Useful information giving answers to frequently asked questions
There are two main seasons in Namibia, Botswana and Zambia- wet and dry. The rainy season lasts from November to April, the rainiest months – January, February, dry season – from May to October. Throughout the year, the days are mostly sunny with slight variations in temperature: the day +20-35 ° C, at night – about +20 ° C, in June and July at night can be up to 0C.
Best time to travel
A time to plan a trip depends on a personal taste. The wet season is characterized by its green landscapes, flowering plants, beautiful birds` plumage, the appearance of baby animals and birds. On the other hand, abundant vegetation limits the review; also because of the rains you can’t drive all the roads.
By July, the grass dries up, trees and shrubs lose their leaves, and nature loses its charm. In this dry season the animals gather at the waterholes and drying rivers, it is a much better chance to see them through sparse foliage. This is usually a high season for tourism.
Many national parks have no fences which mean that animals run across or along the road. Do keep to the speed limits and watch the sides of the road. Remember, when in a wildlife area, you are a guest in the territory of others – it belongs to the mammals, reptiles, birds and numerous other creatures. Keep your distance! Night-time driving is probably the most dangerous, as the animals come out to hunt, be very careful. Don’t walk around in the bush unless you are accompanied by the experienced guide. If needed to walk at night, take a torch scan around you tent or chalet. Look carefully at your feet, use footpaths for walking. There are a lot of snakes and scorpions. Be careful near the rivers; swimming is no-no in most of the rivers because of the crocodiles and hippos. Do not walk along the river bank, especially with children, it is very dangerous! Fishing, use a jetty or boat.
It is strongly recommended to arrange health insurance before travelling. If you have any health problems, you should consult with a physician before the trip. Bring medication that you use constantly.
Malaria. Botswana, Zambia and the northern part of Namibia is malarial zone. If you follow the several simple rules, the risk of malaria will be low. Consult your doctor, he may recommend you to make the antimalarial prophylactics. Mosquitoes are especially active in the evening and at night, so it is advisable to wear light colored clothing – long sleeved shirts and long pants. Use insect repellent on exposed skin, and spray your clothes, sleep under a mosquito net and switch on a ceiling fan, if there is one.
Sleeping sickness. This is transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly. Symptoms include vomiting, fever and headache. Both tsetse flies and mosquitoes seem to be attracted to dark or bright clothing, so wearing a lighter color is recommended.
Typhoid and cholera. These diseases are very rare, but occur mainly in humid areas with high unhygienic. It is recommended to drink bottled water if you are unsure of the tap water.
Bilharzia – a disease carried by small flukes. They live part of their lives in snails, which can be found in still water and ponds.
Hepatitis – the disease is uncommon. Consult your doctor, he may appoint an injection.
HIV/AIDS are, unfortunately, both widely prevalent. Take the necessary precautions (safe sex, avoid contact with blood).
Tetanus. We recommend vaccination against tetanus, but consult your doctor.
Sunstroke, sunburn, dehydration can be avoided by using sun protective cream with a high degree of protection for UVA and UVB radiation. Wear a hat and long sleeved shirts made of light cotton fabrics, stay out of the sun where possible and drink plenty of water.
All the guided tours will include a first aid kit in the vehicle. If you are on a self-drive tour, you must carry a small medical kit with you.
Hospitals and clinics can be found in most main towns, and medical professionals are well trained.
There will usually be cellphone network coverage in towns and along major routes, but there might be some difficulties in the remote areas. If necessary, you can use satellite phones, which are generally available at lodges.
It is important to carry all documents with you, especially on vehicles.
In all four countries (including Zimbabwe), vehicles are driven on the left-hand side of the road. Recommended speed on the tar roads – 100 km / h – watch out – animals can appear suddenly. Never, ever travel in the dark. The recommended speed on gravel roads is 60-80km / h. Fine sand on the surface of the road makes the road slippery. Be especially careful when driving on wet gravel roads – they are very slippery!
The use of the seatbelts is compulsory, and speed limits should be adhered to, especially in national parks.
Although the tarred main roads are in reasonable condition, the potholes cannot be easily seen at night. Remember, animals are often active after dark!
