Traveling to Namibia and wondering what to pack or what to wear in Namibia? This article should answer all your questions. Find out!
While in most countries you can easily buy something you had forgotten, it might be an impossible task in rural Namibia. Good preparation will save you lots of frustration and make your trip more comfortable.
Whether you are planning to drive across the whole country or just go there for a couple of days, this Namibia packing list contains all the essential tips for your trip.
First, you can find a packing list for Namibia. Further below, you can find practical tips for what to pack when camping in Namibia, what to wear in Namibia, what to wear on safari, what to pack when traveling to Namibia with kids, and also what NOT to pack for Namibia. Find out!
What to Pack for Namibia
First Aid Kit and Medicine
This is kind of self-explanatory… and of utmost importance in Namibia.
Whether you accidentally cut yourself, get stomach problems, or bruise your knee while climbing granite rocks in Spitzkoppe (yep, this did happen to us), a first aid kit is an absolute necessity in Namibia.
The nearest doctor can be a few hours away!
Make sure to also pack any prescription medicine you may need during the trip. We always pack a pain killer, probiotics, nose spray, disinfectant, diarrhea medication, medicine against travel sickness, and something against allergies – in case you get bitten by an insect and have a severe reaction.
Since we travel with children, we also ALWAYS carry a cold pain-relieving spray or instant cold packs with us. It’s probably the most used item on any trip.
We traveled in Namibia in July and mosquitos were not really an issue, but you should never travel to Africa without a mosquito spray with DEET.
Ask any traveler to Africa about one essential item to take with you, and most of them will advise packing a flashlight. It gets dark early and you will need a flashlight all the time – to walk from your room to the restaurant, to find a keyhole and open the door to your room after dinner.
Some hotels also switch off their power generators at night… You get the idea. I advise carrying a pocket-size powerful LED flashlight and always keeping it with you.
GPS & a Good Road Map
A good map is essential for any road trip. Get a recent, detailed map which indicates petrol stations and the main lodges – it’s really helpful as many places don’t really have an address.
Your road trip will be much more relaxing if you take a GPS with you. You can rent one, of course, but if you travel a lot, it’s cheaper to buy a GPS with worldwide maps (and make sure the map of the country you are going to is loaded on it before you leave home).
We took our TomTom with world maps and were amazed at how precise it was in Namibia – we never expected it, but we were able to use it every day.
TIP: If you want to use Google Maps in Namibia, make sure to download them before the trip so that you can use them offline.
Namibia uses type D/M electrical plugs and you should buy a couple of those in advance. One might not be enough as you probably have a lot of electric appliances with you.
Also, as already mentioned before, some lodges cut off electricity at night, so you may need to charge several appliances simultaneously. Or take one of those multi-socket power adapters instead.
Take your smartphone, but don’t expect to have a connection all the time. Namibia is a country to disconnect…
Nevertheless, you should always have a phone with you so that you can take advantage of every opportunity (they might be quite limited) to connect to the Internet and let your family and friends know how you are doing.
A good Swiss Army knife is a must on any road trip. We have used ours on more occasions than I can remember. If there is one travel item that every traveler should own then it’s a Swiss Army knife.
Camera, Extra Batteries, Charger & Memory Cards
If your camera uses rechargeable batteries, you should be ok with just one spare. Unless you are camping and have no possibilities to recharge – in that case, you may need to take a few extra batteries. Don’t count on buying extra batteries in Namibia, so make sure you take everything with you (or buy some in Windhoek upon arrival).
The same counts for the memory cards – you cannot count on buying them in Namibia (except in Windhoek or Swakopmund). So make sure you have plenty of memory cards with you. Count on making 200-300 pictures a day. If you really like taking pictures (I do), you might end up taking even more, especially when you go on safari.
LEARN MORE: Best Cameras and Lenses for Safari
If you are somewhat into travel photography, then you know how important it is to use a tripod. You will not be able to use it on safari rides, but there are many waterholes where you can watch animals and there a tripod is essential.
I take my Manfrotto aluminum tripod with a compact ball head with me all the time – it’s strong enough for any camera yet relatively light and compact. It’s not cheap, but after intensive use for more than 6 years, I can tell you that it’s worth it.
Don’t forget binoculars when packing for Namibia. You will be watching a lot of animals and birds and it’s always a pleasure to have a good pair of binoculars with you. If you really love birdwatching and wildlife viewing, you should consider binoculars with image stabilization.
Finding a place to eat during the day can be a real challenge in rural Namibia. You can order a lunch pack at your hotel and take it with you or stock up on food and drinks every time you pass a town and a shop. In that case, you will really need a cooler. We took a soft-sided cooler with us and while not an absolute must, it was really useful.
E-reader with Built-in Light
Evenings are long and dark in Africa and there is no better way to fill your time than stargazing or reading.
