Namibia , Africa - Wontra Travels

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Welcome to Namibia

Namibia

Namibia

Continent: Africa

Capital: Windhoek

Population:  2,113,077 (2011 estimate)                                                                          

Dialing Code: +264

Currency: Namibian dollar (NAD), South African rand (ZAR)

Time zone: CAT (UTC+2)

Official language:  English, Afrikaans, German

Officially Known as the Republic of Namibia and touted as the starting place for exploration for non Africans.

Located in Southern Africa, Namibia is a country in southern Africa  bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Zambia and the Atlantic Ocean.

Although it does not border Zimbabwe, less than 200 metres of the Zambezi River (essentially a small bulge in Botswana to achieve a Botswana/Zambia micro-border) separates the two countries. Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek, and it is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Namibia boasts remarkable natural attractions such as the Namib desert, the Fish River Canyon Park, Etosha National Park and the Kalahari desert. Its people speak nine different languages, including some of the Khoisan languages which include the 'clicks' that present an enigma to most native English-speakers. Namibia produces some of the world's highest quality diamonds.

Information & Facts

Attraction Overview

From the seemingly endless sand dunes of the Namib Desert to the tropical wetlands of the Caprivi Strip, Namibia is a country of epic landscapes, bountiful wildlife and few people. Its greatest assets are the rugged Namib and Kalahari deserts, which support a surprising diversity of fauna including rare black rhinos, cheetahs, elephants, springbok and vast flocks of ostriches.

Few countries in Africa can match Namibia's sheer natural beauty. The country's name derives from its (and the world's) oldest desert, the Namib. Namibia is a land of extremes  which is evident along the Skeleton Coast. A windswept wasteland of dark green scrub and calcified sand dunes, it is littered with the rusting carcases of ships washed ashore by the merciless Atlantic Ocean.The area is also home to the colourful Himba people whose love of elaborate hairdos and jewellery have made them one of the most photographed tribes in the world. Their home overlaps another of Namibia’s natural marvels, Etosha National Park, which boasts an abundance of wildlife: everything from the tiny Cape sparrow to the magnificent African elephant can be found here.

The coastal town of Swakopmund has a sunny charm that is all its own. Appearing like a mirage in the desert, the city is home to palm-fringed beaches, a gorgeous collection of colonial buildings and a sizeable German-speaking population.

Business

Lightweight suits are advised. Prior appointments are necessary. English is widely spoken in business circles, although a grasp of Afrikaans is an advantage. The best times for business are February to May and September to November.

Office Hours are between 0800-1700 Monday to Friday

The mining industry is one of Namibia’s key sources of income and provides more than half of the country’s foreign exchange income. Namibia is on of the largest producers of uranium in the world. Other minerals extracted include silver, copper, lead, zinc, tungsten and some of the world's highest-quality diamonds. A substantial proportion of the workforce is engaged in subsistence farming of crops such as wheat, maize and millet but their yield is under constant threat from desertification

Tourism, particularly eco-tourism, is a key part of the economy and one of the country’s biggest employers. Namibia’s biggest trading partner is South Africa, followed by the UK, the USA, Angola, the Netherlands and Spain, and generally involves the exchange of raw materials for manufactured goods. Recent economic policy has seen many former state enterprises transferred to the private sector. The economy has performed reasonably well during the last decade but inflation has recently accelerated. 

Climate

Namibia’s climate can be described as an arid climate. With lots of sunshine all year round it’s a destination to which tyou can travel any time during the year. Although some people may prefer to avoid the heat of high summer, winter nights can be fairly cold, but days are generally warm and pleasant.

For travellers seeking a real wildlife experience, the winter months of April and June are the best time to visit, as the bush will be sparser and the dry weather will lead to frequent congregations at the waterhole. For clothing, pack light cottons, with something warmer for evenings.

Inland, the rain falls exclusively in summer (November to March). The weeks following the March rains are ideal for birdwatching, but less good for spotting game, as the animals are more dispersed than in the dry season. The Fish River Canyon hiking route is closed from mid-September to mid-April due to the risk of floods. 

