When is the best time to visit Namibia? Keep reading to learn when you should travel to this country and as well as 10 other key tips for your great adventure here…
Oh my oh my, well what can I say, Namibia has to be one of the best countries in Africa to travel if you’re into, well anything really – wildlife, deserts, road tripping, photography, extreme sports, spectacular scenery… just about everything you go to Africa for!
It took me 5 trips to Africa to finally get to this country, but I reckon I saved one of the best till last!
And that’s because Namibia truly is breathtaking.
Safe, a little more developed than many other countries in this part of the world and with some truly mind-blowing landscapes, this is a dry desert, sparsely populated land that is bound to take your breath away.
So if you’re thinking of hitting up this Southern Africa beauty, but still have some questions about when, why and how to do it, then read on to discover my full guide about the best time to visit Namibia and a host of other top tips for planning your travels here…
- How Much Does an African Safari Cost?
- 10 Epic Things to Do in Namibia You Can’t Miss
- Complete Namibia Packing List
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What is the Best Time to Visit Namibia?
While this country can be visited at any time of the year, probably the best time to visit Namibia is during the months of September through November, with October being the pinnacle month.
This is when the low summer season has yet to begin (meaning you won’t get soaked or too sweaty) and the peak winter season has ended (meaning you can avoid the crowds!)
September to November is also a great time to balance the attractions this country holds.
Indeed these months are one of the best times to safari in Namibia, because the dry water holes mean it’s easy to spot tons of wildlife, especially in Etosha National Park.
These months are also great for exploring and enjoying Namibia’s desert landscapes because the nights and early mornings are not too cold and the rains haven’t yet arrived!
In this way, September through to November is what’s known as the shoulder season in Namibia and offers better prices, fewer crowds and pleasant weather.
In contrast, June to August (known as the winter season) has higher tourist numbers and prices. While the weather is good, parks are busy and camping at night can be freezing!
In contrast, December through March (known as the summer season) can bring very high temperatures, with thunderstorms and heavy rains common as a result.
Both these factors make spotting wildlife very difficult and sometimes travel and access to parks can be an issue too.
I also think the months of September, October and November are the best time to travel to Namibia (indeed they are beginning of the high season across Southern Africa generally) because temperatures aren’t too hot yet.
Because Namibia has the tendency to do just this.
Get too hot I mean!
Which is why it’s so important to think about the best time to visit Namibia.
I visited Namibia in late January and while I was very lucky because there was no rain and I saw a lot of wildlife, it certainly was sweltering.
Thankfully it’s dry heat here (which I can cope with far better than humidity) and the nights were cool, but do be aware temperatures rose to over 35 degrees during the daytime and of course, you’ll largely have to get by without even a fan, let alone aircon!
When thinking about the best time of year to visit Namibia therefore, we can largely say that…
June – August
Known as winter in Namibia, this is the country’s peak tourist season with good, dry weather and lower temperatures. However, the number of other travellers and prices of accommodation etc are high and it can get very cold at night, so bring warm layers.
September – November
Essentially spring, these months form the shoulder season in Namibia with good, dry, weather for wildlife spotting, but lower numbers in the parks and better prices. Waterholes are still dry, meaning animal concentration is high, which is why I put this as the best time to safari in Namibia as well as see the desert. Temperatures are getting hotter at this time however and rain is a possibility towards the end of this period.
December – March
Low season in Namibia brings heavy rains and scorching hot temperatures. Wildlife spotting and travel conditions can be hard at this time and parks are very quiet.
April – May
The 2nd shoulder season and another good time to visit Namibia, this autumn period has good weather with pleasant temperatures and almost no rainfall. The landscape is lush and green and waterholes are full. While this can make for nice viewing and pretty landscapes, it can make wildlife harder to spot however due to foliage cover and the fact animals are more spread out.
How Long To Spend in Namibia?
To put it frankly, Namibia is one of the most amazing destinations to visit in Africa.
Nothing can compare to the sort of safari experiences it offers care of Etosha National Park, the desert scenery you can witness at Sossusvlei, the sunsets, the remote camping opportunities, the mixed cultural vibes, the wild ocean experience of the Skeleton Coast and the amount of times it will have you reaching for your camera.
You should allow at least 2 weeks to experience the wealth of Namibia – a) because this is a huge land it will take time to explore and b) because you’ll need this long to really soak up what can only be described as one of Africa’s most unique and memorable landscapes.
LEARN MORE: 5 Epic Southern Africa Itineraries For Your Perfect Trip
How to Get to Namibia?
Situated just above South Africa on the west coast of Southern Africa, there are 2 main ways to access Namibia.
Either you can fly into Namibia’s capital Windhoek, which has international arrivals from several destinations in Europe, or you can fly to Cape Town and from there take a cheap budget flight to Namibia.
As always, I use Skyscanner to check for the best prices.
