Our recommendation to visit Namibia
Our recommendation to visit Namibia and neighboring countries
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Namibia has completely exceeded our expectations. It was an amazing experience to travel to a country full of contrasts: safari, dunes, mountains and beach. The organization, the hotels and the people in the group made the adventure even more unforgettable.
Namibia Travel advice
Events and festivals in Namibia
The popular festivals in Namibia are marked by their two large deserts, the Kalahari and the Namib, as well as by the religious festivals. Although this is a Catholic country, Namibia also celebrates traditional events with ancestral origins.
Of all the popular festivals in Namibia, the Oshituthi Shomagongo celebration is one of the most representative in the country. This festival takes place during the harvest of the marula fruit which is used to make omagongo, a traditional drink from the north of the country.
But in addition to this festival, Namibians have a rather extensive calendar of events. Let’s look at this month by month and see what you will find during your trip.
As it is a Catholic country, Namibia celebrates the New Year on the 1st of January, as well as the Day of the Kings on the 6th of January. As these months coincide with the summer, popular festivals in Namibia during this time are full of outdoor celebrations.
Music, dance, and songs are the highlights of this epic, and families congregate around traditional food and drinks. There are also gifts for the little ones and big celebrations in all the villages.
February and March
One of the most celebrated popular festivals throughout the country of Namibia is Independence Day. This day is celebrated on the 21st of March and is celebrated with numerous banquets and festivals throughout the country. It is a day to remember that it is a democracy and that they are no longer under the yoke of German colonization.
Namibia was colonized by Germany from 1904 to 1907, during which period a serious genocide took place against the Nam and Herero tribes. These populations are asking their government to seek compensation from Germany for these deeds. Nonetheless, despite the past suffering, Namibians celebrate their independence with great joy.
Between the end of March and beginning of April, one of Namibia’s festivals with the greatest connection to nature takes place: the Oshituthi Shomagongo. This celebration is recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage and is celebrated int eh north of the country.
A total of eight communities gather to harvest and make the omagongo. During the festival, the men carve cups from wood and gourds from which to drink the beverage. The women make clay pots and weave baskets in which to harvest the fruit. During two or three days, participants celebrated the existence of the fruit in a relaxed environment.
Also at the end of April, Namibians celebrate the Windhoek Carnival which takes place for a whole week. This event has a great deal of social relevance in Namibia and its celebration is of Germanic origin. In fact, this carnival is very reminiscent of the German Oktoberfest.
In May two festivals with historical-political origins take place in Namibia. On the 4thof May, there is the Commemoration of the Battle of Cassinga, an event which remembers the killing of over 600 Namibian refugees by the South African Armed Forces.
The 25th of May celebrates the Day of African Unity, which is also a festival for the whole continent, and not just Namibia.
June and July
During June and July, popular Namibian festivals take place which is linked to the inhabitants and tribes scattered throughout the country. The Bosquimanos from north of the Kalahari Desert, the Nama, the Damara, the Himba, and the Ovambo. All attempt to keep their traditions and ancestral legacies alive through dance, songs, and tribal festivals.
In August, some of the most colorful Namibian festivals take place on Hereros Day. This large ethnic group celebrates its commemorative festival in Okahandja around the 26th of August. The festivities are marked by many parades of warriors that commemorate the battles against the Germans and the Khoi-khoi tribe.
September and October
At the end of September, the Harvest Festival is celebrated in many parts of the country. This celebration is strongly linked to the customs of the original native inhabitants of Namibia. At the other extreme, in October the Oktoberfest is celebrated, which is a clear influence remaining from German colonial times.
November and December
Although there are no large festivals in the country during November, the Oranjemund Diamond Festival takes place during this month. This festival is celebrated from the end of November to early December and has the objective of promoting the city of Oranjemund as a tourism destination for investors.
Apart from the above, Namibia also celebrates Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Families gather together around the dinner table for Christmas Eve dinner, and believers attend mass.
If you can make your trip coincide with one of these outstanding popular Namibian festivals, you will not only behold the beauty of the country’s landscapes but also its culture.GO TO EVENTS
Food in Namibia
You probably can’t think of what to eat in Namibia, well, what will surprise you the most is a large amount of international variety, mostly from German and English cooking. Its colonial past leaves a mark on Namibian gastronomy, so if you want to try the true Namibian cuisine, you will have to look for the right restaurants.
