Most international airlines stop at Johannesburg or Cape Town in South Africa, where you’ll typically switch to a South African Airways flight for your final leg to Windhoek. South African Airways has daily flights connecting Cape Town and Johannesburg to Windhoek. Johannesburg is also the main hub for connecting flights to other African cities.
For North American travellers, it’s worth checking the price of a flight via Frankfurt, as this may be cheaper than a direct flight to South Africa.
Book well in advance for flights from the following neighbouring countries.
Botswana Air Namibia runs several flights a week between Windhoek and Maun.
Zambia You will need to transit through Jo’burg for flights to Lusaka or Livingstone.
Zimbabwe Air Namibia flies to Victoria Falls a few times a week.
Airports & Airlines
Most international flights into Namibia arrive at Windhoek’s Chief Hosea Kutako International Airport, 42km east of the capital.
The main domestic carrier is Air Namibia (www.airnamibia.com.na), which flies routes to other parts of Southern Africa as well as long-haul flights to Frankfurt.
Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.
Thanks to the Southern African Customs Union, you can drive through Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland with a minimum of ado. To travel further north requires a carnet de passage, which can amount to heavy expenditure.
If you’re driving a hire car to/from Namibia, you will need to present a letter of permission from the rental company saying the car is allowed to cross the border.
Namibia has a well-developed road network with easy access from neighbouring countries. The main border crossings into Namibia:
Angola Oshikango, Ruacana, Rundu
Botswana Buitepos, Mahango, Ngoma
South Africa Noordoewer, Ariamsvlei
Zambia Katima Mulilo
All borders are open daily, and the main crossings from South Africa are open 24 hours. Otherwise, border crossings are generally open at least between 8am and 5pm, although most open from 6am to 6pm. Immigration posts at some smaller border crossings close for lunch between 12.30pm and 1.45pm. It is always advisable to reach the crossings as early in the day as possible to allow time for any potential delays. For more information on opening hours, check out the website www.namibweb.com/border.htm.
To enter Namibia overland, you’ll need an Angolan visa permitting overland entry. At Ruacana Falls, you can enter the border area temporarily without a visa to visit the falls by signing the immigration register.
The most commonly used crossing is at Buitepos/Mamuno, between Windhoek and Ghanzi, although the Caprivi border posts at Mohembo/Mahango and Ngoma (the latter is a short drive from Kasane in Botswana) are also popular. The Mpalila Island/Kasane border is only available to guests who have prebooked accommodation at upmarket lodges on the island.
The Mohembo/Mahango crossing connects northeastern Namibia with Shakawe, Maun and the Okavango Panhandle. Drivers crossing here pass through Mahango Game Reserve at Popa Falls. Entry is free if you’re transiting, or US$5 per person per day plus US$5 per vehicle per day if you want to drive around the reserve (which is possible in a 2WD). No motorbikes are permitted in the reserve.
There is also a little-used border crossing at Gcangwa–Tsumkwe along a 4WD-only track close to Botswana’s Tsodilo Hills.
Namibia's border crossings with South Africa are among the country's busiest, but they're generally hassle-free. The crossings at Noordoewer and Ariamsvlei are open 24 hours (although we advise against driving at night on either side of the border). There is an additional border post along the coast, between Alexander Bay and Oranjemund (6am to 10pm), but it's closed to tourists and anyone without permission from the diamond company Namdeb.
The border crossing between Zambia and Namibia is at Katima Mulilo in Namibia's Caprivi Strip. The Namibian side of things is generally quick and easy, but Zambian formalities can take a little longer.
Visas into Zambia cost US$50 per person for most nationalities, while you'll also have to pay the Zambian road toll (US$48), carbon tax (ZM150) and third party vehicle insurance (ZM487, valid for one month and payable even if you already have insurance) if you're bringing in a vehicle. There is a bank next to the border crossing. Changing money at the bank is preferable to the young men who will approach your vehicle with wads of kwatcha. If you arrive outside banking hours and are left with no choice, make sure you know the current exchange rates, count your money carefully and don't let them hurry you into a quick exchange that will rarely be to your benefit.
If you're heading to Liuwa National Park and other places in Zambia's far west, an excellent sealed road (so new it wasn't even on Tracks4Africa's GPS system when we drove it) runs from the border all the way to Mongu and Kalabo, at the entrance to Liuwa National Park.
