Packing to travel in Namibia is easy – it’s mostly warm in autumn and the nights are starting to become cooler. So a bit of everything will do! A couple of cool summer outfits for up north, with long trousers and sleeves in the evenings (to provide protection from mosquitoes) and a warm jacket and lightweight scarf. A swimming costume for a late summer swim at the coast and those warm inland days at the pool will come in handy. Layering with light clothes is your best bet at this time of the year, as the country can throw all sorts of temperatures at you! In autumn, humidity is higher than during the rest of the year, and if it’s raining, clothes don’t necessarily dry overnight.
Some bigger hotels in Namibia offer a wireless Internet service, often at a charge. There are Internet cafes in most towns in the country and WiFi Hotspots are on hand at many cafes, restaurants and lodges. Fibre-optic technology has been available in Namibia since the mid-1990s, which allows more remote lodges to use Internet. This does not mean that there will always be an Internet service available for guests, however, so purchasing your own data package for your smartphone will allow you to email wherever there is cellphone service.
Don’t be frustrated if you miss a day or two of emailing – enjoying Namibia’s incredible landscapes and wildlife is an excellent way to get away from it all. All Telecom Namibia locations, as well as some retailers, sell FlexiCards/TeleCards with which to call more than 200 countries around the world from a payphone and most hotel phones. In Namibia, payphones are not an endangered species, at least not yet.
TOP Tip – If you have a Kindle
If you have a kindle or other ebook, you may need to download your books to your computer rather than directly to your ebook while travelling in Namibia, as Whispernet or other downloading software may not be available.
Otherwise, load your ebook prior to your departure.
In the middle of autumn when the rains are in full swing, rivers that have been dry for most of the year tend to start flowing without warning. In the capital, tributaries of the Klein Windhoek River channel the overflow from the Avis Dam through the suburb. After a heavy deluge this can cause havoc in town, blocking roads and catching drivers unawares.
Out in the country, dry riverbeds become raging torrents, and rivers that seem to be flowing gently can change in an instant. Often the rain has fallen many kilometres away, and the unwary traveller may have no hint of what is coming.
Don’t ever camp in a dry riverbed, or cross a river without wading through it first. Also make sure you have a backup vehicle if you decide to cross.
Namibia is a summer-rainfall area with hot, humid conditions and standing water, an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Malaria is still the number-one killer disease in Africa, so be sure to take a prophylaxis if you’re visiting areas north of Windhoek, especially during the rainy months and well into winter. In years of increased and prolonged rainfall, the risk of catching malaria is also increased and prolonged.
Rub or spray on some mosquito deterrent and wear long sleeves, long trousers and socks if sitting outside in the evening. Sleep under a mosquito net when possible.
Consult your family doctor before leaving home, as some prophylactic regimes need to be started before your departure.
Should you become ill on your return home, go and consult a doctor and remember to mention that you’ve visited a malarial area.
Have you ever returned from a holiday abroad to find that international roaming charges have added thousands to your cellphone bill? This can be avoided in Namibia by stopping off before you leave on safari to purchase a SIM card and pay-as-you-go package from one of the local suppliers in Windhoek or other large towns in Namibia.
In addition, there are packages that include data, as well as a phone service, so you can check your email while on the road. In some areas, Namibians had a cellphone service before landlines were installed, so became adept at text messaging. In fact, you will find places to charge cellphones in many outdoor markets in small towns and villages where not everyone has electricity.
The two main companies offering pay-as-you go are MTC with its Tango card and the newer company, Leo. According to MTC, its coverage reaches 95% of the Namibian population, while Leo advertises that it reaches 80% of the country, including all thirteen regions. Both companies continue to expand their networks. It’s wise to check coverage maps and prices of each before deciding which package to purchase.
A frequently asked question is: “Do you know what time it is?” Namibia works on GMT +2 hours from September through to April. On the first Sunday in April, daylight saving is implemented and clocks are turned back one hour to be on GMT +1 hr. This is great, as you can sleep an hour later and your kids go to school in daylight. The downside for outdoor-loving Namibians is that they now arrive home from work just as it’s turning dark! Time changes back again the first Sunday in September, and heralds the start of spring.
This article appeared in the Autumn 2012 edition of Travel News Namibia.
Post lead photo courtesy of Sense of Africa