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The Best Things to do in Namibia

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Namibia is like no other African destination. Its vast landscapes are the star of the show, with varied vistas each as dramatic as the next. Read on for our travel experts’ top recommendations for twenty of the best things to do in Namibia – and speak to our specialist team to start planning your next adventure.

About the Author

About the Author

I was hooked on Africa’s beauty and wildlife after my first holiday there at 8 years old, and love sharing this passion with clients looking to make their own memories there.

AFRICA SPECIALIST

Georgie

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1. Tracking desert elephants in Damaraland

There are few more rewarding wildlife sightings in Africa than locating desert-adapted elephants in the sea of sand and rock that is Northern Namibia. How earth’s largest land mammal survives in such a harsh environment is astonishing. The effort in tracking is well rewarded with an unforgettable sighting and National Geographic worthy photographs!

2. Spot migratory birds in Walvis Bay

The coastal wetlands near Walvis Bay are Southern Africa’s singular most important coastal wetlands for migratory birds, with over 150,000 transient visitors including massive flocks of lesser and greater flamingos. This is just another example of the surprising diversity Namibia has to offer.

3. Support black rhino conservation

After becoming extinct through a combination of poaching and drought, Namibia recently passed the monumental conservation achievement of having 200 free-roaming black rhino. The presence of tourists is essential to deter poachers and the money tourism brings is key to the continued conservation effort. There are multiple locations, such as Palmwag Nature Reserve in the north of the country, offering memorable conservation based safari experiences, allowing you the opportunity to get close to these magnificent creatures in their natural environment.

4. Discover big cats in the desert

Follow in David Attenborough’s footsteps to the Hoanib Valley, the best location for an off-the-beaten-path wildlife experience in northern Namibia. This is the land where elephants dig deep wells in sandy river beds, male giraffes ‘neck’ for supremacy under great flat-topped acacia trees and desert lion prides are constantly alert for the opportunity of a meal. Watch on here for a more complete picture.

5. Let the wildlife come to you

In a desert dominated country, access to drinking water rules. Sometimes it’s best to look for the water rather than the wildlife. In Etosha and much of the country, your best bet is to find a shady spot (admittedly hard to come by at times) and wait. Over the course of a day in Etosha, you could find herds of springbok, oryx, ostrich, elephants coated in white dust, giraffe and rhino. Of course, where there’s prey the predators will follow, so keep your eyes open for action.

6. Explore Sandwich Harbour

Here, the vast sand dunes of the Namib-Naukluft Park drop directly into the wild Atlantic ocean, making for a spectacular guided experience. We’ll let the picture do the talking…

7. Take a Diamond Coast scenic flight

There’s no better way to gain a perspective over this otherworldly landscape than by taking to the air. For 90 minutes, be astounded by the scale and complexity of this landscape, taking in the sand sea of the Namib-Naukluft, the abandoned diamond mines and shipwrecks of the coast, battered by the wild Atlantic rollers, in a scenic flight from Swakopmund.

8. Catch the sunrise from Big Daddy dune

At 325 metres, this is earth’s largest sand dune and the view from the top is well worth the scramble! Get up early for what has to be one of the greatest sunrises on the planet.

9. Head out in a hot air balloon

When it comes to bucket list experiences, a dawn flight over the Sossusvlei is right up there with the Serengeti or Bagan. This is an extraordinary experience to glide above the endless dunes as the sun illuminates the landscape all around you.

10. Explore the wilderness by air

The scale and space of Namibia mean it’s easy to get off-the-beaten-track, but for the ultimate experience join the Schoeman family, who have been running Skeleton Coast Flying Safaris for 30+ years. The hard sandy beaches of the Skeleton Coast make as good a landing strip as any…

11. Orange River to Kunene River

There are only two perennial rivers in Namibia – the Orange River forming the border with South Africa in the south and the Kunene River forming the border with Angola in the north. For the ultimate exploration of this magnificent country, chart out a route to connect the two (and you’ll need plenty of time!)

12. Discover Namibia’s Great Canyon and the deep south

At 100 miles long, up to 16 miles wide and in places 550 metres deep, the Fish River Canyon is Africa’s largest and Namibia‘s second most visited tourist attraction. Located in the south of the country, within part of the |Ai-|Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, this is a place of dramatic beauty and home to incredible hiking trails. The Orange River also offers great white-water rafting trips.

13. Stargazing

As one of the least densely populated countries on earth and one of the driest, the conditions in Namibia make for ideal stargazing. A complete absence of light pollution and dry, cloudless skies result in spectacular starscapes. Many lodges embrace this with rooftop star-beds, but for the adventurous, a night spent out in the wilderness sleeping under a canopy of stars is an unforgettable experience.

14. Meet Namibia‘s indigenous people

It’s astonishing to think that any human beings could live in this hostile desert environment, which is why it’s even more important to spend time with the country’s indigenous people. Walk through the Kalahari bush with the San to pick up on their unrivalled tracking skills; try to understand the complex social structures of the Himba in Damaraland and Kunene; and start to appreciate the tumultuous history of the indigenous people of Africa through a meeting with the Herero.

15. Discover the rock art of Twyfelfontien

Damaraland has so much to offer. Having marvelled in the spectacular scenery and tracked down desert-adapted elephant, you’ll be astonished at the beautiful artwork adorning caves, overhangs and sheltered rock faces. This rock art dates as far back as 6,000 years – possibly even earlier. It offers an incredible insight into the way of life of a hunter-gatherer people who for millennia lived and thrived in this wilderness.

16. Try a walking safari

With low volumes of any large or dangerous wildlife and vast open landscapes, being on foot in Namibia is incredibly rewarding. This is a country where it pays to concentrate on the little things that make up this surprisingly rich and complex ecosystem. Discover the details you’d often miss if you were in a vehicle – subtle movements in the sand, birdsong or the smells of desert shrubs. Dig a little deeper into this country and you’ll be well rewarded.

17. Self-drive

There are few places on earth where picking up a hire car can be more exciting than in Namibia. The country is begging to be explored and the long dusty gravel roads lead off beyond the horizon in every direction. Directions are simple, landscapes magnificent and there are plenty of quality 4×4 suppliers in Windhoek and Swakopmund in particular. Get the road trip playlist updated and don’t rush around – it’s best to take your time and take it all in…and never drive past a petrol station! Check out our ultimate self-drive itinerary. 

18. Get active

This is a destination that doesn’t lend itself to someone just wanting to sit in a safari vehicle and drive from one wildlife sighting to another. Instead, pack your hiking boots and get connected to the landscape – maybe climb a flat-topped mountain in Damaraland. Take out an e-bike or ride horses over the dunes of the Namib-Rand. Access places impossible to reach by car by a lightweight and nimble quad bike. If you’re up for an adventure, you’ll find no shortage of opportunity.

19. Kayak with cape fur seals and dolphins

This is one of our favourite ways to spend a morning. Head out to the Pelican Point peninsula from Swakopmund to kayak with playful seals and dolphins. Sightings are always guaranteed – in fact the seals always seem ecstatic to see visitors and will often porpoise right over the kayaks themselves!

20. Finish off with a sundowner

After a bush day out exploring, sit back, look out over the scenery and enjoy an ice cold Windhoek lager.

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