Namibia is a country destined to enthral visitors embarking on a Namibia African Safari with its shifting multi-hued sand dunes of the Namib Desert, stark gravel plains, astonishing Fish River Canyon, the desolate mist-shrouded shores of the Skeleton Coast, ancient mountains, and extraordinary plants and animals. Namibia is also home to Etosha National Park, one of the finest game reserves in Southern Africa.
If the limitless horizons, huge untamed wilderness areas, pleasant sunny climate, beautiful coastline, or national parks don’t sell Namibia, the well-developed tourism infrastructure, adventure activities, remote luxury camps and lodges will. Whether in or on water, driving, hiking or biking, the opportunities to enjoy the wild beauty of this vast, empty and ancient land are almost as limitless as its horizons!
Namibia is the second least densely populated country on earth after Mongolia with just over two million people. Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon. It was formed over 500 million years ago and is 161 kilometres long, 27 kilometres wide and 550 metres deep. Sossusvlei has the highest sand dunes in the world and the San Bushmen of the Kalahari are considered Namibia’s first people.
Etosha National Park
The ‘land of dry water’ and ‘great white place’ is an endless pan of silvery-white sand upon which mirages blur the horizon and wildlife dot the plains. This is one of the best game reserves in Africa, protecting a vast shallow bowl of sand the size of Holland and its surrounding bush. Wildlife concentrate around waterholes and there are abundant populations of elephant, giraffe, eland, blue wildebeest, kudu, gemsbok, springbok, impala, zebra. There are healthy populations of predators including lion, hyena,leopard, cheetah and caracal. Some 340 species of birds have been recorded in Etosha and endangered and rare species like rhino thrive here particularly black rhino. Roan antelope and red hartebeest can also be seen here and so it is a must inclusion in any Namibian Safari or African safari holiday.
This huge tract of semi-desert wilderness with stunning mountain ranges, Craters and unusual rock formations is home to Namibia’s famous desert-adapted elephant, black rhino and a few small Himba communities. It is also home to brilliant mountains like Spitzkoppe, towering 600 metres above the surrounding plains. Brandberg is 30 kilometres by 23 kilometres at the base and rises 2,573 metres above sea level. It’s a ravine-split massif of granite, the country’s highest mountain. Twfelfontein, a world heritage site is home to rock engravings and paintings. Then there are the iconic Organ Pipes, hundreds of tall angular columns of rock in unusual formation thought to be 120 million years old standing up to 5 metres high. Nearby is Burnt Mountain, most stunning early morning or late afternoon when the light catches the black shale mountain and sees it glow with a startling rainbow of colours.
The Skeleton Coast, part of Kaokoland or the Kunene Region stretches along one-third of Namibia’s western coastline and is testament to the innumerable shipwrecks, to lives lost and bleached whale bones that line its shores. Still comparatively unknown to tourists, this region has dramatic scenery, small populations of wildlife and himba people. The coast is home to only the most adaptable flora and fauna, among them desert-dwelling elephants, Cape fur seals, sea and shore birds including vast numbers of migrant waders, prolific fish species, rare reptiles and bizarre plants. The best time to visit is between May and August. The climate is generally moderate, often misty. With just a handful of properties accessible by air, this area is for the adventure seekers with extra time and money available for their Namibia safaris or holidays.
Clinging to the edge of the African continent, Swakopmund makes for a different and unique escape. Founded in 1892 as the main harbour for German South-West Africa, this city is a fine example of German colonial architecture. It is also an adrenaline junkie’s paradise with skydiving, sandboarding, jet skiing, dune-buggying, paragliding, kayaking and wave skipping in light aircraft. Those who are less adventurous and more romantic can take day, moonlight, sunrise or sunset horseback or camel rides through the riverbeds and up into the moonlike landscape. The sheer scale of The Namib-Naukluft National Park and its desert formations is truly remarkable. Sossusvlei is the most accessible area, where the world’s highest star-shaped desert sand dunes rise dramatically 1,000 feet above the ethereal vleis below. They sprawl like massive pieces of abstract sculptures and continually shift in colours from yellow-gold and ochre to rose, purple and deep red that grow paler or darker according to the time of day. Watching the changing mood and colours at sunrise and sunset is one of Namibia’s highlights, as is climbing them. This area, renowned for its beauty, isolation, tranquillity, romantic desert landscapes and rare desert-adapted plants and creatures, should not be missed. Just south of Sossusvlei is the NamibRand Nature Reserve one of Southern Africa’s largest private nature reserves and is home to the Wolwedans collection of lodges and camps. The location is synonymous with some of Africa’s most breathtaking landscapes. The second largest canyon in the world, this is truly one of the most impressive natural beauties in Africa. Towering rock faces and deep ravines were formed millions of years ago by water erosion and today, the canyon measures 160 kilometres long and up to 27 kilometres wide and some 550 metres at its deepest. Apart from the outstanding natural beauty of the landscape and diversity of its flora and fauna, this region is suited for those who wish to hike. There are full day and up to 6 day hikes available depending on your fitness.
