Best bucket-list destination 2019: Namibia
For wildlife watching at great value this year, head for Namibia, Africa’s hidden gem.
Why go in 2019
The rand has taken a recent tumble making it weak against the pound, boosting Namibia’s appeal for British travellers. Added to that, Namibia’s eye-popping safaris are more affordable than those available in Botswana and South Africa, most people’s go-to pick for similar experiences.
In fact, it’s not just tourism that’s relatively restrained here – the country is one of the least densely populated on earth. There are just 2.7% people per square kilometre and more than 40% of the country is protected land.
Namibia is known for
Namibia is a must for nature lovers. Going on safari is a bucket-list ambition for many, and Namibia offers some prime animal-watching opportunities. Etosha National Park in the country’s north teems with black rhinos, elephants and cheetahs, while Damaraland, a few hours’ drive away, features giraffes, lions and an intriguing petrified forest. Namibia’s otherworldly landscape is spectacular, too. Make for the coast and hire 4x4s to explore Sandwich Harbour’s staggering giant sand dunes, which run straight down to the ocean. Then head south to the windswept desert-like surroundings of Sperrgebiet National Park, a diamond-mining area famous for its eerie abandoned towns.
When to Go
The best time to visit the national parks is during Namibia’s dry season, which runs from May to October, when the air is clear and wildlife is easiest to spot. Make sure you bring warm clothing, as temperatures can plummet at night. Newborn animals, migrating birds and lush greenery are the stars of the rainy summer season between October and April, but it can get swelteringly hot.
Take a boat tour from Walvis Bay on the country's west coast for the chance to see Namibia’s marine life up close. These unique trips take passengers past lively dolphin and seal colonies, as the vessel sails out to farm oysters in huge underwater baskets. The foodie highlight? Trays of the delicacy are served on board. Landlubbers can stay on the shore and enjoy the succulent seafood served at the numerous restaurants dotted along the beachfront.
How to get there: the easiest way to get from the UK to Namibia is to fly to Frankfurt or Johannesburg and then take a connection on to Windhoek, the country’s capital.
Currency: the Namibian dollar is the official currency but the South African rand can also be used throughout the country.
Visa: visits for up to 90 days are usually permitted without a visa. If in doubt, check with the immigration desk on arrival at the airport.
Plugs: Namibia uses plug types D and M.
Average cost of a pint of beer: Beer costs £1.13 and is brewed to German standards (Namibia is a former German colony).