Namibia Travel Guide - Namibia, the Land of Africa’s Most Striking Landscapes
There’s an alluring beauty to Namibia’s wide open spaces that seems to cast a spell on all of its visitors. Haunting, unimaginable and dramatic, Namibia’s landscapes are closer to the moon than earth - a comparison that few tourists fail to make. But for such a stark and dry land it offers a swathe of exciting and colourful experiences.
The best way to discover Namibia’s heart and soul is to explore in your own car. Namibia is one of the least densely populated countries in the world and it’ll sometimes feels like you have the entire country to yourself, an equally eerie and lovely feeling. A Namibian road trip can include the beautiful ochre dunes of Sossusvlei, the wildlife haven of Etosha National Park, the endless coastal dunes of Skeleton Gorge, and the magnificent Fish River Canyon. Its eco-tourism model is a success story and it’s also gaining favour amongst travellers seeking a digital detox as it’s one of the best places around to just ‘turn off.’
How is Namibia different to other safari destinations?
The wildlife of Namibia is unique and different to what you might expect from typical African game reserves. Namibia is home to the oldest desert in the world and the animals have adapted to survive in the harsh dry climate. The desert rhinos, elephants and lions in the Kunene Region are perfect examples of this.
Namibia has the highest population of cheetah in the world and wildlife can be seen in many places, but it’s not considered a primary safari destination. Ultimately, Namibia is all about the landscapes, people go for the spectacular scenery and to drive through the untamed wildernesses, and the wildlife is a wonderful added extra, with Etosha National Park the pick of them all.
Best things to do in Namibia
1. Self-drive in a 4x4: This is the quintessential Namibian experience and the best way to see the country. Namibia, with its incredible open spaces, is made to be explored and doing that in a 4x4 is the best way to go about it.
2. Visit some of the world’s highest dunes at Sossusvlei: A highlight of many trips are the balloon rides. Here you can drift silently above the world’s largest dunes as the sun rises above them unveiling spectacular views.
3. Go on a safari in Etosha: One of the largest national parks in the world, Etosha’s secret is its variety of vegetation, which attracts countless herds of zebra, wildebeest and elephant. Don’t forget your binoculars for when you stake out a waterhole.
4. Rhino tracking in Damaraland
Damaraland is home to the largest free-ranging population of black rhino in Africa, and you can track these endangered creatures on foot at the Desert Rhino Camp. This is another experience where binoculars will be useful to feel even closer and help you see every detail of the rhino, whether it’s the blink of an eyelid or the crease of its skin.
5. Scenic flights over the Skeleton Coast
Fly above shipwrecks and colonies of Cape fur seals on your flight to the lost diamond camps on the Skeleton Coast.
6. Check out the German Heritage in Swakopmund: This seaside town has a strong German influence and has a range of German touches throughout, from its architecture to the language in its streets.
7. Hike the Fish River Canyon: Get back to nature and spend five days hiking and free camping in Africa’s largest canyon.
8. Explore the ghost town of Kolmanskop: This old mining town has been reclaimed by the desert and is a great place to explore and get photos of this eerie town.
What is the best driving route in Namibia?
The classic two-week Namibia route takes you into the country’s best and most popular attractions. Most visitors will fly into Namibia and start their trip in the capital of Windhoek, which lies right in the middle of the country.
From Windhoek, the route takes you southwest towards Sossusvlei, its famous dunes and the ancient trees of Deadvlei. Next up will be Swakopmund, the seaside town with a German twist. Once you’ve had your fill of German bread and schnitzel it’s time to head up the coast to find some of Namibia’s unique wildlife. Your first destination in the north will be the Damaraland Conservancy where you can track desert-adapted rhinos and elephants and then move onto Etosha National Park and pan, which was once an ancient inland sea and is a haven for Namibia’s wildlife. And finally end your trip back where you started in Windhoek.
What is the best time of year to travel to Namibia?
Summer in Namibia (November to March) can get very hot with temperatures reaching over 40° degrees celsius (over 100° fahrenheit). We don’t recommend travelling at this time.
It’s best to go in winter, spring or autumn when the temperatures cool down to comfortable levels with days around 20-24 degrees celsius (68-75 degrees fahrenheit). The best time is winter from July to October. There is little to no rainfall during the entire winter and wildlife will gather around waterholes and rivers when other water resources dry up. It’s at this time that you can explore the country in full and your experience will be best. You’ll even be able to spend time in the desert and sleep out at night under some of the brightest stars you’ve ever seen.
About the Author
If you'd like to find out more about travel in Africa or book a trip then we encourage you to contact our preferred travel partner, Rhino Africa, who are Africa's leading safari experts.