Some roads can be closed during the heavy rains, if you are self drivers, please check the road conditions before traveling to a destination.
There are few petrol stations on main routes to travel without extra cans.
Accommodation in Namibia, Botswana and Zambia includes lodges, hotels, houseboats of different levels from luxury to budget class; it is also possible to stay in tents at the camping sites.
Some simple tips for safe travelling:
- look after your bags and do not keep them open;
- do not exchange money on the streets;
- do not walk at night, especially alone;
- use the hotel safe.
The main language is English.
You can take pictures in many places. Avoid taking a picture of people without their consent. After receiving permission and photographing people, offer them some money.
There are beggars in some places. It is best not give anything to them, as there are a lot of charities to support local communities. If you are interested you can find out from the hotel or lodge manager.
Namibia is one of the largest countries in Africa; it is situated in the south-west of the African continent bordering Angola, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa, on the west it is washed by the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The capital of Namibia is Windhoek – the home of more than 280 000 people. With a population of 2.2 million and a land area 825 000 sq.km, Namibia has the second-lowest population density in the world (after Mongolia). m. It gained independence on March 21, 1990. There are various ethnical groups including – Ovambo, Herero, Himba, Bushmen, Nama, Damara, Tswana and many others.
The official language in Namibia is English, although Africans, German and Ovambo are widely spoken. In total there are 16 languages and dialects.
The main economic sectors in Namibia:
- Mining (diamonds, uranium, copper, lead, zinc, magnesium, Cadi, arsenic, iron pyrites, silver, gold);
- Agriculture (46%);
- Tourism (the fastest growing sector of the economy).
Currency of Namibia is Namibian dollar (NAD), equated to South African rand (ZAR). Either rands or Namibian dollars can be used in the shop.
Traveler’s checks, credit card International Visa, Master Card, American Express, Diners Club in Namibia are widely accepted.
The main attraction of Namibia is its landscape: 60% of the country – the plains, 19% – the mountains and 14% – the dunes.
The famous attraction is the world’s oldest desert Namib that is more than 65 million years old. There are enormous and endless colorful sand dunes, which reach a height of 350 meters.
Kalahari Desert is located on the east and occupies 22% of Namibia.
Eroded over many millennia, Fish River canyon is the second-largest natural canyon in the world. Its depth is 550 m, the width is up 27 km and the length is 160 km.
Etosha Pan, a vast shallow depression of approximately 5 000 sq.km forms a heart of Etosha National Park.
With its scenically beautiful surroundings, Epupa Falls is one of Namibia’s prime tourist destinations.
Main Namibia’s parks
Eosha National park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa that was proclaimed in1907. Its area is about 22 270 sq. km. There are 114 mammals species found in the park, several are rare and endangered, such as black rhino and cheetah, and the lesser known black-faced impala, which is endemic to north western Namibia. About 340 bird species occur in Etosha, about one third being migratory.
Namib – Naukluft Park is the largest conservation area in Namibia, its size is 49 769 sq.km. The top attraction in the park and one of the country’s major tourist destinations is Sossusvlei, renowned for its majestic star-shaped dunes and the eerie Dead Vlei. Other features in the Namib-Naukluft Park are Sesriem, the Welwitschia Trail, Sandwich Harbour, the Naukluft Mountains and others.
Dorob National Park is the 200 – km stretch of coastline between the Swakop and Ugab rivers is renowned for its excellent angling potential. The stretch between Sandwich Harbour and the Ugab River was proclaimed as a national park in 2008 and for the first time is the history of Namibia a park has been available to people for recreational activities. Here is the world’s largest colony of fur seals.
Bwabwata National Park (6100 sq km), launched in 2007, spans the eastern part of the Caprivi – from Kongola Kwando River in the east to the town on the river Okavango Divundu in the west. There are no perennial rivers between the rivers of Kwando and Okavango (it is 190 km), so the animals are mainly in the eastern and western parts of the park.
