Namibia Travel and Vacations

Namibia's landscape of deserts, dunes and stars affords travelers a unique getaway. Wildlife also abounds in areas like Etosha National Park. The country is an ideal vacation destination for those wishing to get away from it all. The vastness of its open spaces captures the soul in a way that is hard to describe but sure to leave you relaxed and refreshed after visiting Namibia.

Need Advice?
Namibia

Top Travel Destinations in Namibia

Namibia's top destinations include Sossusvlei, a unique desert landscape in the country's southwestern part, and the Etosha National Park in the far north. Both of these destinations offer endless horizons and a sense of spiritual bliss.

Namibia Travel Overview

You will find that the unique Southern African country of Namibia has many vacation options to offer even the most seasoned travelers.

Namibia is an arid, sparsely populated country between the Kalahari Desert and the South Atlantic. It offers a striking diversity of cultures, national origins, and many wildlife reserves. The country is a photographer's dream - it boasts wild seascapes, rugged mountains, lonely deserts, stunning wildlife, colonial-style cities, and nearly unlimited elbow room.

Capital City
Windhoek
Size
824 292 sq km / 318 261 sq mi
Coastline
1 572 km / 977 miles
Regions
14
Official Languages
1
Population
2 436 469
Currency
Namibian Dollar (NAD)

Other Recommended Travel Destinations in Namibia

Though not quite as noteworthy as the destinations listed above, the vast land of Namibia holds many treasures. From Kaokoland and its desert elephants to the mighty Fish River Canyon and the quaint seaside town of Swakopmund, visitors will be spoiled for choice.

A spray cloud spirals up above Epupa Falls.
Caprivi

The Caprivi is the most far-flung of the Namibia safari destinations visited by African Sky. This unique pocket of wilderness occurs where four rivers - the Kwando, Chobe, Linyanti, and Zambezi - meet. The lush oasis draws a wealth of wildlife and hosts a handful of beautifully located lodges.

Unique geological formations in Damaraland.
Damaraland

Damaraland covers 16 000 hectares southwest of Etosha National Park. This ancient region includes popular tourist sites like Twyfelfontein, with its ancient rock engravings; the Brandberg Massif, Namibia's highest mountain. Damaraland is also home to the Damara tribe, Namibia's oldest inhabitants.

A shipwreck is beaten by the waves in the shallows along the Skeleton Coast.
Skeleton Coast

The Skeleton Coast is a barren stretch of coast located where the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean meet the harsh desert conditions of the Namib. Many shipwrecks line its inhospitable shores. Sixteen thousand square kilometers are protected as a national park and include a striking smattering of wildlife.

Classic German colonial architecture in Swakopmund.
Swakopmund

Swakopmund is Namibia's premier seaside resort. The town's German character and architecture create a warm and inviting atmosphere; it offers travelers several exciting land-and ocean-based activities. There are also a number of fine beaches, though it should be pointed out that the water temperature will definitely take your breath away.

The iconic Christuskirche in Windhoek.
Windhoek

Windhoek is Namibia's capital city and the gateway to all the safari areas in the country. Much of the country's German colonial history is still prevalent in the city's architecture and overall atmosphere. Notable landmarks include the three castles and the old Lutheran church.

Morning sunlight glances off the crags of the Fish River Canyon.
Fish River Canyon

The Fish River Canyon is located in the far Southern part of Namibia. It is the world's second-largest canyon after the Grand Canyon in North America. It is 161 km long, over half a kilometer deep, and stretches for 27km at its widest point - a natural spectacle that is quite inspiring.

Unique rock formation scattered across Tywfelfontein.
Twyfelfontein

Twyfelfontein is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Kunene region of northern Namibia. The area has been inhabited for a period exceeding 6 000 years. It has over 2 500 unique rock engravings that bear testament to the various groups of people who inhabited the region over the millennia.

Waterfalls trundle through Kaokaoland in Namibia.

Kaokoland

Kaokoland is one of the last true wildernesses in Africa, a harsh land of beautiful mountain scenery home to the rare desert-dwelling elephant, black rhino, and giraffe. This vast land has a very low population density with only about 16 000 inhabitants, of which most belong to the Himba Tribe. Kaokoland is one of Africa's genuinely remote corners that is well worth a visit.

