Welcome to Namibia
Mother Nature's Canvas
The land of sweeping vistas, starry skies, deserts and dunes
Those who embark on a trip to Namibia are changed forever. There’s just something magical about this striking desert realm that stirs the soul.
Perhaps it’s the wide-open spaces? Maybe it’s the rusty-red dunes and honey-colored deserts? Or the mysterious salt pans? Whatever the potion, Namibia is a one-in-a-million destination that promises a travel re-awakening like no other.
It’s near impossible to pinpoint all the features guaranteed to send this country to the top of your travel list. But as a start, here are a few noteworthy features to whet your safari appetite.
It’s hard to find the words to describe the sheer beauty and vastness of Namibia’s landscape. The country is very much an enigma, and arriving there feels a lot like stepping out onto another planet (Mars perhaps?).
Just close your eyes and picture it: Crisp cerulean skies and blood-orange sunsets. Flat-topped mountains and crusty canyons. Towering red dunes casting their shadows across the desertscape. Take a meandering drive along the ship-wreck strewn Skeleton Coast, and you’ll quickly realize just how different it is to any other country on the continent.
And then of course, there’s Namibia at night when darkness makes her arrival and the temperature drops — it’s as if a whole new world emerges. The dunes slowly begin to shift as insects, arachnids, and other critters arise from their hiding places, while Nightjars and Lapwings stretch out their wings. As the crescendo of cicadas fills the air, keep a keen ear out for the piercing call of black-backed jackals on the hunt.
Boasting low levels of light pollution, Namibia exhibits some of the darkest skies measured on earth. Don’t forget to look up and bear witness to the mind-boggling concentration of stars. At night, the Milky Way above the Sossusvlei is brighter than anywhere else in Africa. Stargazers, assemble!
Lots of rocks
Simply put, Namibia is a geologist’s dream. But, even if you’ve never really had an interest in rocks and minerals, you’ll quickly find yourself enamored by the country’s unique collection of boulders, mountains, craggy canyons and craters.
Just take the Fish River Canyon, for example. This geographical masterpiece is located within the southern-most region of the country and stands as the second-largest in the world after the Grand Canyon. Viewing this 55 million-year-old landmark at sunrise or sunset is really something to write home about, especially as the light amplifies the many details of its hidden cracks and crevices.
Another favorite landmark of ours is the Sesriem Canyon. A mere stone’s throw from the entrance gate of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, this strikingly handsome gorge was carved millions out of years ago by the once-mighty Tsauchab River.
Venture out to the edge of the Namib Desert, and you’ll also come across Wüstenquell — Mother Nature’s personal take on an outdoor sculpture gallery. Due to extreme weathering, the massive granite boulders here have completely transformed into works of art. That said, the ‘Organ Pipes’ near Twyfelfontein is also worth a visit.
Another fascinating feature in Namibia worth mentioning is Damaraland’s The Burnt Mountain, which does indeed look quite scorched. It’s perhaps the best example of a geological feature that is most impressive if you understand its formation (a unique process called metamorphism).
Get used to emptying the sand out of your shoes in Namibia, especially if you’re an adrenaline junkie looking to play. Adventure activities are in abundance, be it sandboarding down the dunes of the Namib-Naukluft National Park or game driving through Damaraland hot on the trail of mountain zebra, gemsbok, and desert-adapted elephants.
Ready to take to the skies? A scenic flight over the isolated paradise of the Skeleton Coast is hard to beat when based in the coastal city of Swakopmund. If you’d prefer a gentler view from the top, embark on a hot air balloon excursion instead. At the end of the day, there are no age limits to what you can do in Namibia. It really all depends on your energy levels and a willingness to try.
Back on the ground, a visit to the Sossusvlei (referred to as the ‘dune sea’) and Deadvlei with its skeletal camel thorn trees is an absolute must for first-time visitors to Namibia. These bucket-list-worthy landmarks are utterly striking in the early morning when the African sun bursts across the desert-scape in a fiery orange glow. A steady hike up one of the dunes, such as Dune 45 or Big Daddy (the tallest in the Sossusvlei), provides a 360-degree vantage point.
Avid photographer? Don’t forget to bring your wide-angle lens. One thing Namibia has no shortage of is pure natural light. To give you some perspective, the country enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine each year!
There is life out there
Being 80% desert, each place in Namibia feels more remote than the last. However, look a little close, dig a little deeper, and you’ll soon discover a hidden world brimming with desert-adapted wildlife.
Known as the gateway to the north, Etosha National Park is a prime spot for wildlife viewing. Teeming with an abundant stock of gemsbok, springbok, lion, hyena, elephant, giraffe and zebra, your safari in Namibia will not be complete without a visit here. The Etosha Pan is a noticeable hotspot for activity, particularly in the dry season when skulking predators head out on the prowl. Twitchers take note: It’s also a breeding ground for flocks of pretty-in-pink flamingos.
As for culture, there is no shortage of it in Namibia. Hidden away within the country’s northern region is the semi-nomadic Himba who adorn themselves in bright red ochre pigment. These proud yet humble people live a unique existence, adapting to life within one of the most extreme environments on earth.
Aside from the Himba, Namibia is associated with the San people (also known as Bushmen), the earliest hunter-gatherers whose ancestors are believed to have been the first inhabitants of South Africa and Botswana. You’ll discover many of their ancient drawings etched across the Erongo Mountain Range. In fact, the oldest rock art in Southern Africa can be found on painted stone slabs in a cave called Apollo 11 which is hidden within Namibia’s Huns Mountains.
Being that Namibia was also a former colony of Germany, there is also a strong Germanic presence here, particularly in the town of Swakopmund. This is a great stop to savor a locally brewed Windhoek Lager, tuck into sizzling bratwurst, and snap up a treat from one of the Deutsch bakeries tucked around each corner.
Let's get planning…
The bottom line? Namibia is an ‘easy’ and welcoming African destination to visit in the sense that there’s no malaria, or hordes of tourists to compete with. Accommodation options within this enchanting landscape are abundant and varied, from artfully rustic lodges to sand-swept luxury camps. Your only real problem will be choosing between them.
If you’re ready to pay a visit to this jaw-dropping desert and sand-dune filled country, the ATC team is standing by to help get you there. Drop us a direct email:firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call: tel: 303 473 0950
Let us help you start planning your perfect trip.