A guide to Currency and Customs in Namibia
Namibia, commonly referred to as ‘The Soul of Africa’, is one of the world’s most incredible safari holiday destinations. Renowned for its amazing wildlife, captivating landscapes, fascinating culture and extreme sports- there’s something for every visitor to enjoy, no matter what age you are!
Over the last couple of decades, the popularity of Namibian safari tours, including private-guided safari holidays and self-drive tours, has exploded. What was once a destination reserved for avid game viewers has now become the go-to safari spot for families, couples and solo explorers, encouraged in no small part by the wave of celebrity holidaymakers and even royal family members that have touched down in this charming South-west African nation.
However, if you’re planning a safari adventure to the land of epic sand dunes and skeleton coasts, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you go. From currency to entry requirements, customs to vaccines, find out everything you need to know below:
Do I need vaccinations to travel to Namibia?
As a general guide, the Namibian authorities recommend that all travellers are vaccinated against diseases such as Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Tetanus and Rabies. If you are travelling to Namibia from a country with high Yellow Fever infection rates, then you will also require a vaccination certificate to enter the country.
What is the risk of Malaria in Namibia?
Visitors to Namibia are generally well protected against the threat of Malaria, but if you are travelling to the northern parts of the country, there can be a higher risk of contracting this disease at certain times of the year. If you are planning on visiting these areas, it’s generally advised that you take tablets such as doxycycline or mefloquine, but please seek advice from a health professional.
The best way to guard against Malaria is to avoid mosquito bites as much as possible. Always ensure you wear long sleeves and trousers, sleep under a mosquito net, and use a mosquito repellent that contains at least 50% DEET when travelling in high-risk areas.
Is it safe to drink tap water in Namibia?
Drinking tap water in Namibia is generally considered safe. However, visitors are encouraged to drink bottled mineral water to protect against the risk of an upset stomach. Bottled water is easily accessible and can be purchased from shops, restaurants, local markets and hotels.
What is the currency in Namibia?
The Namibian Dollar is the official currency of Namibia. However, visitors can also use the South African Rand, which is valued at the same rate as Namibian Dollar (1:1).
Major currencies such as the US Dollar, Great British Pound and the Euro should be exchanged locally, or prior to departure, for Namibian Dollars. Throughout Namibia you will find plenty of bureau de change and exchange facilities, whilst all of the country’s major towns do have banks and ATMs.
When converting your domestic currency into Namibian Dollars it’s advisable to request smaller denominations. In some areas of Namibia it may be hard to exchange large notes and smaller notes come in handy when it comes to purchasing small items or handing out tips.
Traveller’s Cheques are difficult to exchange and can incur high fees in Namibia so we would recommend not to use these. It’s also important to note that although South African Rands can be used in Namibia, Namibian Dollars are not legal tender in South Africa, so keep that in mind if you’re travelling onwards to this part of the African continent.
Do People Tip in Namibia?
Although tipping in Namibia is not mandatory or completely expected (like in the United States) it is considered polite to tip. If you’re heading out on a safari tour it’s absolutely fine to tip the ranger, driver and camp staff and you’ll find that these workers really appreciate a few extra dollars here and there.
It’s also wise to set back a few dollars per day to tip the back of house staff at your lodgings, which can include housekeeping staff and kitchen staff. When dining at restaurants in the towns, adding a 10% tip to restaurant bills is perfectly acceptable and you may want to round up taxi fares to support local drivers.
Can you bargain for goods in Namibia?
Some market traders may try to sell items to travellers at an inflated price, all in the knowledge that they expect to be bartered down so it’s definitely worth haggling to see if you can get a better price for any goods you want to purchase.
Always be respectful and tactful when bargaining, particularly if it’s over a few pennies; often local market traders will be using this income to support their families and you are supporting the local economy.
What plugs do I need for Namibia?
Namibia uses the same plugs/sockets that are found in South Africa so If you’re travelling to the country, you will need a three-round pin adapter. The standard voltage for plugs in Namibia is 220 - 230 volts, so make sure you find an adapter that matches this voltage.
Keep in mind that most universal travel adapters will not cater to the type of plugs used in Namibia, so try to locate a specific Namibian/South African adapter well in advance of your trip.
If you forget to bring an adapter, you can find one at the airport, shops and local markets, although you can expect to pay a premium at some establishments.
Is there Wi-Fi in Namibia?
Wi-Fi is generally available across Namibia, particularly in many lodges, restaurants cafes and hotels dotted around the country.
Keep in mind that the Wi-Fi connection may not be as strong as you are accustomed to in your native country; Wi-Fi connections can also be less secure so make sure that you keep on top of your internet security and password controls.
Typically, as is the case in most countries, Wi-Fi strength and reliability tends to be better in the big towns and cities, but signals in the more remote locations are patchy and limited.