The gastronomy of Namibia is mostly based on meat, indeed, an almost infinite variety of meats. In Namibia, they make numerous dishes with ostrich, antelope, zebra, giraffe, oryx, kudu, lamb and beef.
The way of cooking the meat is generally to grill it, and then to dress it with rich and tasty sauces. You will also find famous British Fish & Chips and German sausages throughout the country.
But, taking away the European influence, we are going to find out what the more traditional typical dishes to eat in Namibia are.
This soup is one of the typical dishes of Namibia which is made with fish, goat meat or lamb and rice. The ingredients are mixed in an iron pot, mahangu or millet is its main ingredient. This cereal is the basic food of the Ovambo people.
They also make mielie, or corn flour, soups with the same ingredients as the previous one, accompanied with peppers and onions, vegetables which form part of the basic diet of the Namibian people.
To make this typical dish of Namibia, a small iron pot is used, called a potjie. This pot has three feet, it is placed on fire outside and the ingredients are placed in it, which is mainly game meat.
To make this dish, venison and poultry are used, along with carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, pumpkin, and potato starch. Fresh herbs and spices are added to give it a unique flavor.
Meat skewers are another of the typical dishes to eat in Namibia, and you will find them almost anywhere. To make this dish, Namibian chefs use ostrich or crocodile meat, or both. They add stock, lemon, red chili, peanut butter, cashew nuts, coconut milk, salt and pepper.
This is perhaps one of the most exotic dishes from Namibian gastronomy. The bullfrog is eaten in the north of the country, where its inhabitants cook it covering the saucepans with dry Omuhongo wood. This is essential to prevent poisoning, so it is only worth trying if it has been cooked in the traditional way.
Fish is another of the highlights of Namibian cooking, the quality of the hake is excellent. You can find many recipes, but hake fillets in cuttlefish sauce are the best. To make it, they use hake, clams, cuttlefish, carrots, onion, and salt.
Oysters and green asparagus from Swakopmund
Oysters are the highlight of this part of the country, and without a doubt, they are something to try during your trip to Namibia. Their quality is superior, and the preparation varies depending on the restaurant you go to. It is a highly valued dish by tourists as well as Namibians themselves, so you must try them.
Also in Swakopmund, you will be able to try another of its specialties: green asparagus. Soft and meaty asparagus that is nothing like the asparagus you’ve tried before.
Lobster from Luderitz
If you visit Luderitz, the typical dish of Namibian gastronomy to eat here is lobster. Exquisite and huge lobsters are cooked in the best way in any restaurant in this African town.
Namibia also produces olives, in fact, its kalamata variety produces a crop of very good black olives. There is also a variety of green olives that you will have no problem finding in the numerous hotels and tourist lodges.
As well as the dishes of game and fish, and traditional soups, Namibia also offers you desserts and drinks, although in this case, of a clear German influence.
Typical German dishes in Namibia
The famous Landjäger smoked sausage or dried spicy sausages are another of the typical dishes to eat in Namibia, as strange as it might seem. You will also find typical German salted bread rolls, filled with cheese, meat or eggs. Sauerkraut is another of the German dishes you will be able to try in Namibia if you haven’t already tried it.
In terms of desserts, all of the restaurants in the country have Apple strudel or typical German apple cake, as well as the famous Black forest gateaux.
To accompany each dish, don’t hesitate to ask for a Windhoek Lager, the national beer, clearly of German origin. That was our guide to the flavors of Namibia, a country that lives with its colonial past and its more traditional customs.GO TO GASTRONOMY
Shopping in Namibia
We are going to recommend what to buy in Namibia during your trip to this Southwest African country. Its crafts are varied and colourful, so you are sure to take more than one souvenir home as a gift.
Before talking about the typical products to buy in Namibia, you should know that the crafts are very varied. You will find fabrics, wooden objects, bowls, masks, dolls, and even typical food products of the country.
The souvenirs of Namibia are very original, so you won’t be able to resist buying more than one thing in their markets. Talking of markets, one of the best for shopping is the one in Swakopmund, also known for its German colonial architecture.
Crafts in Namibia
When it comes to buying souvenirs in the markets of Namibia, you have to bear in mind that bargaining is almost obligatory. The initial price of the products is never what you should pay, so, if you negotiate with the artisan, you are sure to reach an agreement that benefits you both.
