Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city, is where many people will start and end their trip, picking up supplies before they head off north to visit Etosha National Park. The Auas Mountains, the Eros Mountains, and the Khomas Hochland hills can all be seen from Windhoek.
The city and its surrounding suburbs are dispersed throughout many attractive valleys at the intersection of Namibia’s main road and rail lines. The city is located in the geographic center of Namibia.
Windhoek remains the nation’s political, legal, economic, and cultural hub despite being a small and quiet capital city by international standards.
Highlights of Central Namibia
The capital city, Windhoek, is where you’ll start and end your trip if you’re flying into Namibia. Most travelers only spend a day or two in Windhoek to hire a car and stock up on provisions before driving either north or south.
A Damaraland safari in Namibia offers a perfect blend of untamed wilderness, breathtaking scenery, majestic mountains, ancient rock art, off-the-beaten-track adventure, and thrilling wildlife sightings, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking a unique and authentic African experience.
Located southwest of Etosha National Park, Damaraland may not be as easily accessible as other areas in Namibia (you’ll need to hire a 4×4 to explore the region’s rough roads). Still, it offers a wilderness experience you don’t find in many places in Africa.
As one of Namibia’s last unofficial wildlife areas, Damaraland is unfenced so that animals can move freely outside the confines of parks and reserves.
Desert-adapted elephants, rhinos, and lions roam these vast plains and rocky outcrops. While tracking these animals can be tricky, seeing them roaming free against stunning desert backdrops is a far more exciting experience than spotting game in a wildlife park.
Brandberg in Damaraland
Animals aside, Damaraland is home to Namibia’s tallest peak – Brandberg – an imposing granite mountain that glows in the setting sun, giving rise to its name, “fire mountain”.
It’s not just for climbers, though: the ancient rock art in the mountain ravines – thousands of paintings, including the famous White Lady – is among the best preserved on the continent.
Known as the “Matterhorn of Africa”, the granite peaks of Spitzkoppe loom above the sandy plains of Damaraland. Climbing to the top is a challenge even for experienced mountaineers, but there are plenty of strikingly unusual rocky landscapes for non-climbers to explore.
Twyfelfontein in Damaraland
Damaraland’s major attraction is Twyfelfontein, where more than 2000 engravings, some thought to be over six millennia old, are etched into rock faces across the valley.
Preserving Africa’s greatest concentration of rock art, Twyfelfontein offers the chance to get a glimpse into the world of Stone Age hunter-gatherers.
Erindi Private Game Reserve is a conservation area in central Namibia. With 70,719 hectares of unspoiled wilderness under their care, they have taken on an enormous task of pursuing conservation efforts in the name of eco-friendly tourism, while also empowering their local people. Today, Erindi is a beautiful getaway with a rich cultural heritage, expert guides, and unrivaled hospitality, guaranteeing visitors have the safari of a lifetime.
Made up of grasslands and woodland savanna and dominated by a giant salt pan, Etosha is home to 114 species of mammals, including four of the Big Five and the world’s largest concentration of black rhino.
A safari in Etosha during the dry months of June to October means you’ll be treated to some of the best wildlife viewing experiences on the continent. The lack of rain forces animals to congregate around the waterholes spread out in the park.
Seeing black rhinos, herds of elephants, prides of lions, zebras, giraffes, and springboks is as effortless as parking next to a waterhole and waiting for the animals to arrive.
The rainy summer months have their own appeal, though. At this time of year, the vegetation is lush and green, and for tourists on birdwatching tours, there are roughly a million flamingos that use Etosha as a breeding ground and a host of migratory bird species that make the park their temporary home.
Highlights on an Etosha National Park Safari
The best experiences in Etosha are all about spotting wildlife at waterholes during the dry winter months on a Namibia safari.
A number of them are spread throughout the park near accessible roads, so all you have to do is park, kick back with a flask of coffee, and wait for the animals to arrive.
Of all the camp waterholes, Okaukuejo waterhole (at the camp of the same name) is a stand out. There’s a low wall around one side of the big waterhole, so you can sit on a bench just a few meters away from a herd of elephants having a mud bath: Etosha magic at its best.
Practical Advice for an Etosha National Park Safari
Etosha National Park is a perfect choice for a self-drive Namibia holiday. The roads are easy to navigate and are in excellent condition, suitable for 2WD vehicles, although you might prefer to hire a 4WD for better visibility.
Several camps inside Etosha National park offer camping grounds, self-catering chalets, and luxury rooms, but the lodging options outside the park gates are also excellent.
Etosha National Park is best visited in the winter months, from June to September when it’s much easier to spot animals than in the rainy summer months. The winter months can get very busy, so book your lodging well in advance.
The Fish River Canyon, Africa’s answer to the Grand Canyon, is one of the best places in Namibia to stand in awe of the raw majesty of nature.
Measuring 27km/17mi wide, 550m/1804ft deep, and 160km/99mi long, it’s the largest canyon on the continent and Namibia’s greatest geological wonder.
The canyon lies in different nature reserves. Its southern stretch (the deepest section) is in the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, while private reserves protect its northern reaches.
The main viewpoint for the canyon is in the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. This is where you’ll get the best outlook, with views of the Hell’s Corner riverbend.
Highlights of a Fish River Canyon Safari
One of southern Africa’s most popular treks and the best way to experience the canyon, the Fish River Canyon Hike covers 85km/52mi – half the length of the entire canyon – in five to seven days.
It’s a challenging self-guided camping hike, but the rewards include soaking up spectacular canyon scenery, floating in hot springs, cooling off on swims in the river, and sleeping under the stars. If you want to do some easier hikes, lodges in the area offer shorter and more leisurely walks.
Whether you do the Fish River Canyon Hike or not, soaking your body in the healing waters of Ai-Ais natural hot springs at the southern end of the canyon is a real treat. There’s a resort at the hot springs where you’ll find indoor and outdoor thermal baths and spas on the banks of a river surrounded by mountains.
Practical Advice for a Fish River Canyon Safari
In terms of lodging options for the Fish River Canyon, there’s a range of choices from campsites to luxury lodges in both the national park and private reserves.
You need to book a year in advance to do the Fish River Canyon Hike, which is only open during the cooler winter months from May to September.
It’s a grueling hike, and you may experience temperatures of over 40°C/104°F, so it’s essential that you are fit, strong, and healthy before you decide to tackle it.
Stretching up to the Angolan border and with a slice of land sandwiched between Botswana and Zambia, northern Namibia is the country’s wildest and most remote region. Its most famous attraction is Etosha National Park, but northern Namibia also has far more to offer.
Waterberg Plateau Park in Northern Namibia
Waterberg Plateau Park in the North of Namibia has an unusual setting of a giant sandstone plateau looming over the desert plains. You can expect to find rare species such as sable and roan antelope here during your holiday in Namibia.
Damaraland in Northern Namibia
To the northwest of Namibia, you can find Damaraland. Damaraland is a starkly beautiful rugged landscape where you can explore ancient rock art sites, climb mountains, and track desert elephants and rhinos.
Kaokoveld in Northern Namibia
Kaokoveld is Namibia’s least accessible area and one of southern Africa’s last remaining true wildernesses. Desert elephants roam in vast spaces and semi-nomadic Himba people live in scattered villages.
Highlights of Northern Namibia
Etosha National Park is the standout highlight of northern Namibia and one of the top parks on the continent. Visit in the winter months to easily spot lions, black rhinos, herds of elephants, and a host of other animals as they traverse the parched landscape and congregate at waterholes.
Etosha is an easy option for a self-drive holiday, with good safari lodging options spread out in the park and well-marked roads that can be navigated in a 2WD vehicle.
With its sandstone plateau towering over the plains of the desert, Waterberg Plateau Park is another excellent park to the south of Etosha, offering great wildlife viewing from waterhole hides.
On hiking trails, you can expect to see species such as black and white rhinos, rare sable and roan antelope, eland, kudu, tsessebe, brown hyenas, and leopards.
One of the best places in Africa to take part in cheetah and leopard tracking, the 200km2 (77 square mile) Okonjima Nature Reserve is home to the AfriCat Foundation, one of the country’s best conservation initiatives.
The foundation rescues and rehabilitates cheetahs and leopards from human-wildlife conflict situations and allows you to track these predators on foot in the nature reserve. Not only is it a thrilling experience, but it also contributes to the survival of these threatened species.
Covering a vast area in northwest Namibia, Damaraland is harsh, remote, and incredibly beautiful, a land of immense plains, deep gorges, granite outcrops, and jagged peaks. Here you can track free-roaming desert rhinos and elephants.
Damaraland is one of the only places left in southern Africa where wildlife is found outside parks and reserves.
