A land of diversity and contrasts, Namibia lies on the west coast of Southern Africa. Double the size of Germany and boasting the second lowest population density on the globe, this landscape is comprised of vast and often inaccessible desert, alien-like terrain, and an extraordinary abundance of wildlife.
Self-driving is encouraged in this magnificent country and with so many natural wonders scattered within its borders, it isn’t hard to imagine why. Namibia is a land fit for intrepid travellers, daring explorers, and globetrotters who get a personal kick out of discovering new places and spaces at their own pace.
Popular Safari Destinations in Namibia
The Namib Desert has often been hailed as the oldest in the world. Its inception began some 50 – 80 million years ago, remaining unchanged these last two million. Sprawled across an area of 81 000km², the relentless expanse of the desert is home to countless undulating dunes and stretches for an impressive 2,000km from the Olifants River in South Africa to the Carunjamba River in Angola, encompassing Namibia’s entire coastline in between.
The desert’s unusual ecosystem made up of contrasting landscapes such as dunes, coast, rivers and plains support a superbly diverse ecosystem. Wildlife isn’t all there is to see here, though. Humans have called the Namib Desert home since the early stone age and have left behind well-preserved rock paintings, tools and pottery.
Etosha is one of Namibia’s most iconic attractions – and with good reason. It offers some of the best safari territories in the country, from the iconic Etosha National Park to a variety of private game reserves and concessions on its outskirts. Spanning over 22 200km², Etosha it is one of the world’s largest national parks and is home to more than 114 mammal species and 340 different bird species.
Half way between Windhoek and Etosha – perfect for an overnight stop – is an often forgotten and highly under-rated game viewing region. Rising 200m above the surrounding plains, the Waterberg plateau’s woodland slopes and acacia-studded savanna support a variety of wildlife, which also lends itself to conservation projects such as the Waterberg Plateau Park, Cheetah Conservation Fund, and AfriCat Foundation. Further north, marvel at 200-million-year-old fossilised dinosaur footprints just south of Otjiwarongo or gaze upon Hoba – the world’s largest known meteorite.
The wildlife found here is perfectly at home in this dry environment where little or no permanent water sources are found. Animals like the black rhino, lion and desert-adapted elephant roam vast distances in search of food and water. Another fascinating sight to behold is the petrified forest near the town of Khorixas where large tree trunks have turned to stone over time.
Highlights in the region include: tracking wild rhino; hiking up the Brandberg Mountain to view the famous “White Lady” Bushman painting; visiting the rocky outcrop of Twyfelfontein with its plethora of Bushman engravings; early morning and sunset game drives; and expeditions to view the geological wonders of Spitzkoppe and Vingerklip.
Erroneously referred to as a desert, this vast expanse experiences too much rain to correctly be classified as one, and, in reality, is a fossil desert. Lacking the sand dunes found in the Namib Desert, the topography of the Kalahari is made up of grass and small copper-coloured dunes. The Namibian area of the Kalahari is covered with trees, ephemeral rivers, and fossilised watercourses, while the area’s adequate rainfall allows for huge numbers of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and plant life to thrive.
The nomadic San Bushmen have continuously inhabited the Kalahari over the past 30,000 years, living in hunter-gatherer family groups. The San are eager to impart their intrinsic knowledge of the land to as well as information about the fascinating way they lead their lives.
The Caprivi Strip is a thin strip of land in the north-east region of Namibia. This area has many unique characteristics from the 6 tribes who call the area home to the borders it shares with Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Angola. It is also entirely surrounded by the Chobe, Kwando, Linyanti and Zambezi rivers and is home to four national parks.
The Caprivi’s appeal lies in the untouched nature of its surroundings with the surrounding landscape dominated by riverine forests and waterways abundant in flora and fauna with a prolific bird species count, four of the Big 5 and a long list of antelope and game species.
Shifts and changes in the earth’s crust some 500 million years ago resulted in severe water erosion and collapsing valleys that left plunging ravines and looming rock faces in its wake. This area is today known as the Fish River Canyon, one of Namibia’s (many) crowning glories and the second-largest canyon in the world. Stretching across 160km in length, 27km in width and depths sometimes reaching 550m, the nature of the canyon varies depending on what time of year you visit. An arid expansive riverbed in the dry season morphs into a rushing rainy-season torrent – both equally stunning contrasts.