#Safety and comfort
Namibia is a safe country. Delinquency problems are obviously not non-existent, but they are no more worrying, if not less so, than elsewhere in Africa. With a few usual precautions, there is no reason to fear this completely peaceful destination. The same is true for health security: water is safe to drink at the tap in most regions, and malaria only occurs in the far north and Zambezi region, with higher risks during the rains from November to June. The country also has a perfectly developed and maintained road network. Finally, Namibia ranks fifth in Africa among countries with the best tourism infrastructure, according to the 2017 edition of the World Tourism Competitiveness Index published by the World Economic Forum (WEF). In other words, some travellers will be surprised to find quality and comfort of high flight, even in the middle of the desert! Namibia remains African, but it is a partly Europeanized Africa, offering in many respects the best of both "worlds". It is an ideal destination for a first African experience, a trip to consider in all serenity.
The sense of hospitality and professionalism of the tourism sector :
The traveller is welcome. The tourism sector is extremely well organised and very professional, the tourism stakeholders are there to guide you and welcome you. Travelling to Namibia is therefore easy and takes place in the best possible conditions. The offer is diversified, always responding more and more to the expectations of visitors: passionate about wildlife, lovers of the desert and wide open spaces, travellers open to new cultures, sports fishermen, amateur and professional geologists, lovers of calm and grandiose landscapes, sports enthusiasts in the air, on the water or in the dunes or even ornithology enthusiasts, Namibia is your destination ! One advice only to follow to fully enjoy Namibia: plan your trip in advance (even camping sites are limited and book more than six months in advance, especially in high season). The country is very well connected to the Internet and the majority of professionals have an e-mail address and a website. Planning as far in advance as possible is the key to the success of your trip.
The two previous paragraphs may suggest that Namibia offers the traveller a path that is a little too marked! This is not the case, quite the contrary. If the infrastructure is there, it is to highlight the potential of this destination and open up the field of adventure. Without this organization and professionalism, the adventure would not be possible. But where does this adventure reside? In nature and in the encounter with the peoples of Namibia: go alone in his car on the tracks of this immense country, observe the rhinos with a guide in Damaraland, go on a trek in the heart of Kaokoland, go deeper into the dunes of Namib to discover its extraordinary glowing landscape, learn Bushman survival techniques by following them on their ancestral lands, explore the Zambezi reserves (ex-Caprivi), and venture into the Okavango Delta, get to know the people of the former townships of Katutura (Windhoek), Swakopmund or Otjiwarongo... as many human and naturalist adventures as possible in Namibia.
Great, magical, sumptuous, "breathtaking", fascinating... The words are missing to express the traveller's feelings about the landscapes of Namibia. They are not only beautiful, they are also very varied. On the road, in the air or on the water, their succession is infinite, the following list is only a very small introduction: the sunrise on the red dunes of Sossusvlei, a cruise between sand and ocean from Pelican Point to Sandwich Harbour, the flight over the wrecks lost in the sea of dunes of the Skeleton Coast, the peaceful sweetness of the dunes of the Kalahari, the blinding whiteness of the Etosha pan, the sunset on the green and ochre mountains of Damaraland, the absolute silence at the end of the world, on top of a mountain overlooking the magnificent Hartmann valley...
Fauna and flora
While Namibia is generally associated with the desert, it should not be forgotten that there is also a diverse ecosystem. The famous "big five" are particularly visible in the country: lion, elephant, rhinoceros, leopard and buffalo are now more often hunted by cameras. The north of the country, which has high rainfall and very humid biotopes, is naturally accompanied by a very rich fauna and flora. Etosha National Park with its famous water points is one of the largest reserves in Africa. Alone or accompanied by excellent guides and armed with quality naturalist works found on site, it is up to you to quickly identify endemic trees and plants, discover their traditional use by the natives and their adaptation to arid conditions. Namibian fauna is also exceptional both on land and in the ocean. Its coast is home to whale migration, several colonies of Cape sea lions and is frequented by dolphins, penguins and sharks.
Ethnic groups and culture
It is important to mention that Namibia is not at first sight an "ethnic" destination. In this country so sparsely populated, encounters with local populations are ultimately quite rare if the traveller does not provoke them. It is also clear quite quickly that the tourist sector, which is certainly highly organised, has only recently developed and is still mainly led by the white population, even if an ever-increasing number of professionals (guides in particular) are emerging from the ranks of the various ethnic groups of colour. This does not mean that the meeting is not possible. Far from it! Guides working in tourist establishments are the first contacts to get to know the different populations. On the road, Namibians are very curious and welcoming, each meeting will comfort the traveller in this idea. The best way to go further in the discovery of the different ethnic groups and their culture is again to call on tourism professionals. This council prevails especially for the San (Bushman) and Himba peoples. Using the services of an interpreter-guide familiar with the customs and traditions is by far the best, if not the only, way to open the door to a new culture. The important thing is to choose the right person!
© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette
Practical guide for you trip to Namibia