User Reviews – Namibia
Email Emiel de Lange | under20 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
A Harsh Paradise
I have visited Namibia multiple times, most recently for a duration of 4 months. I am certain to return. Its many sensations and moods often return to my thoughts accompanied by a certain happy nostalgia. Namibia is an impressive country, raw and wild; it rewards further exploration but is also immediately beautiful. If you are anything like me, you may find yourself with a new look on life, certainly if this is your first visit to Africa.
Certainly if this is your visit to Africa, there is no better destination. In Namibia you have vast wildlife, fascinating culture, beautiful landscapes; from lush wetlands to parched deserts, and unlimited adventure. Importantly it is very safe, crime is low and the politics are stable, the infrastructure is remarkably good and everything is well run. Tourism is well established in most areas and is a vital part of the economy, but at the same time it is geared towards low volume-high revenue, meaning you are unlikely to see crowds.
Most visitors to Namibia follow the same circular route, clockwise or anti-clockwise. This route typically takes two to three weeks and covers a lot of the incredible must-see sights and areas and can be done in a rented 2WD drive car. I can not emphasise enough how beautiful and varied this country is; there is far too much to cover in three weeks, but this standard route is perfect in that it pays sufficient attention to the highlights and still allows a great sense of adventure though Im sure one would always wish it had been longer.
To summarise, the main places visited on this circuit:
The Namib desert, which is a unique ecosystem of endless shifting sand dunes and mountains. There is plenty opportunity for walking and to drive along the long gravel roads is awesome. One of the most astonishing natural features on earth is the Sossusvlei and the Deadvlei. The former is a green oasis among the dunes, and nearby the latter is a photographers dream: a clay pan dotted with dead trees.
Swakopmund, a quaint germanic seaside town surrounded by sandy flats. A tourist hub from where it is possible to go on many excursions to interesting birding sites, seal colonies or adventuring in the desert.
Damaraland, a beautifully arid region dotted with rocky hills and villages. It is possible to track down here the famous desert-adapted elephants and there is a large population of free-roaming black rhino. Amidst the other wildlife and still subsisting are the Damara people who graze their cattle. Twyfelfontein is Namibia's only world heritage site (so far), an ancient rock art site.
Etosha, the most famous national park offering the 'classic' safari experience in a rather unique setting. It is dominated by a vast clay pan, the southern edge of which is scattered with waterholes. Particularly in the dry season you will see vast herds of animals waiting to drink as predators such as Lions block their paths. Ive seen incredible amounts of lions here and Rhinos are almost guaranteed at the Okaukuejo waterhole.
A lot of people also visit a reserve called Okonjima. This is the home of the Africat foundation which works to conserve Cheetahs and Leopards. You will almost certainly see these two cats if not truly 'wild'. Ive recently decided no longer to recommend this place due to various ethical issues I became aware of during a volunteering stint.
There are countless other things to see and visit, but I will also summarise here the kost significant regions:
Kaokoland, a large desert area inhabited by the nomadic Himba people. Incredibly remote and rugged, wild, it shouldnt be attempted by unexperienced 4x4ers and certainly not solo. Expect to find vast sandy valleys lightly grassed and not another soul for miles.
Caprivi, a small region crossed by many rivers and characterised by swamps and forests. It is densely populated by a variety of peoples living in a largely traditional manner, but still wild and untamed and there is a large population of Elephants.
Kalahari, a vast semi-desert with sparse but interesting wildlife. Large portions are monotonous and uninteresting but some areas are fascinating. The Khaudum park has much wildlife and is remote and bushmen in the area can demonstrate their skills and way of life.
Fish River Canyon, the world's second largest canyon. Breathtaking and challenging hiking.
Finally, a very small place which I feel deserves more attention is the Mundulea reserve. This is a reserve being restored to its natural potential, and effectively conserves a great deal of endangered species. Visitors here will be received exclusively and be given fascinating lessons about the local nature.
