The best time to visit Namibia

Updated: 07th June 2019

Gazelles in Etosha National Park - Best time to visit Namibia
Visit Etosha National Park between May and October for best wildlife viewing

Seasons and Weather

Namibia experiences two distinct seasons: wet and dry. These two seasons have huge effects on the country and can completely transform the landscape and dictate the behaviour of the nation’s wildlife. There are pros and cons for visiting in each season, which take into account temperature, weather, crowds and game-viewing opportunities.

The dry season lasts from May to October and is generally considered to be the best time to visit Namibia. There are numerous reasons for this but one of the most important is that the lack of water means that animals have to gather around waterholes to drink, making them much easier to spot. The lack of vegetation also increases visibility and the weather is usually sunny and mild. The negative side of visiting during this time is that the more popular parks like Etosha National Park can get quite crowded and it can get pretty cold during the night and early in the morning.

The wet season runs from October through to April and sees far fewer people than the dry season. While wildlife is slightly harder to spot during this time, the landscape is transformed from dry and barren to vivid green and lush. Other positives are that the rain usually just comes in short bursts in the afternoon so shouldn’t affect your trip too much and it is much cheaper to visit during this period. However, it can get uncomfortably hot and you might not see as many animals.

Thinking of visiting Namibia? Download a copy of our Africa brochure for inspiration.

Climate | Windhoek

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C17161513976812151517
Temp Max °C292827252220202325292930
Rainfall (mm)7674794180003102348

Climate | Swakopmund

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C15161513119889111214
Temp Max °C232323242323212019192223
Rainfall (mm)058330030000

Upcoming events

To help plan your visit to Namibia, here's an overview of the festivals and events taking place over the next year. This is by no means an exhaustive list so if you are thinking of heading to Namibia outside of these dates and want to know what's on, check this list too.

2019:

August 26th - Heroes Day (nationwide)
November 22nd - Desert Ultra (Namib Desert)
October TBC - Oktoberfest (Windhoek)

2020:

March 21st - Independence Day (Windhoek)
March-April TBC - Windhoek Carnival (Windhoek)

There's also a number of national holidays in Namibia and on these dates many businesses and some tourist sites will close for the day so plan your visit accordingly.

Heroes Acre in Windheok - Best time to visit Namibia

Festivals and Events

When you think of Namibia, images of safaris and the big 5 probably come to mind, but there is a lot more to this exciting country than its wildlife. Festivals are an important part of the Namibian calendar and throughout the year there are a number of carnivals, sporting events and general merry-making activities. While many of Namibia’s festivals have colonial origins, they have almost all been adapted and modified to give them a distinct African flavour.

When is Namibia's Independence Day?

Liberated from South African rule in 1990, Namibia celebrates its freedom every year on March 21st with festivities all over the country, the most impressive of which can be found in Windhoek, the capital. A military parade passes through the city and is accompanied by sporting events, live music and general excitement. Independence Day is a national holiday and most businesses close for the day.

What is Windhoek Carnival?

By far the biggest cultural event in the Namibian calendar, the Windhoek Carnival, popularly referred to as WIKA, sees thousands of attendees from all over the country and beyond. Main features of the event include dance and music performances, street parades, a masked ball and, holding true to its Germanic roots, plenty of beer to quaff throughout the day. Meanwhile, the crowning of the new prince and princess of the carnival takes place and the new royals are symbolically charged with the fate of the city.

When is Heroes Day?

Observed on August 26th each year, Heroes Day is a national holiday that pays tribute to the soldiers that gave their lives to fight for independence from South Africa. The day usually sees hundreds of people gather at important battle zones to commemorate veterans of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) and to watch current military leaders give out medals to valiant soldiers. In honour of the fallen, a war memorial called Heroes’ Acre was established just outside Windhoek.

What is Namibia's Oktoberfest?

Believe it or not, Germany is not the only place where you can spend weeks on end swigging from steins of beer whilst flaunting a dirndl or lederhosen. One of the better relics of colonial rule, every year Namibia’s capital city erupts into beer and sausage-induced mayhem as they celebrate one of Germany’s best-loved traditions. Delicious local Namibian beers and a range of German delicacies will be on offer and there will plenty of games and events to take part in.

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What is Kuste Karenval?

Yet another remnant of the German occupation of Namibia, this carnival takes place in the beautiful coastal town of Swakopmund. Activities include feasting on traditional bratwurst, gallons of beer and generous helpings of sauerkraut from street food vendors and taking part in the parades. Festivities start during the day and carry on through the night as people continue to make merry until the sun comes back up.

What is Desert Ultra?

This is an event like no other that involves intrepid runners from around the world travelling to the Namibian desert for a gruelling 250km race. The course runs through the harsh Namib desert, over sand dunes and past mountains, all the while runners must carry everything they need for survival such as a tent, sleeping bag, food and water. With temperatures regularly in the mid 30s, this is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Want to know more about Namibia? Check out our latest blog posts

See Also

To help you plan your trip to Namibia, check out the following useful resources:

Best Places to Visit - National parks and more not to be missed
Tourist Visas - what you need to know prior to travelling to Namibia
Top Travel Tips - information about money, food and vaccinations
About Overland Safaris - what to expect on an overland expedition in Africa
About Lodge Safaris - all you need to know about lodge accommodated safaris
Safari Wildlife Guide - where to find Africa's most iconic wildlife
Spotting Africa's Big 5 - our guide to the Big 5 and the best places to find them