Driving to Namibia is also totally possible and most people access it from South Africa (it’s a 2-3 day drive from Cape Town) as part of an extended road trip or African overland tour between the major Southern African attractions of Cape Town, Botswana and Victoria Falls.
As well as getting to Namibia from South Africa, many people also make the classic Southern Africa route I’ve described above in reverse – starting in Victoria Falls and from there driving into and across the top of Botswana and then crossing into northern Namibia, before journeying south through the country onto Cape Town.
If you’re planning on this, then it’s worth considering the best time to visit Namibia and Botswana together.
When combining these countries, I’d probably pick the autumn shoulder months of April and May as the best time to travel this region, namely because the Okavango Delta will still have a lot of water in it.
Learn more in this post I wrote about the best time to visit the Okavango Delta, which also includes some other key travel tips for this part of Botswana.
How to Get Around Namibia?
As I mentioned above, Namibia is a very sparsely populated country, in fact it’s one of the most sparsely populated on earth, which means public transport is almost non-existent here and, given the distances you’ll need to cover and how remote many of the top attractions in this country are, it’s also not that convenient when it does exist.
Ditto domestic flights, which are possible, but hugely expensive and will land you in small, remote towns, from where you’ve still got to access the parks and places you came to Namibia to see.
As such, there’s no question, the best way to get around Namibia is via road, which is another good reason to consider the best time to visit Namibia.
This can either be done as a part of a self-drive experience, which is a good budget option if there’s a few of you to share the costs and you feel comfortable with some 4wd driving.
Self-drive options can either form part of a larger Southern Africa excursion, where you rent a car in say Cape Town and drop it off in Victoria Falls, or a shorter, Namibia-only road trip, where you hire a car in Windhoek, make a loop of the country, and then return it back to the capital.
Alternatively, you can take a tour to explore Namibia.
This can be a great option for solo travellers – as it will easily bring you into contact with other friendly nomads and can end up costing you less than hiring your own vehicle.
Tours in Namibia are also great for new travellers or first time Africa travellers who may feel nervous about navigating Namibian roads and destinations by themselves.
Tours take the hassle out of having to organise everything, plan routes and find places to stay etc, and can therefore be a great option for those who are time-poor.
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Best Things to Do in Namibia
I have written 2 separate posts about the best places to see in Namibia and the best things to do in Namibia, so check those out for some more detailed ideas.
But quickly here, I’ll list the major spots you can’t miss, especially if you choose the best time to visit Namibia well.
Of course, there’s loads of choice for off the beaten track adventure in this country too, which self-driving options in particular will give you more of a chance to experience.
That said, with Namibia being a big country and most people not having a huge amount of time to travel and explore it, I’ll list the most popular destinations below…
#1 Etosha National Park – One of the most spectacular safari destinations in Namibia given it’s wildly different landscapes and plethora of animals. Essentially an ancient, and now dried up pan, watering holes here form the backbone of the animal spotting in this huge park. Allow at least 2 days to drive across and camp in this magical reserve.
#2 Sossusvlei – A dreamy desert landscape that has an eerie ancient forest situated within it, now made famous through Instagram. Dune climbing, desert camping and epic sunrises/sunsets are all part of the experience here.
#3 Spitzkoppe – Essentially a private reserve belonging to the nearby village community, this place has incredible rock formations and some amazing examples of traditional rock art.
#4 Cape Cross Seal Colony – This is meant to be the largest seal colony in the world and the sight of literally thousands of seals, plus the smell of them too, is quite unbelievable!
#5 Swakopmund – A bizarre, German colonial town come seaside resort come African adventure spot in the middle of the desert that offers a huge array of extreme adventures from skydiving to dune biking.
#6 Windhoek – Colourful capital with some lovely colonial-era architecture.
#7 Fish River Canyon – The second largest canyon in the world, which offers some amazing hiking and epic views.
Best Wildlife Safaris in Namibia
You’ve already heard me talk about the seals you can see in Namibia at the Cape Cross Colony, which definitely provides a very unique wildlife experience here.
But really, the big daddy in the Namibia wildlife crown is Etohsa, situated in the north of the country.
I’ve covered my time there in detail in my Etosha National Park specific post, but this park offers the big 5, as well as a whole host of other classic African animals and is an absolute must-see.
Honestly, it’s easily one of the best parks in Southern Africa, if not the whole of the continent, because of its dramatic landscapes, concentration of wildlife, good facilities / amenities, easy access and awesome camping opportunities.
Spotting wildlife is usually conducted around the water holes throughout the park, where the animals tend to gather in large numbers, but the camps here (there’s 3 main ones, meaning you can spend a couple of nights within the reserve itself) also boast watering holes, which are illuminated at night for some great animal encounters.
And if it’s wildlife you’re after then it’s a good idea to think about the best time to safari in Namibia.
As I discussed at the beginning of this article, June, July and August are peak season in Nambia and a great time to safari if you don’t mind the crowds.