Mamili (or Nkasa Lupala) National Park (320 sq km) proclaimed in 1990. It is on the flood plain of the Linyanti River, near Chobe National Park in Botswana. Mudumu National Park (1010 sq.km) was founded in 1990 and it is on the Kwando River (upstream from the Linyanti). Both parks are alive with more than 400 species of birds. They are homes to small populations of sitatunga and red lechwe, while spotted-necked otter, hippo and crocodile inhabit the waterways and lots of other game.
Khaudum National park (3842 sq.km) is the most “wild” park of Namibia, it was founded in 1989. The roads here are not very good and it can be explored only in 4×4 vehicles. There are herds of elephants and many species of antelope, vultures, and birds in the park. African wild dogs also occur here.
Waterberg Plateau Park (405.39 sq.km) was proclaimed in 1972. The Plateau is rising 200 meters above the surrounding African bush and with its flamboyant brick-red sandstone formations and lush green vegetation presents an island of vibrant color. The park is the main attraction of the region with some 25 game and over 200 bird species, but more than 150 million years ago the dinosaurs lived in the area as well.
There some other National Parks that are as attractive as other like Skeleton Coast Park that protects one third of Namibia’s coastline; Fish River Canyon and /Ai-/Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park with its hot springs and Namibian most spectacular geological phenomenon; and finally Sperrgebiet (forbidden territory) National Park famous for 55-meter high Bogenfels rock arch, the modern diamond mine and the mysterious ghost town Pomona.
Namibia is the most arid country in southern Africa. Perennial rivers are found only on the country’s northern and southern borders, more than 1 500 km apart. These are the Orange River in the south (bordering on South Africa), the Kunene, Okavango, Zambezi and Kwando/Linyanti/Chobe (forming the border between eastern Caprivi and Botswana). All other rivers in Namibia are ephemeral and episodic rivers that flow only after rains. The longest of them is river – Fish, which runs through the famous Fish River Canyon.
The country divided into 14 vegetation zones ranging from desert, semi-desert, Mopane, mountain, thorn bush, highland, dwarf shrub, camel-thorn, mixed tree and shrub savannahs to forest savannahs and woodlands. Over 120 species of trees grow in Namibia.
Namibia has abundant wildlife. Large game species include elephant, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, lion, cheetah, leopard, and more than 20 species of antelope. The black faced impala is endemic.
Of the 887 bird species listed for Southern Africa, 676 have been recorded in Namibia. Of these, about 500 species breed locally, while the rest are migrants.
Russian passport holders don’t require a tourist visa to Namibia. Please verify it before departure with your nearest consulate.
Namibia – Namibia Tourism Board
The area of Botswana is 582 000 sq.km. It shares borders with Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe touching Zambia at one point in the middle of the Zambezi River. The population of Botswana’s is about 1.8 million people (there are over twice as many cattle as people). The capital, Gaborone, has a population of 250 000inhabitants.
Setswana is the national language and all the major tribes speak it with minor differences in dialects. However, English is the official business language.
Most of Botswana is Kalahari Desert, 80% of the population lives in the east of the country, where the soil is more fertile and the rains are more reliable.
The dominated sectors of the economy:
- Diamond Mining;
- Agriculture (beef).
The government promotes high cost and exclusive tourism.
Currency of Botswana is the (BWP) which is quite strong. Tour operators and national parks are happy to accept US dollars, South African rand or euro as a payment, but shops and petrol stations will take only pula.
The top attractions of the county are:
- The Okavango Delta, with its abundant game viewing, mokoro trails, walking safaris and fishing, is covering 15,000 sq.km;
- The Chobe famed for its elephant population as well as fishing, birding, game viewing;
- The immense Makgadikgadi pans, whose salt-cracked surface marks the death bed of the great lake Makgadikgadi. Ideal place to exploring, driving, watching hundreds flamingos in good rains;
- The Kalahari Desert is a place of sanctuary for the San with lions, gemsbok and vast unspoiled landscapes;
- Northern Tuli Game Reserve – the largest privately owned game reserve in Southern Africa.
Major roads throughout Botswana are tarred and in good condition. Park road are either sand or clay. During the rains some roads can be impassable.
It is possible to observe numerous animals and birds all year round.
Main Botswana’s parks
There are several national parks in Botswana.
