5 TIPS FOR NAMIBIA ON A BUDGET
NAMIBIA ON A BUDGET: 5 TIPS FOR AFFORDABLE AND MEMORABLE ADVENTURES
Embarking on a budget-friendly adventure to Namibia, despite what the internet might tell you, is possible. Namibia is an up-and-coming destination that is truly worth the hype, but known for its expensive tourist prices. I recently had the opportunity to spend a month in the country, and I spent a fourth of what other travelers would normally spend. I’ll share with you how much I spent in a month here and I’ll show you 5 tips on how to do Namibia on a budget while enjoying the best of what the country has to offer.
Why is Namibia so expensive?
Namibia is the second-least densely populated country in the world. That means that if you want to explore it, you’ll have to rent a car. Not all roads are paved, of course, so unless you’re going to touristy sites you’ll need a 4×4. That means more money, and gas is not the cheapest. In terms of local prices, besides South Africa, it is very affordable. But you will be there as a tourist, not a local. Expect long distances everywhere you go.
Having resources in remote safari lodges and campsites is costly, and local transportation is only available to towns and cities that are directly on the main roads. Moving goods across the country is not easy, and many of the items that you’ll see on the shelves are imported. Yes, goods for locals might seem affordable with your foreign currency. The reality is that many African countries don’t have overly developed tourism industries yet – and this increases the prices for all travelers.
Is Namibia safe to visit?
Yes. I happened to go to Namibia on my own. I always listen to locals, and was told to avoid walking around Windhoek at night on my own. I was happy to oblige, since locals know best. That aside, crime rates are minimal and the country’s situation does not in any way compare to South Africa. This was the only advice I was given during my trip here. As a solo female traveler, I’d say it’s an excellent destination to start exploring Southern Africa. The only hiccup here is dealing with logistics and transportation.
But not to worry! I did no planning whatsoever before I arrived in the country, and this was by far the best way to see the country affordably. Spontaneity pays off. Let me give you 5 tips here on how I was able to do Namibia on a budget.
If you book a tour with a foreign agency, expect prices of $200+ USD per person. Booking with local agencies might decrease your price to $100-150 USD per person. If you are traveling with other people, that’s even better. The longer the tour you book, the better prices you’ll find.
But these are all online prices. If you were to wait until you arrive in Namibia, you might be able to take advantage of last minute deals of cancellations. Walking into an agency to speak about booking possibilities will always trump online prices. This same concept applies to car rentals. We were able to snag a cheap car rental in Namibia this way, by booking it in person. You can also walk into a lodge and ask for last minute deals.
This is risky, of course, and not guaranteed. If you were to do this during high season it might be even more difficult. I am just giving it to you here as an option. Companies, especially those in the tourism industry, understand that it’s better to provide discounts and make some money than to have a complete loss.
Connect with Fellow Travelers
Numbers matter in Namibia. If you have other people with you, this will make it easier for you. You can inquire in local agencies and join groups that have already been created.
Hostels in Windhoek serve as excellent starting points to find other travelers, since this is one of those countries that works best by having people by your side. You do not need to be staying at the hotels – many actually have boards for travelers looking for companions. Just walk in and see what you can find. People usually provide emails or phone numbers so you can contact them directly. You can join one of their trips, propose an itinerary, or build a trip together. Then you’ll be able to split your costs.
The last option, which is the one I used, is looking for people online. There are Facebook groups for travelers in the region. But the best way is to simply join couchsurfing and post a public trip. I was able to join a group of 4 people that had already created a trip. They were simply looking to fill up their last available seat to lower their prices. We used to app Splitwise to keep track of all our expenses over 10 days. We split food, accommodation and transportation costs.
Wild camping completely exceeded our expectations. We saw fellow travelers actively waiting on sites for hours to see wildlife. We had no need for that. It would come our way while we were camping. We used the apps iOverlander to find camping spots.
The beauty of Namibia is that you can camp almost anywhere – this is how you go off-the-beaten path and one of the best tips for doing Namibia on a budget. If you need to use amenities, you can use camping lodges during the day or hang out at one of the many Gondwana Lodges available all over the country. Just make sure you follow local regulations and prioritize safety, and pick up after yourself if you do wild camping. You can watch the video I made about our camping experience here.
Eating out every day can quickly drain your travel budget. To keep costs in check, get a rental car with cooking facilities. We had a gas stove, and all of the cooking supplies we needed as part of the rental. We only had to bring our own spices! This was definitely a lifesaver. We’d stock up on groceries at local markets and supermarkets, or buy food from farmers if we were visiting any. We also had a small fridge included as part of the rental. We’d all help cook, do the dishes and it was a wonderful way to spend our evenings.
Travel During Namibia’s Low Season
Timing is everything when it comes to budget travel. Namibia’s low season, typically from April till June, is an excellent opportunity to keep costs down. I had the opportunity to visit during June. Accommodation and tour prices tend to be lower, and you’ll encounter fewer crowds at popular attractions. In places like Sossusvlei, by 2 pm all the crowds and stragglers had left, and we had the whole place to ourselves.
I went to Namibia as a solo traveler, but this doesn’t mean that all of these tips cannot be applied to couples or groups of people traveling together. I spent a whole month in the country and spent less than I expected.
- I traveled around the country with this group for 10 days. I spent $690 USD in total. This includes all of our expenses. The app I mentioned before helped to keep track of everything
- $80 of those expenses were due to car damages. We had comprehensive travel insurance but it was not enough. I’d recommend having your own insurance on top of the local one, and then with the documents provided asking for a refund.
Expenses as a solo traveler
- After I left the group, I spent time in Windhoek and Swakopmund on my own. I also met locals there to take day trips with and this was considerably cheaper than going through a local agency. However, the one trip I would not miss out on is visiting one of the largest seal colonies. You need an excellent car for this. If not, book this trip.
- I’d book the first two nights at a place online, and if I liked it, I’d extend my stay in person. Accommodations are usually happy to give discounts, because it means that they can save on the commissions they have to pay to advertise their place online.
- Supermarkets are very affordable, and I ate about half of my meals from ready-to-go supermarket food or cooked a bit myself. The other half came from eating out.
How much did I spend in Namibia?
In total, for the rest of my time in Namibia, after the 10-day roadtrip, I spent $350 USD. That includes accommodation, transportation, food and some activities. In total, I spent $1040 USD for a whole month in Namibia. That is a fraction of what most people spend in the country.
Here is actual proof of how this “expensive” country can be done on a budget. By connecting with fellow adventurers, being spontaneous, cooking your own meals, and choosing the right time to visit you can create lasting memories without burning a hole in your wallet. Follow these five tips and you’re sure to have an amazing time in Namibia on a budget.
Hey there, and welcome to Go Global with Sibu! I’m a global citizen that has been living and traveling around the world since 2005 – all through budget travel, scholarships, study/work and living abroad opportunities. I share everything I’ve learned over the years here – to prove to you that you don’t need money or privilege to enjoy everything that this world has to offer.