, Namib desert, the Fish River Canyon Park and the Etosha National Park, while at the same time being the country that produces some of the world’s highest quality diamonds. Its people speak as much as nine different languages, some of which are the famous Khoisan languages, spoken in “clicks” that are a completely strange turf for most of the world.
Namibia is very similar to South Africa, and if you’ve ever traveled to one of these countries, you will have no problem finding your way in the other one. There are some subtle differences regarding languages, where in South Africa people may choose to speak English, while in Namibia, speaking Afrikaans is a matter of national pride. People in Namibia are very friendly to all races and tourists are welcome, and their country is rather peaceful.
Warnings & Dangers in Namibia
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Namibia is, for the most part, a safe country to visit. However it does have a rather high crime rate. Crime is a serious issue in Namibia's capital Windhoek and other areas throughout Namibia. Incidents such as muggings and bag snatching happen frequently, especially in areas frequented by foreigners.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Tourists driving in urban areas should be aware that taxis often stop abruptly to pick up and release passengers, which results in frequent rear-end collisions. The public transport system, on the other hand, is very limited and, compared to other African countries, there are only a few buses travelling along the main roads. For the visitor, the best choices of exploring Namibia are on a tour, or to self-drive.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
The most common types of petty crime are pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, vehicle theft, and vehicle break-ins. However, applying common sense precautions such as not leaving valuables in visible spots in parked cars, holding your purses tightly and being wise when carrying them, keeping wallets in front pockets, and being alert to one's surroundings should be enough to prevent these incidents. Theft from motor vehicles is also a possibility.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
There are several annual natural disasters threatening Namibia, including floods, droughts and fires. However, they are not of a severe gravity, and the last natural disaster was a devastating flood that caused wide spread displacement.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Muggings do happen in Namibia, so beware when handling money near ATMs. The highest percentage of such crimes occurs outside the city centre, and according to the police, taxi drivers are accomplices to the robbers. Places where muggings and robberies are common are the Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Henties Bay areas. Kidnapping, however, is a rare occurrence in Namibia.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Although there's no recent history of terrorism in Namibia, attacks can't be ruled out.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
Scams happen regularly in Namibia. They vary from offers to sell rough diamonds or precious stones to tourists, (where the "diamonds" turn out to be worthless) to someone simply trying to divert you so that their partner can steal your wallet, bag or cell phone. It is recommended for tourists to maintain maximum awareness if approached by strangers for any reason.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Namibia is relatively safe for solo women travelers. Just use your common sense and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Avoid wearing purses and do not walk alone at night or ride in taxis after 9 pm.
So... How Safe Is Namibia Really?
Namibia is a peaceful country, relatively safe to travel to and it is not involved in any wars. After the Angolan civil war in 2002, there is no more violence in Namibia. It does, however, have a relatively high crime rate with muggings near ATMs, pickpockets roaming around and even robberies happening more and more. It is not uncommon for tourists to get robbed of their belongings, someone snatching their bags, etc.
It is not wise for men to travel alone in taxis in Windhoek or Oshakati after midnight, and for women, after 9 p.m. Windhoek, being the capital city of Namibia, is not the safest destination for tourists. For example, electric fences are installed in almost every house in Windhoek. Also, the highest number of robberies takes place just outside the city centre, and according to the police, taxi drivers work in organization with the robbers. They spot vulnerable tourists and phone the robbers who then plan the entire robbery. However, if you are alert at all times and take basic precaution measures, you should have no problems. Also, robberies are common in the Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Henties Bay areas. This problem is actually more serious than it is reported.
Another issue in Namibia is people driving under the influence of alcohol. This is becoming more and more of an issue because most people consider it no problem. Be especially alert when driving or walking during weekends and weekend evenings.
- Visas - South African visitors do not require a visa to enter Namibia. Usually, tourist visas are valid for a visit of up to 90 days, but sometimes, visitors are only given permission to stay for periods much shorter than 90 days. Your passport should be valid for a at least 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 not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - There are two currencies in Namibia, Namibian dollar and South African rand. Be careful when using ATMs in Namibia as you may get mugged. It is recommended to exchange your money in banks.
- Weather - Namibia is one of the sunniest countries in the world, boasting with an average of 300 days of sunshine annually. In general Namibia’s climate can be described as hot and dry. However, there are considerable fluctuations within seasons or even within one day. Every single month is the best time to visit Namibia, but the majority of tourists travel here between May and October, since rainfall is highly unlikely and visitors can enjoy constant sunshine, apart from the coastline that can be a bit foggy.
- Airports - Hosea Kutako International Airport is the main international airport of Namibia, located in its capital city, Windhoek. Situated about 45 km east of the city it is Namibia's largest and busiest airport with international connections.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Namibia, since it covers not only the costs of medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.