It is easily possible to reach the vast majority of these places in a normal car, and once there tourists of all kinds are catered for. One can have great luxury with expert guides and astonishing views from your room, or one can experience the wild rhythms first hand while camping - of course intermediates are also possible.
Namibia is a truly beautiful country with great variety of things to see and do. It is easy to travel here and there are many options available for accommodation. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.
Experience level: 2-5 safaris
Our trip to Namibia
After visiting a few countries in Africa, I was wondering if Namibia could offer the tourist anything new, but after reading comments and seeing pictures in the internet; I realized how wrong I was. Later I spent time with a tour organizer, experienced in Namibia. He gave me a lot of information and together with a Namibian tour guide, prepared our ten days itinerary.
The tour was organized for four people, my wife, me, and a couple of friends, in the tour guide's well equipped VW van.
It was planned to July and we were really lucky, as it was not too hot and it did not rain at all. During the days it was quite warm, but the evenings were a bit chilly, needing a sweater or a light coat.
Our tour driver/guide named Phillip, besides being an excellent driver, is a local born person, who grew up there. He knows every tree, animal, road or dune, almost personally. He also owns a small farm and speaks fluent English, German and Afrikaans.
In many aspects, Namibia has a lot of unique things to offer, landscapes, tribes and an atmosphere, that can not be found elswhere, as I will describe later on. Namibia's population includes 6% white people, mostly of German origin, a small "baster" community of mixed "Afrikaaners" with women from "kikuyu Nama" tribe, and ten more native tribes who marry mostly within the tribe, while intermarriage is not common.
After arriving Windhoek in the evening, Phillip took us straight to the nice "Safari" hotel, where we spent the night before leaving early in the next day.
That day was dedicated to showing and explaining Namibia generally, and the area around Hammerstein, the landscape, the fauna and flora, the ranch system, the water sources, and hardly any agriculture.
In the late afternoon, we arrived at the Hammerstein lodge, where we could also watch a few wild animals behind a fence, including a pair of tame cheetahs, who let us caress them, without grabbing a leg or an arm. This lodge, was a really nice place to stay in. We were served with real hearty dinner and breakfast, as in some other lodges and hotels.
The next day, had to be a really long one, so we started very early. We went by the 'Tsauchab' that once was a river, lost in the dunes, then through the 'Sesriem' park, where we entered the 'Sossuvlie' reserve. This is a wide long valley, with huge sand dunes towering on both sides, a real breath taking view. Most dunes have a sharp twisting edge, therefore when the sun is low, the contrast between the lit area and the shaded area creates a very dramatic scenery. The sand color, changes between yellow to light orange, depending on the time of the day, and the content of iron oxide in it. The dunes estimated age, is about 5000 million years.
They are numbered from 1 to 49, and dune 45 is the only one allowed to climb on, which is a very hard task for normal people. Some of them have even names, and one of the greater ones is called: 'Big Daddy'. We drove to the western edge of the valley, to the 'Sossuvlei flat', and walked to the near 'Dead vlei', with its dramatic view of the dark dead tree trunks, on a flat, almost white sand surface. Then it was already time to start heading back. We took a short side trip, to look at the unique small and deep 'Sesriem' canyon, dug in the "Conglomerate" stone by a prehistoric river. From there we drove to the 'Namib Desert Lodge', situated near the 'petrified dunes' site.
These dunes are not moving by the wind. Millions of years ago, because of heavy rains and water lodging, the sand particles clamped together, and formed a kind of sandstone, colored brown red. More sand was drifted by the wind to cover them, therefore their tops are rounded.
The dune tops are a popular site to watch colorful sun sets. The lodge teem drives you to the top, and sets a table with refreshments, to make your time more enjoyable.
