Places to visit in Namibia
From the wildlife of Etosha to the soaring sand dunes of Sossusvlei, a family holiday to Namibia really can be a holiday with a difference. This is a massive country and it would take weeks to see it all but we have listed the main highlights here.
Etosha National Park
Etosha was Namibia’s first conservation area and covers a massive 22,270 km². It is packed with large mammals including elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, giraffe and zebra. Wildlife viewing is excellent – the salt pans offers flat, uninterrupted horizons with sparse vegetation making animal spotting much easier. With 114 different animal species and over 300 bird species there is a lot to spot! There are particularly good viewing points for children as the lodges or camps are usually based around floodlit waterholes so you can enjoy watching a pride of lion lap at the water right from your chalet.
At Etosha you can combine guided game drives organised by your lodge with self-drive excursions where you choose your route. There are also private reserves bordering the park, such as Epacha and Onguma, where you can take sundowner and nocturnal safaris – there can be nothing more spine-tingling than catching the glint of a leopard’s eye in your guide’s searchlight. To the west of the park is the Kunene Region, home to the Himba tribe. We can arrange for a visit to a traditional Himba village to gain an insight into the intriguing life of this semi-nomadic ethnic group.
Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon
For some of the most astonishing desert scenery you will ever see, head to the Namib-Nakluft National Park. Here you will discover Namibia’s vast sand sea at Sossusvlei. Ochre sand dunes rise to a soaring 320m and change a kaleidoscope of different hues between sunset and sunrise. This is the perfect place for children to run wild – clambering up dunes to look out over this vast desert moonscape then racing, swooping and rolling back down to the valley floor. Try and spot the tip of a snake peeking out from under the sand, follow a desert chameleon across the dunes and witness oryx, mountain zebra and springbok sheltering from the sweltering heat underneath age-old camelthorn trees.
The park is a budding young photographer’s dream – hand the camera over and let the children snap away. As well as the soaring sand dunes, there are the vleis (white clay pans) which contrast sharply against the red sand and vast blue sky. And amidst all this arid scenery is Sesriem Canyon, a dramatic gorge that is one of the few places in the park that has water all year round.
Swakopmund and the Skeleton Coast
With palm-lined streets, charming colonial architecture and seaside promenades, Swakopmund is Namibia’s most popular holiday destination. It is also its adventure capital with a huge range of activities from sand boarding and quad-biking to skydiving and camel riding.
Explore the local dunes between here and the Atlantic Coast – spot geckos, scorpions, snakes and skunks on a panoramic drive. Head to Walvis Bay where you can cruise or kayak to Pelican Point accompanied by dolphins and seals (and whales between June and November). Pelicans swoop over flocks of resident flamingos. A trip to the Cape Cross seal colony is also a must – although the cacophony of braying and barking, along with a certain overwhelming odour only 200,000 fur seals can create, can you leave you reeling. Kids love it…
From here you can head north along the Skeleton Coast. Eerie, desolate, unforgiving – not usually descriptions associated with holiday attractions. However if dramatic coastal scenery, abandoned shipwrecks, bleached whalebones and isolated lighthouses appeals then the wild Atlantic coastline of Namibia is for you.
Okonjima Nature Reserve
Okonjima is the perfect place to break the journey between Etosha and Windhoek. It is home to the AfriCat Foundation, a family-run concern whose main focus is conservation through education, researching carnivores and rehabilitating captive cheetah. Here children (over 3yrs) will learn firsthand about human-wildlife conflict issues in a fun and informative way. Take a guided drive in search of leopard, track hyena and snap that perfect cheetah shot!
Damaraland & Erongo Mountains
If you are looking for huge, untamed and ruggedly beautiful landscapes then Damaraland and the Erongo Mountains fit the bill. Here spectacular sunsets bathe the desert and mountains in a fantastic red light – an incredible backdrop to herds of endangered desert-adapted elephants.
Take a guided excursion through the Boulder Forest where you can hunt for aquamarines as past miners once did. View the ancient rock paintings at Twyfelfontein, hike Brandberg Mountain (Namibia’s highest) or Spitzkoppe, and view such spectacular natural formations such as the ‘Organ Pipes’ and Petrified Forest.
Fish River Canyon
Think big – almost the biggest actually. There are too many superlatives attributed to Fish River Canyon but we do know that it is 160 km long and over 500m deep – and absolutely stunning. It lies in the south of the country and is an incredible hiking spot for older families in the cooler months from May-September. Spend 2-5 days trekking down into and along the canyon in the company of baboon, zebra, black eagles and ostrich. Quiver trees and cacti line the route and natural pools offer the chance for a refreshing dip. Camp overnight in spectacular locations and enjoy a stargazing feast. Think the Grand Canyon without the crowds…
Windhoek is usually a necessary overnight stop either on arrival or pre-departure. Somewhat less appealing than Cape Town, it is still an attractive enough city that combines classic European-style architecture with the vibrancy and colour of Africa. A great place for some last minute souvenirs is the lively Tukondjeni Market, where you can also sample all kinds of traditional Namibian dishes.
The Kalahari Desert is a stunning inland ‘sea of sand’ that is shared between Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. It is every child’s idea of a typical desert with red sand plains dotted with isolated acacia trees. The area is home to wide ranging wildlife including gemsbok, impala, jackal and cheetah. Game drives offer panoramic views across the Kalahari dunes or you can head off on your own along the many hiking trails in search of springbok, zebra and wildebeest.
It is also the last bastion of the San people who still follow a traditional lifestyle in remote pockets of desert. Time spent amongst these communities is extremely worthwhile. You will be shown how to collect wild food, track game and participate in music and dance – an activity that comes naturally to children and provides them with much amusement as they watch their parents’ attempts…
Waterberg Plateau Park
In between Etosha and Windhoek lies another great hiking location and a wonderful contrast to the desert scenery surrounding it. The Waterberg Plateau is a unique flat-topped plateau where the sandstone has been eroded into amazing formations. Surprisingly lush, there are some fantastic walking trails through the ravines and grasslands. White rhino, giraffe and leopard lurk amongst the evergreen woodland whilst Cape vulture, peregrine falcon and hawk eagle rule the sky.
Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.
Namibia in pictures
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