Namibia has an abundance of wildlife and is home to Etosha, one of Africa’s finest national parks, where big game roam on the park’s ethereal silvery pan and gather to drink at the floodlit waterholes. Spectacular scenery and wildlife, coupled with the world’s largest sand dunes, oldest desert and second largest canyon, not to mention ancient rock art and the fascinating Himba tribe, make Namibia a truly unique and enchanting wilderness destination. Wondering where to start? Here are our top picks of the best places to visit in Namibia.
Established in 1907, Etosha was Namibia’s first conservation area and it’s one of the world’s finest game parks, home to many rare and endangered species. The Etosha Pan dominates the park which is usually dry, but fills with water briefly in the summer months, attracting pelicans and flamingos in particular. Periannual springs attract a variety of game and birds throughout the year, including the endangered black rhino and the endemic black face impala. Etosha is renowned for its wonderful floodlit waterholes, which are great for game viewing at night.
Damaraland is wild and rugged with incredible geological formations, towering mountains and the incredible Petrified Forest with its ancient uprooted blackened trees. Northern Damaraland is wonderful for game viewing, with its unique desert adapted black rhinos and elephants. In the south, iconic Gross Spitzkoppe and Brandberg mountains are home to a wealth of ancient rock art, although it is Twyfelfontein which has the most extensive and impressive rock art collection in Africa, with approximately 2500 Bushmen rock engravings and paintings dating back to 1000 AD.
Namib Naukluft is an ecological reserve within the Namib Desert, which is believed to be the oldest desert on Earth. The spectacular and haunting landscape of the rocky Naukluft Mountain massif, endless desert and towering sand dunes is an incredible sight to behold. Sesriem is the gateway to the legendary giant sand dunes of Sossusvlei (60kms away). 300m high, with razor sharp spines and ever changing colours, the Sossusvlei dunes are the largest in the world. A climb to the top of Dune 45 or a hot air balloon ride over dunes is not to be missed! Another attraction in the area is the rugged 14km long Sesriem Canyon.
Swakopmund, on Namibia’s rugged Skeleton Coast is a popular coastal town with a distinct German feel, its beautiful colonial architecture, stands in stark contrast to the surrounding Namib Desert. As well as a pristine beach, Swakopmund has excellent restaurants, bars and shops, and has fast become the adventure capital of Namibia - quad biking, sky diving, deep sea fishing and dune boarding are just a few of the activities on offer.
Windhoek is the bustling capital of Namibia, located in a picturesque valley bordered by the Eros Mountains and the Auas mountains. The influence of the German colonial rule is still evident in the city, which has a unique blend of colonial and modern architecture. The city centre can be easily navigated on foot and places of interest include the Namibia’s National Museum, the Ink Palace and historic Christ Church.
The Caprivi Strip is a narrow strip of land approximately 450km long, which borders with Botswana, Angola and Zambia. Caprivi is a beautiful semi tropical region, consisting largely of wetlands and lush tropical waterways, with five rivers all traversing the region. There are four excellent reserves in the Caprivi Strip - Mudumu, Mamili, Mahango and Bwabwata which have an abundance of wildlife including large herds of elephants, lions, giraffes, buffalo and hippos.
Southern Namibia is home to the spectacular Fish River Canyon which is over 1000 million years old, 160km long, 550m deep and up to 27 km wide in places, making it the second largest canyon in the world. There are amazing view points from which to admire the canyon with its kaleidoscope of colours, and several wonderful hiking trails including the famous Fish River Canyon Trail, a gruelling 5 day challenge.