We’ve all seen African wooden masks, many of them represent warriors or animals. These masks, although they now sell them as souvenirs for tourists, have a religious meaning. Most of them represent protective spirits, or also powerful animals. Find out from the artisan about the meaning of the mask, so that it isn't just a decorative object.
It is quite common amongst the typical products of Namibia to find stalls full of wooden bowls. These bowls are hand crafted in different sizes and colours. There are simple ones, coloured ones, and those with fine geometric drawings, and they are perfect to use in the kitchen.
Throughout Africa there is an abundance of wooden figures of animals, especially elephants, but also of native Africans. Normally, the figures represent warriors with their spears, or mothers with their babies. They form part of the culture and traditions of the villages of the area, and for that reason, they are a perfect reminder of your trip to the country.
Another of the typical products to buy in Namibia are its multicoloured fabrics. They use them to make clothing, but there are also quilts, tablecloths and tapestries that you can take home as gifts. The quality of these fabrics and the natural dyes gives them great value, which is why, more than a souvenir, they are an example of the traditional art of the region.
Bottle top magnets
Although magnets are the typical souvenirs we often take home as a reminder of our trip, the magnets form Namibia are different since they are made from old bottle tops. Of course, they are hand painted with beautiful animal figures and bright colours. They are one of the most original gifts that you will find to take home.
Wooden and rag dolls
If you really want something to buy in Namibia that enables you to take the essence of the country home with you, the dolls made by the tribes are the best choice. There are ones made from wood, decorated with small beads of seeds, and also rag dolls, with traditional clothing. The good thing about these souvenirs is that they are good for children as well as for the most sophisticated collectors.
Products made with macalani seeds
Namibian artisans use macalani seeds (a species of native palm tree) to make different objects. The result is very pretty small carved spheres which are decorated by hand, that can take the form of keyrings, bracelets or necklaces. They are undoubtedly the most practical and cheapest gifts you will find anywhere in Namibia.
But if you really want to make a difference, musical instruments are the best option amongst the things to buy in Namibia. You can choose between drums, flutes, string instruments, rattles and marimbas. The marimbas are perhaps only for music lovers, since it is a percussion instrument similar to the xylophone, of considerable dimensions.
Biltong is a dry meat whose flavour is similar to jerky, the uniqueness of this souvenir from Namibia is that it is made of various types of meat. During its preparation, beef, ostrich and antelope meat is used. It is bought by the weight and cut into slices, and they vacuum pack it so that it doesn’t lose its flavour.
If you are a wine lover, what better thing to take home as a souvenir than a good melon wine or mataku. This wine is one of the most widely consumed and valued traditional drinks in Namibia. Another option is walende, for the most daring, it's similar to vodka in flavour and alcohol level. And to surprise the more extravagant, buy a bottle of ontaku as a gift, made of fermented millet.
Here you have a guide to the most typical products to buy in Namibia during your visit. This country will leave a beautiful trace in your eyes as well as the heart and the palate.GO TO SHOPPING
Namibia tourist attractions
More information about Namibia
Namibia vacation packages
A vast southern African country, characterized by its diverse landscapes of deserts, savannahs and rugged coastline, Namibia is the perfect destination for getting in touch with your wild side. Bordered by South Africa, Angola and Botswana and separated from neighbouring Zimbabwe by the huge Zambezi River, Namibia is often hailed as the perfect destination choice for first-time travellers to Africa as it encompasses a huge array of attractions that epitomize the dream of the African safari and the untouched, wild landscapes that this continent is known for.
With wildlife, wilderness and the unique culture of the indigenous communities such as the Himba and San peoples, a Namibia vacation package will open your eyes and heart to the heart of Africa.
The capital, Windhoek, in the center of the country, is the starting point for most explorations into the country’s natural wonders, whilst Swakopmund, on the Atlantic ocean coast, offers visitors on a tour of Namibia a fascinating insight into the country’s colonial past, with cheerful German-style buildings in a charming palette of colors.
On the other hand, Etosha National Park and Damaraland are some of the most abundant destinations for wildlife spotting in South Africa, filled with African animals, most notably rhinos and elephants. Open-top safaris, whale-watching in the Atlantic and climbing the red dunes of the Namib Desert; Namibia travel brings these opportunities within your reach!