San bushmen set off through the veld.

Bushmanland

Bushmanland is a remote area to the east of Etosha. It forms part of the Kalahari desert. The primary reason for visiting this isolated region is to come in contact with some of the last hunter-gatherers who still live close to the land. The second would be to experience the wildlife in this remote corner of Africa. The most notable national park found in the area is Kaudum, where Namibia's largest wild dog population is protected.

The view of Namibia's Waterberg from the edge of the plateau.
Waterberg Plateau Park

Located in central Namibia, the Waterberg Plateau Park was established in 1972 to protect the mountainous landscape that sits high above the Kalahari in the eastern part of Namibia. The park has been instrumental in the protection of Namibia's endangered species. Successful breeding programs for the black rhino made it possible to reintroduce black rhinos from this park to Damaraland, where they had become locally extinct.

Namibia Vacation Options and Travel Tips

Namibian vacations offer great value and some unique safari experiences on the African continent.

Best Private Tours and Safari Packages

14 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp 4-Star & National park Camps Code: S41

If traveling long distances overland is something you enjoy, then this private tour of the most interesting destinations in Namibia is sure to be the most enjoyable holiday.

10 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp 4-Star & National park Camps Code: S43

Starting in the Namibian capital of Windhoek, the private tour visits Swakopmund before traveling via the Skeleton Coast to Damaraland and then on to a safari in the Etosha National Park.

7 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp 3 & 4-Star Code: S42

Vast vistas and a star-studded sky that seems to stretch into infinity are some delights that can be enjoyed on this private tour. An experienced African Sky guide accompanies the tour.

Reasons to Visit Namibia

1

Unique

Namibia is genuinely quite unlike any other country on the African continent. The dramatic coastal beauty, vast desert landscapes, and prolific wildlife make it exceptional. The land is so sparsely inhabited that you could spend hours on a stretch of road without encountering another soul. It is an overwhelming experience, and indeed away from it all.

2

Infrastructure

Despite being away from it all, the country has a very decent infrastructure, which is why it is the only other country besides South Africa to which we offer private overland tours. Road tripping across the breathtaking backdrop of desert, canyons, and the frosty blue of the Atlantic adds a whole different dimension to the appeal.

3

Photography

Though you may be able to enjoy traditional safari game drives elsewhere in Southern Africa, Etosha's striking arid landscape makes it incredibly distinctive. Many professional wildlife photographers cite Etosha as one of their favorite destinations because of its remarkable tableaus. Beyond Etosha, nowhere else in Southern Africa will you find desert scapes like the dunes dancing up and down Sossusvlei.

4

Adventure

The opportunities for adventure abound in Namibia. While game drives in Etosha and exploring Sossusvlei are certainly the most popular, driving along the bleak shores of the Skeleton Coast, with its haunted array of shipwrecks, or visiting the deserted ghost town of Kolmanskop, offer extraordinarily unique adventures. For the culturally inclined, visiting a traditional Himba village will always prove a memorable experience.

Experiences to be Savored when traveling in Namibia

The distinct experiences available in Namibia are largely desert-oriented, with elements of the rugged coast, ancient history, and the country's unique geology blended into them. This desert has far more to offer than initially meets the eye.

4x4 Excursion to Sandwich Harbor

Sandwich Harbor is a striking coastal lagoon south of Walvis Bay, within the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The immense dunes running straight into the ocean create a most remarkable display, and the area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. The activity is tidal dependent.

Ancient Rock Art at Twyfelfontein

Twyfelfontein is the site of ancient San rock engravings in the Kunene region of northwestern Namibia and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was used as a place of worship by the Khoikhoi and in the process of shamanist rituals. These ancient peoples created around 2 500 rock carvings.

The Fish River Canyon in Southern Namibia is the largest canyon on the continent. The ravine is around 160km (100 miles) in length, up to 27km wide, and 550m deep. The river is the longest interior river in Namibia. Watching the sunrise over the rifts of gneiss bedrock is captivating.

