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Thanks to careful management and thorough consultation with local partners our track record is exemplary
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All of our school group experts are highly trained and experienced consultants who have safety as their number one priority
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Learn more about our safety practices on our Safety page
World Youth Adventures is committed to responsible travel and true sustainability
Some of our trips visit a Himba village, which has an orphanage for Himba children, and our travellers make donations to support the education and nourishment of the children.
We encourage our travellers to avoid purchasing products made from endangered species, hard woods or ancient artifacts.
Before arriving in a community our travellers are given information concerning local customs and traditions ensuring that they are aware of the impact their behaviour can have on a local community.
Well-defined environmental plans exist on every trip within Namibia.
Learn more about our commitment, and view our free Responsible Travel Guidebook, on our Responsible Travel Page
Namib Desert: Long narrow coastal desert 50km-140km, extending along the entire coastline and interspersed with dune belts, dry riverbeds and deeply eroded canyons.
Central Plateau: Runs from North to South with an average altitude between 1000-2000 m. This area has breathtaking landscapes, rugged mountain, rocky outcrops, sand filled valleys and endless plains.
Namibia offers visitors access to stunning wildlife, diverse culture, an incredible diversity of spectacular natural landscapes and seemingly endless space to move around in. One of the newest countries in Africa, and one of the very least densely populated countries in the world, Namibia is also without a doubt one of the most photogenic places on earth. Namibia’s striking natural highlights include of the ancient sand dunes and otherworldly vistas of its lonely Namib and Kalahari deserts, the rugged mountains of the Great Escarpment, the vast plains of the central plateau, the fertile Kavango and Caprivi Strip, and the deserted Skeleton Coast.
Namibia’s history is not well documented. The country’s isolated geography limited the number of visitors to the country prior to the 19th century, and there is a lack of comprehensive, unbiased and accurate historical reports from those who did stop or settle in the region since then. One of the best sources of data about first life in the region is Twyfelfontein, a UNESCO World Heritage site in northwest Namibia that is one of the largest known collections of ancient rock paintings and engravings in the world. The artworks found here provide great insight into the technology, culture and daily lives of the earliest Namibians, the San people. The San were hunter-gatherers, peaceful nomads who lived in small clans and lacked the larger clan structure and military technology to defend themselves against conquerors. Other tribes in the region such as the Nama, the Damara, the Herero, the Ovambo and the Kavango each had larger clan sizes with more complex social structures, technologies and military capacities, and were able to dominate the San. Today, the word San (in both Namibia and South Africa) actually refers collectively to the many different ethnic and language groups of people with ancestral links to these earliest Namibians.
Due to Namibia’s isolated position, its difficult access and inhospitable conditions, contact from Europeans was infrequent until the 1860s. Portuguese explorers Diogo Cão and Bartolomeu Dias both landed on the Namibian coast while sailing around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, in 1486 and 1488 respectively. Nearly two centuries passed without further European contact until Afrikaner explorers began arriving in 1670. Over the next two centuries, Afrikaner explorers and Afrikaner, Dutch, British and German settlers would introduce firearms to the country, and by the early 19th century the Oorlam-Nama people of the South African Cape region brought their military technology (modeled on the Afrikaners) including more advanced firearms, horses and mobile commando tactics to Namibia. The introduction of weaponry to the various clans and peoples of the region resulted in destructive tribal conflicts and allowed the Oorlam-Nama to dominate the local Nama (aka the Red Nation) and Damara peoples. By the mid-19th century, the Oorlam-Nama had established a kingdom near Windhoek, which was partly supported/populated by Herero, Red Nation and Damara peoples. At this time, central Namibia was the site of conflicts between the northward migrating Nama and the southward moving Herero.
The Herero’s 1870 signing of a peace treaty with the Germans who were stationed at the edge of Herero country, and the raising of a British flag at Walvis Bay, signaled to many that annexing of Namibia by the British was imminent, as the Cape Colony continued with its northward push. However, the isolated and arid Namibia was not to be considered by the British to be valuable enough to justify the additional investment required to annex the land. As such, the German colonials were able to annex Namibia as ‘German South-West Africa’ for themselves in 1884. The German acquisition resulted in various uprisings from Namibian tribal groups, the first of which was the Herero who forced the Germans back to Walvis Bay in 1885, until British troops were sent in. Colonial progress was fairly swift in the area, and by the turn of the 20th century German settlements were established, zinc and copper mining was underway, diamonds had been discovered near Lüderitz and construction of a Swakopmund-Lüderitz railway had begun.