Communications

Namibia's country code is +264. Each city or region has a two-digit area code. When calling long distance within Namibia, prefix the area code with a '0'. Mobile phones are very common and run on the GSM network, using the same frequency as Europe and the rest of Africa. There are Internet cafes in Windhoek, Swakopmund and Opuwo, and hostels often have access as well.

Press freedom is provided for by the constitution and respected by the government. Opposition views are broadcast. English-language dailies include The Namibian (also printed in Oshiwambo) and The Namibia Economist, while the main Afrikaans newspaper is Die Republikein. Allgemeine Zeitung is published daily in German.

While Namibia's internal post is annoyingly slow, international post is more reliable and mail will usually get to its destination within two weeks.

Customs

The import and export of local currency is limited to N$50, 000. The import of foreign currency is unlimited, provided sums equal to or exceeding NAD5, 000 are declared on arrival. Export of foreign currency is unlimited up to the amount imported and declared.

Prohibited imports include narcotics, automatic weapons, military weapons, unnumbered weapons, toxic and poisonous substances.

Hunting rifles need a permit issued by customs when entering the country. Special authorisation is required for the import of endangered species. Plants or plant materials require a permit obtained in advance.

Prohibited exports include endangered species, narcotics, stolen property, ivory, rhino horn, and protected cultural artefacts.

You must obtain permits in order to export the following: military weapons, ammunition, explosives, firearms, conflict diamonds and minerals, pornography, and products which violate national intellectual property protection law (eg counterfeit goods).

Duty Free

The following may be imported into Namibia by persons over 18 years of age without incurring customs duty:

• 400 cigarettes and 50 cigars and 250g of tobacco.

• 2L of wine and 1L of spirits.

• 50ml of perfume and 250ml of eau de toilette.

• Gifts to the value of N$1, 250.

Electricity

In Namibia the power sockets are of type D and M. The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

Getting Around

Air travel is the most practical way to get around. The road network in Namibia is also very good.

Namibia boasts some of the best roads in Africa, and many are tarmac. Distance presents the main challenge with as much as three hours between towns on main roads and more when you venture further into the wilderness.

The most convenient international bus service into Namibia runs from Cape Town and Victoria Falls. There is also service from Johannesburg.

Taxi’s cars and Bicycles are also available for hire if you need them 

Health

Namibia's medical system is modern and capable of attending to whatever needs you may have. Staff are well trained. This applies to government and private hospitals alike, though line-ups are often shorter at private hospitals, and there have been cases of incorrect diagnosis in government hospitals.

Ensure you take appropriate malaria precautions before and during your trip. Namibia's water supply is usually safe to drink. Having said all this, make sure you consult a physician specializing in health issues of Southern Africa.

Language

English is the official language and is widely spoken. Older Namibians in the South are more likely to speak Afrikaans or German.Afrikaans is spoken by many and is the first language of the Coloureds and the Afrikaners. English is spoken as a first language by the remaining English families, and German is spoken by the Namibians of German descent.

Money

The Namibian Dollar (NAD; symbol N$) is in note denominations of N$200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of N$5, N$1, 50 cents, 10 cents and 5 cents. It is linked to the South African Rand (R) on a 1:1 basis (South African Rand = 100 cents). The South African Rand is also acceptable as currency in Namibia.

 ATMs are readily available and credit cards and travelers cheques are also available. 

Passport Visa

To enter Namibia, a passport valid for six months from date of entry with one blank page is required. If you require a visa, you must have at least three blank pages in your passport. Types of visa include for a Namibia visit include single and multiple entry tourist and business visa.

Safety

Namibia is a peaceful country and is not involved in any wars. Take the necessary precautions as you. Be careful around ATMs. Don’t wander around at  at night, pickpockets can be a problem. Lately, there are many armed robberies reported; in most cases, tourists get robbed of belongings carried with them in a bag. For home security, electric fences are installed in almost every house in Windhoek.

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