One of the most asked questions among people looking to travel to Namibia is Namibia safe for tourists? Namibia, with its incredible landscapes seem to go on forever and amazing.
You have opportunities to see some of the most quintessentially African wildlife you could ever imagine clapping eyes on, is a dream for any nature lover. Namibia is a safari country, guys.
Although Namibia is often touted as one of the safest countries in the whole of the African continent, it still certainly has a few issues of its own that you should take note of.
As of any country, small crimes like petty theft and street crime do exist. More violent crime has actually increased in recent years, especially in the capital and transport hub of Windhoek.
Self-driving can mean the risk of finding yourself stranded half a day’s drive from anywhere and nature can be very dangerous.
To help ensure that your trip goes as smoothly as it can possibly go, we have created this epic safety guide to Namibia. Filled with tips on how to travel around the country, how to call a cab, whether you should rent a car, and much more, we’ve got you completely covered.
Is Namibia Safe during the Covid 19 Era
As a result of the pandemic that has affected the whole world the fact is that most travel is currently not safe. This is not only in Namibia but also in many countries; travel is reduced because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Nations across the world are fighting to contain the outbreak and flatten the infection curve. This is an effort that every citizen and responsible traveler should be part of.
For the most up-to-date safety information and what you should be doing to help, please consult the WHO and your local government.
Our Take on How Safe is Namibia for Tourist?
Namibia has a huge landscape. This is natural habitat to the “Big Five” safari animals and is naturally one of the major draws to this Southwest African nation.
There is also the natural features that include the sand dunes among them the highest in the world, the coastal features among others that has made the country famous.
The other major draw to Namibia is just how safe it is. Namibia is said to be one of the safest countries in Africa, its capital Windhoek is more provincial and has small scale than sprawling and urban.
It is important to note that the crime level of Namibia is still a concern. In Windhoek, for example, there is actually a growing a level of street crime, including violent crime, some of which does affect foreign tourists.
Nature in Namibia is vast, epic and sometimes unforgiving. It has proved to be quite a risk to your safety. You can, for example, often drive for hours and hours without seeing a single soul, giving you an idea into just how remote things can be here.
There are well-travelled routes in Namibia that do make exploring the country relatively safe, but obviously, if you want to do something more adventurous, there is an element of risk involved the adventurous term coming up.
Is it Safe to Travel to Namibia for Safari?
Namibia got her independence in 1990. It is, therefore, quite a new nation. Unlike many new nations, however, there has been little political violence in Namibia, thanks to its democratic government. Even street demonstrations are rare.
Namibia is so huge and so under-populated. It has the second-lowest population density of any sovereign nation in the world after Mongolia. Namibia has 2.2 million inhabitants as reported in 2017. This means therefore that there were on average 3.08 people per square kilometre. Now that’s sparse.
If we turn to crime, according to the UK Government, the capital has seen an increase in crime in recent years. More than two-fifths of crimes reported occur in Windhoek, in fact, most of which are burglaries, assaults and robberies.
The US State Department reported in 2015 that the most common crime taking place was “petty street crime.” The criminals were using knives, sometimes firearms and most of these incidents took place after dark.
Organized crime is also an issue, which has only had a place in the country since the 1980s, something which affects much of southern Africa. Drug trafficking and laundering money are the main issues although this does has had a little impact on tourists.
In fact, Namibia’s tourism industry is booming as there are so many incredible safe places to stay in Namibia.
In December 2010, the country was touted as the 5th best tourist destination in the world, in terms of value for money. It’s valuable to the country too, being worth an estimated 7.2 billion Namibian dollars.
Since the first estimate took place for tourist numbers took place in 1989 (100,000), it increased tenfold by 2014, with 1,176,000 tourists to the country.
To finalize this, the Global Peace Index of 2019 ranks Namibia joint-60th in the world (out 163 countries measured), alongside France!
Is it Safe to Visit Namibia Right Now?
Namibia lacks any current political crisis or social upheaval. However, the only thing that might be affecting how safe Namibia is right now is the Covid 19 pandemic which is world over and the spike in crime, particularly in the capital.
Thefts, muggings and robberies have been occurring frequently in crowded areas and especially places where travelers are found. People are usually unharmed if they surrender their belongings, but often criminals brandish knives as a threat.
