Food & drink
Traditional Namibian cuisine is rarely served for visitors, so the food at restaurants tends to be European in style, with a bias towards German dishes and seafood. It is at least as hygienically prepared as in Europe, so don't worry about stomach upsets.
Namibia is a very meat-orientated society, and many menu options will feature steaks from one animal or another. However, there is usually a small vegetarian selection in most restaurants, and if you eat seafood you'll be fine. If you are camping then you'll be buying and cooking your own food anyway.
In the supermarkets you'll find pre-wrapped fresh fruit and vegetables (though the more remote the areas you visit, the smaller your choice), and plenty of canned foods, pasta, rice, bread, etc. Most of this is imported from South Africa. You'll probably be familiar with some of the brand names.
Traditional foodstuffs eaten in a Namibian home may include the following:eedingu
dried meat, carrots and green beanskapana
form of porridge, most common in South Africa omanugu
also known as mopane worms, these are fried caterpillars, often cooked with chilli and onion oshifima
dough-like staple made from milletoshifima ne vanda
millet with meatoshiwambo
spinach and beef
Because of a strong German brewing tradition, Namibia's lagers are good, the Hansa draught being a particular favourite. In cans, Windhoek Export is one of a number to provide a welcome change from the Lion and Castle which dominate the rest of the subcontinent.
The wine available is mainly South African, with little imported from elsewhere. At its best, this matches the best that California or Australia has to offer, and at considerably lower prices. You can get a bottle of palatable wine from a drankwinkel (off licence) for N$55, or a good bottle of vintage estate wine for N$80. Soft drinks
Canned soft drinks, from Diet Coke to sparkling apple juice, are available ice cold from just about anywhere – which is fortunate, considering the amount that you'll need to drink in this climate. They cost about N$2 each, and can be kept cold in insulating polystyrene boxes made to hold six cans. These cheap containers are invaluable if you have a vehicle, and are not taking a large cool box with you. They cost about N$50 and are available from some big hardware or camping stores. If you are on a self-drive trip, these are an essential buy in your first few days. Water
The water in Namibia's main towns is generally safe to drink, though it may taste a little metallic if it has been piped for miles. Natural sources should usually be purified, though water from underground springs and dry riverbeds seldom causes any problems.
Tipping is a very difficult and contentious topic – worth thinking about carefully; thoughtlessly tipping too much is just as bad as tipping too little.
Ask locally what's appropriate; here I can only give rough guidance. Helpers with baggage might expect a couple of Namib dollars for their help. Restaurants will often add an automatic service charge to the bill, in which case an additional tip is not usually given. If they do not do this, then 10% would certainly be appreciated if the service was good.
At upmarket lodges, tipping is not obligatory, despite the destructive assumptions of some visitors that it is. If a guide has given you really good service, then a tip of about N$40 (US$5/£2–3) per guest per day would be a generous reflection of this. If the service hasn't been that good, then don't tip. Always tip at the end of your stay, not at the end of each day/activity, which can lead to the guides only trying hard when they know there's a tip at the end of the morning. Such camps aren't pleasant to visit and this isn't the way to encourage top-quality guiding. Give what you feel is appropriate in one lump sum, though before you do this find out if tips go into one box for all of the camp staff, or if the guides are treated differently. Then ensure that your tip reflects this – with perhaps as much again divided between the rest of the staff.