A unique safari experience in Namibia

The almost other-worldly landscape of Namibia can be described as uniquely different while strikingly beautiful. The Namib Desert attracts guests looking for a vacation of solitude and tranquility, while wildlife areas, such as the Etosha National Park, provide unique game viewing opportunities.

Thank you, African Sky, for helping make our dream come true. From the first e-mail correspondence, I knew I had chosen the right company. Andrew was very responsive and helped us pick suitable activities and camps to make this trip an absolute success. Traveling with African Sky is simply delightful. We have fallen in love with this beautiful country and are already planning our next trip to Africa.

Diana McCarthy & Jayden Righetti, USA
More Reviews

Accommodation

Namibia is home to a fair number of luxury lodges, more reasonably priced National Park camps, county hotels, and guest houses. The more popular properties are typically booked well in advance. Planning a vacation to Namibia at least a year in advance is prudent.

View Camps & Lodges

Desert Lodges

These lodges are situated in and near desert destinations in Namibia. The uniquely beautiful and open desert locations afford travelers a tranquil stay.

Safari Lodges

Safari lodges, located near wildlife parks such as Etosha, are perfect for game viewing safaris as well as an experience of the wilderness of Namibia.

Hotels

Hotels in the cities of Windhoek and Swakopmund are ideal for stop-overs en route to other destinations. It is perfect for those wanting to explore the culture and architecture of the towns.

Transport

Due to the vast distances between destinations in Namibia, it is the ideal country for a road trip. Should you enjoy an overland tour of Namibia with African Sky, your means of transportation will consist of an air-conditioned 4x4 vehicle to ensure your comfort and safety on those long, lonely roads.

Should you wish to avoid the long distances, light aircraft charter flights are available to all of Namibia's finest lodges, from the sweeping red dunes of Sossusvlei to the wilderness of the greater Etosha National Park. However, remember that these flights are considerably expensive and that luggage restriction apply.

Foods to try in Namibia

Quality fresh produce from the sea and the land is prepared with African and German influences.

German Cuisine

Due to German colonization from 1884, strong German influences are prevalent in the country's cuisine. Much like the Germans, Namibians love their brötchen (bread rolls). Frankfurters, sauerkraut, and beer are national staples, too.

Seafood

Kabeljou (cob) is a popular base for seafood dishes, as are kingklip and sole. The best locations to enjoy delicious fare from the Atlantic are coastal towns like Swakopmund (revered for its oyster pickings) and Lüderitz (crayfish/rock lobster).

Beef

Namibian beef is spectacular, as the majority of cattle in the country is free-ranging. The result is deliciously flavorsome and relatively lean cuts of meat, best enjoyed as succulent steaks, which are widely available.

Game Meat

With easy access to such delectable spoils as gemsbok and springbok, game meat is wildly popular in Namibia. The naturally free-range meat is standard fare at most safari lodges and can be enjoyed as biltong, steak, goulash, kebabs, or in a potjie.

FAQ

Is it safe to drive in Namibia?
Yes - The roads and distances may be extended and lonely, but the country's infrastructure is excellent. Nevertheless, 4x4 vehicles are recommended to contend with the hardy desert terrain.
Will I have mobile reception and access to Internet?
While mobile reception and Internet connectivity should not be an issue in major centers like Windhoek and, to a lesser extent Swakopmund, you will have little to no access in more remote locations like Etosha and Sossusvlei. Relish your break from the interruptions of technology.
Would it be too hot to visit Namibia in the summertime?
No - Namibia may be considered a year-round destination. While it can be hot in the summer, once the rains arrive in December, it tends to cool a bit.
Can I go on a Big 5 safari in Namibia?
In short, no. Unfortunately, buffalo do not occur in Etosha National Park. However, black rhino, lion, elephant, and leopard are prevalent in healthy numbers.
Can I travel overland from South Africa to Namibia?
Though it is possible, it is not recommended, as the distances are extreme. As you may only have a limited time available for travel in Southern Africa, opt to fly into Windhoek and explore from there.
Which is better: a charter flight or an overland transfer?
While this largely depends on your budget - charter flights can be pretty costly - overland trips are also a great way to see more of the country and the transport of preference for travelers who might not be comfortable in small, light aircraft.
Does Namibian travel offer good value for money?
Yes - as Namibian services are charged in Namibian Dollar, which shares an exchange rate with the South African Rand, you are more likely to use a more favorable exchange rate than you would be in Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, or Mozambique. The country's decent infrastructure and more budget-friendly accommodations add to this value.
Besides Etosha, are there other areas where I can go on safari?
The Caprivi area in northern Namibia also offers safari experiences. It is a wetland environment characterized by the confluence of the Chobe, Okavango, Kwando, and Zambezi rivers. While a handful of lodges exist, wildlife numbers are relatively low compared to other safari areas.
How big is the Namib Desert?
The Namib Desert is around 81 000 km2 in extent.
Can I swim in the sea?
The Atlantic Ocean hugs the Namibian coast, and the cold Benguela current makes for frigid waters and turbulent seas. Water-based activities nevertheless exist, like deep sea fishing and kayaking with seals.

