Namibia's internal air links are good and reasonably priced, and internal flights can be a practical way to hop huge distances swiftly. The scheduled internals are sufficiently infrequent that you need to plan your trip around them, and not vice versa. This needs to be done far in advance to be sure of getting seats, but does run the risk of your trip being thrown into disarray if the airline's schedule changes. Sadly, this isn't as uncommon as you might hope.
Increasingly private charter flights are being used for short camp-to-camp flights. These are expensive, though the Dune Hopper, mentioned below, is an attempt to cut these prices.
Regional flightsAir Namibia
operates regular and reliable flights around the region. One-way fares from Windhoek include £183/US$275 to Maun, £277/US$416 to Victoria Falls, £245/US$368 to Luanda and £145/US$218 to Johannesburg or Cape Town. In general, you will find these to be the same price if you buy them locally or overseas. However, if you travel between Europe and Namibia with Air Namibia, and book your regional flights at the same time, then these routes become much cheaper. South African Airways
(a subsidiary of British Airways
) also operate links to Jo'burg and Cape Town, and Air Botswana
links Maun with Windhoek.
Internal flightsScheduled internal flights
Namibia has a good network of scheduled internal flights, run by Air Namibia, which link the outlying towns to the hub of Windhoek. The main regional airports (with their useful international city codes) are Cape Town (CPT); Johannesburg (JNB); Katima Mulilo, M'pacha (MPA); Livingstone, Zambia (LVI); Lüderitz (LUD); Maun, Botswana (MUB); Mokuti Lodge, Etosha (OKU); Ondangwa (OND); Oranjemund (OMD); Rundu (NDU); Swakopmund (SWP); Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (VFA); Walvis Bay (WVB); Windhoek, International (WDH) and Eros (ERS).
Prices and timetables of internal flights change regularly. Generally, though, these flights are not expensive; even Lüderitz to Windhoek costs only £85/US$128. Chartered internal flights
Namibia Commercial Aviation (tel: 061 223562; fax: 061 234583) runs a superb DC6 dating from 1958. Currently in use for private charters, it used to form part of Air Namibia's normal schedule on the routes to/from Victoria Falls.
Flexible fly-in trips
In the last few years, there have been an increasing number of light aircraft flights around Namibia, arranged by small companies using small four- and six-seater planes. These are particularly convenient for linking farms and lodges which have their own bush airstrips. If you have the money, and want to make the most of a short time in the country, then perhaps a fly-in trip would suit you. Now it's possible to visit Namibia in the same way that you'd see Botswana's Okavango Delta, by flying from camp to camp. This is still the only way to see the northern wilderness area of the Skeleton Coast. Any good tailor-made specialist tour operator (see pages 50–1) could put together such a trip for you – but expect it to cost at least £250/US$375 per person per night.
One particularly popular option is to take one of the scheduled flights that link Windhoek and Swakopmund with the properties around Sesriem and Wolwedans. This is usually arranged as part of a package through a tour operator, or one of the lodges. It's not cheap, but is a fast way to get in to the dunes if time is limited.
Of course, if you've a private pilot's licence and an adventurous streak, then Namibia's skies are marvellously open and free of hassles – but you'll have to spend a day in Windhoek sorting out the paperwork and taking a test flight.
Classic Air Flights
Walking over the tarmac in the late 1990s at Hosea Kutako Airport to board your flight to Victoria Falls, you may have been surprised to find a silver, black, white and turquoise Fish Eagle
in front of you – a glistening old propeller-driven plane. Aviation enthusiasts would recognise this as a vintage Douglas DC-6B, powered by four Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines. It is one of two classic DC-6Bs which belonged to the privately owned Namibia Commercial Aviation (NCA).
In fact these two were the very last aircraft to roll off the production line in 1958. Initially they had a little less than three years of European commercial operations with JAT, of Belgrade, before they were transferred to the Yugoslav Air Force. The Fish Eagle was then used exclusively as the personal transport of the Yugoslav leader, Marshall Tito. For this it was fitted out in style with wood and leather, extra soundproofing, a kitchen/galley, and even six beds.
Over a decade later, in 1975, both aircraft were donated to the Zambian Air Force, where Marshall Tito's plane became President Kaunda's personal transport for several years, before falling out of favour. Then it was left to languish on the ground in Lusaka for 15 years, unused. Finally, in 1992, the Zambian Air Force decided to sell 40 tons of DC-6 spares, and a condition of sale was that the buyers would agree to take away and dispose of these two aircraft.
NCA bought the spares and, after a week working on the first of the planes, the engineers had restored one of the aircraft, the Fish Eagle, sufficiently for it to be flown out to Rundu, their base in Namibia. This has now been sold, but the second aircraft, the Bateleur, was restored during 1998 and is still in use for private charters all over Namibia.