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Help with international travel to Namibia

OrcaOrca Registered User regular
edited May 7 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm about 80% on a Namibia photography workshop which would be awesome. Difficulty: it's next month and so would be non-refundable, so I need to be damn sure all my ducks are in a row before I pull the trigger.

I've got my passport (good for another 5 years). I've checked out the State Department's website and it looks like there aren't visa requirements. However I'll need some extra vaccinations--fine. I just found out about the concept of travel doctors so I need to make an appointment Monday to get that sorted out (looks like everybody's closed today).

The organizer requires health insurance, which honestly makes sense. I don't need an expensive trip to turn into a very expensive trip because I fell and broke a leg while 10 hours from the nearest major city. Any recommendations of who to use there? Coverage levels? Is evacuation insurance a good idea? I have Kaiser as my primary insurer and while I need to check my policy I'm pretty sure coverage will be sharply limited for international travel.

The organizer also highly recommends equipment insurance, which makes sense since I'll be hauling around a backpack full of thousands of dollars of camera gear. Any recommendations on short term coverage, gotchas, etc?

It's a +9 hour time delta so some time to acclimate before the workshop would be nice--I could spend a few days in Frankfurt if I can get my layover turned into a layover. Is that even a thing? Or I could spend a few days there in Windhoek getting used to the time change, which would probably be significantly cheaper. If anybody's been, anything to concern myself with? The State Department website seems to suggest just the garden variety theft/scam concerns, nothing too bad.

If you've got other thoughts/advice, I'd love to hear it. I've only been to Japan and the EU internationally so my experience outside of those areas is...uh...lacking, and I don't know what I don't know.

Thanks for any advice.

Orca on

Posts

  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 7
    Background: I've spent about 8-9 months in Namibia non consecutively, over about 4 years. I can't answer your insurance questions with any certainty but I can give some general info:

    - if you're going to very remote locations (eg Skeleton Coast, or deep south), it might perhaps be worth making sure you have insurance that will cover eg. emergency helicopter extraction. But honestly if you're with a group, I wouldn't get too worried about it. I've always been covered by my workplace insurance because I was there for fieldwork, but if i was going alone i would probably just get any standard travel insurance policy with a decent upper limit on emergency/health costs.
    - also, emergency care there is very cheap when compared with the US, even for a foreigner, just in case that helps your decisions.
    - equipment insurance is A VERY GOOD IDEA, for both damage and theft. Unfortunately I can't recommend any specific insurers for professional equipment, but any of the big names (Travelers, etc) will usually have a high-end equipment add-on.
    - You shouldn't have any issues getting through the airport, but if they ask do be clear that you're there as a tourist, not a professional photographer - if immigration get a sniff that you might be there on assignment or working, they might demand a visa (or a small bribe to avoid needing a visa)
    - Spending time in europe should be perfectly do-able, and it is a long flight to do without a break. If you do decide to go straight through but want some buffer time to acclimate, I would actually recommend heading across to Swakopmund over staying in Windhoek - better food*, and a more walkable town. Or you could tool around at one of the several dozen safari/wildlife resorts that dot the landscape. Also, because wildlife photography is a big element of tourism, you can get pretty decent equipment at a couple of places in Windhoek, should that be necessary.

    Vibes wise, it's a pretty safe and friendly country. Almost everyone in the urban centres speaks a pretty high level of english (and often German and Afrikaans, on top of two or three local languages). Outside the capital you might have to fend off scammers if they realise you're a tourist. Tipping is normal and expected but only at a low % - if you tip to US levels people might see you as a bit of a mark (personally I tend to tip high anyway because fuck, whatever, it's not like I need it more than them)

    If you're going up north at all, I can probably offer more advice.

    * One warning: if you go to swakopmund and ask any locals or hotel staff where to go eat, they will direct you to a pizza/italian joint near the town centre. Do not, under any circumstances, listen to them. But there's a Portuguese place you should definitely check out.