The Germans were nearly pushed back by intense wars of local resistance that waged from 1904 to 1907, but the Germans fought back with brutal tactics including massacres, hangings and the use of concentration camps. By 1910, the effects of war (battle, starvation and retaliation from the Germans) had reduced the Herero people by about 90%. Battle and conditions in the concentration camps had also reduced the Nama people by two-thirds.
After reclaiming power, the Germans set about reallocating the best and most productive land in the country to colonial settlers, restricting African populations to controlled reserves. Surviving indigenous Namibians had begun to be restrained by the colonial government with an increasing list of laws and regulations. Non-whites were controlled by curfews, restricted to certain areas of the country, expected to carry identification passes at all times, and were not permitted to live or work (or even to spend longer than 72 hours) in many areas, including cities and major towns. These racial restrictions, together with the poor living conditions and employment opportunities in the black-designated reserves, forced indigenous Namibians to take part in the colonial government’s “contract labour system”. A mere step away from slavery (which still existed in the region at this time), the contract labour system crudely classified Namibian workers based on age and health, and once workers were registered with labour agencies, they would be offered out to third party employers to undertake dangerous and exhausting work, mostly mining, under unregulated and abusive working conditions, for little pay. Most work (mining, ranching) was conducted in isolated areas and workers were forced to live in inhumane conditions, traveling long distances in sheep trucks in the absence of suitable transportation.
World War I saw South African troops invade and capture German South-West Africa, beginning what was to be over 80 years of South African rule. Over the next 30 years, Afrikaner settlement was encouraged, a railway system was developed from Walvis Bay (South-West Africa’s only good natural port) to Cape Town, and the region’s resources (both natural and human) were continually exploited. Following World War II, South West Africa’s economy exploded, with world demand for the country’s diamonds, cattle and furs booming in the post-war years. The white minorities prospered on the back of the country’s booming economy, but things were not so rosy for the black and Coloured populations. The country’s contract labour was payment enough only to support a single person, and barely. A growing population and increasingly poor living conditions were eroding quality of life for the majority at a staggering rate.
The country’s abusive contract labour system persisted until it was abolished by the General Law Amendment Proclamation of 1977. Only at this point did black workers begin to be trained and employed on a large scale in fields such as teaching, nursing, and administration. However, labour hire agencies revived the system in the 1990s before labour hire was banned in the Namibian Labour Act of 2007. One of Namibia’s largest labour brokers, Africa Personnel Services, famously fought and won a landmark case against the government arguing that the ban was unconstitutional, and in 2012 new legislation was promulgated which reversed the ban and instead set about to regulate the labour hire system, including provision of full human and labour rights for employees.
From the 1940s, Namibians had begun petitioning for independence from South African rule, with petitioning from church communities and trade unions intensifying in the 1970s. The major strike of 1971-1972 was a powerful turning point for Namibians on the road to independence. The country was showing its distaste for contract labour and apartheid, and the strike was an important builder of national solidarity. The country’s economy took a drastic slump over the next 15 years as a result of drought, decreased output of major products, impacts of the war on foreign investment and mismanagement of the South African economy. Resolutions were passed by the UN Security Council in favour of independence for Namibia, but the South African government managed to repeatedly thwart negotiations. The watershed moment for independence came in 1988, when a failed attempt to invade Angola forced South Africa into a complete withdrawal from Angola, followed six months later by a UN-supervised transition for Namibia to free elections, the drafting of a new constitution, and finally, independence for Namibia.
The SWAPO Party of Namibia (South West Africa People's Organization) won the 1989 elections making SWAPO’s longtime leader Sam Nujoma President. On 21 March 1990, after 106 years of German and South Africa rule, Namibia became independent under a democratic multiparty constitution. Nujoma’s SWAPO party—which has maintained political power since independence—recognised that a calm tone of reconciliation, rather than one of revolution, would be more conducive to the building of the new Namibia, and so the government focused its policies on reconciliation with white settlers and South Africa, while its newly drafted constitution ensured human, civil and property rights for all Namibians.
Today, Namibia, one of the continent’s youngest nations, is a member of the Commonwealth, the UN and the African Union, and stands as an African success story, with its calm political climate and stable economy.
