Teeming with wildlife such as zebra herds, wildebeests and springboks, Namibia is a wildlife lover’s paradise. Situated in southern Africa, this country might very well be one of the most underrated places to visit. If you love wildlife, nature, culture and adventure, here are the best things to do in Namibia:
1. Windhoek City Tour – Windhoek is the capital and also the largest city in Namibia. Located in the country’s central highlands, the capital city includes historical sites such as the sprawling Heroes’ Acre war memorial which commemorates Namibia’s 1990 independence. Alte Feste, a former military headquarters with historical exhibits and the Independence Memorial Museum Namibia’s highlands are also points of interest. Don’t miss the nearby colonial style buildings like the sandstone Lutheran Christus Church. Tintenpalast (seat of Namibia’s government) and the Parliament Gardens are nearby while the Post Street Mall shopping walkway has an interesting meteorite display. The National Art Gallery of Namibia is a great way to discover art by local artists and the TransNamib Museum in the railway station is a must for transportation history buffs.
2. Etosha National Park – Known as the greatest wildlife sanctuary in Namibia, Etosha National Park offers accommodations and spectacular opportunities to view wildlife. What’s unique about this park is the salt pan which is so large it can even be seen from space. The wildlife that congregates around the waterholes is so abundant, this almost guarantees you game sightings. This park is also one of the most accessible game reserves in Namibia and all of Southern Africa, and is accessible by a regular car. Accommodations vary from camping to chalets overlooking waterholes. Exclusive camps also provide a safari experience for travelers who wish to experience wildlife sightings.
3. Sossusvlei – Namibia’s most iconic landscape might very well be Sossusvlei, with its red dunes, white salt pan and Deadvlei. The rust-red dunes, white pans and the blue sky is reminiscent of the country’s vast, dry and uninhabited spaces. The dunes are some of the highest in the world and tallest in this area at 325m and is appropriately named Big Daddy. The more popular dune is only 80m high but climbing the Big Daddy is a must as it overlooks the surreal landscape of Deadvlei which is a white pan filled with the dark fossils of camelthorn trees. The dunes were created by sand being carried on the wind from the coast and the wind pattern ensures that the dunes hardly move. The sand here is five million years old and is comprised of iron oxide giving the Namib its distinctive red color.
4. Fish River Canyon – Situated in South Namibia, Fish Rivery Canyon is the world’s second largest canyon and is 550m deep, 27km wide and 160km long. A multi-day hike through 85km of trails takes hikers through 1.5 billion years of geological history and is accessible only from May to mid-September due to the heat the remainder of the year.
5. Cape Cross Seal Reserve – Cape Cross is known as a breeding reserve for thousands of Cape Fur Seals, which are actually a species of Sea Lion. There are 24 colonies along the Namibian and South African coast with a seal population of about 650,000 animals and approximately 80,000 to 100,000 seals inhabit Cape Cross. These Fur Seals have a thick layer of short soft fur, which is protected by a layer of longer, harder hair. Seal pups are usually hunted for their jet black pelts and for the beautiful olive-grey coat.
6. Swakopmund – A coastal city in Namibia, Swakopmund boasts of sandy beaches that face the Atlantic Ocean. German colonists in 1982 established this city and colonial landmarks include the Swakopmund Lighthouse and the Mole, an old sea wall. The Swakopmund museum also documents Namibian history, while on the seafront, the National Marine Aquarium of Namibia is home to rays and sharks. Walvis bay is popular for surfing, kiteboarding, and sport fishing. Adventure sports in the desert bordering Swakopmund, include climbing wind-carved rock formations, sandsurfing and hiking.
7. Kolmanskop Ghost Town – Kolmanskop was once a thriving city with its own casinos, theatre and a bowling alley. The city however experienced a slump in diamond sales and became completely deserted in 1956. With shifting desert sands and dunes amidst the abandoned buildings, this ghost town is an easy drive in a 4x4 and about 10 miles from the bustling port town of Luderitz.
8. Spitzkoppe Rocks – Namibia’s most famous landmark is probably the Spitzkoppe rocks. If you’re a rock climbing enthusiast and are brave enough to tackle these rocks, be ready for some spectacular photos. You can even spot historic artwork that has been painted onto the rocks several generations ago.
9. Namib - The world’s oldest desert, Namib, makes for many days of off-road adventuring and is also considered one of the oldest in the world. The Namib desert stretches over to South Africa and Angola and the area is completely uninhabited. The Bogenfels are arches that branch off over the ocean and Sesriem Canyon, Dune 45, and the small settlement of Solitaire are all well worth the visit when in the area.
10. Visit the Himba – Some of the last semi-nomadic people in all of Namibia might very well be the Himba people. These people have held on to their historic traditions and ways of life due to being isolated from the outside environment as a result of the hard desert landscape. The only way to experience the Himba people is with a tour company at specific times of the year. Their incredible culture and red ochre that they rub over their skin is not to be missed.
There are a lot of things to do in Namibia, making it a great destination for all travelers. From viewing wildlife on a Namibian African safari to photographing the red sand dunes, Namibia will take your breath away.