Chobe National Park (11700 sq.km) established in 1968. The Chobe River forms its northern boundary. There are four distinct geographical areas in the park: the Chobe Riverfront, the Ngwezumba Pans, Savute and Linyanti. The most accessible and frequently visited of Botswana’s big game country, the Chobe Riverfront is famous for its large herds of elephants (more than 50 000) and Cape Buffalo. Over 460 bird species have been recorded in the park.
Moremi Game Reserve (4870 sq.km.) is the first reserve in Africa that was established by local residents in 1963. It is situated in the central and eastern areas of the Okavango Delta and ranked as one the most beautiful reserve in Africa. Both Black and White Rhino have recently been re-introduced, now making the reserve a ‘Big Five’ destination. The Okavango Delta is a unique area contains 95% of all surface water in Botswana and is one of Africa’s prime tourist destinations. A recent overview of the Okavango records 122 species of mammals, 71 species of fish, 444 species of birds, 64 species of reptiles and 1300 species of flowering plants.
Southeast of the delta is the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pan National Park, to which zebra and wildebeest migrate seasonally and where the famous Baines’ Baobabs can be seen. In the rainy season, thousands of flamingos and pelicans gather in the Nata Bird Sanctuary, at Sowa Pan. At the same time there may be more than 100 000 flamingos and more than 6,000 pelicans.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (37 000 sq km.) was officially opened in 2002. It is now shared and managed by two countries South Africa and Botswana. 4x4s are required for the rough, sandy roads. Wildlife is abundant, eland and famous black-maned Kalahari lion can be often seen.
It is worth mentioning The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (52 800 sq. km.) that is the second largest wildlife reserve in the world. The northern Deception Valley is one the highlights, principally because of the dense concentrations of herbivores its sweet grasses attract during and after the rainy season (and of course the accompanying predators).
Apart from the Okavango River there is no other perennial water supply flowing into, or out of, Botswana. Only the Chobe River in the extreme north, which separates Botswana from Namibia’s Caprivi Strip flows all year around.
Much of the country is flat, savanna grassland with a scattering of thorn and scrub bush, although the south-eastern hardveld has a somewhat varied geology with more reliable rainfall, greater fertility and agricultural potential.
There are no mountains in Botswana and, apart from the hilly south-east, the only hills of significance are found in the northwest. The most important of these is the Tsodilo Hills whose rocky cliffs rise up about 400 m above the surrounding plain. This is the most significant historical rock art in the world with as many as 3500 individual paintings charting over 25 000 years. Tsodilo was declared a UNESCO Site in 2002.
Over 160 different mammal species have been indentified, including the “big five”- lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino – as well as various antelopes, including the rare sitatunga and red lechwe.
Over 550 bird species have been identified in Botswana, 400 of which can be seen in the Gaborone area.
Russian passport holders don’t require a tourist visa to Namibia. Please verify it before departure with your nearest consulate.
Botswana – Botswana Tourism Board
The area of Zambia is just over 752 000 sq km, slightly smaller than that of Namibia but rather more than that of Botswana. It borders with 8 other Southern African countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Angola. The population is around 12 million people. About half of the residents live in urban centers, mainly in the capital city, Lusaka (1,4 million), and in the towns of Copperbelt.
Engligh is the official language and most Zambians speak it fluently, only in truly remote settlements communication in English can be difficult.
The dominated sectors of the economy:
- Mining (cobalt, copper).Copper mines are the main wealth of Zambia;
- Manufacturing industries (textile, cement);
- Tourism is a rapidly developing industry. About 40% of the country is under state protection. National Parks cover an area of about 63 000 square kilometers.
Currency of Zambia is kwacha (ZMK), which means ‘it dawns’ in the Bemba language. Most shops accept other currencies, but the exchange rate may not be as good as in banks or bureau de change. Avoid ending your trip in the country with kwacha, and the currency is not accepted or changeable in neighboring countries.
