Getting its name from the Namib Desert, which is considered the oldest desert in the world, Namibia holds influences from a variety of different cultures due to its past colonization and recent independence in 1990 at the end of apartheid. Located in south Africa, Namibia is home to some of the best ecotourism due to its wildlife, low population density, and large landscapes.
Namibia is best for students who are interested in conservation, diverse wildlife, and exploring natural landscapes.
High schoolers traveling to Namibia have two main options for their time abroad:
Teen Travel Programs
Teen travel programs are the most popular option for visiting Namibia. Oftentimes, students will also have the chance to visit nearby countries such as Botswana and Zambia. This option allows adventurous high school students to broaden their horizons by exploring multiple countries in one fell swoop!
Volunteering and Service Learning Programs
Volunteering and service learning programs are wonderful opportunities for students to gain a new worldview through a unique experience by helping a community. Researching in field camps onsite in an African country is something that very few people under 18 years old have done!
Windhoek is the largest city in the country and is in a prime central location. While it may not be the largest or busiest city, it still is home to a vibrant urban lifestyle and is a vital hub for people traveling around the rural areas of Namibia. Walvis Bay and Swakopmund are the two next largest cities and are both located on the water.
For the most part, visitors going to Namibia for less than 90 days can obtain visas at the port of entry and do not need visas prior to entering the country. Check your country's embassy or consulate to make sure before planning your trip. If you are visiting for longer periods or going to work or study, you must obtain a work or study permit prior to entering Namibia -- even if you're going unpaid. Another thing to note is that passports must have at least six months of validity remaining beyond the traveler’s planned date of departure from Namibia.
If you are participating on a teen travel program, you will most likely be in staying in hotels, hostels, or homestays. If your program takes you to a rural area, tents and huts are also likely housing options.
The country is fairly inexpensive and most programs are all inclusive, so plan to budget around $20 USD per day for incidentals and souvenirs.
Namibia is extremely hot and has over 300 days of sunshine per year. It is also very arid and humidity is low. Be sure to pack:
- T-shirts and shorts (in neutral colors if working with/visiting animals)
- Sturdy walking shoes
- Sunglasses and a hat
- A power/voltage adapter
- Insect repellent
Make sure you're up to date on all your typical vaccinations, and get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Typhoid if you aren't already. Bring malaria medication for your trip to Namibia, and be aware that you may get stung or bitten by insects. Most hazardous insects are in the far northwest of the country in the river systems. Make sure to ask your doctor what vaccines and medicines you need based on how long you are staying, what you will be doing, and if you are traveling from a country other than the US (for example, a country with threats of Yellow Fever).
Namibia is one of the safest countries in Africa, but you should still exercise caution and use your street smarts! Make sure to steer clear of the Sperrgebiet (Forbidden Zone), which is the prohibited diamond area. Scams can also occur in the country so do not take offers from people on the streets and around towns. Ultimately, listen to your program guide for warnings specific to the area.