There has been a Tourist Protection Unit set up by the Namibian police to help deal with these crimes. It began in the Khomas and Erongo regions as a pilot project. In Windoek there is a TPU at the corner of Independence Avenue and Bahnhof Street.
Most of the crimes that take place in Namibia are actually non-violent and are based around theft. Things like pick pocketing, theft from vehicles, and the like.
You don’t need to worry too much about political instability. Union led demonstrations do take place, but discipline is enforced and there is very little confrontation with the authorities. Nevertheless, it’s never a good idea to be involved in the demonstrations of another country.
Aside from human threats, nature can be very scary in Namibia. There are vast distances between locations and vehicle breakdowns could very quickly turn into life-or-death situations.
During the summer in this dry, semi-desert country, you can expect high temperatures a lot of the time. Then, flooding during the rainy season (December to March) can see roads washed away or become impassable.
Also, let’s not forget that this is safari country, home to big, dangerous animals. Doing what your guide tells you, taking the right precautions when staying at a lodge, and making sure to watch your step in the wilderness is a good place to start to keep yourself safe in Namibia’s nature.
None of this, however, is designed to scare you – it’s good to be aware of issues affecting Namibia before you venture there for yourself.
20 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Namibia
Namibia might be sometimes seen as an easy way to explore nature of the sub-Saharan part of the continent. There are definitely still dangers you should beware of and issues you should know about. It’s important to be aware of things going on around you as well as potential dangers, to protect yourself – to help you do that, here are some travel tips for Namibia to keep in mind…
- Stay alert – muggers target foreign tourists, even in daylight in busy areas
- Avoid walking around at night – the crime levels increase after dark, so it’s not wise to be strolling around at this time
- Keep car doors locked, windows shut – smash and grab type crimes from cars can happen in traffic or at lights
- Don’t leave anything on display in your car – having anything that looks like it might be worth something in your car that’s visible is an invitation for thieves
- Only use reputable taxis – and don’t hail them on the street, especially in Windhoek; ask your accommodation for a reputable number (we have a whole section of taxis later)
- Keep hold of your credit/debit card – card skimming happens, even in hotels, so don’t let it out of your sight
- Avoid looking wealthy at all – having wads of cash in your wallet, having an SLR on show, even a smart phone, or wearing designer clothing or expensive looking jewellery… this all screams “I’m a rich tourist” to a potential thief
- Try to hide your money – when paying for things, or exchanging it at all, it just advertises you as a walking ATM
- Keep your passport and important documents safe – have copies in a separate bag or place, just in case
- Be aware of scams – politely decline the services of over-friendly strangers accosting you in the street; it will just cost you a lot of money
- LGBTQ+ relationships are not illegal, but they are taboo – it’s important to be culturally aware of this; any show of same sex affection could cause some upset with local communities
- Keep well away from the Forbidden Zone – or Sperrgebiet. It’s en route to Luderitz and is a prohibited diamond mining area with armed patrols and, yeah, keep well away
- Just say no – don’t buy drugs, don’t carry over borders, don’t carry it around, just keep away full stop: the penalties are severe and the prisons are hellish, from what we can gather
- Theft can be an issue from campsites near urban areas – don’t leave anything in your tent that you are fond of or need
- Protect against mosquitoes – malaria is rife in the far northwest of the country; cover your arms and legs, especially around water sources at dawn and dusk
- Be careful around any stagnant or slow moving water – these can harbour all sorts of nasty diseases and illnesses
- Watch where you tread when camping or trekking – snakes and scorpions can deliver painful, if not lethal, bites and stings; check your boots, shake your clothes, don’t walk around barefoot!
- Keep away from the Euphorbia plant – it can be deadly; check out pictures online. If you are camping by yourselves, don’t forage your own firewood, buy it instead to avoid any nasty surprises
- Be careful taking pictures of state properties – and military buildings, it’s not illegal but people have been detained for doing so
- Don’t buy or trade any animal parts or products – don’t risk arrest and don’t support the hideous trade.
Whilst many would have you believe that Namibia is an oasis on the African continent, the relative safety of a country in Africa compared to other countries in Africa doesn’t say that much. On the other hand, just because there are things to watch out for, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t safe to travel to. In Namibia, it’s just important to keep your wits about you and make sure you’re aware of your surroundings.