Other highlights of the region include climbing the mountains of Brandberg (Namibia’s highest peak) and Spitzkoppe and exploring the incredible rock art gallery of Twyfelfontein (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), where more than 2500 paintings are spread across 17 sites.
To the north of Damaraland, Kaokoveld is a true wilderness and the least accessible region in the country. It’s a sparsely inhabited place of sandy tracks, massive open vistas, desert elephants, and dramatic mountain scenery.
Kaokoveld is the ancestral home of the semi-nomadic Himba people, whom you can visit in scattered villages to learn more about their fascinating culture and traditions.
Another highlight of Kaokoveld is Epupa Falls, a beautiful waterfall oasis surrounded by baobabs, fig trees, and palms.
Practical Advice for a Northern Namibia Safari
Parts of northern Namibia are extremely remote with rugged terrain and rough roads (or no roads at all), which means you need to have done some thorough research before your travels.
You’ll need to be prepared with two spare tires, extra fuel, and plenty of food and water. In the more remote regions, such as the Kaokoveld, it’s advisable to travel with a guide and in a convoy of at least two vehicles.
From November to May, there is a medium risk of malaria in northern Namibia, especially in Etosha National Park and the Zambezi Region. Consult your doctor about taking malaria prophylactics and take necessary precautions such as mosquito repellant to prevent being bitten.
Namibia’s most visited attraction is one of the best places to experience the serene beauty of the Namib Desert, that quintessential landscape of undulating burned orange and apricot-colored dunes towering above the desert floor.
Sossusvlei itself is a salt and clay pan encircled by dunes in central Namibia, but the name has now come to refer to the surrounding area, which includes other pans and dunes.
Lying within the Namib-Naukluft National Park, Sossusvlei is the only point of call in the park for many travelers due to its ease of reach and accessibility, even in a 2WD vehicle. It offers a wonderful taste of the vast and largely untouched wilderness.
Despite being the most popular place for safari in Namibia, the magic of Sossusvlei lies in just how remote and isolated you can feel, even on a busy day, when you’re on top of your own massive dune and all you can see is sand and sky as far as the horizon.
Highlights of a Sossusvlei Safari in Namibia
Near Sossusvlei is Deadvlei, another clay pan, which is even better for photographic safaris in Namibia. Surrounded by soaring terracotta dunes, the blinding white pan is dotted with the blackened skeletons of 900-year-old petrified trees under a brilliant blue sky, a scene that’s so startling you can hardly believe it’s real.
Sand dunes surround Sossusvlei in every direction. These are the world’s tallest dunes and climbing them is a highlight of any trip to Namibia. Some are famous, such as the 170m/557ft Dune 45, which is one of the most climbed dunes due to its accessibility next to the road 45km/28mi from Sesriem. Another popular dune is Big Daddy, towering 350m/1148ft above Deadvlei.
If you want to find your own sandy spot away from other travelers, just pick a slope and climb to the top for breathtaking views over a never-ending sea of dunes. Soaring high above Sossusvlei and the Namib Desert in a hot air balloon as the sun rises is one of Namibia’s most unforgettable activities.
Practical Advice for a holiday in Sossusvlei
Sossusvlei lies within the Namib-Naukluft National Park. You need to buy a permit to enter the park, and your visit is limited to the hours of the gates, which close around sunset and open around sunrise.
The best times to explore Sossusvlei are in the early morning and late afternoon, when the sun isn’t so harsh, and the golden light makes the desert glow.
Check the opening and closing times of the gates (they differ in summer and winter months) to plan your visit, and bear in mind that it’s a 60km/37mi drive from the parking area of Sossusvlei to the gate, so leave enough time in the afternoon to drive back before the gates close.
If you want extra time before sunrise and after sunset, you can opt to stay at one of the two lodging options within the park – a campsite or an upmarket luxury lodge.
The last few kilometers to Sossusvlei are on a sandy track that’s only suitable for 4x4s. If you’re traveling in a 2WD, you can park your vehicle in a car park and get a ride in a safari shuttle.
The Petrified Forest in Namibia is a national monument with 280 million-year-old petrified trunks. Take caution when visiting, and avoid sitting on trunks or damaging any part of the monument.
There are plenty of lodging options near the entrance of Sossusvlei in the tiny village of Sesriem and just a short drive away. Take your pick from well-maintained campsites with all the amenities you would need to high-end luxury lodges set in private reserves.
Bordering South Africa, Namibia’s southern region has a lot to offer in terms of wild desert landscapes and outdoor activities, ranging from canoeing on the Orange River through the other-worldly desert scenery of the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park to hiking the jaw-dropping majesty of the Fish River Canyon, Africa’s largest canyon.
Southern Namibia may not be a prime safari destination, but what it lacks in famous wildlife, it makes up for in sublime desert scenery. Imagine sandy plains dotted with quiver trees, jagged granite mountains, and imposing rock formations.
The standout highlight of southern Namibia is the Fish River Canyon, but the rest of the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is also full of desert wonders, including the richest diversity of succulent flora in the world.
On the coast, Lüderitz is an intriguing colonial town, while nearby Kolmanskop, a ghost town, is one of Namibia’s most photographed places and lies on the edge of the Sperrgebiet National Park, Namibia’s newest national park.
Most of the park, a diamond mining area closed to the public for a century, remains inaccessible, but travelers can now visit on guided expeditions to explore a rich, succulent biome, a colossal rock arch, and two mysterious ghost towns.
At Namibia’s border with South Africa, the Orange River meanders its way through wild desert landscapes. Taking a paddle down the river in a canoe for a few hours or days is the perfect way to take in this southern beauty at a slow pace.
Further north, the NamibRand Nature Reserve is a vast concession on the edge of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, where you see desert wildlife such as oryx and springbok against a backdrop of apricot-colored dunes and silvery plains.
Highlights of a Southern Namibia Safari
Crossing over the border of South Africa, the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park has some wildlife such as oryx, springbok, zebra, and baboons, but with its low density of animals and lack of big game, it’s not usually known as a prime safari destination.
Instead, travelers visit the park for its out-of-this-world Mars-like landscapes of looming mountains, boulder-strewn plains, striking quiver trees, and its incredible diversity of plant life (try to visit in August and September when wildflowers are blooming).
The park is the world’s only arid biodiversity hotspot, conserving the richest diversity of succulents on the planet. Another highlight of the park is the |Ai-|Ais thermal hot springs, where you can soak in outdoor baths under the shadow of mountains in a photogenic setting.
The ancient water-carved Fish River Canyon, Africa’s largest canyon at 550m/1804ft deep and 160km/99mi wide, is a truly humbling sight to take in and the star attraction of the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
Standing on the edge of the gorge and peering down into the abyss makes you realize how small and insignificant you are compared to the mighty forces of nature.
There are easy hikes around the canyon, but if you’re up for a challenge, the 85km/52mi multi-day Fish River Canyon Hike, which traverses half the gorge’s length, is the best way to get to grips with this geological wonder.
Canoeing trips on the Orange River, which forms a natural boundary with South Africa, are a must-do when traveling southern Namibia. Whether you have a few hours or days, paddling down the river at a gentle pace is the perfect way of taking in the desert scenery.
A few different outfitters offer guided trips that include all your meals and camp setup, so all you have to do is spend your days paddling and swimming and enjoying magical nights sleeping under a sky thick with stars.
The colonial coastal town of Lüderitz is an interesting place to visit, with its historic mansions and restaurants serving tasty fresh seafood (don’t miss the local oysters). Activities not to be missed are boat tours to a Cape fur seal sanctuary and penguin colony.
Close by, the abandoned diamond mining town of Kolmanskop is now a ghost town and one of Namibia’s most photogenic places. It’s an eerie experience to wander around the town’s crumbling buildings, slowly being swallowed by the desert sands.
When you’re driving between Lüderitz and Aus, keep an eye out for the herd of wild horses (the world’s only wild desert horses) that roam this area of this desert and can often be seen near the road.
Another worthy roadside stop is the beautiful Quiver Tree Forest near Keetmanshoop, where 250 of the unusual and striking-looking quiver trees (or kokerboom) stand sentinel over grass and boulders.
Practical Information for a Southern Namibia Safari
If you’d like to hike the Fish River Canyon, you need to go during the cooler months from May to September and be sure to book a year in advance.
While the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is extremely hot during the summer months from November to March, it’s a good time to do a canoeing trip down the Orange River as you spend a lot of the day in the water and can sleep under clear night skies.
Don’t attempt to enter the Sperrgebiet (Forbidden Area) unless you’re on a guided tour – it’s a diamond mining area, and you will be prosecuted for trespassing without a permit.
