A guide to Namibia Safaris
Glad you’ve found our guide to Namibia Safaris.
Here we will share some helpul information on this impressive country of natural wonders and untamed beauty.
The sheer vastness of Namibia will overwhelm you. It’s around 200 million acres of land with an abundance of wildlife in more than 30 parks and reserves.
Safari mavericks seeking new-found adventure in an ancient land will certainly be enthralled by a Namibia safari holiday. So too will families wishing for the ultimate shared experience, retirees ticking off bucketlists and honeymooners seeking romance.
The landscapes of this vast, ancient and rather empty country range from open bushland, rocky mountains, enormous sand dunes and an inhospitable and forbidding coastal strip. The good news – there’s wildlife everywhere if you know where to look. So it pays to have a reliable guide on your Namibia safari.
Namibia is home to the iconic and richly rewarding safari destination of Etosha National Park. We’ve got an Etosha Travel Guide for more information.
Then there’s Namibia’s desert region. The actual park is called Namib-Naukluft National Park. But it’s most famous for the huge dunes of Sossusvlei and the dead pan. It’s the oldest desert in the world and sits between the rugged coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the edge of Africa’s Great Escarpment. Check out our Sossusvlei Travel Guide.
Another must see is Skeleton Coast. The name says it all, riddled with skeletons of whales and old shipwrecks that met their fate along the coastline. It’s baron, but not void of life and water which you immediately assume it is. More here in our Skeleton Coast Travel Guide.
Namibia is a massive country – twice the size of Germany so the most popular travel option among our guests is an Air Safari. This allows you to move effortlessly from place to place, giving you more time to spend on safari than in transit, but will also let you witness this extraordinary country from the skies. A bird’s eye perspective of Namibia’s natural wonders is something you’ll never forget.
Other guests prefer the freedom of the open road and thanks to a decent road system, infrastructure and small population (meaning few vehicles), a self drive safari OR private guided safari (where your private guide does all the driving so you sit back and relax) are ideal.
If you prefer to travel with others or you’re on a tight budget, we have handpicked some fantastic small group Namibia Safaris that take you to all the top spots with the services of a naturalist guide and custom built vehicle (for comfort and maximum game viewing)
When to go
The Namibian climate is typical of a semi-desert environment, with warm to extremely hot days and more often than not sunny and cooler nights. There’s little rain, other than in the first few months of the year (December to March). Even then it’s not enough to detract you from visiting (in our humble opinion!).
May to September are traditionally the best months for a Namibia safari. Etosha National Park is considered best in the drier season, June to October, when wildlife congregates around waterholes. Photographers prefer April and May when temperatures are moderate, the air quality is good (with little to no dust pollution), rainfall is nil and landscapes are green. If you don’t cope well with heat, make sure you avoid travelling between November and February!
As well as admiring impressive landscapes and witnessing a huge diversity of wild animals in their natural habitats, a Namibia safari also gives you the unique opportunity to interact with ancient tribes, such as the San Bushmen of the Kalahari and the nomadic Himba tribe that remain loyal to their traditional life as goat herders.
A visit to a local Himba tribe is truly rewarding when done respectfully. With your private guide by your side (translating), you can ask questions about local life, watch the women interacting with each other and their children, learn about the role of males and females and sing and dance! The women make bracelets and carve animals from timber so you can buy a souvenir on the way home.
Other Namibia safari destinations
Fish River Canyon
The jaw-dropping Fish River Canyon is Africa’s largest canyon, second only in size to America’s Grand Canyon. Located in the south of Namibia, close to the border of South Africa, it was formed more than 500 million years ago, carved out by the longest interior river in Namibia, Fish River. Twisting through the desert for 161 kilometres, the canyon is 27 kilometres wide in parts and 550 metres deep, and is one of Africa’s greatest natural wonders.
It’s also one of the most memorable places you can go hiking on the continent. The famous Fish River Hiking Trail is approximately 85km long and usually takes between four and five days to complete – but you can only do it during the dry, cooler months of May to September, as the heat and risk of flash floods makes it too dangerous at other times of the year. The trail runs along the canyon floor, and as well as incredible views you’ll also have the chance to spot wildlife such as baboons, klipspringers and hyraxes. And at the end of the hike, there are some lovely accommodation options to choose from. Be warned, though: this route is a real adventure and not recommended for novice hikers. You’ll have to carry all your provisions yourself, and once you’re in the canyon the only way out is to keep walking – or be airlifted in the case of extreme emergency. Hikers also have to present a recent medical certificate of fitness and sign an indemnity form before setting off.
If this all sounds a bit too much, don’t worry as there are other ways to view this incredible canyon. There are fantastic day-long hikes, or you can go horse riding close to the rim, or take a scenic flight over the canyon for an aerial perspective of this wonder. A scenic flight can also be combined with a longer aerial safari above Sossusvlei, for an unforgettable flight showcasing some of Africa’s most inspiring sights.
The lovely coastal town of Swakopmund is located in central Namibia, between the ocean and the Namib Desert. This laid back spot is one of the most popular places in the country – once you visit you’ll understand why. Its German heritage is reflected in everything from its architecture, culture and cuisine, to the annual Oktoberfest celebrations. Resembling a small German town, it has colonial charm, palm-lined streets, seaside promenades filled with art galleries, museums and restaurants, cafés and beer houses where you can sample traditional German food and beer.
Swakopmund is the perfect base for exploring the coast – from here you can also get a glimpse of the Skeleton Coast. It’s also an adventure playground, with activities like quad biking, kayaking, skydiving and fat-wheel biking all on the cards.
One of Namibia’s best-known rock art areas is Twyfelfontein, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site in Damaraland, in north-western Namibia. With Stone Age San Bushman carvings that are up to 6,000 years old, this is one of the most important rock engraving sites in southern Africa and the largest collection on the continent. The engravings depict wildlife such as rhinoceros, ostrich, giraffe and elephant, plus drawings of humans. They’re evidence of the nomadic hunter-gatherer life of the San and their ritual practices. This is also the region where you can experience a unique wildlife safari in search of the rare desert-adapted elephant and black rhino. As well as the rocky landscapes that shelter these ancient rock engravings, the region also boasts impressive petrified forests, cave networks, granite formations.