Wedged between the Kalahari and the South Atlantic, one of Africa’s youngest countries presents soul-stirring and heart-moving adventure amid some of the most photographed mist-shrouded coastlines and rolling desert-scape on the planet. A holiday to Namibia will allow you to take in its spectacular topography and exceptional wildlife, along with spellbinding deserts, mighty dunes, mysterious shipwrecks, hidden caves, majestic sunsets, cultural riches, and some of the world’s grandest national parks.
Until you’ve tracked desert rhinos on foot in Damaraland, and set foot in the world’s second-deepest canyon, you haven’t captured the essence of Namibia, known as the ‘spirited soul of Africa’.
By contrast, the Kalahari offers semi-grassed dunes, dry riverbeds, fascinating wildlife, bare rocks, and boundless beauty. Trek with mules to discover the immensity of Fish River Canyon, the world’s second largest canyon, and watch the sunset over the incredible dunefields of the Namib Desert.
The unique landscapes of Namibia provide a wealth of unique wildlife-spotting opportunities on self-drive adventures; most notably rhinos, desert-adapted elephants, endemic flora and fauna, and the world’s largest population of cheetah.
Safari lovers can spot lions, giraffes, elephants, and more at Namibia’s flagship park, Etosha National Park, see desert-adapted elephants in the Kunene region, and whale-watch off Swakopmund – the adventure capital that quirkily mixes colonial-era buildings, seaside promenades, and a German-Namibian charm. Equally inspiring are the cheetah and leopard safaris held at the 55,000-acre Okonjima Game Reserve, home of the AfriCat foundation, and the big game and water-loving species that are found in the protected areas within the Caprivi Strip.
For cultural highlights, plan a day-trip to capital city Windhoek where neo-baroque cathedral spires and skyscrapers punctuate the skyline, and visit the once-opulent Kolmanskop – an eerily deserted diamond-mining ghost town now abandoned to the sand.
For dusty splendour, head to The Namib Desert for the ephemeral salt pan of Sossusvlei, located in the Namib-Naukluft National Park – one of Namibia’s star attractions. Equally spectacular is Dead Vlei, a surreal-looking white clay pan, scattered with dead Acacia trees and some of the highest sand dunes in the world. Further north lies the spooky Skeleton Coast, where dunes are filled with animal graveyards and skeletal ship remains.
When to visit
Namibia only receives a fraction of the rain experienced by countries further east. Between December and March, some days will be humid and rain may follow, often in localized, afternoon thunderstorms. Wildlife viewing in all parks, but especially in Etosha, is best in the Dry season from June to October.