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Health & Safety and Malaria in Namibia

Namibia is considered a safe travel destination. Crime rates are low, most regions especially in the South are considered malaria-free or very low risk, and you can enjoy your Namibia trip with peace of mind. There are a few things to keep in mind when looking at staying safe while driving in your rental car, and while going on safari. We share important information on how to stay safe while travelling Namibia.

Long dirt road horizon Namibia


Overall Situation

The short answer is: Yes. Namibia is a politically stable democracy in Southern Africa, crime rates are generally low and affect the local population more than tourists. When travelling, you should apply common sense, be watchful when withdrawing cash at ATMs and be aware of pickpockets in larger crowds. Namibia is a wide and vast country with a size more than three times that of the United Kingdom, but only 2.5 million inhabitants; Windhoek being the largest and arguably only city with a population of 431,000. Therefore, any possible safety concerns usually relate to other issues than crimes committed by humans.


Is it safe to drive in Namibia?

Namibia is one of, if not the most popular country in Africa for self-drive trips and after many years of welcoming self-drivers from around the world, we have not seen any serious incidents amongst our guests. We like to think that our thorough pre-tour briefings are one reason why our guests drive safely in Namibia.

There are a few but critical rules to follow as road accidents do occur and are one of the main safety concerns when travelling Namibia: Never ever drive at night. Wildlife will appear out of seemingly nowhere and can cause serious accidents for humans as well as wildlife. Therefore, it is important to know your driving distances, start your drive at the appropriate time and don’t push yourself too far – always arrive at your next destination before sunset.

It is important to have a sufficiently stocked first-aid kit as well as at least one, preferably two spare tires in your rental car; do check for this when collecting your car from the rental company. Always have your insurance details and their emergency phone numbers on hand, always have your mobile phone charged and preferably a local sim card topped up with airtime. There are also private hospital services who can be contacted in an emergency.

In Namibia, you drive on the left-hand side across gravel roads, often corrugated (washboard roads). You should be an experienced driver, be able to concentrate for long stretches at a time and plan for frequent breaks. If you follow these rules, you can have an epic road trip in one of the most exciting self-drive countries we know!

On our guided tours, you will travel with one of our local guides in our converted 4×4 Toyota Land Cruisers. Our guides are professionally trained and have vast experience driving on the Namibian roads. If there is a problem, your guide will be in charge to deal with it and know what to do. If you are unsure about driving safely in Namibia, our guided tours might be a better option for you to enjoy your trip with peace of mind.

Road safety sign Namibia

Road safety is the main safety concern when travelling Namibia. If you go on a self-drive trip, you should be an experienced driver. If you go on a guided tour, your guide will be in charge of driving.


Things to keep in mind when around wildlife

The main places for wildlife safaris in Namibia are Etosha National Park and the Zambezi Region (Caprivi Strip). But smaller conservancies and concessions across the country offer game drives as well and wildlife often appears on the roadsides. On our guided tours, your guide will be the driver, on self-drive tours, you can either do the game drives yourself in your rental car or book a guided safari drive with your accommodation. In any case you will find yourself in wildlife territory where animals need to be respected and certain rules need to be followed – making it a safe safari experience for everyone.

  • Do not get out of the car, lean far out of the window, or sit on the roof of your car. If you do, you can appear as prey. Only step out at designated spots and after surveying your surroundings. Wildlife may be covered by tall grass or bushes.
  • Do not attempt to touch or feed wild animals.
  • Animals have right of way always.
  • Drive slowly and don’t disturb or startle animals that are close to the road.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch the movements of larger herds closely; don’t separate members of elephant herds crossing the road.
  • Stay calm, don’t be noisy or play loud music.
  • If you are on a guided safari, always follow your guide’s instructions. They are professionals and trained to understand the animals’ behaviour. It is their responsibility to keep you safe but can only do their job if you cooperate.
  • If you go camping, don’t keep food in your tent as animals such as hyenas will be attracted by the smell.

What might sound like rather strict rules is in place to keep you as well as the animals safe. Once you’re in the bush, these rules will become second nature and manifest the respect which you as a nature lover have towards Namibia’s wildlife.


Which vaccinations do I need for Namibia?

Before travelling to Namibia, you should consult with your GP or local institute for tropical infections and diseases which vaccination and preventive measures are necessary to keep you safe. The WHO and CDC issue recommendations depending on your travel region, accommodation type, and activities. Among the recommendations are Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, as well as being up-to-date on all routine vaccinations. Your GP, travel clinic or tropical institute will advise which vaccinations you should get.

Entry requirements regarding Covid-19 change frequently and you should regularly check the current regulations as well as check for any changes again shortly before your departure.

Is there Malaria in Namibia?

Many regions of Namibia are considered malaria-free. And while no one can ever rule it out completely, we can plan a malaria-free Namibia trip for you with a great degree of certainty. Malaria is transmitted when you are being bitten by infected Anopheles mosquitos. Mosquitos prefer stagnant water bodies to multiply and survive, such as floodplains, marshes, or riverbeds. Therefore, many of the southern desert regions of Namibia are considered malaria-free. There is however a certain risk of malaria in the northern and north-eastern regions such as Etosha National Park and the Zambezi Region (Caprivi Strip), especially during the rainy season between November and June.

Prevention is always better than cure and there are a few tips of to avoid being bitten by mosquitos:

  • Malaria mosquitos are mainly active between dusk and dawn.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants during this time.
  • Sleep under a mosquito net at night when necessary. Many camps have mosquito nets on their windows and doors.
  • Apply good-quality anti-mosquito repellent when necessary.

There is also the option to take prophylactic antimalaria medications in order to make it less likely that you will be infected. Please speak to your doctor or consult a travel clinic or tropical institute to get professional advice about malaria prevention and treatment in Namibia.

Man walking up a dune in Sossusvlei


Travelling Namibia is and always will be an adventure – and that’s what we love about it and that’s what we’re hoping for our guests to experience. An adventure may not be as safe as a beach holiday in an all-inclusive resort; however, when you apply common sense and follow basic safety rules, you will have a wonderful time in Namibia, enjoying it with peace of mind.

Zebra closeup Namibia
Namibia travel expert
Sand dunes Namibia

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