Namib Desert & Sossusvlei
Fish River Canyon
Clinging to the edge of the African continent, Swakopmund makes for a different and unique escape. Founded in 1892 as the main harbour for German South-West Africa, this city is a fine example of German colonial architecture. It is also an adrenaline junkie’s paradise with skydiving, sandboarding, jet skiing, dune-buggying, paragliding, kayaking and wave skipping in light aircraft. Those who are less adventurous and more romantic can take day, moonlight, sunrise or sunset horseback or camel rides through the riverbeds and up into the moonlike landscape.
The sheer scale of The Namib-Naukluft National Park and its desert formations is truly remarkable. Sossusvlei is the most accessible area, where the world’s highest star-shaped desert sand dunes rise dramatically 1,000 feet above the ethereal vleis below. They sprawl like massive pieces of abstract sculptures and continually shift in colours from yellow-gold and ochre to rose, purple and deep red that grow paler or darker according to the time of day. Watching the changing mood and colours at sunrise and sunset is one of Namibia’s highlights, as is climbing them. This area, renowned for its beauty, isolation, tranquillity, romantic desert landscapes and rare desert-adapted plants and creatures, should not be missed. Just south of Sossusvlei is the NamibRand Nature Reserve one of Southern Africa’s largest private nature reserves and is home to the Wolwedans collection of lodges and camps. The location is synonymous with some of Africa’s most breathtaking landscapes.
The second largest canyon in the world, this is truly one of the most impressive natural beauties in Africa. Towering rock faces and deep ravines were formed millions of years ago by water erosion and today, the canyon measures 160 kilometres long and up to 27 kilometres wide and some 550 metres at its deepest. Apart from the outstanding natural beauty of the landscape and diversity of its flora and fauna, this region is suited for those who wish to hike. There are full day and up to 6 day hikes available depending on your fitness.
Windhoek & surrounds
Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city is located at an altitude of 1,646 metres in the country’s central highlands, surrounded by the Khomas Highland and the Auas and Eros Mountains. With its mix of distinctive, colonial German architecture and post-modernist, new buildings, Windhoek is a place worth spending a few days looking around before setting off to view the game of Etosha or the sand dunes of the Namib. The numerous street cafes and outdoor restaurants lining the side streets running into Independence Avenue are pleasant places to sit, eat and drink and watch people going about their business
Kolmanskop & surrounds
Once a prosperous diamond mining area, it is now a ghost town fighting the constant battle with the sand dunes of the Namib Desert. The result is outstanding history and imagery as visitors can explore the town that was once the vibrant hub of the diamond rush and is not nothing more than a half swallowed town at the mercy of the desert.
Desert Elephant and rhino have adapted to surviving in the harsh environment of Namibia’s Damaraland. These are free roaming large animals that are not restricted by park boundaries and they wander as they please, in search of water and food for survival. There are many camps and lodges that offer the opportunity to track for these wild animals and it is certainly a highlight of any Namibia safari holiday. We recommend at least 3 nights in one camp or 2 nights at two different camps so you can increase your chance of seeing them and also take part in other activities like meeting local Himba.
The Himba are an ancient tribe of tall, slender nomadic pastoralists who inhabit the Kaokoland area of Namibia. Their elaborately braided hair, skin and clothes covered in a mix of ground red rock and butter are iconic worldwide. Since the 16th century, Himba have lived in scattered settlements, leading a life that has remained largely unchanged surviving war and droughts. Their home is one of the most extreme environments on earth and you have the opportunity to learn more about it on Namibia safaris.