However, often, light is very minimal in hotels in Africa. So reading a book in the evening can be a challenge. An e-reader is not only compact and light to pack, it also allows you to read in the evening. It’s especially helpful if you share a room with the kids as you can read when they sleep. We all have Kindle Paperwhite e-readers and take them on all our trips.
You’ll want to have a good day backpack with you to take on safari rides, when you go hiking, or for any other excursions. Take a bag that can be closed well to avoid the sand getting inside.
Soft Shell Travel Bags
Whether you travel to Africa on a group tour, take a small airplane, or make an individual road trip, you are better off taking soft-sided travel bags rather than hard-shell suitcases. They take up less space and offer more flexibility when loading bags in a trunk. On top of that, they are more durable. Group tours and small airplanes always advise against hard-shell luggage.
What Else to Pack for Namibia
Here is a list of other extremely useful items to pack for your Namibia road trip:
- Locks for your luggage for when you leave it in the room or in the car.
- Sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
- Body cream, hand cream, lip balm. You will need those all the time as it’s very dry in Namibia.
- Most hotels and lodges have all kinds of toiletries provided, but to be on the safe side, you can always take some soap and a small bottle of shampoo with you.
- Big trash bags to cover your baggage (otherwise they will be covered with sand, even in the trunk).
- Small trash bags are also very handy. You can use them as motion sickness bags, to separate dirty laundry, or as trash bags in your car.
- Nail brush (or a scrub brush) to clean your shoes and bags. There will be sand all over your stuff.
- Toilet paper (to have in the car), tissues, and sanitizing hand wipes.
- Safety pins and a sewing kit.
- Clothesline and laundry detergent – if you need to do some laundry or to dry your swimwear.
What to Wear in Namibia
You don’t really need smart clothing in Namibia and you’ll probably hardly ever wear it. If you stay at the luxury lodges, then you may want to take one or two smart outfits for in the evening, but jeans and a shirt are also fine. During the day, you will only need casual clothes.
Most people travel to Namibia in the dry season (May-October). While it’s very warm and you can wear shorts and t-shirts during the day, take into account that it’s also the cold season and it gets really cold at night.
You will need warm clothes for when the sun goes down or before it rises. Most safari rides go early in the morning or late in the evening and you will definitely need warm clothing – a sweater, jacket, long pants… The same for whale watching tours, watching the sunrise in the dunes, and some other activities.
What We Packed for a 4-week Namibia Trip in July
Here’s our 4-week Namibia road trip clothing packing list, per person:
- Windproof jacket.
- 1-2 sweaters or a fleece pullover (it dries fast if you need to wash it).
- 2 pairs long pants, can also be jeans, but light trekking pants are probably more convenient.
- 2 pairs of shorts.
- 10-12 t-shirts or light cotton shirts (can be with long sleeves).
- 10-12 sets of underwear and socks.
- Swimsuit (only the kids used them – swimming pools are not heated in Namibia and the water is very cold in winter).
- A buff or a scarf. For the children, we also took a winter hat and gloves and we used them on several occasions.
- A pair of old socks – you will use those when climbing the sand dunes and throw them away afterwards.
What to Pack When Camping in Namibia
If you plan on camping in Namibia you will need camping-specific items and a lot will depend on how you camp (individually or in a group), whether your tent and cooking utensils are provided, etc.
If camping in winter (June-August), make sure to take a really warm sleeping bag (it can be freezing at night) and an inflatable camping mat. Our friends took Vaude Sioux sleeping bags with them for a trip in July and said they were just great for the Namibian winter.
If you go camping, you should get a headlamp. I heard this advice from many people and they all said that a headlamp is one of the camping essentials. It keeps your hands free in a tent, while cooking, etc.
Also think of taking a quick-drying travel towel, slippers for in the shower, and clothes that can be washed and dried quickly if necessary… The rest depends on your specific situation.
What to Pack When Traveling to Namibia With Kids
When traveling with children you are quickly tempted to overpack. This is completely unnecessary. Here is what we packed for our kids (+ the clothing, of course):
- 1 small cuddly toy to sleep with.
- Twistable crayons and paper.
- Kid’s binoculars. We bought small binoculars for each of our kids and it kept them busy and engaged during the whole trip. Don’t buy toy binoculars as they are useless. There are plenty of small binoculars with decent magnification which are not necessarily more expensive.
- Children’s booster seat. More info here: best booster seats for travel.
- A digital tablet with a couple of children’s movies and games.
- Download some children’s stories or music on your smartphone and make sure that you can connect it to a car radio. That will keep kids entertained during the long drives.
What NOT to Pack to Namibia
- Don’t take too many electrical appliances with you. Take only what you really need. Unless you really need a laptop, leave it at home. A smartphone is usually more than sufficient.
- As already mentioned, smart clothes are really not necessary in Namibia.
- High heel shoes, women’s sandals, ballet flats – you can leave all of these at home. They are completely useless in the Namibian desert.
