Communications

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Communications

The country code for Namibia is 264. When dialing from abroad, drop the initial 0 from local area codes.

Calling within Namibia

Namibian telephone numbers vary and are constantly changing; many have six digits (not including the area and country code), but some have fewer or more digits.

Calling outside Namibia

You can use public phones for direct international calls. Buy Telecards in different denominations from post offices and telecom offices.

Mobile Phones

There's cell-phone reception in all major towns. Enable your own for international roaming before you leave home, or buy a local SIM card when you arrive (a much cheaper option, and very easy to do). The two major cell networks are MTC, and the newer and—at the time of writing—much cheaper Leo. A SIM card will cost around N$10–N$20, and the prepaid rate varies from about N$1–N$3 per minute. Airtime is available in most supermarkets, convenience stores, and some bookshops.

Health and Safety

Malaria is endemic in the east, north, and northeast, so antimalarials are essential. Never venture into the desert without water, a sun hat, and sunblock. AIDS is a major problem, as elsewhere in Africa; sex with a stranger puts you at risk. In towns, don't walk alone at night, and lock your valuables, documents, and cash in the hotel or lodge safe. In game areas, never walk after dark unless accompanied by an armed guide. Because there's comparatively little traffic, self-driving visitors are often tempted to speed. Don't. Gravel roads can be treacherous.

Be sure you have comprehensive medical insurance before you leave home. There's a high standard of medical care in Namibia. Consult your hotel or the white pages of the telephone directory under medical practitioners. If you get sick, go to a private clinic rather than a government-run one.

Windhoek and Otjiwarongo both have excellent private clinics. Both cities have a Medi-Clinic, and Windhoek also has the Roman Catholic Hospital.

Embassies

U.S. Embassy (14 Lossen St., Windhoek. 061/295–8500. windhoek.usembassy.gov.)

Emergency Services

International SOS (112 from mobile phone. 061/230–505 in Windhoek. www.internationalsos.com. 064/463–676 in Swakopmund. 081/128–5501 Tsumeb. 064/400–700 in Walvis Bay.)

Netcare 911 (061/223–330. www.medpages.co.za.)

Hospitals

Medi-Clinic (corner of Heliodoor and Eros sts., Eros Park, Windhoek. 061/433–1000. Son St., Otjiwarongo. 067/303–734 or 067/303–735.)

Roman Catholic Hospital (92 Stubel St., Windhoek. 061/234–951.)

Hours of Operation

Shops in Windhoek and Swakopmund are generally open 9–5, though some close for lunch and then stay open a bit later into the evening. Banking hours are 8:30–3:30 Monday–Friday, and 8:30–noon on Saturday. Restaurants vary but usually operate noon–3 and 6–10, although cafés frequently stay open all day. Nightclubs stay open late; the closing hour usually depends on the number of customers. Even on public holidays many shops will be open—only banks, government offices, and business premises will close.

Money Matters

Namibia's currency is the Namibian dollar (N), which is linked to the South African rand. (Namibia's currency can't be used in South Africa except unofficially at border towns.) At this writing, the Namibian dollar was trading at about N$7 to US$1. Bureau de change offices at the airports often stay open until late.

There are main branches of major banks near or in the city center of Windhoek, Swakopmund, and Walvis Bay, plus several easy-to-find ATMs. Ask at your accommodation for more information. Major credit cards are accepted everywhere but at street markets, with Visa being the preferred card. South African rand are accepted everywhere. In more rural or remote areas, carry Namibian dollars or South African rand. Note that gas stations take only cash.

Tipping: Tipping is tricky and depends on where you're staying and what services you've received. Your in-room lodge-information package often makes tipping suggestions. Tips can be given in U.S. or Namibian dollars or South African rand. Most lodges suggest US$10 per person per day for your guide and US$5 per person per day for your tracker.

Passports and Visas

All nonnationals, including infants, need a valid passport to enter Namibia for visits of up to 90 days. Business visitors need visas.

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