Etosha National Park is famous for its waterholes, both natural springs and fountains and others fed by man made bore holes. Some of the camps in Etosha offer the fantastic opportunity to sit by a floodlit waterhole at night to watch the wildlife wander in to drink. Wildlife varies depending on the time of year and location of the waterhole. Expect anything at anytime and don’t let impatience urge you to drive away too soon. The best waterholes to visit can change on a daily basis and it comes down to luck and patience. Switch of the engine, relax and watch.
Sand Dune climbing
The best time to climb the famous sand dunes of Sossusvlei is before dawn in the soft sweet light. It’s almost like a scene from Lawrence of Arabia as golden dunes stretch before you like rolling waves on the horizon. You need a basic level of fitness, determination and most importantly, a sense of adventure and spirit knowing you are in one of Africa’s most spectacular landscapes.
There are a handful of mining towns that were swallowed by the Namib desert a few kilometres inland from the port town of Luderitz. One of the most photographed is Kolmanskop, once a very rich diamond mining village. Diamond wealth assured a comfortable lifestyle for some 700 families including all the Germanic trimmings like schools, swimming pool, casino, ballroom and unusually, a bowling alley! It even had a mini factory for making ice. Much of this is now under the sand. You can take guided tours through the ghost town or stay the entire day with special permit.
Within a 30,000 hectare private reserve on the southern boundary of Etosha, this charming camp is a great example of sustainable construction providing an eco-sensitive, authentic and down to earth safari experience. Accommodation is in tented ensuite rooms on raised decks with covered verandahs with bush views. The farmstead forms the main area right in front of a waterhole that attracts the wildlife. There is an under cover and open air dining area, spacious lounge, bar, two fireplaces, curio shop and swimming pool. This is a great destination for self drive or full board stays where you get to enjoy morning and afternoon game drives in Etosha proper, night drives and guided walks within Ongava and stargazing.
In the extreme north west on the Kunene River, you’ll find one of the most remote camps, only accessible by light aircraft. It’s inland from the Atlantic in a region shared only with the Himba, one of the last true nomadic people in Africa. The Kunene River is the only permanent water source, an oasis along the banks with rugged mountains and dunes the backdrop. The camp is intimate with just 9 rooms along the river, each raised and spacious with bedroom and ensuite, private deck complete with hammocks. This is really off the beaten track wilderness and you will traverse in 4×4 on game drives, flood down the river on a boat, get out on foot and meet local Himba.
In the heart of a 352,200 hectare Torra Wildlife Conservancy, this fantastic camp is surrounded by spectacular views across start plains, ancient valleys and peaks of the Brandberg Mountains. Rooms here are raised on platforms with ample space and viewing decks. The main area is thatched with open sides and contains restaurant, bar an fireplace. There is also a small library, curio shop and pool. Activities abound with nature drives searching for desert-adapted wildlife, sundowner drives, guided walks, cultural visits, and ecology and environment discussions.
If you are after affordable luxury, first class service, perhaps the best sunsets in Namibia and a secluded Damaraland experience, look no further. Mowani Mountain Camp is located in the Twfelfontein region where more than 2,500 Bushman engravings and paintings exist, probably the finest example of Bushman art in Southern Africa. The camp features exceptional guest areas tucked amongst rocky outcrops with views over the vast landscape. There is a lounge, indoor and deck dining, bar and a brilliant outdoor campfire area with deck chairs for those African nights. The accommodation is in large high ceiling, dome shaped rooms with thatched roof, ensuite bathrooms featuring double vanity, separate toilet and a shower with a view. Activities here feature walks to see the paintings and the opportunity to meet with local Himba.
Situated in a broad valley at the confluence of two rivers in the northern part of a private concession in remote Kaokoveld, the scenery is stunningly stark and the camp spectacular in its simplicity. You have exclusive access to more than 3 million hectares of remote Africa where you can take part in morning and afternoon wildlife viewing and full day excursions. Part of the Namib Desert, it’s home to a rich diversity thanks to early morning fog and transient Hoanib River that provides water in an otherwise harsh environment. You can expect to see Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe, gemsbok, springbok, kudu, meerkats, jackal to name a few. Desert adapted elephant reside here and you may be lucky enough to see them. Lion, leopard, rhino and cheetah are also locals to the area but the chance of sighting is rare. Accommodation is really spacious and beautiful with a modern safari elegance we adore.