Like neighbouring South Africa, Namibia is a predominantly Christian country, with 80-90% of the total population practicing some form of Christianity. The bulk of the country’s Christian population belongs to the Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches. Indigenous beliefs are practiced by around 10-20% of the population, but many traditional indigenous beliefs and customs are integrated into the country’s Christian practice
Around 85% of Namibia’s total population are black, two thirds of which are of Ovambo ancestry, followed by the Kavango, the Herero, the Damara, and the Caprivian peoples
10% of the total population are those classified during the apartheid years as ‘Coloured’ (people of Cape Coloured, Nama and Rehobother ancestry).
The remaining 5% of the population are white, the bulk of which are Afrikaners (two thirds) or German (one fifth).
A mid-sized land mass and population of less than 2.2 million make Namibia one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. It is the most sparsely populated country in the southern hemisphere, and is second only to Western Sahara as the most sparsely populated country in Africa
More than a third of the population live in urban areas, and roughly half of the total population lives in the far north of the country. Most Namibians are poor, with half of the population falling below the poverty line.
Malnutrition, infant mortality and HIV/AIDS are major health concerns, however, Namibia has one of the best health care systems in Africa
Namibia’s neighbor and former ruler, South Africa, may have abolished its apartheid policy, but the effects of decades of systematic racial segregation persist in the social demography of the countries of modern Southern Africa. The gulf between the rich and poor is vast. Wealthy areas blessed with the highest income and access to the best schools, health care and other services, are predominantly white. The lingering racism is, however, not nearly as obvious in South Africa. Government policy since independence has focused on redressing many issues facing the most vulnerable Namibians: women, children and the poor
Namibia is a nation of great cultural and linguistic diversity. Afrikaner, German, British and South African influences coexist with the Creole communities of the Rehobothers, the Nama and the Cape Coloureds, and indigenous tribes including the Damara and Herero
Apart from small communities of tribal people living in rural communities, the majority of Namibians tend to dress in a modest western fashion. The major exception to this is the easily recognisable Herero women, who dress in distinctively Victorian-inspired dresses made out of colourful fabrics. Herero women accessorise their long dresses with distinctive horn-like hats/headdresses wrapped in the same dress fabric as their garments
People are generally very polite and should always be treated with respect and patience
If you want to take photographs of people you should always seek permission first. Do NOT take photographs of bridges, border posts, police or military personnel
It’s best to dress modestly, especially when visiting villages or crossing borders into neighbouring countries (no bare feet, bare chests, bikini tops, sunglasses or hats). While shorts are fairly acceptable, women should avoid wearing high-cut shorts or skimpy tops
Please be aware that in many African countries the political situation can be sensitive and local people (including tour company guides, drivers and other staff) often prefer not to discuss political matters. Be considerate of this and do not press people for their views on government or military matters
Begging is a harsh reality of life but it is something that most local people believe should not be encouraged, especially by Westerners who do not understand the occasions when it is appropriate. Giving money to street beggars should always be avoided. Handing out pens, balloons and sweets to children in the villages only decreases their respect for us and is discouraged. Tourists, albeit with the best of intentions, have created this situation
Please be warned that there have been instances of con men presenting themselves to tourists as refugees, NGO staff or government officials requesting donations. Do not enter into conversations with these men and under no circumstances give money, not even small donations
As a form of respect and general courtesy towards local inhabitants and village dwellers we do not encourage the invasion of their privacy. There are a few villages that allow tourist visits at a nominal fee. Bear in mind that you may be travelling in some rural areas where the people have had little contact with foreign tourists
Please be careful when purchasing any wood and bone carvings, as well as feathers and skins, as they may not pass your countries quarantine laws, and you may be purchasing products from endangered species
If you are invited to dine or barbecue at someone’s home, it is good etiquette to take a small gift of appreciation such as chocolates or flowers
With Namibia being predominantly Christian, Easter and Christmas are celebrated throughout the country
New Years Eve (31 Dec) is a night of partying and celebrations, especially in Swakopmund
Windhoek Karneval (WIKA) is a cabaret carnival celebrating Namibian/German arts heritage, taking place in Windhoek each March
/Ae//Gams Arts & Cultural Festival (Mar/Apr) in Windhoek is a highlight of Namibia’s cultural calendar, with many different arts traditions on display
The Namibian Food & Wine Festival brings the best in local food and wine to Windhoek each April
Namibia’s German roots are celebrated each October with popular Oktoberfest festivities taking place in Windhoek
Windhoek’s tertiary institutions organise cultural events throughout the year including the UNAM Cultural Festival (Jun), the Polytechnic of Namibia Cultural Festival (Jul), the College of the Arts Music (COTA) Festival (Aug), the IUM Cultural Festival (Sep)
Other festivals include the Hart van Windhoek Music Festival (Aug), Swakopmund’s Kuste Karneval street party (Aug), Oruuano of Namibia Arts Festival (Sep & Nov) and the Windhoek Jazz Festival (Nov)
Annual major sporting events include the Adventure Race Namibia 24-Hour Ultra Marathon (May), Windhoek Lager Namib Quest MTB Challenge (May), Windhoek Lager Fish River Ultra Challenge (Jun), Old Mutual Victory Race in Swakopmund (Jul), Spitzkoppe The Rock (Sep), Lüderitz Speed Challenge (Oct/Nov), FNB Desert Triathlon (Dec) and the FNB Desert Dash (Dec)
Secular public holidays include New Years Day (1 Jan), Independence Day (21 Mar), Workers Day (1 May), Cassinga Day (4 May), Africa Day (25 May), and International Human Rights Day (10 Dec).
