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Where the oldest desert on earth meets the wild South Atlantic Sea - Namibia is a land of elemental beauty.

Along the surreal Skeleton Coast, huge sand dunes rise up like mountains, stretching inland to meet vast canyons and saltpans. Wild and somewhat inhospitable to humans, the great deserts of Namibia come alive with wildlife as the seasons change. From the endangered black rhino of Etosha National Park to the elephants and zebra of the Kalahari, these starkly beautiful landscapes are home to an incredible sweep of the animal kingdom.

In the capital, Windhoek, and smaller towns such as Swakopmund, the German influence in Namibia can be plainly seen. Colonial buildings from the late 1800s are still in use, and there’s even an Oktoberfest. Interesting as this human history may be, it’s the landscapes and the wildlife that are the real stars of the show on any trip to Namibia.  

Culture and history

Formerly colonised by Germany and South Africa, Namibia gained its independence in 1990. As a result of apartheid, there are stark differences in wealth between its indigenous peoples and its white settlers.

The vast mix of ethnic groups in Namibia includes the Ovambo (who account for around half of the population), while the Kavango, Herero, Damara and Caprivian all have significant numbers. The San – or ‘Bushmen’ – are a nomadic people, and its men still hunt with bows and poison arrows, while the women forage for edible plants, wild fruits and berries in the Kalahari.

Crafts produced for the tourist trade in Namibia include woodcarvings and basketry, while diamonds are the country’s most lucrative export. In common with much of the planet, football is very popular here – so if you fancy a kick about you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a game.

Looking back on the country’s history, Namibia was (and is) mainly the domain of the animal kingdom, although there have been human inhabitants over the centuries. Many small tribes occupied different parts of the country. The San were a nomadic hunter-gatherer people, while the Khoi-Khoi raised livestock. Several Bantu tribes occupied parts of the country, and in the 1500s the Herero from the Zambezi Valley took over much of the north and west of present-day Namibia.

Because of its largely inhospitable lands, colonisation came late to Namibia. But at the end of the 19th century, as European powers scrambled for foreign lands, Germany took Namibia. Their power was short lived however, and at the end of the First World War South Africa took control of the country. Despite the UN’s refusal to grant South Africa the right to annexe Namibia after the Second World War, they pushed ahead. The limited farmland was divided up between white settlers, while the indigenous people were confined to their ‘reserves’. After a long battle Namibia finally attained independence from South Africa in 1990. 

Things to do

On Saga’s holidays to Namibia you’ll travel through dramatic landscapes as you get to know the wildlife of this amazing country. Feel the romance and adventure of those early safari expeditions as you spot elephants in the Kalahari. Learn the bushman’s survival secrets in the Namib Desert and gaze over the spectacular ridges of Fish River Canyon. Sip sparkling wine and sink fresh oysters as you cruise Walvis Bay in search of pelicans and dolphins, then take a tour to meet fur seals in Cape Cross. As well as our Namibia overland adventures, you could also join a tour taking in its neighbouring countries of Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa

Flight time

The flight time to Namibia from the UK is just shy of eleven hours, so you’ll be able to enjoy a couple of films and a snooze on your journey. 

Currency

Dollar -

The Namibian dollar is on a par with the South African rand and the South African currency is accepted in Namibia. Traveller’s cheques are the safest way to bring money but it can be difficult to find places to cash them.

Passports and visas

It’s a good idea to carry a copy of your passport with you on holiday.

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Timezone

Namibia is two hours ahead of GMT.

Electricity

Most mains sockets in Namibia take plugs with the old-fashioned three large round pins. But many of the continental adaptors sold in airport duty-free shops do not fit these sockets. An electrical shop should be able to supply a suitable plug. Mains voltage is 220-230 volts AC (50 cycles). 

Language

English -

The official language is English, although German and Afrikaans are still widely spoken.

Tipping

You shouldn’t feel obliged to tip if you’ve received poor service. However, if you are satisfied you should show your appreciation to the waiter or porter in question to the tune of 10%.

Some bars and restaurants will display a communal box for staff tips.

Climate

Namibia experiences 300 days of sunshine each year. The hottest months are January and February when temperatures can exceed 40 ºC.

Evenings, however, can be surprisingly cold, so do pack something warm to wear on your tour.

Health

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

Around two million people live in Namibia, which is about the same number of people that live in Birmingham.

Smoking

There are no official restrictions in place but some venues may uphold their own.



Climate