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12 Unmissable Things to Do in Namibia

Namibia is a vast land of spectacular landscapes, unique wildlife, fascinating culture and amazing experiences. It’s often difficult to know where to start and how to make the most of your time there. Here are our top recommendations, experienced firsthand by our safari specialists, for the very best things to do in a Namibia itinerary:

1. View Big Game in Etosha, including the spotlit Okaukuejo waterhole

Etosha National Park offers the best opportunity in Namibia for more traditional wildlife viewing. Game viewing is excellent and tends to focus on the numerous waterholes, which become particularly productive throughout the dry season (July to October). Populations of lion, cheetah, elephant, rhino and plains game are all very good. It is possible to see five or six different species at one waterhole in the height of the dry season – a special sight that is synonymous with Etosha!

2. Meet Himba people in Kaokoland

In such a sparsely populated country, landscapes and wildlife tend to be the primary focus of a holiday in Namibia, rather than the local culture. However, certain areas of the country, such as the remote Kaokoland in northwest Namibia are home to the nomadic Himba people. Being pastoralists, they move to find food and water for their livestock but areas such as Purros and Kunene can offer opportunities to meet Himba and learn more about their way of life and how they live in such a harsh environment.

3. Track Desert Rhino

Throughout the central Damaraland region, there are opportunities to track black ‘desert’ rhino. Several camps and lodges in private concessions work with Save The Rhino Trust and offer guests the opportunity to spend mornings with the rangers going in search of rhino. The activities involve driving into the wilderness to meet the rangers and heading to the last known location of the rhino. From there, the rangers head in on foot to locate the rhino before calling guests in. Nothing is ever guaranteed with activities such as this, but if you are fortunate enough to experience tracking black rhino on foot, it is wonderfully memorable and certainly gets the heart pumping!

4. Go Wild Camping

Should getting off the beaten track into pristine wilderness be of interest, then guided wild camping in either the Namib Desert or remote Kaokoland could be the highlight of any Namibia holiday. Sleeping in simple pop-up tents in the middle of the desert and dining on meals cooked on a campfire under incredible night skies, is an experience unlike any other. It can certainly be adventurous, with hours spent driving through rugged terrain, short drop loos and very basic showers, but that is all part of the adventure. The landscapes are breathtaking and there is wildlife too, although it can be skittish and sightings therefore unpredictable – however, once you stumble across a sighting, you will likely be the only ones there!

5. Experience the dunes at Sossusvlei

Arguably Namibia’s most iconic destination, Sossusvlei is home to towering amber sand dunes reaching 300 metres high. Exploring by vehicle, on foot or by air is a real highlight with the insight of a local guide you learn about the history of the area, the geography, the geology and the hardy flora and fauna that can survive in such an arid area. If you are feeling fit, you can climb the bigger dunes (such as Big Daddy), or for an aerial view without the workout, then helicopters, hot air balloons and fixed wing scenic flights are a great option.

6. Visit Fish River Canyon

In the often-overlooked southern reaches of Namibia lies Fish River Canyon, which is the second largest canyon in the world (second to the Grand Canyon of course). Spending a couple of nights enjoying the stunning views, joining a guided day tour to the base of the canyon, or perhaps even venturing in on foot, adds wonderful variety to a Namibian itinerary and should certainly be included if planning the ‘ultimate’ Namibia experience.

7. Sleep under the Stars in NamibRand

South of Sossusvlei is the NamibRand Nature Reserve which offers wonderful scenery and peaceful exclusivity. A memorable experience in the southern area of the reserve is the Tok Tokkie Trails – a two-night guided walking trail through the desert. You learn in depth about the desert, its formation and the wildlife that inhabits it. Accommodation is a simple bed under the stars with an incredible view.

8. Have sunset drinks from Mowani Mountain Camp

Sunsets across Namibia are incredible and there are many amazing places from which to enjoy them. One setting that we enjoy is the sundowner experience at Mowani Mountain Camp near Twyfelfontein. Following the path to the top of the granite boulders, you find the outcrop set up with cushions, chairs and a bar serving freshly made cocktails of every variety! As drinks are poured and snacks are served, you can enjoy the spectacular sunset before dinner.

9. Look for desert elephants in Damaraland

The Twyfelfontein area of southern Damaraland is home to several herds of desert adapted elephant families. Many of the lodges in the area offer game drives to go in search of these elephants in the Ugab and Huab River valleys. Departing your camp or lodge at sunrise, you head into the dry riverbeds looking for tracks and evidence of recent elephant activity. The landscapes are incredible and more akin to Mars than southern Africa. Once you find the elephant herds, you spend time with them in the riverbeds as they feed and move in search of water.

10. Track big cats and pangolin at AfriCat

Located between Etosha and Windhoek is the Okonjima Nature Reserve which is home to the AfriCat Foundation. AfriCat was established in the early 1990s with the objective to ease human-wildlife conflict and conserve big cats across Namibia. Since then, the organisation has grown and with the support of tourism they have rehabilitated hundreds of cats from across the country, releasing those they can. There are cats on the reserve (most notably leopard) which can be tracked through telemetry. There is also the opportunity to learn more about the ongoing research of these cats. In addition, there are opportunities to track pangolin, visit the AfriCat foundation and see other cats being rehabilitated.

11. Spend time with Bruno Nebe (Mundulea/ Turnstone)

The importance of a good guide can make or break an experience! Spending time with Bruno Nebe of Turnstone Tours and Mundulea Private Nature Reserve allows you to explore the wilderness with one of Namibia’s top guides. Formerly a National Geographic photographer and deep-sea diver, and now a very accomplished guide, Bruno offers a more immersive experience both on his private reserve, Mundulea, as well as with Turnstone Tours in Swakopmund (and surrounds). Although offering opportunities to explore by vehicle, to have the most worthwhile experience with Bruno and the areas he specialises in, getting out on foot is truly rewarding.

12. Visit Sandwich Harbour

South of the coastal towns of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay lies Sandwich Harbour. Accessed by 4×4 vehicles through the dunes or along the beach, it makes for a wonderful day trip while on the coast. You will look for desert adapted species (such as brown hyena, oryx, springbok and smaller critters) en-route before climbing the towering dunes for a stunning view of Sandwich Harbour below. Having the right guide is very important and we generally recommend Turnstone Tours.

Sales Specialist Joe recommends Turnstone Tours for a 4×4 full day tour around Sandwich Harbour and Walvis Bay on his recent self-drive itinerary through Namibia.

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