Useful Travel Info

Getting There

From Johannesburg or Cape Town, guests typically take a flight of around two hours to Windhoek, Namibia's capital city and the gateway to the safari areas. For visitors wishing to circumvent Windhoek, daily flights are now available between Johannesburg and Cape Town, and Walvis Bay, a small outpost wedged between the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the looming Namib Desert. Walvis Bay is less than an hour's drive from the seaside resort town of Swakopmund, which is superior to Windhoek in terms of tourism.

Weather & Best Time To Visit

Namibia likes to brand itself as "one of the sunniest countries in the world," which is not without merit – the country averages 300 days of sunshine a year. The result is a generally hot and dry climate with low humidity. It is thus quite popular to visit Namibia during the winter and early spring, roughly May to October when the country experiences cooler temperatures. The dryness during this time forces animals to congregate around limited water sources, which makes for rather spectacular game viewing.

The rainy season does have its charm, however. It may be hot, but seeing typically arid landscapes erupt in bits of greenery is quite something. Though rare, the clay pan of Sossusvlei occasionally fills up with water during exceptionally wet periods, which is a most remarkable sight amongst the towering dunes.

The coastal climate is quite harsh. Due to the cold Benguela Current along the Atlantic coast, the temperatures tend to drop enormously compared to other areas of the country. Even in the hottest months (January – March), the temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean rarely exceed 19° C.

Passport & Visa Info

In terms of its visa regulations, Namibia is very accommodating. Most European countries do not require visas, nor do visitors from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, China, and Japan. It is still imperative, however, that you check on either the Namibian government's official website or contact the nearest embassy in your country to be sure. Travel regulations change frequently.

Visa costs depend on the duration of your stay in Namibia. For travel with African Sky, this will always fall within the three-month visa category, currently priced at N$390, which is, at the time of writing, under 30USD. The price for a multiple entry visa is the same. Your visa should be acquired prior to your arrival in Namibia.

Medical Considerations

Malaria is prevalent in the northeastern corner of Namibia, where the border meets northern Botswana, Zambia, and Angola. The area affected is much of the inland region north of Windhoek. In terms of tourism, this includes Damaraland, Etosha National Park, and the Caprivi Strip. Coastal areas like the Skeleton Coast, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, and Luderitz are malaria-free, as are Southern inland destinations like Sossusvlei and the Fish River Canyon.

To prevent malaria, consult your physician for recommended anti-malarial medication. Mosquito repellent is generally considered a safari essential. Though most upmarket lodges will provide repellent in your room, it is nevertheless a good idea to carry your own.

As is standard when traveling anywhere in the world, it is highly recommended that you are up to date with routine vaccinations like MMR, DPT, varicella, and polio.

Health & Safety

By and large, crime rates are very, very low in Namibia. As is often the case, however, petty crime can (and does) occur in urban centers like Windhoek and Swakopmund, so nevertheless, be discreet with your valuables. If an in-room safe is unavailable at the hotel or lodge where you are staying, ask reception to store your valuable items for your stay.

