Climb the highest sand dunes in the world. Descend to the floor of the deepest canyon in Africa. Immerse yourself in the past at one of the Africa’s richest rock art sites, and watch wildlife move around one of the most spectacular pans on earth. Explore the oldest, driest desert in the world and take time to listen to the silence and to your soul. Namibia is home to vibrant cities where people are excited about the future, while remaining deeply connected to their rich, cultural past.
Things Not to Miss in Namibia
- Etosha National Park – The 20,000 sq km (7722 sq mi) Etosha National Park is one of the world’s greatest wildlife-viewing spots. For a few days each year, this immense, flat, saline desert is converted by the rains into a shallow lagoon teeming with flamingos and white pelicans. However, it’s the surrounding bush and grasslands that provide habitat for Etosha’s diverse wildlife.
- Sossusvlei – Sossusvlei, a large ephemeral pan, is set amid red sand dunes that tower up to 200m above the valley floor and more than 300m over the underlying strata. It rarely contains any water, but when the Tsauchab River has gathered enough volume and momentum to push beyond the thirsty plains to the sand sea, it’s completely transformed. The normally cracked dry mud gives way to an ethereal blue-green lake, surrounded by greenery and attended by aquatic birdlife, as well as the usual sand-loving gemsbok and ostriches.
- Grootberg Lodge – While offering comfortable accommodation, mouth-watering meals, high levels of service, and knowledgeable, trained guides to accompany guests on various activities, it’s the view at Grootberg Lodge that is heavenly. It’s like waking up at the foot of the Grand Canyon. Your private rock and thatch chalet holds a lofty perch atop the Klip River Valley.
- Meet the Himba Tribe – These friendly people are closely related to the Herero and lead a semi-nomadic life as herdsmen, breeding mainly cattle and goats. One of the last truly traditional tribes on the planet, the Himba, living among the majestic Makalani palms at Palmfontein, invite visitors to learn more about their proud and ancient lifestyle and traditions. Visitors will be able to see their cone-shaped homestead made from palm leaves, mud and cattle dung and learn more about their unique customs and techniques.
- Doro Nawas Camp – Situated on a rugged, rocky hill, on the edge of the dry Aba Huab River. The elevated site supplies endless and spectacular views of the Etendeka Mountains, and red sandstone cliffs of Twyfelfontein. Sleeping under the stars, in the comfort of your bed, is a must in this pristine environment.
- Twyfelfontein: Make an excursion to the Twyfelfontein rock etchings and paintings whilst in the area; a local guide will escort you around the ancient hillsides which are open for guests between 08:00 and 17:00. This area is covered in numerous fascinating examples of San rock art and is well worth a visit.
- Dune & Sandboarding – The Namib Desert, the oldest in the world, is reputed to house some of the largest sand dunes on this planet. Conquer these constantly shifting and powerfully towering beauties by zooming down the sheer slip faces on a traditional Swakopmund sandboard or carve up the dune with style and skill on a snowboard adapted for sand.
Fish River Canyon – TheFish River Canyon is the second largest natural gorge in the world and the largest in Africa. Set in a harsh, stony plain dotted with drought resistant succulents, such as the distinctive quiver tree or kokerboom, the canyon is a spectacular natural phenomenon. Beyond being a great place to take amazing photographs, the Fish River Canyon has become a popular hiking destination. The most popular trail, the aptly named Fish River Hiking Trail, is a 4-day, 86 km expedition open from May to September.
Hike the Skeleton Coast – Despite the ominous name, the Skeleton Coast is strikingly beautiful. Take a three-day nature trail along the Ugab riverbed and gravel plains of the forbidding wind-whipped Skeleton Coast Park, where you’ll find desert-adapted plant species such as welwitschia, lithops and delicate lichens. Get an eerie close up look at the shipwrecks scattered along the coast, most of which have become seaweed-coated Cape Cormorant colonies.
Kunene Elephants – Namibia is home to one of two known groups of desert adapted elephants in the world, with the other group being found in Mali. Thanks to the efforts of dedicated local conservationists, their are currently around 600 desert adapted elephants in Namibia’s Kunene. Several volunteer programmes are available, including Elephant Human Relations Aid, which allows elephant enthusiasts to lend a hand.
Track Black Rhinos in Damaraland – One of the planet’s most endangered species, black rhinos are well-protected in Namibia thanks to excellent conservation work and fearful penalties for poachers. Rugged Damaraland is home to a desert-adapted variety, which you can track as part of an ongoing initiative to monitor and protect the animals from poachers.
Old School is the Way to Go (Maps vs. GPS) – GPS is a wonderful invention and it has made navigating around unexplored parts of the world a cinch for the travel hungry adventurer and it is highly recommended that you invest in such a device if you plan on driving yourself around the countryside. However, and I cannot urge this strongly enough, bring a physical map with you. (Preferably one you bought in Namibia.) Electrical equipment can fail, so it is always important to have a backup plan. A map is solid and dependable and it never has to reacquire its satellites.
What to Have in Your Car– You should bring a camera with a zoom lens, water, cash, snacks, sunglasses and sunscreen.
A Camera. This is something that is invaluable on your trip through Namibia. From wild animals to stirring landscapes and interesting people there are photo opportunities galore and documenting your road trip is a great way to make your memories of your adventure last even longer.
Cash is King – Petrol stations only accept cash, so make sure you bring enough for your trip. Just to be on the safe side, we recommend that you fill up whenever you pass a petrol station. Namibia is a sparsely populated country and getting stuck with no fuel is not an ideal situation.
Water. Always bring loads of bottled water in the car with you. Namibia can be very hot and you may drive for an hour without seeing any settlement, so always make sure you’re hydrated.
Snacks. As always when driving, make sure you have a little bit of food to nibble on to keep your spirits and sugar levels where they need to be. If you don’t eat properly your alertness could suffer and that’s not ideal at all. Biltong and droewors are great snacks for those of you who eat meat and it can be found all over Namibia.
Sunglasses and sunscreen. Protect yourself from the sun while driving. Many people forget that they can get sun burnt whilst driving in a car. And wearing a good pair of sunglasses will not only protect your eyes but will also help you spot animals and other things in the distance as the lenses reduce the ambient glare from the sun’s light.
Know How to Change a Tire – Be prepared for a tire change on the gravel roads in Namibia. It might happen that edgy stones can harm your tire and you may be faced with a break-down. Maybe even add second spare tire and a tire repair kit if you plan to visit very remote areas.
Watch out for that Baboon (Look Out for Animals and Other Road Blocks) – animals crossing your path, especially warthogs and kudus. And never drive after dark outside of a town or city. Animals often sleep on the roads at night. Look out for animals! No matter what road you’re driving on, highways or side roads, you need to be on the lookout for animals. Not only because they are amazing to spot and observe, but because they can run into the road rather unexpectedly. Warthogs can be particularly dangerous as they are relatively small so difficult ot spot from a distance, and will cause some serious damage to your vehicle if hit at high speed. Kudu’s (and other antelope) have also been known to panic and run in front of cars so be aware, especially if you see road signs warning of the likeliness of one of these animals being in the area you are driving through. There’s no telling what you can find on Namibia’s roads. The animals are most active during the dusk and the dawn, so if the sun’s going down, or if the sun’s coming up, then sharpen your wits and keep a close eye on the verge of the road as you drive on.
Avoid Driving at Night: Ensure that you reach your stop-over venue or destination before nightfall. Potholes in the roads can be overlooked and lead to unnecessary punctures or car damage. Also, the African wildlife is most active at dusk. The chances that you hit an animal or are distracted by wildlife jumping on the road at night are highly increased.