Sandwiched between the ocean and the Namib Desert, Swakopmund, a coastal town in central Namibia, is one of the most popular places in the country for travellers to visit.
The laidback town has charm by the bucketload with its colonial architecture, oceanfront promenades, historical sights, cosy guesthouses, and excellent restaurants and beer houses where you can sample traditional German food and beer.
Swakopmund is a perfect base for exploring the coast, from taking boat and kayaking trips from Walvis Bay to spot the abundant marine life of the Atlantic Ocean to going birdwatching at Sandwich Harbour further south.
It’s also a centre for adventure activities – it’s easy to fill several days with adrenaline-pumping fun. Take your pick from sandboarding down the huge dunes just outside of town, quad biking in the desert or sky diving.
The Living Desert Tour is a wonderful activity for families to experience. Guided by an expert, you will embark on a walk through the Namib desert and learn about the unique plants and animals that have adapted to thrive in harsh environments.
Another great family-friendly holiday option is the Welwitschia Drive, a short road trip through the Namib-Naukluft National Park, showcasing some of the most interesting and unique sights, including the oldest welwitschia plant in the world, estimated to be over 1500 years old.
January is midsummer in Namibia when temperatures in most of the country are scorching, and some parts of Namibia receive heavy afternoon showers.
The summer rains mean the foliage in Etosha National Park is at its greenest, making for beautiful photos and good birdwatching tours, but wildlife spotting is more challenging than in the drier months.
The rains start to ease off in March, but it’s still hot and humid. It’s still a good month for birdwatching safaris in Namibia, but finding wildlife in places such as Etosha remains challenging due to the lush vegetation.
April is a lovely time to visit Namibia, especially if you’re a photographer. The weather is mild, the skies are clear, and the landscapes are green. It’s still the low season, so you can get good deals on room rates.
May is a good month for Namibia travel, with moderate temperatures, green vegetation, and clear skies. If you want to do a serious hike, the Fish River Canyon hike opens for the winter season at the beginning of the month.
Desert temperatures drop off in June. While daytimes are pleasant, nights can be freezing. Without rain, the landscape has become much drier and vegetation sparser, making this a good time for a visit to Etosha, where it’s just started to become easy to spot animals congregating around waterholes.
July is the driest month of the year, so it’s an excellent time to visit the game parks, especially Etosha, where it’s easy to see hundreds of animals vying for space around waterholes. Daytime temperatures are mild, and nighttime temperatures can drop well below freezing.
August is a popular time to travel to Namibia, so be sure to have your lodging booked far in advance. It’s an excellent time to see wildlife in the parks, and a good time to do outdoor activities as daytime temperatures remain mild (although be prepared for freezing nights). In August, you can see beautiful carpets of wild spring flowers covering the arid |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
September is an ideal time for visiting Namibia. Daytime temperatures are still pleasant, and nights are a bit warmer. It’s still dry, so game viewing is excellent. Early to mid-September is the last time you can hike the Fish River Canyon before it gets too hot, and also the last month to catch the wild spring flowers in |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
October gets very hot and dusty in Namibia, though it’s still an excellent time to visit Etosha for safari in terms of dry landscapes and easy wildlife spotting. This is the best month for spotting Southern Right, Humpback, and Minke whales as they pass through the Atlantic Ocean near Walvis Bay.
The first summer rains generally start in November, and the temperature drops a bit, although much of the country doesn’t receive much rainfall. This month is the end of the season for whale migration. November is an excellent time to visit the Skeleton Coast National Park, as the weather is mild.
With the summer rains in December, Namibia’s arid landscapes turn green, attracting migratory birds and making this an ideal time for birdwatchers. December is a busy time of year to travel in Namibia because of the Namibian and South African school holidays over the Christmas and New Year period. Be sure to book in advance for lodging and campsites.
Sossusvlei has a wide range of different types of accommodation from the luxury side to the budget side of things. Examples of this include; The Desert Camp, Desert Quiver Camp, Le Mirage Desert Lodge & Spa and much more.
You can fly to Sossusvlei from Windhoek or you can drive to Sossusvlei
The road to Sossusvlei is extremely beautiful and is a great journey to add to a Safari in Namibia
There are many lots of routes to drive depending on where you are starting your journey
A safari in Namibia is best done between July and October, when temperatures are just above 20°C and the chance of rain is low. This is also the best time for wildlife viewing, making it peak travel season.
Long-sleeved shirts that provide sun and mosquito protection
T-shirts and shorts for warmer days
Evenings and cooler days call for jeans or long pants
South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are among the countries that offer rail safaris.
Sossusvlei is located about 350km southwest of Windhoek (southern part of the Namib Desert). It is a salt and clay pan surrounded by the high red dunes' of Namib-Naukluft National Park.
Visit the historic Lutheran church - Christuskirche
Go walking at Avis Dam Nature Reserve in Windhoek
Explore the Independence Memorial Museum
See the Gibeon meteorites on your Windhoek Holiday
Visit Joe's Beerhouse
Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia, is located roughly in the country's centre.
It is located about 400 miles (650 kilometres) north of the Orange River and 760 miles (1,225 kilometres) north of Cape Town.
The most well-known rock art areas are Damaraland's Brandberg Massif (2697m – mostly painting sites) and Twyfelfontein, a UNESCO World Heritage rock art site also in Damaraland.
Visit the Twyfelfontein and Brandberg Massif Bushman rock art sites
Explore Spitzkoppe or take photos from afar on your Damaraland holiday
Learn about the amazing Damara culture on an organised cultural tour
Try out scenic flights over Damaraland and see the beauty of the Namibian landscapes
Otjiwarongo has a variety of lodges, guesthouses and hotels to choose from.
Planning your Namibian adventure holiday is a matter of deciding which sorts of experiences you’d like to have. Without much planning or preparation, you can have a jam-packed itinerary full of adventurous activities, some of which are suitable for the whole family.
Just by staying in Swakopmund, various tour operators offer everything from skydiving and sandboarding down massive desert dunes to quad biking and ocean kayaking.
Going 4x4ing in Namibia’s most remote places is one of the most adventurous ways of experiencing the country’s wildest landscapes. Two of the best 4x4ing areas are the Skeleton Coast National Park and Damaraland – wild, rugged, remote, and inhospitable but incredibly scenic.
Regarding active adventures, Namibia’s tough peaks in the Brandberg and the Spitzkoppe mountains lure experienced climbers looking for a challenge.
The five-day Fish River Canyon hike, which takes you through some of the best scenery of Africa’s largest canyon, is a beautiful trekking option for those with stamina. You can also find shorter, less strenuous hiking routes throughout the country.
A perfect family-friendly adventure is an Orange River canoeing journey, where you paddle down the watery boundary between Namibia and South Africa, passing through magnificent desert landscapes.
A trip to Namibia isn’t complete without a camping trip, which is a great way to see the country’s huge deserts, steep highlands, and unique wildlife.
Namibia is a great destination for campers of all skill levels, from those who are seasoned veterans to those seeking their first taste of the great outdoors on their Namibia holiday.
We at Discover Africa realize that the prospect of camping in Namibia can be intimidating, so we’ve simplified the planning process as much as possible.
Our many camping alternatives, from primitive campgrounds to five-star Namibia lodges, have been handpicked to provide you with the finest camping experience imaginable. Relax and enjoy your vacation without worrying about a thing thanks to our professional tour guides.
The Namibian night sky is one of the highlights of any camping trip there. Stargazers flock to the country because it has some of the clearest and darkest skies in the world.
Envision yourself unwinding in your tent, letting the gentle desert breeze caress your skin as you watch the stars twinkle above you. It’s the kind of amazing adventure you won’t soon forget.
Wildlife enthusiasts flock to Etosha National Park, one of Namibia’s most popular camping spots, to see elephants, lions, cheetahs, and hundreds of other species.
Camping is permitted in the park, and there are a number of authorized areas to choose from, each with its own set of amenities.
Etosha boasts camping options for all kinds of people, whether you want a remote area to pitch your own tent or a more organized campground with access to showers and bathrooms.
Sossusvlei, known for its towering red sand dunes, is another fantastic camping spot in Namibia. Many of the campgrounds in this area have stunning views of the dunes, and they range in price from free to luxurious.
Damaraland is the place to go camping if you want to get away from it all and enjoy nature in all its raw, unrefined glory. Rare desert lions and elephants that have adapted to life in the desert can be found here. A variety of camping alternatives, from simple tent sites to opulent lodges, are available in this area, each providing its guests with an unforgettable outdoor adventure.