During the next days we met many animals, Oryxes, ostriches, springboks, zebras, jackals, and a bird named: Ruppill's Korhanes, found only in Namibia. We drove to 'Solitaire', an ex farm turned to a gas station, garage and an apple cake bakery. Then we continued north, along the 'Naukluft' reserve and entered a vast flat area, with many strange looking plants, named: 'Welvitchia Mirabilis'. The older one's age is estimated as 500 to 800 years and they exist as male and female plants. In the afternoon we arrived to 'Swakopmund' town, where most people are of German origin. We visited the local small museum, presenting stuffed local animals, old tools, local history, the tribes, and many artifacts.
Next morning we drove to 'Walvis Bay', a small township with a fishermen's port. There special boats take tourist for a sail in the neighborhood, to watch sea gals, pelicans, seal colonies, flamingoes and dolphins. We continued north to the 'Skeleton coast', to see the skeletons of grounded and abandoned ships, slowly rotting in the salty mist.
Then we continued to 'Hentieabaai', a small place making a living from local tourism that comes to stay a while, during December and January.
From there we turned north east on C35 road towards 'Uis' and 'Khorixas', a long drive through a flat wilderness. There we could see the highest mountain in Namibia, 'Mt. Brandberg', towering to 2573 meters, on our left. This region is 'Damaraland', where most of the 'Damara', considered as the poorest tribe, is living. 'Uis' used to be a small miners' town, until the zinc mine was closed. Vegetation is very scarce but one cactus like, huge plant named: 'Euphorbia Virosa', is growing there, in big numbers. It is a dangerously poisonous plant, that one should not ever touch its sap.
Many 'Herreru' tribe women moved to Damaraland because they realized that tourism is a source of income. They sew their clothes with hand operated sewing machines, and sell dolls and clothing to tourists driving by. They wear hats with hornlike edges, to show that they are married to a herdsman. Actually the Herreru and the Himba tribes, are from the same origin, but the Herrera have learnt and adopted many things from the whites, while the Himbas, prefer to stay away and continue their old traditional way of life.
After crossing the dry 'Aba-Huab' river, we arrived at the 'Bushmen rock engraving site', near 'Twifelfontain'. There one can watch dozens of animals engraved on the rocks, and admire the talent of the artists and the beauty of the animals there.
We spent the night in the 'Camp xaragu', which I have to describe as our disappointment. It was a tent camp without electric power to the tents, a poor hot water system and restaurant. From there we went to the 'petrified forest' site. There you can see thousands of broken big tree trunks, scattered around the site. They were buried in mud for millions of years, integrated slowly and different minerals replaced the wood, to form a stone tree trunk. (The "Petrified forest" national park in Arizona USA, is a similar site, but much larger and has many more huge petrified trees).
There we also saw two types of "The tree that never dies". It looks very dead indeed, but as rain comes it suddenly blooms.
'Khorixas', is the 'Damara county town, which includes a hospital, a boarding school and the local administration offices. There you can buy food and gas. We spent a pleasant evening and night, in the nice and cozy 'Gelbingen lodge', near the c35 and c40 junction. A 'Himba village is situated close, and we were very welcome to visit it. Of course we could not understand their language, but our interpreter enabled us to get answers to our questions and supply us with the knowledge about their habits, beliefs and way of living. It was a very impressive and educational visit. I do not intend to describe the Himba, and otheir culture and habits in detail, as these things can be widely found in all tour books.
In that region, we could see a rich wildlife, including giraffes, zebras, elephants, jackals, springboks, lions, ostriches, kudu, springbok herds, impalas, oryxes, wild dogs, wild donkeys, weavers and hornbills.
At this point I would take liberty to advise wildlife lovers and photographers. Unlike other safari countries like Kenya, where one can drive close to the animals roaming around, in Namibia, you are often limited to stay in the parking lots, near the water holes. This closeness, may be many dozen of meters, therefore good binoculars and long Zoom cameras, with image stabilizers or tripods. are essential gear.
