Congratulations to Namibia for making it onto my exclusive favorite country list. My recent trip there exceeded all expectations in so many ways but most of all just the striking diversity of landscapes throughout the country. I knew there was a huge desert and was excited to see that but there is so much more to see here that I’ve already decided I’ll be back. Here are my 5 best things to do in Namibia! Hopefully you’ll see more than this but if you have limited time, this can help you focus!
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You know you’ve seen photos of these enormous red sand dunes and wondered where this Mars-like landscape was? Well, it’s Namibia. Specifically, the Namib desert, which happens to be the oldest desert in the world! You can hike the papa of all sand dunes known as “Big Daddy” and be treated to otherworldly views. Sunrise is the perfect time for this not just for gorgeous lighting but the sand will be nice and cool under your feet. By 11 am it will be scorching hot and could melt your shoes!
Also here is the iconic spot known as Deadvlei, which is a dried up lake with petrified trees. The combination of white sand, black trees, red sand dunes behind under a bright blue sky is a photographer’s fantasy.
Oh and let’s talk about how cool the lodges here are. All are unique and naturally blend into the landscape. This is the Sossus Dune Lodge.
Is there anyone who doesn’t think seals are adorable? If there is I don’t really want to know who these monsters are!
When visiting Walvis Bay you can stay in nearby Swakopmund and I highly recommend The Delight Hotel.
Damarland in the northwest of Namibia is a harsh but stunning landscape.
This is the only place in the world where elephants have adapted to harsh desert conditions. They have learned which plants carry more water in them and they don’t destroy the trees as much as their greedy bush cousins. These elephants are definitely leaner and meaner. Literally. They are surprisingly hard to find, despite being enormous creatures. The trackers and guides all work well together to make sure guests are able to have a peek at the beautiful elephants.
There’s something really special about seeing them here. The landscape alone is worth seeing. There’s nowhere quite like it!
The lodges here are fantastic and the one that I highly recommend is called Camp Kipwe.
I was lucky enough to experience Etosha National Park as well as two private game reserves that border Etosha, Onguma Reserve, and Etosha Heights. Etosha is a huge park and is probably better visited during the dry season when animals have fewer choices for water and congregate around existing water holes. I was there at end of the rainy season when grass was lush and green but animal viewing challenging. We did manage to see a magnificent leopard thanks the keen eyes of Arnold, my guide.
In Etosha Heights, there is a gorgeous lodge called Safarihoek and their guides took us on an incredible sunrise game drive where we were treated to 8 black rhinos! Yes, you heard me. 8! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would see that many. I’m impressed with the good job this reserve does of protecting them.
Onguma has many choices of lovely lodges but I stayed in the Tree Tops and it was a lovely unique experience. I enjoyed a sunset game drive here complete with sundowners in the bush.
There are many wildlife sanctuaries in Namibia. Two fo the ones I visited are called Naankuse and Afri-cat. I actually spent 2 weeks volunteering at Naankuse and will be writing about that soon! If you can’t volunteer (they have a 2-week minimum) you can stay at their lodge and take part in some fun activities such as a baboon walk or cheetah feeding. The lodge itself is gorgeous and you can learn all about the conservation and research they are doing.
Afri-cat is not that far from Windhoek in a place called Okonjima. There is also a beautiful lodge here where guests can stay and participate in various activities. I came just for lunch and a brief tour where I learned about their work caring for orphaned cheetahs and efforts to educate locals about conservation. Doing a mini game drive to see the cheetahs was incredible. They are just gorgeous and I don’t understand how anyone can simply shoot them.
Namibia obviously has much more to offer but these activities are not to be missed in my not so humble opinion! I think the sunsets here are enough of a reason to go. They are the best I’ve seen. The sky is just bigger in Africa I think.
I couldn’t just leave you with all these pretty pictures and no practical advice now could I?
Southern Africa on the west coast
English is the official language but Afrikaans is widely spoken as well as many tribal languages.
Namibian Dollar $1USD = $12.5 NAD ($100 NAD = $8 USD)
It is equal to the South African Rand and its rates fluctuate as the rand does. The two currencies can be used interchangeably. Take as much cash as possible at airport because you will likely need to pay in cash at most places and ATMs are only available in larger towns.
The only airport is in Windhoek (pronounced Vind-hook). There are direct flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg as well as major cities in Europe such as Amsterdam.
There is no public transportation so you either rent a car, hire a driver or take a tour. I did one with Global Basecamps and loved it. I especially love their commitment to sustainable travel.
Book early because there are limited lodges and they can fill up. Use the form below to look for places I haven’t mentioned above.
Learn more about how to get to these places: Ultimate Namibia Tour
Have you been to Namibia? What was your favorite spot?