A vacation in Namibia offers the chance to explore the incredible wildlife and natural beauty of the country as well as learn about its many and varied cultures. A Namibian culture tour is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the customs and way of life of the various ethnic groups who live here.
The north of Namibia, where you may visit Himba, Herero, and Damara communities, is one of the greatest locations to explore Namibian culture. The ancient way of life of the Himba has remained mostly untouched for centuries. They are recognized for their striking red ochre body paint and exquisite hairstyles. The pastoralists known as Himba continue to live in little villages.
The Herero people are renowned for their Victorian-era attire, which is a result of the German conquerors’ influence. The ancient beliefs and practices of the Damara people are a significant part of their vibrant culture. They are well-known for their rock engravings and paintings, which can be seen throughout Namibia.
The San people, often known as Bushmen, who live in the Kavango and Zambezi regions, are another fantastic cultural group to encounter in Namibia. Because of their long history in the region, the San have a profound familiarity with southern Africa and its natural riches. Both their intricate rock art and their traditional lifestyle of hunting and gathering have gained them widespread recognition.
There is a lot more to Namibia than just its communities, though. The country’s music, dancing, and art are all worth exploring as well. The country has a thriving music scene, with artists and bands performing anything from classical music to modern pop. Traditional dance is also highly valued in Namibia, and its performers can be seen at celebrations and other occasions all around the country.
Combining your safari with a cultural tour of Namibia is a fantastic way to learn more about the country and its people. Seeing the world through the eyes of a different culture is one of the greatest benefits of travel. You should add a cultural trip to your Namibia safari if you want to have a genuinely authentic and immersive experience while you’re there.
If you’re planning a holiday in Namibia, consider adding fishing to your itinerary. Namibia is home to a wide variety of fish species, including tigerfish, tilapia, catfish, and yellowfish, making it a great destination for anglers of all levels.
One of the best places to go fishing in Namibia is the Zambezi Region, also known as the Caprivi Strip. This area is known for its large population of tigerfish, which can weigh up to 20 pounds and put up a strong fight.
The Zambezi Region is also home to various other species such as Tilapia, catfish and yellowfish. The best time to fish for tigerfish is during the rainy season, from January to April.
Another great destination for fishing in Namibia is the Kunene River, which is located in the far north of the country and forms the border with Angola. This river is home to a variety of fish species, including tilapia, catfish, and yellowfish. The best time to fish here is during the dry season, from May to December.
If you’re looking for a more remote and peaceful fishing experience, the Skeleton Coast, a remote and desolate stretch of desert along the Atlantic coast, is a great option. This area is known for its huge schools of yellowtail, which can be caught using various techniques such as trolling and fly fishing.
In addition to these specific fishing spots, there are many other places in Namibia where you can catch a wide variety of fish.
No matter where you go, you’re sure to have a great time fishing in Namibia and make lasting memories during your holiday in Namibia. So, if you’re an angler looking for a new and exciting vacation in Namibia, pack your fishing gear and head to one of these fantastic fishing destinations.
One of the most unique and impressive ways to experience Namibia’s stunning landscape is from the basket of a hot air balloon. Visualize yourself floating above the vast plains of Namibia, taking in the stunning scenery from above.
The best way to enrich your Namibian safari and acquire a new viewpoint is to take a hot air balloon ride.
One of the best ways to see Namibia is from above on a hot air balloon ride, and Sossusvlei, in the southernmost part of the Namib Desert, is a perfect place to do just that.
The sand dunes in this area are well recognized as among the highest in the world. Taking a hot air balloon ride above Sossusvlei is a great way to see the desert in all its glory and to see the sand dunes transform as the sun rises.
Etosha National Park, in Namibia’s north, is another great spot for a hot air balloon tour. Tourists can see the park’s many animals, such as lions, giraffes, and elephants, from the air on a hot air balloon ride.
The Etosha Pan, a large salt pan and one of the park’s most breathtaking sights, attracts thousands of migratory birds every year.
A hot air balloon ride above the landscape in Damaraland is an unforgettable experience. Damaraland is characterized by its rugged landscape, which consists largely of deserts but also of rugged mountains and deep valleys.
On a hot air balloon flight over Damaraland, you can take in the stark beauty of the region and see desert wildlife like springboks, elephants, and lions.
One of the most memorable ways to see Namibia is from above on a hot air balloon tour. Your Namibia safari will be greatly enhanced by taking a hot air balloon ride so that you can see the landscape from a new perspective.
So, if you’re looking for something truly unique and exciting to do in Namibia, consider booking a hot air balloon ride.
Most of the luxury lodges in the country are concentrated around popular destinations, such as Etosha National Park, on private reserves near Sossusvlei, in the Waterberg Plateau area, and Twyfelfontein.
There are also intimate high-end lodges and camps in Namibia’s more remote areas, such as the Skeleton Coast and Kaokoveld, some of which are only accessible by light aircraft.
If budget isn’t an issue, fly-in safaris are the ultimate way to experience a Namibia Safari. On a fly-in safari, you’ll travel to Namibia in a small plane, flying between exclusive high-end safari camps in remote areas and visiting several parks and reserves along the way.
With Namibia’s vast distances and 4×4-accessible areas, doing a fly-in luxury Namibia safari is the best way of maximizing the time on your trip. Fly-in luxury safaris in Namibia usually include everything from accommodation, meals, and drinks to activities such as game drives.
A Namibia safari offers excellent value for money, especially if you hire a car and stay in campsites or lodges outside the national parks. While there are a lot of pros to staying inside the parks, camps can be pricey, especially in high season.
Choosing to sleep at a camp or lodge just outside the park gates means you can get better value for your money and only miss out on being inside the park in the early mornings and late afternoons when the gates are closed.
The low season (February, March, April, May, and November) sees hotels and lodges drop their room rates, so traveling during these months means getting better value for your lodging.
Staying at all-inclusive Namibia safari lodges can give you great value for money. Many lodges offer many activities, such as game drives, guided nature walks, and animal tracking as part of your stay.
The best way to travel through Namibia on a budget is to rent a car, stay at campsites and cook your own food. Namibia has some superb campsites in beautiful wild places, and many offer shops where you can stock up on things like meat, charcoal, and canned food so that you can self-cater
Another way to travel to Namibia on a budget is to join an organized tour that includes your lodging, transport, food, and activities. Traveling in the low season months of February, March, April, May, and November means you can get good deals on rooms in lodges and hotels as the rates are significantly lower than in the peak season.
Hiking and exploring the national parks and reserves in your car are two of the top budget activities you can do on a safari in Namibia. They also happen to be the best ways to experience the most beautiful places and extraordinary wildlife that the country has to offer.
Food and cuisine in Namibia are generally divided between indigenous food types and westernized foods to accommodate a broader range of palates, and range from German, Afrikaans, and European in nature.
The vast majority of visitors to Namibia concentrate their time in a handful of destinations, where restaurants, National Parks, and resort kitchens almost exclusively feature the latter. As such, nearly all meals are very familiar to western visitors.
Breakfasts consist of cereals, yogurt, cheeses, cold cuts, eggs, sausage, bacon, and bread, which are familiar to most tourists.
Dinner mains feature a lot of game meats (kudu, springbok, oryx, wildebeest, and others) as well as chicken, pork, and steak. Sides are your typical variety of vegetables. Bread is served with most meals, and seafood is readily available along the coast.
Namibia is a photographer’s dream destination. The country’s spectacular landscapes of soaring dunes, vast horizons and cracked pans, rugged mountains, dramatic canyons, startling Skeleton Coast, unpolluted night skies, incredible wildlife, and unusual flora, couldn’t be more photogenic.
The huge empty spaces and unspoiled wild places of Namibia make you feel like you’re a million miles away from civilisation, which for many people provides the basis for a deeply relaxing holiday.
The best way to have a relaxing holiday in Namibia is to take things slowly. Long drives between distant destinations can be tiring. Instead of trying to cover all of Namibia’s highlights on one trip, pick two or three destinations to spend your time in or spend all your time in just one region. You could even choose just one destination to stay in and do day trips from there.
Namibia’s luxury lodges are all about as much relaxation as you want: while they offer a lot of activities, you can also take it really easy, whiling away days reading on your private deck overlooking vast desert plains or animals walking across a cracked salt pan in Etosha, taking dips in the pool, having sunset drinks on top of a dune and eating gourmet food surrounded by other-worldly scenery.
If you have the budget for it, a flying safari is an ideal way to have a relaxing holiday in Namibia. You fly between luxury camps and lodges around the country and get to experience the best of Namibia’s wildlife and wild places without having to drive anywhere.
If you’re after an active holiday in Namibia, you’re in for a mind-boggling array of choices: everything from hiking, mountain biking and sand boarding to river canoeing, ocean kayaking, mountain climbing, animal tracking and quad biking.
