Desert heat and endless stretches of sand, broken by soaring dunes and dramatic coastlines; this is Namibia, home to the world-famous Sossusvlei. The country is a mix of striking landscape, unmatched star-gazing, prehistoric plants and unique desert adapted animals. Ancient cultures continue their age-old traditions, alongside modern cities and quaint towns.
Namibia is one of Africa’s best kept secrets – it is off the beaten track and its landscapes and horizons make the country truly unique. With only 2 million inhabitants, a safe and stable political economy, and a well-established infrastructure, this is a destination which has long been overlooked by regular travelers. Its quiet beauty soaks into your being and the sense of peace and utter remoteness is part of this country’s charm.
Although Namibia is home to Etosha National Park, it is not primarily a safari destination. For those seeking a traditional safari experience, Namibia can easily be paired with another country whose emphasis is on game viewing, such as Botswana or South Africa.
Namibia is a big country, and the distances between points of interest are vast. For that reason, we recommend flying over driving, to cut down on travel time. Not to mention the view of endless desert and coast are breathtaking from the sky.
Namibia’s scenery is awe-inspiring, a vision which remains with you long after you have returned home.
Secrets and Tips from our Experts
- You can easily combine Namibia with South Africa, Botswana, or Victoria Falls.
- We love the opportunities for cultural interactions with the Himba in the Kunene.
- Desert brings extreme weather – Summer (Nov-Mar) gets very hot while winter (Jul-Aug) gets very cold!
- For those seeking a conservation experience, consider a visit to Africat or Cheetah Conservation Fund.
Is Namibia the right destination for you?
- Namibia safaris offer dramatic landscapes, incredible stargazing, and the tallest sand dunes in the world. It is a good choice if you are looking for stunning desert scenery in a remote area.
- While you will absolutely be able to see animals and the concentration of game around Etosha’s waterholes can be impressive, Namibia is not a classic Big-5 destination.
- Namibia is a good option if you have already done a traditional safari – such as a Botswana or Kenya trip – and are looking for something different. The sense of endless space and barren landscapes will attract those who seek a place that speaks to the soul and the lack of people is part of the charm.
- There is much to do and active travelers will be kept busy with quad-biking, sand boarding, ballooning, hiking and climbing dunes.
- Namibia is home to cultures whose ancient traditions and history are still evident today. The San people and their rock art are an important addition for any historical itinerary. The Himba people are located in the north and their untouched culture is quite special.
- Geologists and star-gazers will find much to appeal to their senses – both underfoot and well above their heads.
- Namibia is a stable country and you won’t feel threatened or uncomfortable. The population is friendly and English-speaking, and infrastructure solid.
When to visit Namibia?
Peak season in Namibia runs between June and October; we particularly love traveling on either end of that season, as May and September are our favorite times to be in Namibia.
Being largely desert, Namibia can get really hot in their summer months (November – February) and many of the properties are without air-conditioning. Winters get cold in the desert in the evenings (June – August).
How much should I budget for a trip to Namibia?
Namibia: Luxury & Private Safaris
As a safari destination Namibia offers exclusive luxury in remote areas. Naturally, this exclusivity and luxury comes at a premium.
You will pay approximately $700-800 per person per day for a mid-range program in Namibia, and an upmarket flying safari could start at $1500 per person per day.
Our favorite areas
There are lots of unique areas in Namibia and, if you want to spend more than a week, we recommend a circuit that covers game-viewing in Etosha, the dunes at Sossusvlei, the seaside town of Swakopmond, and either the northern regions of Damaraland or rugged Skeleton Coast.
However, if you are looking to add a shorter stay in Namibia to a longer Southern Africa program, the highlights for us are the dunes at Sossusvlei and the stunning Kunene region in the north, staying at a property like Serra Cafema. These areas epitomize the best of Namibia’s unique desert landscape and will be a striking difference from anything else you will see on safari.
What else should I know before planning a safari to Namibia?
- Namibia: Necessary Flight: As it is best to fly around Namibia due to vast distances, people who prefer to minimize their time in the air and in small planes may find this unappealing. Although you can self-drive, the routes are long and sometimes boring, so we discourage it.
- Namibia: Luxury & Private Safaris: If you are looking for an exciting safari with Big-5 game and a diversity of animals, Namibia might not be the right destination for you. Although there are a number of national parks in addition to the world-renowned Etosha, these reserves are arid and dry desert landscape. You will see interesting species, such as oryx, springbok, desert adapted elephant, jackals and hyenas – but not in large numbers (except in Etosha).
- Namibia: Easy Access: Namibia is a good add-on to other destinations in Southern Africa and is easily accessed through the regional airports and airlines. In addition, if you are looking for a relaxing beach stay, then Namibia is not a suitable option as the water is icy. The Namibian coast is all about the coastal creatures and the landscape – not for laying out in the sun sipping cocktails while working on your tan.
- Namibia: Hot Zone: Between November and March (summer in the Southern Hemisphere), it gets quite hot and many of the lodges do not have air-conditioning, which could be uncomfortable for some. Most activities are outdoors, and you will be out in the blazing sun and the arid desert. Sand, sun, heat and dirt – but glorious scenery alongside all that!
Ways to experience Namibia
The uniqueness of Namibia can be explored and enjoyed in a number of different ways.
The quaint city of Swakopmund and nearby Walvis Bay offer a huge range of both sea and sand activities, everything from whale watching to sand boarding, that you can’t get in many other destinations.
Desert camping, sand boarding, hiking the dunes and quad-biking are some of the fun activities which are provided in the Sossusvlei and Namib-Naukluft Desert region. Hot-air ballooning and bi-planes also allow you to admire the striking landscape from above.
The clear night skies (especially at Sossusvlei) are a star-gazer’s paradise, and some camps have on-site astronomers for their guests to make the most of this natural beauty.
Rhino tracking can be added on to an itinerary for those interested in black rhino. A stay at the Desert Rhino Camp, in the Palmwag Concession of Northern Damaraland, means you may track these animals on foot – but this is certainly not for the faint-hearted!
Traditional game-viewing can be enjoyed at Etosha National Park , and there are a number of private concessions adjacent to the park which offer a more exclusive safari experience.
The Himba and the San provide all the authentic cultural interaction you could ask for.
Wildlife you will see
- Etosha is Namibia’s premier wildlife destination and is home to a wide range of animals, including elephant, black and white rhino, giraffe, lion, cheetah, leopard and birds, in addition to a number of buck species and small predators.
- Namib-Naukluft is the largest conservation area in the world, yet it is not teeming with animals. The park is unique for its desert climate, animals such as the oryx and zebra, and its ancient plants, like the Welwitschia.
- Black rhino can be found in the Palmwag concession in Northern Damaraland.
- From Swakopmund and Walvis Bay you can take in sea-life from whales to dolphins and Cape fur seals.
- Finally, anyone interested in cheetahs and leopards should definitely visit Africat at Okonjima or Cheetah Conservation Fund.
Animals throughout Namibia’s vast area have developed unique adaptations to life in the desert and a good guide can open up this fascinating world for you.
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