Namibia is an amazing country to travel though to do it on a budget can be quite tricky. The best way to explore Namibia is by doing a road trip with a rental car but it’ll cost you quite a bit. Even to drive with your own car is expensive due to large distances between places, here petrol is your main expense.
Moving around the country
Rent a car in Namibia
Most tourists rent big 4×4 vehicles with roof-top tents on mainly for safaris this is the most expensive and the most comfortable transport option keep in mind in Namibia you drive on gravel roads a lot. Prices start at per day.
Rent a normal sedan type car it will definitely limit you, will be less comfortable and in some places you won’t be able to drive it but there are always an option e.g. taking a shuttle in Sossusvlei to the Deadvlei or doing safari-tour in Etosha.
Do tours/take shuttles. From the main Namibian cities you can do different tours to the nearby sights. This is the best option for those who travels alone there are usually four to six people on such tours. Prices start at NAD700/US$50 per person depending on tour duration, accommodation options and excursion program. Usually on these tours everything is included in price. You can just relax and be ready for taking awesome photos.
Using public buses is the most budget option and there are many buses going between cities and towns you can take an Intercape bus all the way from Cape Town through Namibia to the border with Angola. But these big buses drive on tarred roads using only them you will miss out a lot. You can combine public buses and tours and cover long distances using the first and do sightseeing with the second.
Accommodation in Namibia
Camping is the way to go here you can find campsites anywhere even in the most isolated places and of course in National parks. If you’re not planning to rent a big car with root-top tent we’d suggest bringing your own tent it’ll save you a lot of money. In most places in Namibia except Windhoek and two or three other towns budget accommodation doesn’t exist, there are many fancy lodges where prices start at NAD1000/US$70 for double room.
Hostels in Namibia can be found in its capital Windhoek, Swakopmund, Luderitz, a couple of smaller places may have budget hotels or B&Bs. Hostels usually have two or three dormitories, private rooms and some of them allow camping in their yards. They have standard hostel features; kitchen, shared bathroom, wi-fi, TV room, some have swimming pool and serve breakfast.
Must see places in Namibia
Most of these places you can visit as a part of your self-drive trip through Namibia or with a tour.
Number one attraction is Sossusvlei with Dune 45 and the Deadvlei (Dead Valley). This landscape will make you drop your jaw; giant red-sand dunes in contrast with blue sky, white lake pan and dead trees. Not to miss sunrise from the top of Dune 45.
Etosha National park is a great place to experience an African safari here you can see many animals especially if you come in the dry season between April and October. Then your chances to spot lions, elephants, hyenas and maybe even a leopard are quite high. Not mentioning thousands of springboks, antelopes, zebras, giraffes etc.
Fish River canyon in the extreme South of Namibia quite far do drive from Windhoek but if you come from South Africa it’s on the way. The second largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon in Utah this is a stunning place. More adventurous can try to hike Fish River canyon it’s opened from May to September when the temperatures go down and the heat is bearable.
Epupa Falls is quite a surprise as most people think Namibia is all about desert, dry pans and sand dunes. Absolutely beautiful falls in the North of Namibia with giant baobab trees around, rainy season (January-March) is the best time to visit.
Caprivi Strip. Namibian wetland and a great place to watch hippos they are everywhere, it’s a pleasure to sit on a bank of the Okavango river with your morning coffee watching these guys. There are many elephants in this area as well so if you miss them in Etosha (as they migrate North during the rainy season) you can see them in Caprivi.
Cape Cross Seal reserve is one more amazing animals experience to have in Namibia. It has about 30 000 seals and you can observe them from very close. The best time to come here is between January and March when seal babies are born.
In the Southern Namibia don’t miss old cars, some of them you can find abandoned next to the road, some at lodges or food stops with trees or cactuses growing from their boots.
Food in Namibia
Like in any other place except maybe some Asian countries in Namibia it’s cheaper to cook for yourself. Every little town has a small shop, most places have supermarkets. If you travel by car it’s not a problem, you can stock your cooler box for a couple of days especially before visiting a National park or going to some remote areas. If you travel by buses, try to find hostels or B&Bs with a kitchen that you can cook at least from time to time.
The main budget food option that you can find all over the country is Wimpy (South African fast food chain) they serve egg and bacon breakfast for US$2 all day.
Need to know about traveling Namibia
The main concern for most people when they go to Africa is danger and diseases. Namibia is quite safe country of course in Windhoek you have to watch your stuff and don’t leave any valuables in the car if parking on the street. Southern Namibia is mostly a lot of nothing and nobody we even slept a couple of times in the car next to the road.
Most of Namibian territory is desert no tropical diseases here, except the Northern area Caprivi Strip where in the rainy season between January and April you can get malaria especially if it rains a lot.
Road police in Namibia. If you drive gravel roads you won’t see a single policeman or speed camera there. They all concentrate on the main highway that crosses the country North to South. There you can see speed cameras or policemen hiding in the bush, but we never had any problem with them. They stopped us a couple of times mainly in the North when you enter Caprivi or close to Angola border checked the driving license and let us go. Never searched our car or tried to get money from us.
Driving in Namibia is on the left side of the road like in England or Australia something to get used to.
Local currency – Namibian Dollar 1NAM = 1ZAR (South African Rand) = 13,7US$. Both NAM and ZAR money can be used in Namibia.