Namibia travel budget, money and tipping
Namibia is considered a great value-for-money destination: whether you are on a tight budget or looking to go all out, you can expect great value for the money you spend. Which factors determine the price of your trip, which currency do you need, which forms of payment are accepted and how much should you budget for fair tips – we share recommendations and practical advice.
HOW MUCH DOES TRAVEL IN NAMIBIA COST?
Travel in Namibia is considered overall less expensive than going on safari in neighbouring Botswana or East Africa. One reason are the lower entry fees to national parks and sites. There are several factors that will determine the cost of your trip to Namibia:
- Duration: It goes without saying that the longer you stay in Namibia, the higher your travel budget needs to be. If you’re travelling internationally from overseas, we recommend staying at least 10 days in Namibia. This way, you have enough time to explore some of the most popular highlights without being in a rush. And a 10-day or longer trip will warrant the long and costly flight! While we recommend 10 days as a minimum, there is plenty to see and do that will warrant even a three-week trip.
- Season: Prices for lodges and camps differ depending on your time of travel. High season rates generally apply from June to October, while the remaining months are considered low or shoulder season with lower rates. If you don’t have to stick to school holidays, it is worth considering travelling during the off-peak season as this is the best time to travel if you want to keep costs down.
- Entry and conservation fees for national parks and heritage sites usually remain the same throughout the year. These fees in particular are generally low compared to other safari destinations in Africa: A foreign national adult (i.e. not from Namibia or an SADC country) at time of writing pays around 10 USD (150 NAD) per day to enter Etosha National Park. In comparison, the same adult will pay 70 USD per day during peak and 60 USD during low season to enter the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Making Namibia a very affordable safari destination.
- Tour type: When looking at prices for tours in Namibia, you should consider the different tour types that come with different services included or excluded. On guided tours, the cost for the vehicle, diesel, and national parks are included in the tour price. On self-drive tours, these costs come on top of the tour price. On guided as well as self-drive tours, drinks are generally not included in the tour price, while some meals and some of the activities are included. Luxurious fly-in safaris are often all-inclusive. Our tour overviews and itineraries indicate exactly which services are included or excluded so you know which extra costs to budget for. If you choose a guided tour, you will see that scheduled group tours with other travellers and following a set itinerary are less expensive than private and tailor-made tours for your friends and family only.
- Accommodations: One of the biggest differences in price makes the choice of accommodation. There are vast differences between standards and facilities, from back to basics to highly luxurious. If your Namibia travel budget is limited, you can always opt for more basic lodges and camps and add one or two highlights at more luxurious camps to treat yourself along the way. Accommodation prices are generally given on a per-person-sharing rate, and you have to pay extra to get a single room.
Namibia Tours for every travel budget
Places Windhoek, Kalahari, Namib Desert, Swakopmund, Erongo Mountains, Damaraland, Etosha National Park, Waterberg Plateau
NAD 56,000 per person
Places Windhoek, Namib Desert, Swakopmund, Spitzkoppe, Erongo Mountains, Damaraland, Etosha National Park, Waterberg Plateau
NAD 25,000 per person
Places Windhoek, Kalahari, Keetmanshoop, Fish River Canyon, Luderitz, Namib Desert, Swakopmund, Erongo Mountains, Damaraland, Etosha National Park, Waterberg Plateau
NAD 88,000 per person
WHICH CURRENCY IS USED IN NAMIBIA?
In most countries, this is a very straight-forward answer. In Namibia, there are two answers: The official currency of Namibia is the Namibian Dollar (NAD). However, South African Rand (ZAR) is also accepted, and you can even receive Rand when withdrawing cash at an ATM. The exchange rate between NAD and ZAR is 1:1. If you still have cash left when you are about to leave Namibia, we recommend spending as much of your Namibia Dollar as possible and instead keeping and later exchanging the South African Rand.
You can withdraw or change local currency on arrival at the airport, which will usually give you a much better exchange rate than changing it abroad.
Which forms of payment are used in Namibia?
In most restaurants, supermarkets, and petrol stations, you can pay using cash (Namibian Dollar or South African Rand) or using your card. Not all debit cards will always work, hence we recommend taking a credit card as well. Make sure you know your pin! If you intend paying cashless, it is wise to check with the staff beforehand if cards are accepted, not only generally but on that very day – card machines are mysterious objects that tend to not always work in the remote corners of Namibia, and you don’t want to be stuck unable to pay after you have filled your tank or eaten your meal.
Therefore, our recommended strategy is as follows: Use your card, when you can, but always have enough cash on you as backup. Once your cash is spent, withdraw another batch to cover the next full tank, dinner, and/or whatever else you have planned for the next day or two.
You will find ATMs at most petrol stations and bigger towns. Towards month’s end, they may not always be stocked with sufficient cash in which case you have to move on to the next.
The bottom line: As so often when travelling in remote regions, you should have a backup plan, just in case.
Compared to other safari destinations, entry fees for National Parks in Namibia are low.
TIPPING IN NAMIBIA
Tipping in Namibia is not compulsory, but it is customary. In many cases, it is not just a nice-to-have, but a part of people’s salaries. That doesn’t mean you have to tip if you receive bad service though of course. However, depending on location and services offered even a little will go a long way and the petrol attendant who washed your windscreen will appreciate the 5 NAD more than you will miss it.
Generally, you should try to tip in cash and in local currency. If you add your tip to the dinner bill and pay the total by card, you have to rely on the restaurant’s policy that your waiter will actually receive it eventually. If you tip in cash, your waiter gets it then and there, without delay. Tipping in USD, Euro or GBP is better than not tipping at all. However, especially in remote areas people don’t always have the opportunity to exchange foreign currency. Which means they sit with dead money in their pockets. Therefore, it is good to always have a few small notes in local currency on you.
The same applies to buying souvenirs. While some vendors may accept Dollars or Euros, they need to exchange it into local currency before they can use it which will cost money and time, if it is possible at all.
Who to tip and how much to tip on your Namibia tour
There are a few groups of people you may want to tip when travelling Namibia:
- Your safari guide: If you are on a guided tour, your guide is your main point of contact. They not only drive your safari car but are your window to a whole new world. Many meet as guide and guests and part as friends. As general guideline, we recommend 15 USD per group per day for your guide.
- Lodge & camp staff: A lot of work goes on behind the scenes as well as at the front of house to make your stay a special experience. Accommodations often have a “Tip Box” at the reception to collect and then distribute all tips fairly between the staff. 5 USD per guest per night is a good guideline.
- Restaurants: At restaurants, a tip of 10% is customary. If you are happy with the service, you can of course always give more.
When to tip in Namibia?
We recommend tipping at the end of your tour, stay, or activity. You can put your tip in an envelope or just hand it over directly. Tipping is a very normal part of everyday life in most countries in Africa and a sign of appreciation and respect; you don’t have to feel shy or awkward about tipping.
OUR EXPERT ADVICE
KEEP SMALL NOTES AND COINS OF LOCAL CURRENCY HANDY
Whether it’s the petrol attendant, the car guard, or the person helping you carry the groceries for your camping self-drive trip – it’s always good to have some change on hand as a tip. A little goes a long way and you can show your appreciation to friendly and helpful locals.
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