History of Namibia
To truly understand and make the most of a Namibia tour, you must first get to know its diverse and eventful history. Indigenous groups such as the Nama, San, and Damara have inhabited the territory of modern-day Namibia since ancient times. It was not until the 14th-century that the now dominant Bantu people’s arrived in the country, changing the cultural landscape forever.
After annexation by British colonialists during the ‘scramble for Africa’ in the late 19th-century, parts of Namibia became integrated into the Union of South Africa in 1910. Already, most of Namibia was under the rule of the German Empire, known as ‘German South-West Africa’.
This period and its influence are clearly seen in the country’s language and in its colonial architecture, which you’ll notice if you visit Swakopmund during a tour of Namibia. Certain Namibian ethnic groups were targeted by the authorities during the years of German rule. The darks days of this genocide in the early 1900s greatly affected the Herero and Namaqua people and left its mark on the country as a whole. In 1915, South African forces ended German rule in Namibia and in the aftermath of World War I the territory became fully integrated into South Africa, later suffering the same fate of apartheid from 1948 to the 90s. It was not until 1990 that Namibia gained full independence, after decades of uprisings and guerillas warfare, although Walvis Bay and Penguin Islands did not gain independence until 1994.
Nature in Namibia
Well-known for its sweeping sand dunes, Namibia is home to a vast array of natural wonders and is a must-visit haven for nature photographers. Rivers and wetlands contrast with the grassy plains of the Kalahari, whilst wildlife-rich coastal attractions, such as Walvis Bay, offer visitors the chance to meet seas lion colonies and pods of dolphins.
A Namibia tour package is sure to revolve around the wildlife and natural attractions of the country, and there is a handful of sights which characterize the experience. Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in Africa and amazes visitors with its rugged landscape of unique and winding rock formations. It’s the perfect place to get out into the wild on a number of challenging hiking trails.
Perhaps the most famous natural sight in the country is Sossusvlei, an other-worldly expanse of towering red sand dunes, as big as mountains, fossilized trees, and atmospheric orange-hued landscapes. The famous fossilized trees have survived centuries without decaying due to the dry climate of the Namib Desert, the oldest in the world. If you have the chance to climb ‘Big Daddy’, one of the largest sand dunes, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views and a brilliant sense of achievement!
Wildlife lovers and those who are adamant on sighting some of Africa’s biggest game will be drawn to Etosha National Park during a vacation package to Namibia. Herds of elephants are park’s most characteristic sight and it’s undoubtedly the best place for wildlife spotting in the country. Rhinos, leopards, and cheetahs can be found here in abundance, particularly around the wet season watering holes where they refresh themselves at dusk and dawn.
Culture in Namibia
Many intrepid travelers choose a tour of Namibia to immerse themselves in the country’s diverse and unique culture. Over the centuries, immigration has resulted in a population composed of numerous different ethnic groups, many with their own traditions and ways of life that invite curiosity and admiration from visitors.
Examples include the nomadic San bushmen and the Himba people, known for their use of otijze, a red paste applied to the women's skin and hair. Many groups continue to live very traditionally, in villages composed of straw huts and participate in rituals and folklore that have withstood the pressures of modernity. Cattle and farming are integral parts of rural life in Namibia.
More than half the population live rurally, and it’s here, in the vast countryside, where you can get to the heart of Namibian culture. Many Namibians follow Christianity, although up to 20% of the population continue to practice their own indigenous beliefs. The official languages are English and German, due to its colonial past, although Oshiwambo is the most widely spoken. Visitors on a vacation in Namibia will notice the strong German influence in the cities; you can even dine and drink in German restaurants and pubs, especially in the capital of Windhoek.
Watch the sunrise over Big Daddy Sand Dune in the Namib Desert, photograph fossilized trees in Sossusvlei, meet the noisy sea lions of Walvis Bay and embark on a wildlife safari in Etosha National Park on an action-packed tour of Namibia. Open up a world of adventure and experience a warm welcome in this beautiful country.
Valid passport with at least six months validity and at least two blank pages.
No visa is required.
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Other useful information
Always drink bottled water and avoid ice in drinks, salads and fruit where possible. It is advised to bring medication for diarrhoea and mosquito repellent.
There are no mandatory vaccinations, however an up to date vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis, typhus, tetanus and diphtheria. Please consult your doctor regarding malaria prophylaxis.
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