    Edit: oh and if you think you want to hire your own car (which is definitely the easiest way to get around), I would perhaps avoid doing it at the last minute when you arrive at the airport, they tend to run out pretty fast and everything shuts down completely at sunset, it's easy to get stranded. Book ahead if possible, and it's usually a bit cheaper to do a pickup from one of the rental places in Windhoek proper, rather than the airport.

    tynic on
    OrcaFiendishrabbitElvenshae
  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 7
    oh and one of the first things you should do is get a pre-paid sim card, unless Google Fi is finally offering coverage there.

    Edit: More important info! You will be heading into winter/the dry season! It will usually be warm and sunny in the day. but most of the country is actually at a medium-high elevation, and away from the coasts or in the desert, the temperature will plummet at night. Definitely pack a fleecy sweater and some long pants.

    tynic on
    Elvenshae
  • OrcaOrca Registered User regular
    Thanks! That's even better than I was hoping for. It's going to be part of a group (8 + leader + local guides for each location), sticking to the parklands and natural areas to the south and west (Quiver Tree Forest, Deadvlei, etc.). The Quiver Tree Forest is about as far south as it gets, but I see a couple major roads nearby. So hopefully no helicopter extraction needed--but that's the kind of thing where I don't know if I'd be overpaying by getting it or not.

  • OrcaOrca Registered User regular
    tynic wrote: »
    oh and one of the first things you should do is get a pre-paid sim card, unless Google Fi is finally offering coverage there.

    Ahhh right! I'd forgotten about that, thanks for the reminder. I had to do the same thing in Japan. Are there kiosks in the airport where you're only getting overcharged a reasonable amount or should I go further afield?

  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Orca wrote: »
    tynic wrote: »
    oh and one of the first things you should do is get a pre-paid sim card, unless Google Fi is finally offering coverage there.

    Ahhh right! I'd forgotten about that, thanks for the reminder. I had to do the same thing in Japan. Are there kiosks in the airport where you're only getting overcharged a reasonable amount or should I go further afield?

    I don't remember the airport having anything in that regard (haven't been there since 2019 so things might have changed mind you), but there's at least one or two phone kiosks in any mall or town centre, and the main telco company has service centres around the place you can go to in a pinch.

  • FiendishrabbitFiendishrabbit Registered User regular
    Orca wrote: »
    I've got my passport (good for another 5 years). I've checked out the State Department's website and it looks like there aren't visa requirements. However I'll need some extra vaccinations--fine. I just found out about the concept of travel doctors so I need to make an appointment Monday to get that sorted out (looks like everybody's closed today).

    Well. That's a bit last minute. For Namibia you need Hep A/Hep B, and unless you've been vaccinated against both the recommended is two shots with 1 month in between (although there is an alternate of 3 shots over a shorter interval).
    Also, if you're going north of Windhoek you need malaria meds, and which malaria meds you should use really depends (as they have an array of potential unpleasant side effects).

    "The western world sips from a poisonous cocktail: Polarisation, populism, protectionism and post-truth"
    -Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of the Church of Sweden
  • OrcaOrca Registered User regular
    Orca wrote: »
    I've got my passport (good for another 5 years). I've checked out the State Department's website and it looks like there aren't visa requirements. However I'll need some extra vaccinations--fine. I just found out about the concept of travel doctors so I need to make an appointment Monday to get that sorted out (looks like everybody's closed today).

    Well. That's a bit last minute. For Namibia you need Hep A/Hep B, and unless you've been vaccinated against both the recommended is two shots with 1 month in between (although there is an alternate of 3 shots over a shorter interval).
    Also, if you're going north of Windhoek you need malaria meds, and which malaria meds you should use really depends (as they have an array of potential unpleasant side effects).

    It'll be south and west of Windhoek, not the northern part of the country. And yeah that's the kind of thing I need to get squared away or shown it's a dealbreaker before I drop $bux on this whole effort. One month between shots is theoretically doable..if I get it done in the next week.

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