We found the 'Etosha Safari Camp', as quite a nice place, and stayed there two nights, as next days were dedicated to 'Etosha national park', with its basin, and rich wildlife near the water holes.
In the "Etosha" reservation, we met a vast array of animals. Except those mentioned above, we saw warthogs, herds of wildebeest, impalas, a leopard, many birds such as Marabous, francolins, kori- busters, eagles, secretary birds and many other birds, that I can not name.
The water holes have names such as: 'Elephant bath', 'Moringa', 'Aus', or 'Rietfontain'. If you arrive at the right time, you can see many animals coming to drink, and often even a predator, trying to catch a meal. Near one water hole, we saw a group of giraffes, taking control over the water from impalas. Shortly afterwards, a herd of about fifty elephants, took complete control of the water hole. The other animals waited patiently for the elephants to finish and leave, but just as they started leaving a second herd arrived, and then a third herd came, drank, sprinkled themselves with water and left. Only then, could the other thirsty animals, return to the water.
It is a rare sight to see as many as fifty or more elephant together, and the reason is that in the absence of a river, or a lake, where they can separate; here they have to gather in one spot.
'Namutony', used to be the garrison fortress, for the German, and later English army, guarding the area. Today shops and restaurants are found between its inner walls, and stairs lead to the roof, where you can see a close waterhole.
In 'Hoba', we stopped to see the biggest meteorite ever found in the world. It is a huge chunk of iron, with diameter of about 5 meters. It is definitely a rare sight.
After world war one, Germany and England signed In 'Otavi' a treaty, handing Namibia over to England.
In the afternoon we arrived in 'Waterberg Lodge', and climbed the steep path, leading up to the top of the plateau rim. It is not an easy climb for the average elderly person, but it is certainly worth the effort. The vast view of the endless desert, from the plateau edge, is priceless. Just make sure to leave before dusk, as the way down in the dark, may be quite dangerous.
The drive south to Windhoek was long, and did not offer much to admire. In Windhoek, we drove through its suburbs, the rich neighborhoods, the poor slums in the outskirts, and the downtown. We spent the night in the formerly mentioned "Safari hotel", and in the early morning we left to the airport.
To conclude, it was a bit tiring, but a very interesting and educating trip. We now have a lot of memories to recall, and pictures to view again and again.
Email gsskimsing | 50-65 years of age
Memories of Namibia: Stunning sunsets, alien landscapes, friendly locals, a wonderful holiday.
Namibia was the first third of a 2 week safari I did in 2009, which also included Botswana (Zambezi Region, Okavango Swamps, Chobe) and Zambia (Victoria Falls).
I began the safari in Swakopmund, spending three days there before meeting up with my minibus and travelling companions who were on their way up from Cape Town. I spent the time doing a morning desert safari, horseriding on a wide plain of sandstone hills that stretched for miles. The food at Swakopmund's abundant restaurants are of international standard, and are as varied as game pot roast to crayfish thermidor. The town itself is quaint and interesting, a remnant of its German ex-colonial history as a beach resort.
Having hooked up with my ride, we headed 120 km noth along the coast to Cape Cross, one of the largest colonies of Fur Seals in the world. The smell of 500 seals and their pups packed along a beach is something to be experienced. We then headed inland further north, to look at Bushman paintings and visit the village of one of the indigenous tribes, the Himba. We continued north and came into contact with another of the native Namibian peoples, the Ovambo with their brightly coloured European-style farm dresses and scarf hats folded in the shape of a buffalo's horns. Finally, we entered the gates of the Etosha Game Reserve, and were immediately greeted by the sight of a herd of zebra drinking from a waterhole. I have travelled the Kruger National Park several times, but game watch in Etosha is a totally different experience. Because the land is semi-arid or scrubland, animals cannot hide behing tall grass and so are much more visible. Etosha also boasts the springbok and gemsbok, majestic animals not common to the wilderness in South Africa. In the rivers, frequent sightings of crocodile and hippos can be made. And the birdlife is astounding too. Accomodation at the different campsites are well maintained and managed. There are options to stay at the comfortable bush cabins, or to pitch tent at the multiple campsites available, with easy access to hot water and other facilities.