If you want less people around you however, I recommend September, October and November instead as the best months to safari in Namibia because waterholes are still dry (meaning a great concentration of wildlife and better spotting opportunities) and crowds are thinner.
Wildlife spotting is much harder during the rainy season of December through March and thick foliage and full waterholes can make seeing animals difficult in April and May too.
And if you’re looking for the best widlfie tours in Namibia, then it might be useful to know I travelled through this country as part of an amazing adventure with Absolute Africa who I highly recommend for their excellent prices, great customer service, wonderful itineraries and amazing overall experience.
They are especially great for solo female travellers, as it’s easy to make friends and feel very safe with them.
For other great tour choices in Namibia, including those with a more comfortable travel style, that specilaise in safaris, check out these top options.
What to Take to Namibia?
If I’ve not made it clear enough already, then I’ll spell it out now – Namibia is remote and outside of the major towns like Windhoek and Swakopmund, there are almost no shops or supplies available.
Taking everything you need with you as you journey around the country therefore is essential.
- Sarongs make great multi-purpose travel items and I love these ones from One World Sarongs
- Toilet paper
- Wet wipes
- Strong insect repellent, a 30% DEET option is a safe bet
- Small first aid kit
- Headlamp like this Black Diamond Storm, which I have and love!
- Good camera, lens, tripod and cleaning kit – I love my Sony A6000 mirrorless camera which was ideal for capturing the magic of Namibia
- Swimwear and a good travel towel
- Thin, light clothing you can layer
- Camping gear including sleeping bag and a silk liner, which is perfect combination for keeping you warm in those cool desert nights, but also sweat-free when the sun comes up in the morning!
You’ll also need to take enough food and water with you – and lots of it!
I’d suggest at least 5 litres of water per day per person.
Of course, always take all your trash and rubbish back out with you after visiting any areas of natural beauty.
A guidebook would also be good to give you some background info on this country, and the Lonely Planet guide to Namibia and Botswana is a good option.
As it’s very hot in the daytime here (too hot to do much when I was there at least) books to read, games to play or other activities to enjoy in the shade are recommended.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that Namibia’s desert topography means it can get very cold at night, so bringing thick layers to wrap up in of an evening is an excellent idea. A good light, packable, down jacket makes an excellent travel packing item.
At night, you might also need to be careful of animals – never go anywhere alone after dark and always listen for wildlife noises and scan the surrounding area with your headlamp.
Travel Insurance for Namibia
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
And on this point, I also always advise consulting a travel health professional before you head to Namibia and educating yourself about the risks of malaria and what you can do to prevent it.
Is Namibia Safe to Travel?
I travelled as a solo female to Namibia and found it very safe.
In fact, I think Namibia is one of the safest countries to travel in Africa.
Of course, there are health considerations to take into account, as well as the dangers of wildlife and driving in remote areas, but by and large I found Namibia a very safe and relaxed place to travel.
Local people are friendly, most of the tap water is drinkable and in the south of the country, you don’t even have to worry about malaria!
That said, as a solo female traveller I wouldn’t walk around by myself in towns or cities at night and I’d have some reservations about driving around and camping by myself too.
That’s why I chose to join a group overland tour in Namibia and highly recommend this option if you are a solo traveller too.
Catering for all budgets, you can enjoy tours that operate on a shoestring with no frills and basic camping included (obvs my option!) right up to luxury tours that offer lodges, private safari experiences and small groups.
How Much Does it Cost to Travel Namibia?
Overall, Namibia isn’t a cheap excursion given its remote make-up and the distances you need to travel to cover the top sights.
Renting a car between a group, to self-drive around the country in a loop from Windhoek and taking camping gear with you, can save you a lot of money.
Otherwise, I highly recommend joining a budget overland tour – I honestly don’t think you can do it cheaper as a solo traveller and it’s a great way to make friends, leave the planning to someone and enjoy the experience with others too.
Most budget tours will take you camping across Namibia and, as there are plenty of campsites around the country, if you’re road tripping too, this will be your cheapest option.
This is exactly how I saw Namibia and if you don’t want to drive alone or have the hassle of trying to find friends to rent a vehicle with, I highly recommend it!
And finally, there are the costs of the activities.
Park fees, guide fees, safari fees, camping fees and fuel all need to be factored in and will vary, depending where you visit, how long for and the distances you cover in Namibia.
Supermarkets can be found in towns across Namibia and are often the best places to source food and drinks, so you can self-cater and keep costs down that way too.
Travel Money in Namibia
When it comes to paying for things in Namibia, it’s great to know hotels and tours can generally be paid for by card.
ATMs are available in most major towns.
You’ll also want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates when using your card abroad, which is why I always take my Wise card away with me wherever I travel.
The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card in Namibia… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold! Get yours here.
PIN IT TO PINTEREST!
And that’s my complete guide to this amazing country, including the best time to visit Namibia, what to do there, how much it will cost, what you need to take and what you can expect.
Do let me know I’ve missed any crucial information out by firing your questions into this comments box below…