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Packing Guidance for Namibia

This guidance is designed to describe appropriate clothing, the cultural context where you will be living and working, and the professional expectations of your workplace.

As you decide what to bring, keep in mind there is a 100-pound weight limit on checked baggage.

In general, most items you will need are available in country and locally acquired items are often the best at helping you integrate into your community. However, locally available items may not be the brands, quality, prices, or sizes you are used to. Bringing some key items from home might make your transition to service more comfortable.

This guidance has been compiled by Peace Corps staff and Volunteers and is based on their experience. Use this information as an informal guide as you make your own packing list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect packing list!

This packing guidance is designed to help you think through different categories of items and consider what you might want to bring, considering work expectations, cultural considerations, and your own personal preferences.

Namibia is a semi-arid country with a wet season in the summer, lasting from November to April and a dry season occurs in the winter months from June to August.

During the summer months, daytime temperatures soar, ranging from around 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, contributing to hot and dry conditions.

In contrast, the winter months of June to August usher in the dry season, characterized by daytime temperatures ranging from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. While winter temperatures are generally milder, nighttime temperatures can reach freezing, especially in the central and southern regions as well as elevated areas.

This climatic diversity underscores the need for Peace Corps Volunteers to pack accordingly, preparing for both the scorching heat of summer and the relatively cooler winter months.

Houses in Namibia may or may not be insulated or hermetically sealed, so they are often colder in the winter than the outside temperature.

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take:

  • Pets
  • Weapons
  • Explosives
  • Radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted)
  • Drones
  • Automobiles or motorcycles
  • Flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers
  • Valuables such as precious jewelry or family heirlooms

Drugs

Do not bring any drug that has not been authorized by the Peace Corps for medical purposes without prior consultation with Office of Health Services Pre-Service. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Illicit drugs, including marijuana and related products such as CBD and herbal substances such as kratom, are prohibited during Peace Corps service, even if they are legal in your home of residence. If you use, possess, or distribute illicit drugs, you will be administratively separated from service.

Below is guidance on clothing expectations and cultural norms for work as well as leisure and recreation.

Volunteers in Namibia hand wash their clothes with powder soap and fabric softener which are readily accessible at local stores. Almost eight months of the year is warm and very hot in Namibia so when you wash your clothes and hang them outside to dry they will take between 1 to 2 hours depending on the type of fabrics whether its thick or very light.

Warm weather clothing is recommended as Namibia’s temperatures remain high for most of the year, however there are a few months where cold weather clothing may be needed. Past Volunteers have found that clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton and linen are ideal to remain cool in high temperatures and are quick drying in the rainy season. Lightweight long-sleeve shirts are often worn in the summer months to protect against excessive sun exposure. Both summer and winter clothing are available in Namibia.

A couple of Volunteers will be placed on the coast where it can get extremely cold so some warm clothing is important.  The capital and site for the training site can get cold too, so layered clothing is helpful to bring.

Work clothing

Namibia adheres to a code of dress valuing clean, neat, trendy, and professional clothing in the workplace. Collared short and long sleeve shirts, blouses, dress pants, khakis, as well as skirts and dresses are all considered appropriate work attire.

Part of being presentable at work includes wrinkle-free clothing; it is recommended that you either be comfortable ironing / steaming or consider bringing wrinkle resistant clothing. Irons and steamers are available in Namibia.

Traditional tailor-made clothing, as well as imported retail items are accessible in Namibia, though the quality of imported clothing and shoes may not be what you are accustomed to. A wide range of sizes can be found in Namibia though not all sizes will be found at all stores and some sizes may require additional effort to locate.

Leisure and recreational clothing

Namibians engage in recreational activities such as soccer, netball, dancing, both traditional and modern, and other sports and pastimes. Clothing for such activities can include leggings, mid length shorts, t-shirts, and tank tops.

Hats are very popular in Namibia due to the sunny weather, as are umbrellas which protect from the sun as well as the rain. Volunteers can bring along raincoats for rainy days.

When relaxed at home you can wear leggings, jeans, shorts, t-shirts, sleeveless tops and casual dresses.

Volunteers tend to enjoy hiking or camping so hiking clothes are a good idea to pack.

Professional looking sandals, open-toed and -closed dress shoes are appropriate in the workplace. You will be doing a lot of walking: durable and comfortable walking shoes are advised.

You should bring a three-month supply of any prescription and/or over the counter medications you use that are authorized/approved by the Peace Corps.

Note: Prior to service, Peace Corps supplies all volunteers with a medical kit containing basic, over-the-counter medications, as well as multivitamins.

See a detailed list of items included in the medical kit.

The medical unit will replenish prescriptions after the initial three-month training.

If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs (of the current prescription) with you. Contact lens use will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

See additional guidance from the Office of Medical Services.

Generally, electrical plugs/prongs used in Namibia are type ‘M’ (15 amps) or ‘D’ (5 amps), the same as in South Africa. Note that many appliances such as fans or vacuums use the type ‘C’ plug so be sure to bring an adaptor for this type.

The country operates on a 220V supply voltage. Electricity is available in Namibia although spontaneous power outages as well as planned power cuts makes electricity somewhat unreliable, particularly in the rainy months. Phone chargers can be found in most mid to large size villages and surge protectors and adapters are also available for purchase.

We encourage Volunteers to bring electronics from the U.S. A laptop will be very useful for submitting reports.

Camping gear

A lot of Volunteers camp when traveling on vacation because it’s much more affordable and camp sites are well developed. If you do like camping, bring some gear, especially if it’s small and lightweight. All camping gear is available for purchase in Namibia; however, you may not be able to afford it or may not prefer the quality here. Some gear you may want to bring include a backpack, day pack, sleeping bag, pad, tent, camping stove (must be empty and free from fuel residue or vapor or will not be allowed on the plane), Swiss army knife, head lamp, zip-lock bags, duct tape, and travel towel.

Other considerations

Based on your interests and personal preferences there may be additional items you will want to consider bringing with you. Below is a description of the common activities Volunteers engage in and what different Volunteers have said they enjoy having that might be more difficult to find in-country. Note: these items are not required or even recommended, but they might be nice to have.

Volunteers who enjoy reading have found Kindles or iPads particularly convenient as physical books are difficult to transport and not readily accessible. Volunteers who enjoy camping may consider bringing a lightweight sleeping bag. Many Volunteers who play a musical instrument find comfort and connection by bringing an instrument with them. Many volunteers engage in physical exercise and have found that a yoga mat and resistance bands / loops are all you need for a great at-home workout. Volunteers bake, draw murals at their sites as well as at their organizations, go camping, and engage in cultural exchange activities such as attending weddings and funerals.

Finally, it's worth noting that you have the option to receive packages from the U.S. in Namibia. Once you've arrived and settled, assess any items you may be missing. If the particular item is unavailable for purchase locally, consider having it sent by family or friends. Be aware that the shipping process may take several weeks to months, so plan accordingly.