Zambia is a land of Magnificent Waterfalls! The Victoria Falls, known as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” The Smoke that Thunders, is one seven natural wonders in the world. Livingston town (only 10 km from VF), former capital of Zambia, is proudly the tourist and adventure capital of the country. Apart from the many activities on offer, the town has much to interest the visitor, including three museums: Livingston Museum, the Railway Museum and the Victoria Falls Field Museum.
South Luangwa and Kafue National Parks are two of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in Africa, while the Lower Zambezi combines spectacular riverine scenery with abundant game viewing. Zambia is the birthplace of the Walking Safaris. Lake Tanganyika, shared with Tanzania, Burundi, Congo DR, is the longest fresh water lake in the world and the second deepest. The clear water hosts more than 350 different species of fish and well known for excellent angling. Shiwa N’gandu, the exraordinary English Manor House built in the early 1900s, with the Kapishya Hot Springs on the estate, is also worth a visit. Lake Kariba is the world’s largest man-made lake offers spectacular panoramas.
Apart from some poor sections, roads between main centers are generally good, but do watch the potholes. The conditions of minor roads vary, so check with local information before going off the main routes.
Main Zambia’s parks
here are 19 national parks and 34 game management areas in Zambia. The closest park to Livingstone is Mosi-oa-Tunya (70 square km) includes the Victoria Falls and the northern part of the Zambezi River. It is home to white rhinos, giraffes and some species of antelope.
To the west of Livingstone Sioma Ngwezi National Park; unfortunately, the infrastructure of the park is almost not developed. The nearby Sioma(Ngonye) Falls there is a beautiful horseshoe-shaped waterfalls.. Liuwa Plain National Park located 400 km from Livingstone, is known for a large number of wildebeest migration.
Kafue National Park (22 400 sq km) – the closest to Livingstone in Zambia large park, located 200 km north of the city. It is famous for the rich diversity of its animals.
A small Lochinvar National Park (450 sq km) is located on the Kafue River flood plain; it is home to rare Kafue lechwe. This is a Ramsar site and provides breeding grounds for many water birds, especially in season between December and March.
Lower Zambezi National Park (4100 square kilometers) is one of the most spectacular parks in Zambia. Enormous herds of elephants are often seen at the rivers’ edge. The park hosts good population of lion and leopards. One can listen for the frequent cry of the fish eagle.
South Luangwa National Park is renowned as the place in Africa for Walking Safaris. Its woodlands, river channels and lagoons have abundant wildlife and it is perfect for exploring on foot. North Luangwa National park is one of the most remote land offering one of the finest wilderness experiences in Zambia. It is not opened to public. Access is with one the few safari operators granted permission to conduct walking safaris.
Lake Bangweulu & floodplains often referred to as a ‘mini-Okavango’. The bird life is magnificent, and the sight of thousands of Black Lechwe, unforgettable. Samfya Beach on Lake Bangweulu resembles a coastal beach and the size of a lake is ocean-like. Kasana National Park (450 sq.km.), a peaceful sanctuary, situated on the southwestern edge of the Lake Bangweulu basin, is one of Zambia’s smallest parks. With its rivers, lakes and wetlands, forests, lagoons it supports a wide range of animals and abundant birds and fish.
Zambia is a vast country dominated by a great plateau cleaved by two major valleys – the Zambezi and Luangwa. Numerous rivers scratch its surface, filling seasonal flood plains or cascading over magnificent waterfalls. Lakes, both man-made and ancient, languish in valleys and depressions.
The country’s vegetation forms a patchwork of grassland, woodland and swamp. The most dominant is miombo woodland that covers nearly three-quarters of Zambia. Confined mainly to the valley, Mopane woodland makes pleasant walking country and attracts browsing animals.
Everyone hopes to see the ‘big five’ and in Zambia you stand an excellent chance. The lion, Africa’s largest predator, is still common throughout Zambia. The country is a stronghold for the elephant with over 15,000 occurring in the Luangwa Valley alone.
There are over 730 bird species recorded in Zambia.
Russian passport holders require a tourist visa to Zambia. Single entry visa (USD50) or double entry (USD80) visa can be obtained at the border. Multiple-entry visa can only be obtained in advance and it is necessary to pre-apply. Please verify it before departure with your nearest consulate.
Zambia – Zambia Tourism Board