Kulala Desert Lodge
Nestled within a 27,000 hectare private reserve in the Namib Desert, this lodge is ideal with its private entrance to the Namib Naukluft Park so you get to Sossusvlei before the crowds. There are magnificent views of red dunes, mountains and vast plains. It’s a larger size lodge with 23 thatched and canvas kulalas, three of which are great for families. Built on platforms, each has spacious bedroom, ensuite bathroom and a private rooftop deck for night sky viewing and sleeping (bedrolls provided). The main area has lounge, bar, dining and verandah plus swimming pool and deck. Activities vary from nature drives into the desert, walking trails, visits to Sossusvlei and Sesriem, sundowner excursions, horse riding and quad biking. Children all ages welcome.
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge
Located in the north section of the 180,000 hectare NamibRand Nature Reserve, this lodge is scenically wonderful plus more personal with just 10 free standing glass and stone villas. Air conditioning is essential in summer and rooms boast private verandah, split level living, ensuite bathrooms with outdoor shower and star viewing skylight above the bed. The main lodge has beautiful views with lounge, dining, well stocked wine cellar, bar, viewing deck, safari shop and pool. Activities are nature drives, Sossusvlei excursions, guided nature walks, hiking trails, quad biking and star gazing. There are also hot air ballooning and scenic light aircraft flights available. Children all ages welcome.
Just south of Sossusvlei is the NamibRand Nature Reserve one of Southern Africa’s largest private nature reserves and is home to the Wolwedans collection of lodges and camps. The location is synonymous with some of Africa’s most breathtaking landscapes. There is Boulders Camp, the most exclusive location hugging massive granite rocks, Dune Camp for a more unique and rustic experience set high on the dunes with stunning views and the Dunes Lodge that perches on top of a dune plateau. In addition to these properties, there is now a Private Camp with private facilities best suited for families with young children. Each accommodation option is intimate with just a handful of rooms so the emphasis is on personal service. The rooms are all ensuite with beautiful finishes to compliment the fine vistas visible from each room. The main areas are stylish and relaxed so you can unwind and marvel at the wonder of this ancient desert area. Activities are exciting, from dune and desert nature walks, safari drives, hiking trips and hot air balloon rides. School age children are welcome at all properties.
The Mushara Collection, Etosha
There truly is a property for everyone seeking an Etosha Safari holiday in the Mushara collection. Sitting on a 2,500 hectare private reserve with a resident variety of wildlife and birdlife just a stone’s throw outside Etosha, the collection has an affordable bush camp, an uber elegant tented camp, a luxury lodge and exclusive Villa. Owner run with a wonderful setting, expect fantastic hospitality, spacious rooms, exceptional facilities and of course great access to this Namibia safaris holiday icon, Etosha National Park.
Namibia was something of a surprise to us. For such an arid country, the landscapes are amazingly varied and beautiful. Sossusvlei will forever remain in our minds and Sera Cafema was a welcome oasis of luxury in a seemingly empty desert. We were lucky to see a klipspringer run up a near vertical cliff at Sera Cafema, elephants in a dry river bed in Damaraland (spending an hour following them) plus the smaller and less iconic animals that were also a delight like immense variety of birds, dancing lizards in the Namib and mongoose doing their thing. Thanks for an excellent job Encompass Africa. Everything worked like clockwork!
We had highlights every day, elephants played a big part as we had many special encounters with them and flying into Wolwedans landing in the desert was quite breathtaking. Our holiday was amazing and well and truly met our expectations. It was extremely well organised without being rigid. The accommodation was fantastic and the different camps that you chose for us gave us great variety. It is going to be a very hard act to follow.
Each place was different which made the trip interesting from the sand dunes of Sossusvlei to Damarland’s desert elephants to the rhinos and bull elephants of Etosha. The Sand Dunes were great to see and walk on, to see the sparse land and animals that live there. The flight over the skeleton coast on the way to Mowani was unexpected but made for spectacular viewing. To top it all off the guiding was great throughout especially with our guide Bono in Etosha with him we saw black rhinos, white rhinos, white dust covered large bull – can’t get better then that.
Want to know what others said? Read all our customer ovations.