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.