Swakopmund is an ideal base for an active holiday, as the coastal town offers a huge range of outdoors activities nearby, including sandboarding down towering dunes, skydiving over the desert, kayaking with seals in the ocean and quad biking.
There are hiking trails all over the country but the most famous is the 85-kilometre, five-day hike in the Fish River Canyon, a route that is only open between May and September.
You’ll need to be self-sufficient for the hike, carrying your own sleeping gear and food and the terrain is tough going, so it’s not for the faint hearted.
A fantastic wildlife hike is the four-day Waterberg Hike in Waterberg Pleateau Park (which is open from April to November) where you can spot rare roan and sable antelope, as well as giraffe, kudu and hyena amongst the dramatic red sandstone cliffs of the park.
For an easier hiking option, there’s the Tok Tokkie Trail, three-day slackpacking trail in the NamibRand Nature Reserve, where the walking is easy and your luggage is transported for you to comfortable outdoor camps that are set up for you at the end of your walking day (complete with cold drinks, gourmet food and hot water for washing).
Canoeing on the Orange River for a few days in southern Namibia is a perfect choice for a relaxing active holiday for the whole family. Several outfitters offer similar multi-day paddling trips which include guides and meals, meaning all you need to do is paddle, swim, and sleep under the stars.
Namibia is a mecca for mountain bikers, with an endless array of routes that traverse some of the country’s most spectacular terrain and take you through wilderness concessions where you may be lucky enough to spot rhinos and elephants from the saddle.
There are strenuous multi-day cycles suited for experienced, fit riders through remote and little-visited areas such as the Kunene Region and Damaraland, but if you’re just looking to cycle for a few hours, there are many options for short trails on private nature reserves dotted around the country.
Namibia offers a diverse range of climbing opportunities for enthusiasts, with its rugged mountains providing a range of challenges for climbers of all levels.
The Spitzkoppe, known as “Namibia’s Matterhorn,” offers a challenging peak summit and sport-climbing routes, while the Brandberg offers a multi-day summit of the country’s highest point, with the added bonus of ancient rock art along the way. In the Erongo Mountains, there are thirty different routes to choose from.
All three of these climbing destinations can be found in the Damaraland region, located north of Swakopmund.
In Namibia it’s easy to combine an active holiday with wildlife experiences by tracking animals on foot. Take your pick from the free-roaming desert rhinos and elephants of Damaraland, the cheetahs and leopards of Okonjima Nature Reserve or rare and elusive pangolins in Erindi Private Game Reserve.
Having an active holiday in Namibia means you need the right gear: comfortable and sturdy hiking shoes, long lightweight trousers and long-sleeved shirts in neutral colours (so that you don’t stand out in the landscape when tracking animals on foot), and a wide-brimmed hat. A pair of binoculars is a must for game viewing.
The best months for outdoors activities in Namibia are the cooler winter months of May to September. In summer, day time temperatures can be brutally hot, and some activities not available, such as the Fish River Canyon hike and the slackpacking hike in the NamibRand Nature Reserve.
Namibia’s flagship reserve may lack the presence of buffalo (though they are in the nearby Waterberg Plateau and Caprivi Strip) but the abundance of elephants and lions more than makes up for it.
Etosha is also the best place in Africa to see black rhinos; stake out waterholes at night and check them again during the day – both lions and leopards often use them as ambush points.
Etosha is a stunning park by any stretch of the imagination, both in size the amount of extraordinary African wildlife that it contains.
The park is so large that it can easily be seen from outer space, and astronauts have been known to photograph it as they zoom over. How amazing is that? To give another comparison, Etosha National Park is as large as the country of Switzerland.
It also contains a very large salt pan that covers over 20% of the area, so in the rainy season parts of it become a shallow lake.
You can visit any time of the year, but winter May to September is the dry season, which means animals have to visit the water holes regularly and you can park up and “spy” on them easier.
It’s also a bit cooler for humans who don’t like sweltering in the heat. However, that is not to say you should avoid taking a Namibian holiday at other times of the year.
Namibia, and Etosha especially, has one of the largest populations of Black rhinos left in the world and is one of the few countries that have both Black and White Rhinos.
For the chance to see Cape buffalo and hippopotamus, you will need to travel to the northwest to the Caprivi Strip which reaches all the way to Victoria Falls.
The north is also on the edge of malaria territory, so while it is not likely, it is possible to be exposed to mosquitoes that may carry the disease. Take precautions by wearing dark-covered clothing (they prefer lighter colors) and using repellent while there.
Malaria-free safaris are an excellent option if you’re traveling with children if you’re elderly, if you’re pregnant, or in any way unable to take anti-malaria medication.
Sossusvlei may seem like a lifeless pan surrounded by the arid Namib Desert in the south of the Namib-Naukluft National Park in Namibia, however, the area is surrounded by red dunes that seemingly go on forever in every direction.
These dunes are among the most sought-after in Namibia for their height and shape, making them perfect for all kinds of activities that will bring out your adventurous spirit.
In addition, the scenery in nearby Deadvlei and Sesriem Canyon is a photographer’s dream, with brilliant colors and a silent window into a world that has been around since before antiquity – an amazing contrast to the ever-shifting sands that characterize the dunes.
From November to June malaria is prevalent in north and east Namibia, so that may strike Etosha National Park from your itinerary.
However, you can still get a malaria-free safari fix by visiting a game reserve in the Waterberg region or at Okonjima (over 12s only), where the AfriCat Foundation rehabilitates cheetahs and leopards.
Having said that, during the dry months of July to September, there’s no risk of malaria in Namibia’s flagship National Park.
The dry months are the best time to go to Etosha anyway, as this is when the park’s water sources dry up and the animals congregate around waterholes, making it incredibly easy to spot them.
Just park off your car near a waterhole and wait for the zebras, springbok, giraffe, lions, elephants and rhino to arrive!
The ever-enchanting landscapes of Namibia has some of Africa’s most dramatic scenery and many great hikes as well as walking trails. However, walking safaris in Namibia offer a slightly different approach to the more traditional walking safaris of its African counterparts in that spotting prolific wildlife may not be as easy to come by because of the vastness of the country.
However, walks through the Etosha National Park are both awe-inspiring and humbling, as you tread along the very paths animals roam free on and observe their intimate lives from a careful distance, it is also one of the best ways to be guaranteed animal sightings. The slow pace of the walk and the interpretive skills of the armed guides open your eyes to a fascinating world.
Walks tend to be led by experienced and trained guides who tailor the excursions to suit the preferences of guests, whether it’s to view a certain animal or plant species, to learn about the mannerisms of different wildlife species and their habitats or simply to enjoy the vast expanse of bush and the panoramic surroundings that sets Namibia apart.
Walkers will be instructed on the identification of various tracks, as well as on the smaller wildlife and plants that live in the park and that are often missed during a game drive.
One of the best regions to walk in is Damaraland which has several really excellent camps and lodges to choose from. The scenery is astonishing, from granite boulders and euphorbia candelabra, to desert dwelling rhinos and elephants.
There have also been recent sightings of cheetahs and lions in this region too.
If you want to get off the beaten track and into the rugged wilderness for a romantic holiday, you can’t get much better than Namibia. Despite its harsh climate and rugged terrain, Namibia offers a unique and romantic setting for couples.
The stunning desert landscapes, intimate experiences such as watching the sunset from the top of a dune or waking up to a view of animals drinking at a waterhole, and luxurious safari lodges with private rooms tailored for honeymooners and couples, make it a perfect destination for a romantic getaway.
Additionally, many lodges offer special extras, such as the opportunity to sleep under the stars, that add to the overall experience.
Highlights on a couple safari in Namibia
Central Namibia is the top pick if you’d like to see Namibia’s most popular attractions without too much driving. Clamber up and down the dunes of Sossusvlei, and get your adrenaline pumping with adventure activities in Swakopmund (where you can also indulge in hearty German food and excellent beer in good restaurants).
There’s a good choice of luxury lodges near Sossusvlei, where you can stay in exclusive and intimate rooms or chalets with private decks surrounded by breath taking views of the desert.
For wildlife, Etosha National Park in northern Namibia is unmissable, and staying in one of the five-star lodges or camps in and around the park means that after a day of game viewing you can relax in luxury: think showering outdoors while watching giraffes walk by, cocktails while you lounge on your deck overlooking animals grazing and gourmet dinners by candlelit under the stars.
If getting as far away from civilization as possible appeals to you for a romantic holiday, then opt for a stay in one of the luxury lodges tucked away in Namibia’s remotest corners – in the Skeleton Coast National Park and Damaraland, where you arrive by plane and get to explore some of the country’s most rugged and untouched wilderness areas with only a handful of other people for hundreds of miles around.
