Hi. I'm looking to organise an independent trip for a small group of friends to Namibia, and am wondering if you have any advice about what I should bear in mind. It's likely to be a 2-week trip, and we're looking to drive the Skeleton Coast, as well as see other areas; if I get my way, we would do Fish River Canyon as well, but that's the other end of the country from the Skeleton Coast. The initial discussion that kicked off this idea concluded that we probably want two vehicles with off-road capabilities (one to cover the other should anything happen), but have very little ideas about what else we should consider, other than the usual travel medicine precautions (vaccinations and anti-malarials). Can you provide any advice? Any recommendations as to what to see, and the best time of the year to go would be wonderful too! -- brightlilim 12:50, 29 January 2011 (EST)
Having not travelled the Skeleton Coast, the advice I can give is fairly limited. You're definitely right about needing two off-road vehicles. If you are experienced with vehicle camping then you have some idea of what kind of supplies to you need to bring for yourself and your vehicle. Because the conditions are more extreme you need more supplies (specific to the environment) and doubles of everything. I think that the off-road vehicles rented out in Namibia come equipped with everything, but you'll have to check that. Also note that driving on Namibian roads (outside of cities) at night is extremely dangerous. It's best to avoid it altogether.
As for time of year, I would say any time in Namibia is decent weather-wise, it just depends what you can tolerate. It can get below zero in the winter. Summer can be quite hot, but not intolerable. Spring & fall are in between. --Dawnview 22:12, 31 January 2011 (EST)
Thanks for that. We're not planning on doing any night-time driving outside of the cities (and probably not even that if the main bits of Windhoek are withing walking distance of each other). We're not fond of the idea of it falling below zero - we get enough of it here in the UK, so we'll probably do a spring or autumn/fall visit (summer is probably out as it clashes with other commitments we have). If I may ask a few more questions:-
Is there a rainy season in Namibia as well as the normal temperate seasons?
How dangerous is the environment outside of the cities, in terms of animals? Do we have to worry about megafauna (like lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinos), or is it just the smaller critters (scorpions, spiders, ants, etc.) that are likely to get us?
Are we likely to encounter language difficulties outside of the cities? Although the official language is English, I can't imagine everyone speaking it, especially outside of the cities.
Have you been to the Sossusvlei or Fish River Canyon, and if so, would you recommend a detour to them?
In Windhoek, and other cities, don't walk alone at night, and it's best not to walk at all after midnight.
Rainy season, if I recall correctly, is during Namibia's summer, November - February. I was in the Kalahari in Botswana in November the first night it rained. The flowers came out the next day and it was quite incredible.
As far as wildlife is concerned, there is everything you can imagine that will get you. I'm not sure about the Skeleton coast but I think most of the big wildlife is in the north of the country, for example in Etosha. In the Etosha campgrounds you have to be inside the gate before dark and then they lock it. I don't want to alarm you, but you should get some advice from someone who has experience with African wildlife, before going camping on your own. Most of the time I think people have more trouble finding the big game than staying away from it. :)
You won't encounter any language problems. Everyone speaks English.
Sossusvlei is worth it, but since you're travelling the Skeleton Coast, you'll be seeing essentially the same sights. I've never been to Fish River.
Thanks for that. I'll bear your advice in mind. I've been on a safari in Tanzania where we slept in tents on the rim of the Ngorongoro crater, and were told that if we wanted to go to the toilet at night, we should wake one of our armed guides to be escorted there as lions prowled the area at night... We also shook our boots in the morning before putting them on in case something had decided to crawl into them; after the first few days, we figured out that putting our socks over the tops of the boots would prevent anything small and nasty getting in! Like you say, we did experience some problems finding some of the big game even on safari; there was this one poor cheetah mother who ended up being stalked by 6 vehicles at one point because she was the only one that had been found that day by anyone in the area.