When enjoying a safari, avoid approaching or feeding wild animals, as once they associate human beings with food (particularly monkeys and baboons), they can become quite aggressive and need to be dealt with by park authorities - an unpleasant yet entirely avoidable scenario.

Recommended Attractions

Skeleton Coast

The Skeleton Coast offers a ghostly experience. Countless ships have met their end along Namibia's rugged, fog-riddled coastline, blemishing its shores with a vast graveyard of wrecks. Some shipwrecks date back to when Portuguese explorers and Dutch East India Company ships circumvented the Cape en route to India. Few remain intact, however, due to the relentless battering by the Atlantic Ocean breakers and sand-blasting by the prevailing southwest wind.

Spitzkoppe

Spitzkoppe is a group of granite hills that rise dramatically from the floor of the Namib Desert between the Namibian towns of Swakopmund and Usakos. The highest of these hills is 1784m above sea level. Many fine examples of bushman artwork can be seen in the region. It is also popular amongst hikers intent on conquering the hills and photographers keen on capturing stunning images of various rock formations.

Kolmanskop

A ghost town reclaimed by the desert after a brief heyday in the early 20th century, Kolmanskop is Namibia's most famous ghost town. It is located a few kilometers inland from the port town of Luderitz in southwestern Namibia. Kolmanskop was born out of a diamond rush in 1908; the town started to decline after World War I when diamond prices hit rock bottom. Forty years after it was born, the town died and was reclaimed by the harsh desert surrounding it.

Epupa Falls

Epupa falls occur in the Kunene River in the Kaokoland region of Namibia. The name is a Herero word that means "the mist created by falling water." The main attractions are hiking trails and the scenery created by baobab trees and falling water. It is possible to swim in some of the pools at Epupa. Those who wish to try should just be mindful of crocodiles.

Welwitschia Plains

The Welwitschia plains lie between the Swakopmund River in the south and the Khan River in the north. They form part of the arid plains of the Namib Desert and are home to the largest concentration of Welwitschia plants in Namibia. Some of the larger examples are 2 000 years old.

Cape Cross

Cape Cross originated in 1486 when the Portuguese seafarer Diego Cao planted a stone pillar topped by a cross to stake his country's claim to the territory. The reserve surrounding the cross Cao planted is today home to the largest colony of Cape fur seals on the planet. During November and December, the size of the colony can swell to include 210 000 individuals.

Dias Point

Dias Point marks the spot in Luderitz's, a Southern Namibian port town where the Portuguese seafarer Bartolomeu Dias erected a padrao on 25 July 1488. The original landmark was destroyed - a replica was unveiled on the original spot on 25 July 1988 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Dias landing.

Dune 7

Dune 7 is about 7km east of Walvis Bay. It is the highest dune in Namibia and is the focal point of many adventure activities, including dune boarding, quad biking, and hiking trips dedicated to conquering this mountain of sand.

Petrified Forest

Namibia's petrified forest is located about 50km west of Khorixas, about an hour and a half south of the Etosha National Park. The "forest' consists of a number of enormous fossilized tree trunks, estimated to be around 280 million years old. Scientists established that the trees did not grow in Namibia but were washed down a river in ancient times.

Sandwich Harbor

Sandwich Harbor is a coastal lagoon 55km south of Walvis Bay in the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The area is named for a ship called 'The Sandwich,' anchored here around 1790. The site is part of the Namib Sand Sea, with dunes as high as 100m. No roads exist to this attraction - existing sand tracts change and disappear due to the coastline's onslaught of tides and wind.

Brandberg

Brandberg Mountain is located in the Namib Desert in the Damaraland area of northwestern Namibia. "Brandberg" is an Afrikaans name meaning 'burning mountain'. This name was given to the mountain because the setting sun illuminates it and gives it the appearance of glowing a reddish color from a distance.

Popular Activities

Ballooning

Ballooning over the significant wilderness areas of Namibia is an experience not soon to be forgotten. The excursion typically starts pre-dawn with the opportunity to witness a sunrise over this ancient land, from a unique vantage point. The flight itself lasts about an hour and is followed by a champagne breakfast at a remote location. The duration of the entire excursion usually is around three and a half hours.