Watching the sunset from the top of a dune with no one else around, stargazing on the private deck of your luxury chalet, eating dinner by candlelight sitting above the cracked salt pan of Etosha National Park, game viewing from your bed and road-tripping on long, lonely desert roads.
Travel Tips for a couple safari in Namibia
Don’t underestimate the driving time between destinations in Namibia and cram your itinerary so that you spend more of your holiday in the car. Plan to spend at least a few days in each destination to really soak up what Namibia is all about: wild scenery, space and serenity.
A Namibian Safari is an incredible choice for a family safari holiday. It’s safe, easy to travel around on a self-guided journey, and offers a wealth of attractions and activities that will delight kids.
There are fun things to do with kids of all ages: nature walks, wildlife spotting, and sandboarding for young ones, multi-day hiking, sandboarding, quad biking, animal tracking, and skydiving for teenagers.
With Namibia’s wide range of lodging options, choosing places to stay for a family holiday in Namibia is easy. Pick from self-catering bungalows and cottages, well-equipped campsites, or luxury lodges (just be sure to check with lodges beforehand if they have a minimum age limit).
Going on guided bush walks in the barren-looking Namib Desert and discovering a fascinating world of insects, birds, lizards, and adapted plants.
Scrambling up the dunes near Sossusvlei and sliding back down or zooming down the dunes of Swakopmund on a sandboard.
Sitting around a campfire under the twinkling stars of the Milky Way.
Spending a day canoeing on the Orange River or kayaking among seals, turtles, and dolphins off the coast near Swakopmund.
Travel Tips for a Family Safari in Namibia
It’s a good idea to pick two or three destinations and spend longer at each one rather than trying to see all the highlights of Namibia at once.
Driving distances in Namibia are very long, and you won’t get the most out of your family safari in Namibia if most of it’s spent in the car with the kids getting restless in the backseat.
When you have to do a long drive, think about breaking your journey up with stopovers along the way, especially if you’re traveling with young children.
If you’re going to be exploring wildlife parks (which involves lots of driving around), plan to break up the game drives with snack breaks and picnics at designated areas.
If you have young children, it may be best to avoid traveling to high-risk malaria areas. Traveling to Namibia in the cooler months from April to October is advisable, as the summer months can be unbearably hot.
Bear in mind that Namibia’s climate is harsh, and your kids will need to be able to cope with the elements. It’s extremely dry and dusty, it can be sweltering, and the sun is intense.
Be prepared with lots of sunscreen lotion, high SPF cream for lips, hats and clothes to protect from the sun, good sunglasses, and a big shade cloth if you’re camping.
Take note of lodges’ policies regarding game drives with children. Many lodges have a minimum age limit for young children on a game drive vehicle, and some lodges won’t accept children under a certain age.
If you’re travelling over the border to Botswana or South Africa after your trip to Namibia, you must have unabridged birth certificates for your children.
Watching the sunset together over the desert from your private deck or sipping coffee in bed while zebras have a morning drink a few meters away are romantic moments that you can expect on a safari in Namibia.
Whether you explore Sossusvlei, Etosha, Damaraland, or the Skeleton Coast, luxury lodges offer romance by the bucket load, with exclusive honeymoon cottages set apart from the main camp for maximum privacy, and special touches such as private picnics or dinners by candlelight.
In each of these places, you’ll find camps and lodges where you can meet up with other travelers, and a host of activities where you can join up with other groups.
In northern Namibia, the Zambezi Region, which is popular with overlanders and backpackers, is another place where you’ll easily be able to meet up with other travelers.
You can look forward to seeing lions, elephants, and rhinos on guided game drives in Etosha National Park, and meeting new friends around the fire at a camp in the Zambezi Region.
Or go Skydiving, sandboarding, drinking beer with locals in Swakopmund, and soaking up the silence and timeless beauty of the desert atop a dune in the sands of Sossusvlei.
Travel Tips for a solo safari in Namibia
The only thing that you need to be aware of as a solo traveler in Namibia is long driving distances in remote areas. You’ll often drive for hours without coming across a gas station or town. Make sure that your lodge or hotel knows to expect you in case you have a breakdown.
It’s also good to tell someone where you’re going if you head off from your lodge or camp on a day hike. If possible, join up with a guided hike or find someone to hike with, as it’s much safer to hike in a pair or a group in case of an emergency.
A blockbuster combination of sublime landscapes that will make you feel like you’re on another planet, some of the best wildlife viewing on the continent, a host of fascinating desert-adapted plants and animals, and jaw-dropping natural wonders make Namibia a country you’ll never forget.
Namibia’s scenery and sights are as astonishing as they are varied. Ranging from the Namib desert, a vast and beautiful wilderness covering the country in sandy plains, dune seas, and savanna, to the dramatic Skeleton Coast, there’s endless beauty to be had.
Add to that the rugged granite mountains adorned with ancient rock art, the giant cracked salt pan of Etosha National Park, and the dizzying depth of the Fish River Canyon, and you’ve got a plethora of natural wonders to admire.
Adventure is always just around the corner in Namibia. Whether tackling a challenging 4×4 route in a remote area, hurtling down a dune on a sandboard, or skydiving above the desert, there are countless ways to experience the country with some adrenalin-filled fun.
The network of well-maintained roads, excellent tourism infrastructure, and a wide range of lodging options means that Namibia is one of the safest and easiest countries in southern Africa for self-guided traveling and a strong contender for the world’s best road-tripping destination.
A safari in Namibia offers space, silence, and the chance to get away from it all. It’s the second least-densely populated country on the planet, with only two people per square kilometer.
You can drive for hours under huge blue skies surrounded by landscapes so vast and empty that, at times, you feel like you’re on the edge of the planet. In an overpopulated world, there aren’t many places left where you can immerse yourself as deeply in remote wilderness areas as in Namibia.
The driest country in Africa south of the Sahara, Namibia is covered in a large swathe of desert, giving rise to an array of unique plants and animals adapted to the harsh climate, such as the Welwitschia (which can live for more than 1000 years) and the famous desert elephants, which are only found in one other place on the continent.
In terms of big game safaris, Namibia has several parks and reserves, but its stand out is Etosha National Park, where during the winter months, the ease of spotting wildlife is nearly unrivaled. Other notable wildlife highlights in Namibia include tracking black rhinos and cheetahs on foot.
Namibia’s extreme landscapes are a big part of why the country is so unique. From the sand seas of the Namib, where you’ll find the tallest dunes in the world, to the awe-inspiring Fish River Canyon, Namibia is home to some of Africa’s most spectacular natural sights.
A safari tour in Namibia draws people back with its otherworldly landscapes, endless space, magnificent desert, superb wildlife spotting, memorable animal experiences (such as tracking free-roaming black rhino on foot), and unique desert-adapted animals and plants.
There’s also so much to see and do on a Namibian safari that you couldn’t even begin to do the country justice on one trip. On a first visit, many travelers explore Namibia’s best-known attractions, and then, on return trips, they head into more remote regions for off-the-beaten-track adventures.
Namibia also has changing attractions that bring travelers back in different seasons. Expect superb game viewing in the dry winter, bird-watching safaris in the rainy summer months, spring flowers in |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park in August and September, and migratory whale sightings along the coast in October and November.
On the other hand, a safari tour in Namibia is more tourist-friendly and, with its well-maintained roads, is far easier to visit on a self-driving trip. Many of Namibia’s most famous attractions can be explored in a 2WD vehicle.
The huge variety of places to stay in Namibia, from excellent campsites to five-star lodges, appeals to a broader range of travelers. At the same time, Botswana caters largely to the high-end market.
Of the two countries, Namibia has a broader diversity of more stunning landscapes, from a deep canyon in the south to rugged mountains in the north, the cracked salt pans of Etosha, the towering dunes of Sossusvlei, and the dramatic Skeleton Coast.
In terms of wildlife, Botswana has Africa’s largest elephant herds and vast numbers of buffalo, lions, and leopards, which makes for rewarding game viewing in its excellent parks.
In terms of city culture, landscapes, flora, and fauna, South African safaris have much more diversity than a Namibian Safari.
South Africa also has excellent game parks where Big Five viewing is easy, as well as forests and mountains, a beautiful coastline with superb beaches, and culturally rich cities home to award-winning restaurants, fantastic shopping, art, museums, and nightlife.
Namibia can’t compete in terms of beaches or cities, but what it does have that South Africa doesn’t is dramatic desert scenery, vast open spaces, extremely wild rugged landscapes, and a lot more chances to get far off the beaten track and escape the crowds.