Total population is 2,198,406; Namibia being the 143rd most populous country in the world, growing at a rate of 0.67%.
The median age is 22.8 years; with 31.7% aged 0-14 and 4.3% aged 65+
Sex ratio is 1.02 males to 1 female.
The urban population is 38.4% (2011), with average annual rate of urbanization at 3.14%
Black African (87.5%); White European (6%); Mixed race (6.5%). Approximately 50% of the population belongs to the Ovambo tribe and 9% to the Kavangos tribe; other ethnic groups include Herero 7%, Damara 7%, Nama 5%, Caprivian 4%, Bushmen 3%, Baster 2%, Tswana 0.5%.
Namibia can be thought of in three broad physiographic zones: the Namib Desert in the west, the central plateau, and the Kalahari Desert in the east.
The country’s climate can be thought of in three broad seasons: the long rains (January to April), the dry season (May to September) and the short rains (October to December).
Given the large amount of desert area, the country’s climate is, understandably, mostly hot and dry, with sparse and erratic rainfall. In some areas, daytime temperatures can soar to above 40°C (104°F) in summer and plummet below freezing in winter.
Rainfall is highest in the northeast, in the fertile Caprivi Strip and Okavango River regions, with the balance of the country receiving unreliable rainfalls and prolonged droughts.
The Kalahari Desert and the central plateau both experience wide diurnal temperature ranges, with daily swings of 30°C (50°F) in summer and 10° C (20°F). Central Namibia’s rainy season runs from January until mid-April, with the rainy season being a little longer in the north and shorter in the more arid south.
The drier months of June to October are the best months for wildlife viewing in national parks and game reserves, as animals are attracted en masse to water sources.
The Namib coastal desert is different to the remainder of the country in that it almost never rains, is often blanketed in coastal fogs, and is only ever really hot in winter when the east wind blows.
Angola to the north; Zambia to the far northeast; Botswana to the east; South Africa to the southeast and south; South Atlantic Ocean to the west.
824,292 sq km (318 260 square miles) / (34th largest country in the world), divided into 14 administrative regions
Namibia is ranked at 116 out of 178 countries with a greatly improving trend, on the Environmental Performance Index (2014), which quantifies and benchmarks performance of government environmental policies and outcomes
Environmental issues include desertification, wildlife poaching, limited fresh water resources, and land degradation leading to few conservation areas
Major natural hazard is the prolonged periods of drought
Namibia is a signatory to various international environmental and conservation agreements
Less than one percent of the country is true arable land, but approximately two thirds of the country is suitable for pastoralism. The balance of the country is comprised of desert, mountain, bush, wooded savanna, and a small forest zone
Namibia is blessed with an abundance of exotic plant and animal life in its national parks and game reserves. Visitors to the country’s national parks have a high chance of seeing the ‘Big Five’ (elephant, black rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard) or even the ‘Big Nine’ (which also includes the hippo, zebra, giraffe and cheetah)
The magnificent Etosha National Park in the country’s north is home to an abundance of game animals, as well as more than 340 bird species, including the thousands of flamingoes which fill the park’s vast salt pan after heavy rains.