Our guide was wonderful and highly knowledgable, as were the local guides throughout the tour who showed me the desert, the bushman paintings and the landscape. I thoroughly enjoyed this safari and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested in going.
Email bianca | 35-50 years of age
Ancient Deserts and Burning Mountains
I've heard it told that in Namibia, the skeleton of the Earth has been laid bare. And certainly I've never been anywhere the underlying geology is so vividly displayed as here. From the red sand dunes of Sossusvlei, to the great white salt pan of Etosha, and from the desolate, windswept diamond fields of Tsau //Khaeb, to the granite outcrop of the Spitzkoppe, this is truly a land of striking contrasts!
The wildlife is fascinating too. Beetles that do a headstand to catch droplets of water condensing on their backs, snakes that dance across the sand dunes, mysterious elephants that wander through the desert, stately giraffes doing yoga in order to get a drink of water and elegant oryx, marching across the plains are just some of the animals that Namibia has to offer. The birdlife, particularly in the north, is gorgeous too.
Long dusty roads and a blazing sun burning out of the clearest blue sky imaginable give your soul space to roam. And it's all kept together by the smiling faces of friendly Namibians.
Namibia is a unique destination that has so much to offer!
A destination with many different landscapes
For a country that is predominantly desert Namibia is surprisingly well covered with good bush. It is also one of the cleanest countries in Africa with excellent roads. We started our trip in the capital,Windhoek, and first went north to Okonjima near Otjiwarongo. Run by the Hanssen family, this private reserve is home to the Africat Foundation, who specialise in cheetah and leopard conservation. The accommodation is excellent, as is the wildlife viewing albeit in a slightly artificial situation. All the cats are radio collared which makes finding them easier, and it is one of the few places where you can walk close to cheetah.
We then spent a week in Etosha, staying in all three camps inside the park all of which had both good and bad points, but overall were of reasonable standard if quite expensive. But what an experience! Etosha is everything you have ever heard about this world famous park and more. Huge herds of plains animals, and of course their predators, excellent bird life especially raptors, and some special sightings of the beautiful, elusive African wildcat. Each camp has a floodlit waterhole with good viewing offering a very different view of animal behaviour.
From there we moved to Walvis Bay, an unlovely town, for a disappointing sea safari. But the landscape along the coast is breathtaking.
Email Jan Travelingcrow | 50-65 years of age
The Sound of Silence of Amazing Namibia
It is hard to write a review about our (self-drive) roundtrip in Namabia without ending up in a copy of my >100 page diary, which I wrote during our visit. The first thing that comes to my mind is the absolute earshattering silence once you leave Windhoek. No planes, industry, traffic or other background noise. Then the breathtaking vast and wide landscape which changes by the hour in colour and scenery. Driving on the gravel-roads, once you leave the tarmac of the Trans African Highway is a joy. However I would recommend a 4x4 twincab (or similar) for comfort. The lodges, farms and tented camps were excellent and so where the meals. In some cases we even felt uncomfortable looking at how the local people live. That brings us to the local people of Namibia. Never have we encountered such friendly people, who are very much interested and eager to have a chat. Although it is a bit awkward in the beginning being the only whites in the crowd. Apart from getting used to that, we have never felt unsafe or not being welcome. We traveled in May-June which is just outside the high season. Advantage is that it is not crowded, not even in the main touristic areas. Disadvantage is that the wildlife is more shattered and more difficult to spot as water is still available and the grasses are rather high. But we saw more than enough to balance the scales. Where to go? Make your choice, it is beautiful everywhere. My personal highlight: sitting between two cheetahs on the grass and stroking their necks, while they were licking my bare legs. Advice is, do not travel more than 300 km per day and try to plan a longer stay at highlights as Etosha, Namib Rand and Namib Naukluft Park. A warning: Africa get under your skin! You will always want to come back.
