Now that you have booked your trip and planned your route, it is time to start stocking up on those must-have items for your African adventure.
This list is intended as a guide only and may vary slightly according to your type of accommodation, your personal preferences and the time of year that you are visiting Etosha. If you are camping, your list will of course include many other items.
Although Etosha is perfectly traversable in a sedan or 2×4 vehicles, 4×4 transport with air-conditioning is first prize. During the rainy season, some roads can become difficult to negotiate and for game-spotting purposes, you will have a height advantage with a 4×4 vehicle.
1. Camera with lots of film (If you have a digital camera don’t forget your charger and cable to download the photos)
2. Sun tan lotion and sunglasses
3. A hat
4. Clothing for warm as well as cold weather. Namibia has a semi-desert climate with hot days and cool nights. Make sure to pack a jacket for those chilly early morning starts.
5. Swimming costume and towel
6. Money and credit card
7. Cell phone, cell phone charger and adaptor
8. Map, GPS and guidebook
9. List of emergency contact numbers, including the numbers of family and friends back home
10. First-aid kit containing, amongst other things, insect repellent, possibly a malaria prophylaxis, bandages, diarrhoea medication and painkillers; sufficient supplies of your regular medicines
11. Moisturising lotion and lip balm
12. Comfortable walking shoes
13. Binoculars, preferably one pair for each person to avoid arguments
14. Battery-operated or conventional razors (if visiting remote areas)
16. Travel insurance policy and repatriation insurance
17. Rehydrate solutions or concentrates.
18. Travel documents such as visas, passports, tickets and booking confirmations.
19. Mosquito repellent and anti-malaria medication.
More about Malaria
Malaria is one of the most feared diseases world-wide and is particularly prevalent in Southern Africa, where it is the second biggest killer after HIV/AIDS.
There is no vaccine against Malaria but there are a wide range of very effective measures that can be used to prevent succumbing to this disease.
The good news is that Etosha, being a relatively dry ecosystem, especially during winter, lacks the one ingredient that mosquitoes need to breed – stagnant water. There are very few recorded cases of malaria in Namibia except in the northern Caprivi Strip region.
Consult your doctor before travelling to any African country and take precautions against mosquitoes at all times. It is advisable to be over cautious and take steps to protect yourself even though the changes of contracting the disease in Etosha are very slim year-round. Mosquito bites, even when harmless, are unpleasant and should be avoided if possible.
Not all mosquitoes carry Malaria, and not all Anopheles mosquitoes can transmit Malaria. The disease is transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquitoes, which has bitten a person already infected with Malaria. This makes this tiny creature the most dangerous of all African wildlife.
High Risk Malaria Areas:
The river meadows in the north, north-west and north-east of Namibia – precautions should be taken year-round.
Medium Risk Malaria Areas:
Kaokoveld, the Etosha National Park, the Otavi Mountains and the east including Bushmanland – precautions are strongly recommended during the rainy season (November to April).
Low Risk Malaria Areas:
In the area between Otjiwarongo and Windhoek it is still advisable to use mosquito repellent.
Risk Free Areas:
The coast, the Namib Desert and the south
Symptoms of Malaria:
2. Shivering fits
4. Aching limbs
5. Severe sweating
If you experience any of these symptoms four to six weeks after visiting a malaria area, get to your doctor immediately and inform him/her that you suspect malaria so that they can test for it. Malaria can be treated with great success if diagnosed early on, but if it is left untreated it is often fatal.
1. Always ask your doctor for advice before taking any medication.
2. Information is also available from one of the many institutes for tropical diseases.
3. In Europe, malaria prophylaxes are available on prescription only.
4. In Namibia, these are sold over the counter and often cost less than elsewhere.
5. Doctors and pharmacists in Namibia can advise you on a choice of prophylactic.
6. In most cases you will need to start taking the tablets a week before you travel to the malaria area and it is imperative that you continue to take the medication for four weeks afterwards.
7. Should you experience any malaria symptoms, even though you are taking prophylaxis, consult your doctor immediately. In most of these cases you may test positive for malaria because of the medication but it is better to be safe than sorry.
8. Side effects of prophylactic medicines include nausea, upset stomachs and in some cases hallucinations and depression.
9. Most people do not have any problem with these medications and the side effects are a small price to pay in any event.
The most commonly used anti-malarial medications are:
1. Recommended as long as you are not travelling to High Risk areas
2. Taken once daily from the day before your visit and for seven days afterwards
3. Very few side effects
Doxycycline and Lariam
2. Must be taken for a longer period before and after your visit
1. Consult your doctor
How to avoid mosquito bites:
1. Mosquitoes are most active after dusk, so wearing long sleeves and full length pants and light coloured clothing discourages mosquitoes from landing on you.
2. Apply mosquito repellent especially to your hands, feet and ankles. ‘Peaceful Sleep’ and ‘Tabard’ are the most effective and easy to come by in Namibia
3. Burn insect repellent sticks or spirals in your accommodation.
4. Sleep under a mosquito net – usually provided by your host however you can buy mosquito nets which you can carry with you in the event that you would like the comfort of knowing you are taking all the precautions. If you are sleeping in a tent, make sure there is mosquito gauze across windows and doors.
5. Medical services in Namibia, although of a high standard, are restricted to the larger towns and cities.
6. Your accommodation provider should be able to arrange emergency medical services as well as basic first aid on request.
There are no required vaccinations needed for Etosha, unless you are travelling from a country where yellow fever vaccinations are mandatory.
Consult your doctor regarding vaccinations against polio, diphtheria, Hepatitis A and B and tetanus.
Most rivers in Namibia carry the Bilharzia pathogen and are full of hippos and crocodiles, do not bathe except in designated areas
Additional tips for travellers
Namibia is an arid semi-desert country and temperatures can soar at times
1. Wear sun block daily
2. A hat and sunglasses are advised
3. Bring warm clothing for the cooler evenings
4. Light cotton clothing is advised for summer visits
5. Electrical shaver point are widely available (250VAC) at accommodation establishments
Unfortunately, Africa is well known for its prevalence of opportunistic criminals, however there are things you can do to decrease your risks:
1. Keep your vehicle locked even while travelling
2. Do not leave valuables in plain sight in your vehicle, lock them in the trunk
3. Be on the alert for bag snatchers and pick-pockets
4. Keep valuables locked in your room safe, not left in plain view
Driving in Namibia
1. Keep left, pass right
2. Petrol/Fuel stations are on average about 250km apart
3. Credit cards are not accepted as payment for fuel – cash or fuel cards only
4. Wear your seatbelt at all times when driving – it is compulsory
5. Try to avoid driving at night, wild animals are more active after dusk
6. In dusty conditions, switch on the headlights of your vehicle to increase your visibility
7. Permits are required for travelling to National Parks or Game Reserves
Water is a scarce commodity in Namibia; please help us to conserve water by adopting the following:
1. Shower rather than bath
2. Do not leave taps running while shaving, washing your hands or brushing your teeth.
3. Unless advised otherwise, tap water is drinkable in Namibia
4. Please ensure that you carry adequate drinking water while travelling or hiking
Remember, help is at hand – should you need any assistance or advice, please contact us.