As far as countries that ‘fly under the travel radar’ go, Namibia is pretty much at the top of the list. And while most people have heard of this extraordinary destination, few have ever visited. Those who have experienced the rich culture of Namibia all agree – this is a jaw-dropping destination not to be missed.
1. Okonjima Nature Reserve and AfriCat Foundation
The AfriCat Foundation brings together tourism and sustainability. Their focus is on the long-term survival and rehabilitation of Namibia’s wildlife. Think lions, cheetahs and leopards. They work toward animal and environmental education, research, and the prevention of human-wildlife conflict.
While staying at the luxurious Okonjima Lodge, guest can learn and help with the AfriCat Foundation, set out on nature walks, and partake in game drives.
2. Sossusvlei Dunes
The stark contrast between the burnt orange dunes of Sossusvlei and the blue Namibian sky will leave you in awe. Located in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, the dunes are one of Namibia’s biggest attractions.
The best time to see the dunes is sunrise. Hike to the top of one of the dunes (most popular is Dune 45) or hire a hot air balloon. And watch the dunes change colour as light dances on the 5-million-year-old sand.
3. Learn about the culture & practices of indigenous tribes
The Himba people are a semi-nomadic people living in the northwest region of Namibia. The Himba people have a strong connection to their culture and, for the most part, live as their ancestors did. The resistance to over tourism is supported by the Namibian government, who have strict rules for tourists visiting the tribes.
It’s the Himba women who are the most recognisable. The Himba women are known for their red skin (the men have this too) and red clay braided hair. The red colouration of the skin helps protect them from sun and is a symbol of beauty, the earth and blood.
Visiting the Himba people is a remarkable experience, but this should be undertaken with sensitivity and respect for their traditions and lifestyle.
4. Fish River Canyon
Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon on earth, after the Grand Canyon in America. The canyon is 160 km long, up to 27 km wide and 500 m deep. Hiking fans can trek the famous 85km canyon hike from Hobas to Ai Ais in about five days*. Don’t forget to check out the hot springs at Ai Ais for a post hike R&R.
Read the local legends of the canyon before your visit. Geological formation, giant snake or the whiplash of a dragon’s tail – what do you think created the canyon? For the best photographs of this enormous chasm, head to the Fish River Canyon viewpoint overlooking Hell’s Corner.
*Best time to hike is May – September. You’ll also need a medical certificate before you book your hike.
Swakopmund is the perfect playground for adrenaline junkies and adventurers. Prepare yourself for quad-biking, sand-boarding, sand-skiing, parasailing and sky diving adventures.
But heart-racing activities isn’t all this German-style city has to offer. Its seaside promenades, art galleries, museums and cafes offer a slower pace compared to the adventures that lie on the outskirts of Swakopmund.
6. Walvis Bay
The township of Walvis Bay doesn’t have the same picturesque appeal as Swakopmund. But what it lacks in around-town beauty, it makes up for in local wildlife.
You can experience Namibia’s marine Big 5 – whales, dolphins, Mola Molas, Leatherback turtles and seals – on board a private catamaran. Or head out on an ‘eco marine’ kayaking tour. Along with the marine wildlife, kayaking provides excellent flamingo viewing opportunities. Walvis Bay is one of the best places to see flamingos in Southern Africa.
7. Cape Cross
From a distance, the sand at Cape Cross appears to be black. But as you move closer, the sand starts to move. Turns out, the ‘sand’ is actually over 100,000 fur seals all snuggled up along the coastline.
Cape Cross is home to the largest breeding colony of Cape fur seals. Each year, during mating season, the seals flock to the fish-rich turquoise waters. You can see them basking in the warmth of the Namibian sun. And if you’re lucky you might be able to spot a seal pup or two.* Hot tip: learn to hold your breath… seals might be cute but they smell very fishy.
*Just remember – look but don’t touch.
8. Zambezi Region
For many travellers, the Zambezi region provides easiest access from Namibia to Victoria Falls*. But this tiny strip of land is considered one of the best kept secrets in Namibia. Connected by four rivers – Chobe, Zambezi, Linyanti and Kwando – the region is lush, green and full of wildlife.
Formally known as the Caprivi Strip, the Zambezi region is home to more than 600 species of bird, hippopotamus’, crocodiles, and four of the Big Five (sans rhino). The area also serves as an important migratory path for elephants. This untouched haven makes for an excellent animal spotting adventure.
*Read about luxury helicopter flights over Victoria Falls here.
Namibia’s Spitzkoppe is all that’s left of a 700-million-year-old ancient volcano found in the heart of Damaraland. Sometimes referred to as the “Matterhorn” of Namibia. Spitzkoppe towers at 1728m above sea level.
There are hundreds of rock paintings found around Spitzkoppe. Some of the rock painting show rhinoceros’, which means they must have once lived in the area. The Rock Arch is the most well-known image of this region. It’s even been used as a backdrop in several films (hello 2001: A Space Odessey).
For more personalised information tips and advice, or to book this incredible holiday contact your local TravelManagers’ personal travel manager here.