One of the world’s largest seal colonies is found at Cape Cross on the Skeleton Coast
The Kalahari is home to many animals including lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, wildebeest, springbok, antelope, and a variety of birdlife; and supports a variety of native flora including acacia trees, grasses, herbs and fruits
The inner Namib Desert supports zebra, ostriches, and a variety of antelope including gemsbok and springbok. Along the rivers of the northern Namib are a variety of iconic African animals such as elephants, lions, rhinoceroses, jackals and hyenas. Many insects and reptiles (but virtually no mammals) are found in the arid outer Namib region. The Namib coastal strip abounds in dense marine birdlife, including flamingoes, pelicans and penguins
The Namib Desert is also home to a surprising amount of vegetation. Coastal fogs along the shoreline of the Namib provide sufficient moisture to support a variety of aloes and succulents; the inner Namib supports rich stands of tall grasses and bushes; a wide variety of leafy vegetation, aquatic plants and large trees (especially acacias) are found along the riverbanks and waterways of the Caprivi and Kavango regions; and winter rainfalls bless the south with bushes of succulents; but the barren outer Namib region is all but void of plant life
Exotic desert flora are found in both the Kalahari and Namib deserts, with aloe varieties are found in the less sandy parts of the Kalahari and across the plateau. The arid conditions of the vast plateau savanna are favourable to scrub bush and grasses, and erratic rainfalls bring short-lived wildflowers to these regions
Endemic and unusual flora include the stunning Kokerboom or ‘quiver tree’ of southern Namibia, a towering tree-sized aloe succulent variety so-named by the Bushmen of the region who use its bark and branches to make quivers for their arrows; and the Welwitschia, an unusual desert species which grows horizontally along the desert floor collecting dew and precipitation from fogs with its two enormous protruding leaves. Welwitschia is found in the Kaokoveld Centre region of southern Angola and Northern Namibia and is thought to be a ‘living fossil’, one of the longest-living plant species in the world, sometimes living up to 1,000, 1,500 or 2,000 years
Namibia is a land of unforgettable natural landscapes. Stark and stunning deserts, canyons, mountains and savannas occupy most of the country’s interior. The country can be thought of in three broad physiographic zones: the Namib Desert in the west, the inner plateau, and the Kalahari Desert in the east. Running along the far northeast is a narrow and fertile eastern expansion running along the Zambezi River border with Zambia, called the Caprivi Strip. This section was annexed by the Germans who incorrectly thought the Zambezi River frontage would give them eastward access to the Indian Ocean (but who would have soon discovered the dramatic obstacle of Victoria Falls!).
Coastal wetlands and the undulating, otherworldly dunes of the Namib Desert run along the country’s 1,572 km long coastline with the Southern Atlantic Ocean
The eastern third of Namibia is taken up by the sand covered plains of the Kalahari Desert, which merges with the Namib Desert in the country’s southwest.
The Etosha National Park in Namibia’s northwest in thought to be the country’s most magnificent wildlife sanctuary, and contains the vast Etosha salt pan, savanna grasslands, dolomite hills, and various wild animals breeding zones
The Namib-Naukluft and Fish River Canyon National Parks both offer dramatic and otherworldly landscapes. Namib-Naukluft encompasses the ancient red sand dunes and famous Sossusvlei salt/clay pan of the Namib Desert, and the Naukluft mountain range; and Fish River Canyon, one of Africa’s great natural wonders, is the longest canyon in Africa and the second largest in the world
Brandberg Mountain in the Daramaland region of the northwest is home to the highest point in the country, Königstein, at 2,606 m (8,550 ft)
Namibia has limited fresh water resources. Its five permanent rivers are the Kunene (on the northern border with Angola); the Okavango (forming part of the northern border with Angola before flowing into Botswana); the Kwando (flowing through northern Namibia’s Caprivi Strip before forming part of the border with Botswana); the Zambezi (on the northern border with Zambia); and the Orange (on the southern border with South Africa).
Twyfelfontein or /Ui-//aes (2007) One of the best sources of data about first life in the region is Twyfelfontein in northwest Namibia, one of the largest known collections of Stone Age rock paintings and engravings in the world. Over 5,000 individual illustrations have been recorded so far, with the artworks and other archaeological evidence from the property estimated to be between 6,000 and 2,000 years old. The artworks feature depictions of humans, animals and hunger-gatherer scenes that provide great insight into the technology, culture and daily lives of the earliest Namibians, the San people
Namib Sand Sea (2013) The Namib Sand Sea, set in the vast Namib Desert of western Namibia, is a property of outstanding beauty and environmental significance. Set in coastal desert along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, the sand sea is a remarkable series of undulating and shifting sand dunes, with its stark and stunning dunes set in brilliant red, ochre and orange tones. The Namib Desert is unique in that fogs from the coast often cloak the coastal regions, bringing much needed moisture to its many endemic and unusual plant and animal species
World Youth Adventures can tailor make a school expedition to Namibia to your school’s budget and curriculum requirements.
Talk to us about your next school expedition, or if you need some ideas check out the trips below.