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As the second most sparsely populated country on earth, Namibia is the perfect place to switch off, lose yourself in the spectacular landscapes and reconnect with nature. Untouched, untamed and utterly breathtaking, this alien-like terrain will make you think you’ve landed on Mars or the Moon. And since Namibia is a vast country with so much to see and explore, we have narrowed down our top must-see destinations to include in your travel itinerary.
We get asked this question a lot and with the coronavirus likely to be a concern for many months to come, deciding how best to navigate Namibia becomes a very pertinent question. If you are worried about excessive time spent flying, self-driving is an incredible way to limit your contact with other people and Namibia is a self-driving experience we highly recommend. Because it’s so sparsely populated, it sometimes feels like you have the entire country all to yourself and with a great network of roads, it is easy to navigate (we do recommend a 4 x 4 vehicle) and perfect to settle into the slow pace of road travel, take in the unique landscapes and reconnect with nature and your loved ones. If time is an issue, a fly-in Namibian safari is a great way to experience the best destinations in as short a time as possible. Now that you have decided how you will be travelling, let us tell you where you need to go.
A dramatic oryx battle kicks up the dust in Etosha
As once of Namibia’s flagship wildlife sanctuaries, Etosha National Park is a treasure trove of stark landscapes and incredible wildlife. Located in the northern part of the country, it is often surprising that such an arid area holds so much diverse fauna and flora.
The abundant wildlife at Etosha National Park
The Etosha National Park is home to the “Big Four”, elephants, rhinos, lions and leopards. The African buffalo cannot be found here but numerous species of antelope that cannot be found in other parts of Africa more than make up for it. For example, the oryx, with its beautiful colouring and majestic horns is a popular motif against the backdrop of salt pans. The park is also home to 340 bird species, one third of which are migratory birds, making Etosha a birders paradise.
A herd of elephant against the Etosha panorama, Photo credit: &Beyond
Etosha is a year-round destination, but winter months – between April and October – are the best time to travel. This is the dry season so the vegetation is sparse, the water is scarce so animal sightings around the waterholes are very likely. Elephants, antelopes, ostriches, zebras and giraffes often all gather together in large numbers around the few remaining waterholes.
Quad bikes in the deserts of Namibia
The Namib Desert, which is situated between the Atlantic ocean and the barren centre of the country, is considered to be the oldest desert on earth. Dried out lake plateaus, towering dunes and the iron-rich red sand dominate the landscape. Anyone who thinks that the desert is hostile to life will be pleasantly surprised. Here, large herds of oryx roam the dunes, reptiles and insects thrive and foxes and jackals brave the elements as well. The region is famous for the “Little Five” – gecko, chameleon, spider, lizard and snake.
Sunset at Deadvlei in Namibia, Photo Credit: Ferdinand Veer
In the southern part of the Namib, visitors can expect one of Africa’s most beautiful photo opportunities. Sossusvlei and Deadvlei are salt pans surrounded by huge red sand dunes, which results in a dreamlike spectacle during the magical dusk hours. The colours and shadows of the dunes as well as the glaring earth of the pans with scatterings of dead trees is purely an aesthetic wonder. If you want to have the best view, you can climb the dunes, which are some of the biggest in the world and upwards of 380 meters high.
The charming little town of Swakopmund
After days in the barren desert or in the dry Etosha National Park Swakopmund offers a welcome respite. This coastal town on the Atlantic Ocean has excellent infrastructure and is ideal for a relaxing stopover. Numerous shops, bars and cafes are a perfect place to enjoy an ice cold beer or a glass of wine, while the pier restaurants serve freshly caught seafood. Visitors can stroll along the promenade or sunbathe on the beach. The colonial German architecture is of particular interest here, and a stroll around town will reveal many a surprise in this small corner of Africa.
The European influence is noticeable in the local architecture
But Swakopmund is not only popular with those seeking relaxation. It is considered the adventure capital par excellence. Its somewhat sleepy appearance is deceiving as numerous activities are available. We highly recommend the quad biking tour, camel ride and desert safaris and even a romantic hot air balloon ride beckons the adventurous at heart. While very cold, the Atlantic Ocean is also great for water sports and boat tours too.
An elephant herd moves through the desert landscape
An absolute favourite among Namibia adorers, and for very good reason. Damaraland enchants with its dreamlike setting, barren landscapes and seemingly endless grasslands and rugged rock formations. In the evening, the yellow-brown of the environment merges with the orange-red of the sun, creating a palette of hazy oranges, blues and purples. The region may not seem like the most animal-rich at first, but that’s what makes it so special. With luck, visitors can admire the last truly wild, desert-adapted elephants, lions and rhinos.
Ostrich traversing the landscape in Damaraland
The Damaraland is not only known for its natural treasures. Hobby archaeologists and geologists will also get their money’s worth, as the region is home to some of the oldest and most beautiful rock paintings, as well as historic stone elements such as the Burnt Mountain or the Organ Pipes.
The glorious stretch of pristine Damaraland wilderness
Of course, this is just a small selection of destinations in Namibia. We also recommend a visit to the Kalahari and the mighty Fish River Canyon in southeastern Namibia. The high north of the country is also worth visiting as it is home to traditional tribes like the Himba. There is also the animal-rich Caprivi strip in the northeastern corner which borders Botswana, Angola and Zambia.
Now is the perfect time to start planning your Namibia trip. Get in touch with one of our travel experts today and start designing the tailor-made trip of your wildest dreams.
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