Most visitors to Namibia arrive by air, the majority flying via Johannesburg in South Africa, since the only direct flight to Namibia from Europe is from Frankfurt, Germany, and there are no direct flights from either North America or Australasia. International flights arrive at Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako International Airport, 42km east of the capital. The Johannesburg route to Namibia is more popular as you’ve a greater chance of getting a cheaper last-minute deal to Johannesburg provided you’re prepared to shop around online, scour newspaper ads and/or make more stops on the way. What’s more, there are numerous daily connections between Johannesburg and Windhoek. In contrast, the Frankfurt–Namibia route is only operated by Air Namibia, the country’s national carrier, and only offers one daily flight. Seats are generally more expensive and more heavily subscribed during the high season (July–Oct), as well as over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. That said, low-season prices are not particularly low, though you can cut costs by completing the last leg of the journey from South Africa by long-distance bus. It’s also possible to reach Namibia by bus from other countries in Southern Africa.
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Flights from the UK and Ireland
There are no direct flights from either the UK or Ireland to Namibia. The easiest route is via Johannesburg by one of several carriers from the UK. Virgin, British Airways and South African Airways offer daily direct overnight flights to Johannesburg, with the latter two offering onward connections via their partner airlines, BA Comair and South African Express, respectively. There’s currently very little difference between high- and low-season fares from the UK (generally Heathrow), which start from around £900. Cheaper options are available if you are prepared to travel more circuitous routes on less popular airlines (such as Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa), which involve longer stopovers.
Travelling from Ireland you can either transfer in London or in one of the other major European cities that have carriers operating flights to Johannesburg (such as Air France in Paris, KLM in Amsterdam). Alternatively, there are cheap flights from Dublin to Frankfurt, where you can connect with the Air Namibia flight to Windhoek.
Flights from the US and Canada
None of the US or Canadian carriers offer direct flights to Namibia, though several US cities, such as New York and Atlanta, have direct flights to Johannesburg, either with US carriers or with South African Airways. A return flight to Windhoek from New York costs from US$2300 in high season, and US$1600 in low season.
Flights from Australia and New Zealand
The most direct way to reach Namibia from Australia is to take one of the Qantas or SAA nonstop flights to Johannesburg from either Sydney (14hr) or Perth (under 11hr) and change there (AUS$2000–2500). From New Zealand the easiest route is via Sydney.
Flights within Southern Africa
There are several daily direct flights to Windhoek from Johannesburg and Cape Town with Air Namibia and South African Airways, operated by South African Express (from around ZAR5000 return), as well as with Comair, on behalf of British Airways. SAA and Air Namibia both operate daily flights to Walvis Bay from Johannesburg and from Cape Town (from around ZAR6600 return). Air Namibia also offers two nonstop connections per week with Lusaka, Zambia, and Luanda, Angola (both Mon & Fri), two weekly nonstop flights from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (Mon & Wed), and two from Maun, Botswana (Fri & Sun), which is the access point for the Okavango Delta.
Overland by car
The main entry points for vehicles from South Africa are on the B1 at Noordoewer (the Cape Town route), and at Ariamsvlei on the B3 (the Johannesburg route); both borders are open 24 hours. From southern Botswana the Trans Kalahari Highway enters Namibia at Buitepos (7am–midnight), 315km east of Windhoek; travelling from northern Botswana the main border posts are at Ngoma (7am–6pm) and Mohembo (8am–6pm), both in the Zambezi Region. The Wenela Bridge across the Zambezi at Katima Mulilo – usually shortened to Katima – hosts the main border post with Zambia (6am–6pm), whereas Ruacana (8am–6pm) is the main entry point from Angola. There are several other border crossings into Namibia, from South Africa and Botswana in particular, often at the end of a dusty road with more limited opening times.
If you’re driving to Namibia from one of these neighbouring countries, border procedures are fairly straightforward, though if you are not driving a Namibian-registered vehicle you will need to pay to “import” your vehicle into the country (N$220). In addition, if you are driving a rental car, then you’ll need to have arranged that with the company beforehand at additional cost, and have the papers handy to prove you have their permission to take it across the border.
Agents and operators
In addition to Namibia-specific holidays, various tour operators offer wildlife-viewing safaris combining Namibia and Botswana, while various overlander trips between Cape Town and Victoria Falls feature Namibia on their itinerary. As well as the small selection of international tour operators listed here, several reliable local operators based in Windhoek can organize your itinerary.
African Budget Safaris
South Africa t 021 790 1056, w africanbudgetsafaris.com. Recommended budget operator based in Cape Town, specializing in overlander and other inexpensive trips in Namibia, including for families.
UK t 0845 287 7531, US t 1 844 227 9087, Australia t 1 300 131 564, Canada t 1 800 267 3347, New Zealand t 0800 238 368; w exodus.co.uk, w exodustravels.com. Experienced adventure travel operator with several offerings in Namibia, including an intriguing combo package with southern Angola.
UK t 020 8232 9777, US t 1 800 242 2434, Australia t 1 800 995 397; w expertafrica.com. Extremely experienced and professional outfit that organizes tailor-made trips for independent travellers in East and Southern Africa; also small-group tours, in particular through its newer, sibling company Wild About Africa (w wildaboutafrica.com).
Natural Habitat Adventure
US & Canada t 1 800 543 8917, w nathab.com. Award-winning nature-focused small-group company with top-notch guiding, which offers a couple of Namibia itineraries as well as bespoke tours.
North South Travel
UK t 01245 608 291, w northsouthtravel.co.uk. Friendly, competitive travel agency, offering discounted fares worldwide. Profits are used to support projects in the developing world, especially the promotion of sustainable tourism.
UK t 01273 823 700, w responsibletravel.com. Leading ethical tourism company offering various tours of Namibia, from cycling to camping or self-drive, some focusing on conservation work. Now with a sibling site in the US (t 917 512 2751, w responsiblevacation.com).
UK t 0871 230 0040, US t 1 800 781 4040, Australia t 134 782, New Zealand t 0800 474 400, South Africa t 0861 781 781; w statravel.com. Worldwide specialists in independent travel; also student IDs, travel insurance, car rental and more. Good discounts for students and under-26s.
UK t 020 7368 1200, Ireland t 01 677 7888; w trailfinders.com. Well informed and efficient agent for independent travellers.
Canada t 1 800 667 2887, w travelcuts.com. Canadian youth and student travel firm offering discount flights.
South Africa t 011 807 1800, w wilderness-safaris.com. Pioneering ecotourism company owning around a dozen exclusive lodges in Sossusvlei and northwest Namibia, often in partnership with local communities. Works through other tour operators rather than accepting direct bookings.