Having a real off-grid adventure in Namibia is also more accessible than in South Africa, with Namibia’s massive choice of 4×4 routes that take you into the country’s most remote corners.
In the busy season, the popular hotspots in South Africa can be bustling, while in Namibia, even during the peak months, the only place where you’ll see a lot of other travelers is Etosha.
In the north, Etosha National Park is Namibia’s unmissable wildlife destination. During the dry season, when water is scarce, the park’s animals gather around waterholes making game viewing as easy as parking your car in the right spot.
Along with herds of springbok, zebra, and blue wildebeest, you’ll see plenty of elephants and lions and, if you’re lucky, cheetahs.
You’ll also see desert animals such as oryx, meerkat, ostrich, and bat-eared foxes.
The park is the best place in Africa to spot black rhinos, while black-faced impala and Damara dik-dik are two other remarkable species. They’re only found in one other place – across the border in Angola.
Wildlife surrounding Etosha National Park
To the south of Etosha, Waterberg Plateau Park is home to some rare species, such as sable and roan antelope and black and white rhino, and Namibia’s only breeding colony of Cape Vultures.
Wildlife in Damaraland
Among the rugged mountains of Damaraland, in Namibia’s northwest, are free-roaming populations of desert elephants (which are incredibly rare – the only other place in the world you’ll find them is Mali) and desert-adapted black rhinos and lions.
Namibia’s most rewarding wildlife experiences include tracking black rhinos and elephants against spectacular desert backdrops.
Wildlife in the Zambezi Region of Namibia
In far north-eastern Namibia, the Zambezi Region (formerly known as the Caprivi Strip) offers a different wildlife experience to the rest of the country, thanks to its heavy summer rainfall, rivers, and water sources.
This is where you can see hippos and crocodiles, and it’s one of the only places in the country where buffalo occur. A highlight of the Zambezi Region is water-based wildlife viewing from boats or a mokoro (traditional dug-out canoe).
Wildlife on the Skeleton Coast of Namibia
Stretching along Namibia’s northern coastline, the Skeleton Coast National Park has one of the world’s largest breeding colonies of Cape fur seals at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve.
There are around 100,000 seals here year-round, and if you visit the reserve in November and December, you’ll see their tiny pups – and perhaps a stalking jackal.
Wildlife in Central Namibia
In central Namibia, there’s marine wildlife to see from a boat and kayaking trips from Walvis Bay to spot seals, whales, and dolphins.
Central Namibia also has two places to take part in animal tracking. Search for cheetahs and leopards at Okonjima Nature Reserve near Otjiwarongo and track rare and extremely elusive pangolins at Erindi Private Game Reserve.
Wildlife in Southern Namibia
Southern Namibia isn’t a prime big-game region. However, if you want to see the animals of the Namib Desert (oryx, springbok, kudu, zebra, giraffe, hartebeest, leopard, hyena, jackal, and fox), the NamibRand Nature Reserve, a vast conservation area with spectacular scenery and a low density of visitors, is your best bet.
An unusual wildlife highlight of southern Namibia is the herd of around 150 wild horses that roam freely in the desert between Aus and Lüderitz – the world’s only desert-dwelling wild horses.
For a first-time trip to Namibia, most travelers combine a rewarding mix of wildlife viewing and landscape exploration on a route that takes in the superb game on the salt pan of Etosha National Park, the adventure activities of the Germanic town of Swakopmund, and the towering dunes of the Namib-Naukluft National Park at Sossusvlei.
If you’re on a longer holiday, Namibia’s southern region has plenty of gems to discover, from the geological monument of Fish River Canyon and the desolate Mars-like landscapes of the |Ai|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park to the eerie ghost town of Kolmanskop, the German colonial architecture of Lüderitz and fantastic canoeing through the desert on the Orange River.
Travelers seeking more adventure generally head to northern Namibia for rugged wilderness and off-grid journeying.
You’ll need a 4×4 hire and self-sufficiency to explore the desolate Skeleton Coast, mountainous Damaraland, and the Himba villages of the remote Kaokoveld on your safari holiday in Namibia.
Namibia’s safari experiences are all about taking in the spectacular landscapes of desert, mountains, and coastline, running the gamut from the sedate to the extreme, and everything in between.
For many travelers to Namibia, wildlife viewing will be at the top of their list of experiences. Spotting Etosha’s abundant wildlife by driving yourself around the park or going on guided game drives is an unmissable highlight of any holiday to Namibia.
You can also enjoy more active animal experiences, including horseback wildlife viewing in various reserves, camel rides in Swakopmund and tracking desert rhinos on foot in Damaraland.
Namibia’s safari adventures and outdoor activities are endless and cater to all fitness and experience levels.
From short, gentle walks in the desert to multi-day strenuous hikes, bouldering to serious mountain climbing and easy mountain biking routes to tough long cycles through rugged desert terrain, there’s literally something for everyone.
Then there’s family-friendly ocean kayaking, gentle canoeing on the Orange River, quad biking in the desert, sandboarding down massive dunes, and the ultimate adrenaline-pumping fun of skydiving.
For experienced drivers, Namibia offers memorable 4×4 adventures that range from routes of just a few hours to days-long journeys into the country’s most remote and wildest corners.
Namibia generally has a dry climate, and you can visit the country year-round. However, deciding on the ideal month to travel to Namibia really depends on which regions and attractions you’ll be traveling to and what your interests are.
In general, the dry winter season from May to September is the most popular time for travelers to visit Namibia.
Malaria risk is lowest, daytime temperatures aren’t too hot (though nights between June and August are freezing), and, in parks such as the iconic Etosha National Park.
The combination of sparse foliage and the lack of rain forces animals to congregate around waterholes, which makes wildlife spotting particularly easy.
November to March are the hottest months in Namibia, and temperatures in some regions can reach above 50°C (122°F) during the day.
These months are also the rainy season, although many areas in Namibia receive little or no rain at all. During the wetter months, some tracks in the northeastern part of the country can become unsurpassable.
These are the hardest months for spotting wildlife in parks such as Etosha and carry the highest malaria risk.
Namibia is one of the easiest and safest African countries to travel in. Still, due to the huge distances between destinations and remote locations, a successful trip usually requires some advance planning and research.
In terms of communication, many hotels don’t offer WiFi, and cell phone coverage can be sparse in remote areas.
In the peak season from July to October and over the Christmas holidays, lodging and campsites in Namibia get booked up well in advance, especially in the most popular parks.
Make sure you place your reservations well before your trip if you’re traveling to Namibia for holiday during these months.
Etosha National Park and Sossusvlei are busy year-round, so it’s a good idea to book your camp or safari lodge in advance, even if you’re not traveling during the busiest months.
Distances in Namibia are significant, and it’s vital that you do some research before plotting out a self-driving itinerary so that you’re not spending the entire time in the car driving from one spot to the next.
It’s a good idea to spend a few days in each place rather than packing too many places into your trip so that you have time to soak up the serenity of Namibia’s beautiful landscapes.
Namibia has visa exemption agreements with the USA and many European countries, so if the exemption covers your country, then you can travel visa-free to the country for up to three months. Everyone entering Namibia needs a passport with six months of validity from the date of entry to the country and one blank page.
If you’re flying to Namibia from the US, it’s easiest to travel to Johannesburg in South Africa and catch a two-hour connecting flight to Windhoek in Namibia.
Travelers from Europe have the option of direct flights to Windhoek from Frankfurt on Air Namibia or from Cologne-Bonn on Eurowings or from Amsterdam on KLM, or connecting flights via Johannesburg from London on British Airways or South African Airways. Qatar Airways flies to Windhoek from several European cities via Doha.
If you’re traveling by car in South Africa or Botswana before your trip to Namibia, it’s easy to cross the Namibian border with your hired car. Just let the rental car company know beforehand so that they can provide you with the paperwork you’ll need to bring your car across the border.
Namibia is a vast country without many public transport options, so hiring a car is the best way of getting around. Namibia’s tarred and gravel roads are in good condition and are well maintained, making it easy to do a self-drive holiday.
It’s a good idea to have both a GPS (or offline map on your smartphone) and a paper map for navigating.
You don’t need to hire a 4×4 to drive around Namibia – 2WD vehicles can drive on the gravel roads – but it’s preferable to have a car with high ground clearance, especially for the ungraded dirt secondary roads.
If you’re traveling in Namibia’s more remote regions, such as the Skeleton Coast National Park, Kaokoveld, and Damaraland, you’ll need a 4×4. You’ll also need a 4×4 to explore Khaudum National Park, Nkasa Rupara National Park, and parts of Bwabwata National Park in the Zambezi Region.