Dune Adventures

Namibia's sea of sand offers a few unique adventures ranging from hiking in the dunes to sand boarding, an activity that is not for the faint-hearted but sure to appeal to adventure-seekers. Exploring the desert on a quad bike is another activity in this corner of the world.

Game Drives

Suppose you are staying at a lodge or camp in one of the wilderness areas of Namibia. In that case, daily game drives will be the mainstay of the activities enjoyed on your Namibian vacation. The possibility of some unique sightings, like the rare desert black rhino and black-faced impala, is sure to add a degree of excitement and anticipation to your game drives.

Spa Treatments

The various lodges found in Namibia generally offer a variety of spa treatments. These treatments range from massages to facials, manicures and pedicures are offered either at a dedicated spa at the lodge or within the privacy of your suite's private deck, overlooking scenic landscapes.

Fishing

The waters of the Namibian coast are some of the richest fishing grounds in the world. Fishermen should book a charter out of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, or Henties Bay. The rivers in the northern part of Namibia offer exceptional freshwater fishing, with the legendary tiger fighting fish providing an especially popular pursuit.

Cruises

A variety of short cruise excursions are available from both Swakopmund as well as Walvis Bay. These range from cruises dedicated to viewing the rich marine life of Namibia, whether it be dolphins, whales, or seals. A few leisurely sunset cruises are also available to those wishing to view a sunset over the Atlantic.

Bird Watching

Namibia is home to approximately 650 bird species. What makes birding in Namibia special is the incredibly diverse habitats where birds can be spotted, from the desert coastline and unique attractions like Sandwich Harbor to the waterholes of Etosha, where a great diversity of bird species congregate during the dry winter months.

The People

Ovambo

Despite its immense size, Namibia has the second lowest population density in the world. This is mainly due to the nature of the environment – vast and arid - great expanses of nothingness. However, the tiny population (just over 2 million) is remarkably diverse. Around half of the population consists of Ovambo, who also inhabit Southern Angola. Like the black Africans of South Africa, their origins can be traced to the Bantu-speaking migrants that journeyed south in the early first millennium.

Other Major Population Groups

The remaining population percentages are generally evenly divided amongst other indigenous groups. These groups include; the Kavango coloreds, the Herero, the Damara, and Namibian whites, the majority of which are Afrikaners originally from South Africa and the minority of which are Germans descended from the country's colonizers.

The Nama

A much smaller percentage belongs to the Nama, a subgroup of the nomadic Khoikhoi and the most populous surviving ethnic group to speak a dialect of the Khoi's click-based language. A small San population still inhabits the easternmost reaches of northern Namibia – the last of Southern Africa's indigenous hunter-gatherers.

Geography

Coastal Plain and Central Plateau

Namibia's topography is dominated by a narrow coastal plain and a broad inland plateau that is separated by a rugged escarpment. The coastal plain extends eastwards from the coast for between 80km (50 miles) and 120km (74.5 miles) to the escarpment. With an average rainfall of about 10mm (0.4 inches) a year at the coast and 150mm (6 inches) in the stretch along the eastern edge of the desert, this is a highly arid tract of land.

Escarpment

The escarpment forms part of the Great Escarpment of Southern Africa, which extends from Southern Angola towards the Drakensberg in South Africa. Namibia is characterized by a deeply eroded mountain chain running brokenly from the Kunene River north to the Orange River south. The central highlands, a landscape of dissected rolling hills, are known as the Khomas Hochland.

Inland Plateau

East of the escarpment lies the inland plateau, an area of vast plains fringed by low mountains, scattered hills, and 'inselbergen' (island mountains). Further east, the landscape consists of low, rolling Kalahari dunes. The Caprivi, in the far northeast of the country, is a region of rivers, narrow water channels, and woodlands unlike any other part of Namibia.

Countries

View of the Drakensberg in South Africa. South Africa
Elephants in the sunset in Botswana. Botswana
A desert landscape in Namibia. Namibia
People swimming in the clear waters of Mozambique. Mozambique
View of the Victoria Falls in Zambia. Zambia
Antelope standing on a river bank in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe