Namibia is full of striking landscapes. And intriguing wildlife. And fascinating history. The list of what this captivating country holds and is waiting to be enjoyed is fairly extensive. I was lucky enough to experience this country with its many otherworldly landscapes on our Cape to Namibia overland safari. Here are my highlights of Namibia.
Dune 45, put simply, is epic. It stands proudly in the Namib Desert on the 45th kilometre of the road from Sesiriem to Sossusvlei. The dunes were built and shaped by the wind, the sand pushed inward from the coast millions of years ago. This means even today they change and alter slightly with the wind.
Dune 45 is over 550 feet tall and one of the only sand dunes you can climb. However climbing this mountain of sand isn’t as strenuous as it may seem on first sight. Just ensure you go prepared with water as the desert can get extremely hot. For this reason it’s best to climb Dune 45 during sunrise or sunset. As well as meaning you’ll be able to see the changing colours in the sky reflected on the sand creating wonderful photo opportunities.
You’ll know you’ve made the right decision once you reach the peak of the dune. The views are absolutely magnificent. Looking out over the vast Namib Desert will really make you realise what a harsh yet spectacular place you’re in.
Deadvlei is a surreal desert landscape. Bizarrely beautiful and captivatingly desolate, it’s incredibly picturesque. Once I was here to see it for myself, it came as no surprise to find out it’s the setting for many films, most recently Mad Max: Fury Road. Deadvlei means ‘dead marsh’ which perfectly describes the area where the water dried up over 900 years, the growing dunes stopping the flow from the river.
What remains now is a vast flat area with deep cracks weaving over the ground and hundreds of scorched trees. With it too hot for these trees to decompose, they’ve turned black and gnarled over the last 1,000 years. The contrast of colours in this landscape is marvellous. The blackened trees, casting long eerie shadows on the white ground, against the vivid orange dunes and the bright blue clear sky. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before. We spent hours here taking photos of the landscape. A true highlight of the trip and my Instagram account.
Etosha National Park
Are you after a real Lion King experience? Well as one of the world’s greatest wildlife venues, Etosha National Park is for you. The extensive list of wildlife the park boasts includes lion, elephant, giraffe, black rhino, white rhino, leopard, hyena, springbok, gazelle and kudo, with the list not ending there.
The terrain of Etosha is mostly made up of a seemingly endless stretch of white silver sand with the animals gathering around the waterholes. It’s possible to park your safari vehicle near one of these water sources and wait and watch as herds of up to a hundred elephants and any of the large population of lion, leopard and cheetah come to the waters edge.
Etosha National Park is perfectly set up for safaris with many campgrounds and lodges in the park. This means you can enjoy night time game drives to spot the nocturnal animals as well as heading out in the early morning and afternoon.
The series of granite peaks which form Spitzkoppe is one of Namibia’s most historically important areas, as well as one of its most recognised. It’s grand appearance, at its highest point towering 1728 metres over the land, has garnered it the nickname the ‘Matterhorn of Africa’. The mountain is over 100 million years old, having formed due to the collapse of a giant volcano, and is covered in rock paintings to prove it. It’s a sacred site of immense importance for the Sans people.
It’s definitely Namibia’s most difficult peak, a real challenge for even hard-core rock climbers. However it’s still great for a day exploring the surrounding area, marvelling at the ancient rock paintings and wonderful views. It’s also just another one of the exceptional places in Namibia to watch spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Trust me, no matter how many you see on your trip they never get old.
The coastal town of Swakopmund is Namibia’s number one seaside retreat. A German colony, the influence is still evident today in the architecture and numerous beer halls. Due to the sea breeze, Swakopmund is cooler than the destinations further inland making it more manageable to explore. It’s a great place to enjoy dining on good food and German beer after a day walking along the palm-tree lined streets and the seaside pier.
It’s also Namibia’s centre for adventure activities. On offer here is everything from camel riding and dolphin watching to the slightly more adrenaline pumping skydiving and snowboarding down sand dunes.