Email Manami | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
The safari in Namibia is absolute one of the best choices in Africa!
I attended 10-day camping safari conducted by Wild Dog Safari with my husband in the middle of April 2017, which was just before the peak season. Weather was generally good, good sunshine in daytime and a bit cooler in evening. So good for tourist as we just needed light clothes(short sleeves with light jacket).
What I impressed firstly was the special safari truck which is remodelled the 4t truck for camping use. All camping equipment such as tents, cooking equipment, tables & chairs are well packed. Basically the camping life is to look around safari or sightseeing spots by the truck, park camping site, put tents, spend overnight, shut down tents, then move to another location. It was a bit busy, but we could have short rests during driving in the truck, which is one of the advantages to join such a group tour.
As for transportation, Namibia's main roads are mostly asphalt paved (though we passed some rattled roads), it was quite OK even for senior people, over 60 years old. Every two hours, we had a short break for washroom. If there are no proper facilities, we sometimes used bush washroom :)
During these 10 days, we visited the most of major spots. Namibia, not like other African countries, has varieties of beautiful sceneries such as desert, coast, rocky mountain and bush. Especially I was so impressed by the beauty of Namib desert, its colour and scale. We had also some joyful activities. Quad bike and Camel riding in Namib desert, chatting and playing with Himba tribe children and women.
In the middle of 10 days, we lodged at the hotel for 2 nights, that gave us a break to sleep in bed, time for washing clothes and eating in restaurants as all meals during camping are cooked by the camping staff. It was also good for the camping staff to have a rest to survive the rest of camping days.
Our tour main guide and the assistant were wonderful and friendly. All the time, they gave us the sufficient information and lovely chatting. For me or may all tourists, they are almost representative of Namibian as there was less opportunities to talk with local people during the camping tour. It was also benefit to have interactions with the camping tour mates from different countries, then expand network around the world.
The grand tour of Namibia
The tour Nature Travel Namibia put together for us was undoubtedly one of the best touring holidays we have ever had, helped no end by the fact that I wasnt doing any driving!
Namibia is a fascinating country of so many contrasts, and stunning scenery. Having lived in South Africa for many years, and understanding weather and drought conditions, it was wonderful to see the country looking so green and lush, and even a river or two with water in them! We also understood why there was so remarkably little game to be seen in the Etosha. (A first time visitor wanting to see game would have been very disappointed) But we also knew when we booked it was not the prime time of year to be coming. I was not convinced about doing the 'Living Desert Tour' but it was the most fascinating and informative morning!
Jakes was in all respects a marvellous guide, safe driver, and so attentive and considerate of all our needs before we even realised we had any. He is passionate about the country, and with his farming background, so knowledgeable and interested in all aspects of ecology, flora and fauna. He is a very interesting dinner conversationalist; we tend to have an insatiable curiosity about countries we visit, not just what we are looking at, but also about the people and their thoughts, politics and attitudes and history.
He is also obviously a very popular guide and visitor to all the lodges we stayed in, Always a great welcome on our arrival, all the staff know him and would go out of their way to do anything for him and for us.
The Belvedere was in all respects far more comfortable than the Hilton, and as we joined up with another guest, we had a most amusing evening at the 'Stellenbosch Wine Bar and Restaurant'
All the other hotels and lodges were excellent, rooms comfortable, food good and all situated in amazing environments.
Email reggief340 | 35-50 years of age
From the Etosha in the north to the dunes in the south and from the Kalahari in the east to the skeleton coast in the west I found this to be an amazing country with great friendly people and so many experiences
Email Andrew Thompson | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: first safari
A great variety of habitats, and wildlife (both birding and game viewing) which far exceeded my expectations.