Ariadne van Zandbergen
South Africa ZA

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

Categories: Best Kept Safari Secrets, Namibia, Travel Tips

Namibia has some of the most beautiful landscapes in Africa or perhaps even the world. It’s hard to explain what makes its vistas so inspiring and mesmerizing, but many would say that the country’s biggest asset is its wide-open spaces.

Your senses will come alive when you travel along endlessly empty roads between scenic highlights such as the enormous red dunes at Sossusvlei and geological wonders such as the ancient Fish River Canyon. Etosha offers incredible wildlife viewing, but small numbers of desert-adapted animals wander around Namibia’s vast wilderness areas far beyond the borders of any specific parks.

Here are some pointers on things to do in Namibia:

 

1. Climbing Dune 45 in Sossusvlei

Dune 45, on route to the sossusvlei area, Namibia

Deep in the heart of the Namib desert are huge red dunes. At over 300m high, some of these are the tallest sand dunes in the world. The most photographed dunes are those surrounding famous pans, such as Sossusvlei and Dead vlei. For climbing, however, dune 45 (45km along the road towards Sossusvlei) has the most ideal conditions. Walking along the crest and reaching the top of this sand formation is no easy feat, but more than worth the effort.

Sossusvlei Tours

 

2. Gazing over the Fish River Canyon

View over Fish River Canyon, Namibia

The Fish River Canyon is one of the best places to visit in Namibia. As one of the largest canyons in the world, it is always impressive, but early or late in the day the combination of soft light and playful shadows reveals its true beauty. You’ll get a great photo from the main viewpoint, but avid hikers will get a better sense of the canyon’s proportion when tackling the 90km multi-day hike.

Fish River Canyon Tours

 

3. Wildlife viewing at Etosha National Park

Wildlife at a waterhole at Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha is at its best in the Dry season, when wildlife congregates around the waterholes. As water is very scarce in this arid area, it isn’t unusual to see lots of different animals drinking together. There’s no need to drive around looking for action; settle in for the day and watch the comings and goings of big herds of elephants, zebras, gemsbok, springbok and even the occasional predator.

Etosha Safari Tours

 

4. Visiting one of the world’s largest seal colonies at Cape Cross

Colony of Cape fur seals at Cape Cross

The breeding colony at Cape Cross is one of Namibia’s main tourist attractions. It supports about 200,000 seals. Big bulls fight for territories, mothers reunite with their offspring after fishing expeditions and young ones constantly get into mischief. It’s an overwhelming sight. A wooden walkway provides the opportunity to get in the midst of it all. With so much going on, you might want to stay for hours. If only you could block out the smell and the noise.

Cape Cross Tours

 

5. Going back in history at Twyfelfontein

Twyfelfontein area, Namibia

Another of Namibia’s points of interest is the Unesco World Heritage Site of Twyfelfontein. It protects one of the best-preserved rock-art sites in Africa. Several trails snake between more than 2000 ancient rock engravings and paintings, some dating back as far as 3300BC.

Twyfelfontein Tours

 

6. Photographing the quiver tree forest at sunset

Quiver trees at Quiver tree forest, Namibia

Something between a flower and a tree, the quiver tree derives its name from its branches, traditionally used by bushmen to carry arrows. The quiver tree forest in southern Namibia doesn’t look like much in the middle of the day, but it transforms into an idyllic Namib scene in the warm hues of the setting sun. Stay around until dusk for a perfect silhouette picture.

Quiver Tree Forest Tours

 

7. Searching for desert elephants in Damaraland

Desert elephants with young crossing Huab river, South Africa

Damaraland is worth visiting for its desolate mountain landscapes alone. You wouldn’t expect to see any wildlife here…let alone elephants. Yet, a unique population of desert-adapted elephants roams this vast unfenced area. Seeing these giant desert nomads walking with purpose in breath-taking scenery is a sight to behold.

Damaraland Tours

 

8. Visiting a Himba village in Kaokoland

Himba village, Namibia

The inhospitable north of Namibia, reaching up to the Kunene River on the Angolan border, is remote and beautiful. The human footprint here is minimal. The Himba people live a traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle that is very much unchanged from when they settled in the area more than 300 years ago. For the adventurous traveler, a journey into Kaokoland with an opportunity to visit a Himba homestead is one of the best things to do in Namibia.

Kaokoland Tours

 

9. Walking around the quaint harbor town of Lüderitz

Multicoloured houses in Nachtigal Strasse in Luderitz, Namibia

Although once a booming mining town, Lüderitz is now a sleepy backwater and popular stopover for travelers. The brightly painted Art Nouveau houses bring a splash of color to the otherwise bleak stretch of Atlantic coast. Several museums and historical monuments offer an insight into its German colonial past.

Lüderitz Tours

 

10. Birding in Walvis Bay

Flock of flamingos at Walvis Bay, Namibia

Walvis Bay’s lagoon and salt pans are considered one of the most important wetland areas in southern Africa. It is a major sanctuary for migrating birds and although there is no shortage of sought-after species, it’s the sheer number of birds that makes the wetland so special. Of particular interest are the flocks of flamingos; when thousands of them are feeding in the shallows, their pink hues are in sharp contrast to the blue waters.

Walvis Bay Tours

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