When to go
There really are neither any 'bad' nor any 'ideal' times to visit Namibia, but there are times when some aspects of the country are at their best. You must decide what you are primarily interested in, and what's important to you, and then choose accordingly. See the Climate
section for a more detailed discussion of the weather – perhaps the biggest influence on your decision. Then consider your own specific requirements, which might include some of the following:
For photography, Namibia is a stunning country in any month. Even with the simplest of camera equipment you can get truly spectacular results. My favourite time for photography is April to June. Then the dust has been washed out of the air by the rains, the vegetation is still green, and yet the sky is clear blue with only a few wispy white clouds.
The latter parts of the dry season are certainly the best time to see big game. Then, as the small bush pools dry up and the green vegetation shrivels, the animals move closer to the springs or the waterholes and rivers. So the months between July and late October are ideal for game.
During and after the rains, you won't see much game, partly because the lush vegetation hides the animals, and partly because most of them will have moved away from the waterholes (where they are most easily located) and gone deeper into the bush. However, many of the animals you see will have young, as food (animal or vegetable) is at its most plentiful then.
The last few months of the year witness the arrival of the summer migrant birds from the north, anticipating the coming of the rains. Further, if the rains are good the natural pans in Etosha and Bushmanland will fill with aquatic species, including huge numbers of flamingos. This is an amazing spectacle. However, bear in mind that Namibia's ordinary feathered residents can be seen more easily during the dry season, when there is less vegetation to hide them.
Daytime temperatures occasionally top 40ºC in October and November, and heavy rainstorms are likely during the first two or three months of the year. Hence walkers should try to come between about May and September, when the temperatures are at their coolest, and the chances of rain are minimised. Note that most of the long trails in the national parks are closed between November and March.
Driving usually presents few problems at any time of year. However, visitors in January and February, and occasionally even March or exceptionally April, may find that flooding rivers will block their roads. These usually subside within a matter of hours, and certainly within a day or so, but do provide an extra hazard. A 4WD is occasionally useful here, although taking another route is usually a cheaper alternative!
Those mounting 4WD expeditions to the more remote corners of the country should certainly avoid these months. Large tracts of Bushmanland, for example, become totally impassable in any vehicle.
Namibia is never crowded. Compared with the hordes of tourists that go to South Africa or Kenya, Namibia always seems deserted. That said, it becomes busier around Easter and from late July to early September. Then advanced bookings are essential. Many of the lodges and restcamps in and around Etosha, and in the Namib-Naukluft area, are fully booked for August as early as the end of April.
Avoid coming during the Namibian school holidays if possible. These are generally around April 25–May 25, August 15–September 5 and December 5–January 15. Then many places will be busy with local visitors, especially the less expensive restcamps and the national parks.
The main season when overseas visitors come is from around mid-July to late October. Outside of this, you'll often find the lodges delightfully quiet and have some of the attractions to yourself.