- Don’t take your newest suitcase or travel bag with you as the bags will be covered with sand every day you drive on the gravel roads. Pack an old travel bag or a backpack instead and make sure it’s well closed.
- Unless you are really attached to it, leave your jewelry at home.
- Don’t take too many toys for your children. Let your kids explore – roll down the sand dunes, climb the rocks, look for animals, play with sand and stones… If you really want to take something, take a small ball or a frisbee.
So, this is our guide for packing for a trip to Namibia. Hope it helps you with the preparations. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a reply below.
Do You Need Neutral Color Clothing on Safari in Africa?
It is, indeed, advisable not to wear bright colors on safari. However, in my experience, it doesn’t matter that much what you wear, if you are sitting in a car or an open jeep all the time.
If you have a choice between a bright red fleece or a grey one, go for the latter. If you have to buy something new for the trip, better go for the neutral color clothing in light brown, grey, or similar colors. If, however, the only windproof jacket you own happens to be bright green, I’d say save your money and pack what you have.
What Kind of Shoes Do You Need in Namibia
Per person, we took a pair of hiking sandals, flip-flops, and walking shoes. We only used sandals on a few occasions but found flip-flops very useful for in the hotel room or at a pool.
It’s best to wear closed shoes in Namibia. You don’t really need hiking shoes (unless you plan on doing lots of hiking), but low hiking shoes are advisable.
In principle, one pair of shoes is sufficient if you want to travel light, but if I were to travel to Namibia again, I’d probably pack the same: hiking shoes, sandals, and flip flops.
More tips for your trip to Namibia:
- What I Wish I Had Known Before Traveling to Namibia
- Safari Tips
- Best Place to Stay in Etosha National Park
- Namibia with Kids
- Namibia Itinerary for 3 to 4 Weeks
- Indigenous Tribes of Namibia
- Safari with Kids
READ ALSO: Best Places to Visit in Namibia
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Friday 16th of December 2022
My daughter is leaving soon for a study abroad semester in Namibia..THANK YOU for this post!! , --A worried mom
Saturday 17th of December 2022
Hi Laurie, this list is more meant for travelers rather than someone like your daughter who will likely stay in the city. But yes, some things are a must in any case - like travel adapters or prescription medicine, etc. For the rest, she'll just need 'regular' clothes - whatever she'd wear to go to school at home, just adjusted to the Namibian weather, of course. Wish your daughter a great time in Namibia and try not to worry too much. It's a beautiful country and I'm sure she'll quickly make friends and feel at home there. And if you get a chance, go and visit her (and Namibia).
Thursday 15th of October 2020
Hello Jurga, This is a great multi informational blog. Especially coming from a Mom who travels with her family is almost a guarantee it is done meticulously. So thank you. Even though your trip was self-drive, I was wondering, I am more of the type who passes too much comfort for a bit of an organic connect when traveling to Africa. But since my driving partner bailed on me, I feel I have lost that opportunity; at least for now. So do you think by staying in Swakopmund and taking different excursions from there a good idea; time wise, convenience wise or even budget wise for that matter? Or is it even something that can be done? (I checked the link for different activities you included and they are pretty impressive. I already decided on 7 of them.) Daniel z. Thank you
Friday 16th of October 2020
Hi Daniel, if there is one place in Namibia where you could indeed visit without having to drive, it's Swakopmund. The town is very nice and easily walkable. There are lots of hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. And there is indeed a big variety of organized tours that you can take. If your budget allows it, there are even fly-safaris to Sossusvlei if I recall well. The only thing you'd need to do is get to Swakopmund from the airport in Windhoek. But I guess that shouldn't be a problem. I just found this airport transfer on Viator, so it's definitely possible. Another option - and likely cheaper, depending on accommodation choices - is to visit Namibia with a small-group tour. See here for some great options with Intrepid or with TourRadar - these are both very reputable organizations for organized tours. Hope this helps.
Sunday 8th of September 2019
Thank you for the info. I am planning a trip for elderly retirees (70+) (even though we don't feel elderly) Your lovely website has given me a great starting point
Monday 9th of September 2019
Good to hear that, Barbara. Enjoy your trip to Namibia!
Tuesday 5th of February 2019
Very useful. Thank you. I’m traveling to Namibia mid Feb to mid March. Any recommendations about weather conditions and camping at that time of year?
Tuesday 5th of February 2019
Hi Mervet, I'm really not sure. February-March is hot and rainy season in Namibia, but you never really know what you get as it can be so different from year to year.
Wednesday 20th of December 2017
This was really useful and pretty comprehensive. Having spent three fabulous weeks in namibia, the three key things I would pack are: A small screwdriver for fixing glasses/sunglasses. A couple of small black dog poo bags - very useful to have in your pocket for collecting/carrying things. Business cards to give to people to make swapping email addresses and photos easier.
Wednesday 20th of December 2017
Thanks for sharing your experience and tips, Peter. I am sure it will be very helpful to the other readers as well