If you're on your way to Livingstone, the road is sealed but not in great condition. It is, however, accessible in a 2WD.
There’s no direct border crossing between Namibia and Zimbabwe. For those heading from Victoria Falls into Namibia, the best route is from Victoria Falls (town) via the Kazungula border (6am-8pm) into Botswana. From here the route goes through a corner of Botswana and Chobe National Park (no park fees are payable if you are just transiting), and then via the Ngoma Bridge border into Namibia. Good tarmac the entire way.
There’s only really one main inter-regional bus service connecting cities in Namibia with Botswana and South Africa. Intercape Mainliner has services between Windhoek and Johannesburg and Cape Town (South Africa). It also travels northeast to Victoria Falls, and between larger towns within Namibia. There are also long-distance Intercape Mainliner services running between Windhoek and Livingstone.
Tok Tokkie Shuttle makes the 12-hour Windhoek–Gaborone run, departing Windhoek at 6pm on Wednesday and Friday, and from Gaborone at 1pm on Thursday and Saturday. One-way fares are N$500 and there's free wi-fi and air-con on board.
Otherwise, you may need to hitch from Gobabis to the border, cross the border on foot (bearing in mind that this crossing is about 1km long) then probably hitch from the border to Ghanzi, unless you happen to coincide with the daily minibus between the Mamuno border crossing and Ghanzi.
Car & Motorcycle
Crossing borders with your own vehicle or a hire car is generally straightforward, as long as you have the necessary paperwork: the vehicle registration documents if you own the car, or a letter from the hire company stating that you have permission to take the car over the border, and proof of insurance. The hire company should provide you with a letter that includes the engine and chassis numbers, as you may be asked for these.
Note that Namibia implements a road tax, known as the Cross-Border Charge (CBC) for foreign-registered vehicles entering the country. Passenger vehicles carrying fewer than 25 passengers are charged N$295 per entry, and N$90 for motorbikes. It is very important that you keep this receipt as you may be asked to produce it at police roadblocks, and fines will ensue if you can’t.
Driving to & from South Africa
You can drive to Namibia along good, sealed roads from South Africa, either from Cape Town (1490km) in the south, crossing the border at Noordoewer, or from Jo’burg (1970km) in the east, in which case the border crossing is at Nakop.
Renting a car in South Africa sometimes works out cheaper than renting one in Namibia, although these days most Namibian car-rental companies (especially those of the 4WD variety) are outposts of South African companies anyway. While per-day rental is usually cheaper in South Africa, you'll also have to factor in the cost of driving to/from South Africa and/or the cost of dropping off the car in Namibia.
The cheapest 2WD will end up costing the rand equivalent of about US$50 per day, and a 4WD will cost in the region of US$100 per day.
Purchasing a Car in South Africa
If you're planning an extended trip (three months or more) in Namibia, it may be worth considering purchasing a secondhand car in South Africa.
It’s worth noting that cars bought in Cape Town will be viewed less favourably at sale time than those purchased in Johannesburg. This is because Cape Town cars are considered to be at risk of rust given the city’s seaside location. On the flipside, cars with a Jo’burg registration tend to fetch a higher premium when resold in Cape Town.
If you’re buying, newspapers in Jo’burg are obviously one place to start looking. Used-car dealers won’t advertise the fact, but they may be willing to buy back a car bought from them after about three months for about 60% of the purchase price – if the car is returned in good condition.
Naturally, check the vehicle documents from the previous owner. A roadworthy certificate (usually included when a car is bought from a used-car dealer) is required, as is a certificate from the police (also provided by most car dealers) to prove that the car isn’t stolen. Once bought, re-register the vehicle at a Motor Vehicle Registration Division in a major city. Also recommended is a roadworthiness test by the Automobile Association (www.dekraauto.co.za) before you buy anything; membership is not required.
For a very rough idea of prices, don’t expect to find a vehicle for less than the rand equivalent of US$4000 to US$6000. A 4WD Land Rover or equivalent model will cost around US$8000 to US$10,000.
Despite Namibia's long coastline, there is no commercial sea transport and it is not currently possible to arrive in Namibia by sea.