Namibia has one of the world’s highest rates of road accidents, and it’s recommended to take out fully comprehensive insurance to cover you for any damage or accidents that may happen during your trip.
The currency in Namibia which is the Namibian Dollar is equivalent to the South African rand.
If you’re travelling to Namibia after spending time in South Africa, this South African currency, is accepted all over Namibia (although Namibian currency is not accepted in South Africa). You can draw currency in Namibia from ATMs using your international bank cards.
Many hotels, lodges and restaurants in towns will accept credit card payments, but you do need carry enough currency in Namibia with you to cover yourself for places that don’t accept cards.
You’ll also need cash for park entrance fees and tips. Few petrol stations will accept cards for payment of petrol, and while there are usually ATMs at bigger petrol stations, many small stations will not have an ATM, so have enough currency in Namibia for filling up with petrol in rural areas.
Euro, British Pounds, US Dollars and other major currencies may be traded locally or in advance of departure. In addition, exchange facilities are available in the various offices of change and banks in the major cities of ATMs. It is best to request bank notes in smaller denominations, as it can often be difficult to get a change from large notes, and smaller notes are handy for smaller transactions.
Traveller’s checks are not recommended as they are often difficult to exchange and incur high fees for currency in Namibian.
Please note that while South African Rand is used in Namibia, Namibian Currency is not legal tenders in South Africa, so make sure you have used or exchanged them before you leave Namibia.
Many lodges in Namibia offer activities, food, and drinks as part of your rate. It’s always a good idea to check exactly what is and isn’t included before your stay, so you don’t get any surprises on your bill when you check out.
Lodges usually explain their tipping practice in the in-room booklet, but if you’re unsure, check with the management staff.
Meat – ostrich, chicken, beef, and free-range venison such as kudu, eland, and oryx – features heavily in Namibian cuisine and is cooked barbecue-style or in potjiekos, a one-pot stew.
Most tourist restaurants serve meaty international fare, so you’ll have to look out for restaurants that offer Namibian eats such as oshifima (a millet and maize meal porridge served with stew), dried fish, oshingali (bean soup), and spicy mopane worms.
You can taste Namibia’s German influence in dishes such as eisbein (pork knuckle), pork schnitzel, and delicious cakes and pastries such as apfelstrudel and black forest cake.
Local specialties to look out for are fresh oysters in Lüderitz on the coast and Kalahari truffles from eastern Namibia, delicious rare delicacies which are in season in April and May.
Namibian beer, brewed in accordance with the Bavarian purity law, is excellent. Two favourite local brands are Windhoek and Tafel, and you can also find German beers in bars and restaurants around the country.
There are few Namibian wineries, so if you’re not drinking beer, you’re most likely going to be sipping South African sauvignon blancs and pinotages.
It’s standard to leave a 10% to 15% tip in restaurants. If you park your car in Windhoek, there may be a car guard who offers to watch over it while you’re gone. It’s usual to tip them a few Namibian dollars when you return to your car. People usually tip petrol attendants around N$5 for fuelling.
Most lodges will suggest tipping amounts for guides, trackers, and housekeeping staff which is usually an amount per day. Some lodges ask for you to put your tip in an envelope and hand it to the manager or guide; some have tip boxes at reception.
It’s customary to leave a tip at the end of your stay (it’s not necessary to tip at the end of each day or activity), especially for guides and trackers.
The San Bushmen are descendants of Africa’s Stone Age tribes and are considered Namibia’s oldest inhabitants. Confined in the desert and semi-desert regions of Namibia, their survival skills in such a harsh climate are renowned worldwide.
Bantu-speaking populations include the Himba, Ovamba, and Herero people, who are also highly adept at living in the stark landscape of Namibia.
Namibia’s capital city Windhoek has shopping malls and craft markets (the Namibia Crafts Center is a highlight) where you can buy any clothing items or travel gear you may have forgotten to pack, as well as souvenirs such as baskets, pottery, carvings, art and jewelry and leather goods, to take home.
Swakopmund also has a number of souvenir and jewelry shops and art galleries. Traveling around Namibia, you’ll find craft markets and curio stalls in tourist areas, villages, along roadsides, and near the entrance gates to national parks such as Etosha.
On March 21, 1990, Namibia declared independence from South Africa. The indigenous peoples of the nation were the San, Nama, and Damara. Later, during the Bantu expansion, Bantu immigrants arrived in the region.
Since then, the Bantu people (known as the Ovambo) have become the majority of Namibia’s population, and their language, Oshiwambo, has become the country’s most commonly spoken language.
Namibia has a population of 2.1 million people and is sparsely populated due to the vast Namib Desert, which covers most of the region.
Despite its limited population, Namibia has a complex linguistic environment, with languages in ranging from the Indo-European, Khoisan, and Bantu families being spoken.
The three languages in Namibia, English, German, and Afrikaans, were designated as official languages in Namibia during the apartheid regime.
However, after Namibia achieved independence from South Africa, the country’s new government declared English to be the only official language in Namibia, as stated in the country’s constitution.
The language is now used in the country’s government administration and schools and universities as a medium of instruction.
Oshiwambo is spoken by the majority (48%) of Namibians, especially the Ovambo people who live in the region formerly known as Ovamboland.
The Khoekhoe languages are Namibia’s second most widely spoken indigenous language, with approximately 11% of the population speaking it. About the same number of people speak Afrikaans. The Hereo and Kwangali languages are spoken by 10% of the Namibian population.
Other Bantu (Fwe, Kuhane, Yeyi, Tswana, Mbukushu) and Khoisan languages (Naro, Kung-Ekoka, Xó, Kxoe) are spoken by smaller percentages of the Namibian population.
Due to its dry climate, Namibia is generally a safe country regarding health issues. Windhoek has good medical facilities, although you will probably only spend a few days in the city and the rest of your trip in more remote areas.
Most of Namibia is rural and sparsely populated and big towns with hospitals are few and far between.
If you have a minor health problem, you’ll need to travel to the nearest clinic or hospital, which may be several hours away. For a serious medical emergency, you’ll need to be medically evacuated to Windhoek for treatment.
Private hospitals may insist on a cash or credit card payment before starting treatment, and it’s likely that you’ll need to pay upfront and then claim back from your travel insurance.
Namibia has an arid climate, so it’s easy to get dehydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of water (tap water is safe to drink in most places in Namibia).
The sun is particularly strong, so always wear high SPF sunscreen, a hat, and protective clothing, and avoid the midday rays.
Since many places you may end up visiting in Namibia are remote, it’s best to bring along any medication you might need.
It’s also a good idea to carry a comprehensive first aid kit that includes antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, antidiarrheal medication, antibacterial ointment, antimalarial tablets, rehydration electrolyte sachets, insect spray and repellent, water purification tablets and bandages.
For driving and hiking navigation, it’s a good idea when you have WiFi to download offline maps of Namibia on your smartphone using the Google Maps and maps.me apps.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for people visiting Namibia from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission. It’s recommended that you get vaccinations for cholera, typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, and diphtheria. The rabies vaccination is recommended if you’re going to be staying in remote areas where you may not have medical access for an emergency vaccination, if you’re going for a particularly long trip, or if you’re going to have a higher risk of contact with animals and bats.
From November to June there is a high risk of malaria in the Ohangwena, Omaheke, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto and Otjozondjupa regions and a medium risk in northern Namibia, such as in Etosha National Park and the Zambezi Region. In all other areas there is a low to no risk of malaria throughout the year. It’s best to contact your doctor or travel clinic about malaria prophylactics before your trip. To prevent mosquito bites, use repellent on your skin and clothes, wear long trousers and shirts in the early morning and evenings and if possible, sleep under a mosquito net.
If you aren’t able to get to a nearby hospital, then call E-Med Rescue 24, a private emergency evacuation company that runs ground ambulances and aircraft. If you’re in a remote location they will be able to arrange transport for you to hospital.
Namibia has both public and private healthcare providers and mobile clinics in remote locations. There are big differences between public and private healthcare facilities: private hospitals and clinics are far more sophisticated and better staffed, while public facilities, which serve the majority of the population, are often understaffed and aren’t able to offer all healthcare services such as organ transplants and dialysis. Travellers are advised to only use private healthcare services for which you will usually need to pay yourself and afterwards claim back from your travel insurance.
It’s advisable to get full travel insurance that includes medical coverage for your Namibia vacation. Make sure that your medical insurance covers you for medical evacuation, as well as any adventure activities you may want to do, such as skydiving, hiking, mountain climbing, sand boarding and quad biking. It’s a good idea to get comprehensive insurance on your rental car too.