Namibia, with its swirling desert sands, pink-granite mountains and famous desert dunes has some of the world’s best scenery. Apart from its wonderful array of wildlife, Namibia’s iconic landscapes are also a magnet for visitors. Tourists revel in the opportunities to immerse themselves in the ancient fabric of this glorious countryside.
The landscapes of Namibia are out of this world, or at least that’s the way it feels…literally. The scenery, in places, lends itself to a lunar appearance, or at least something otherworldly. This is particularly apparent in the south of the country, near the South African border, and in the far north in the wonderfully remote Damaraland.
Northwest of Windhoek is Brandberg, the country’s highest mountain. Here, the ethereal beauty of the landscape was recognized long ago by ancient peoples. They left behind an extraordinary painted diary of their existence, in the form of an incredibly rich and well-preserved gallery of rock art. It’s one of the finest collections you will see anywhere in Africa.
In Etosha National Park, the dry climate and harsh landscapes are punctuated by waterholes where wildlife gathers to quench their thirst. The backdrop to the bush is an enormous saltpan, which stretches as far as the eye can see, receding into the distance in a shimmering white haze.
The Waterberg Plateau National park is set high on a bluff protruding wildly out of the surrounding countryside, which is flat as a pancake. You notice this anomaly from a long distance away – it’s the only thing sticking up above the landscape.
To pick out a few other highlights: the enormity of the ancient Fish River Canyon is best appreciated from the canyon rim; the famed desert dunes at Sossusvlei are perhaps the most photographed and identifiable landscapes on the continent; and the eerie Skeleton Coast is simply bizarre with its desert hinterland, rolling fogs and beautiful coastline.
Namibia is built for road trips. If you are on a self-drive safari, stop the vehicle every now and then and just get outside – savor the silence, the towering dunes, and the granite slab mountains seemingly ‘floating’ as they rise out of the churning desert sands. And with the snaking desert roads disappearing into an endless horizon, there’s a world of discovery awaiting adventurous self-drive visitors. It's an unforgettable country. Are you interested in reading the full analysis including the ratings of the other safari countries? Please visit, summit-trails.com
Namibia offers an exhilarating and varied safari experience. From the vast Etosha salt pan, to the shimmering dunes of Sossusvlei and the Namib Desert, to the waterways of the Caprivi. Namibia means ‘place of great arid plains’. This is an apt description of this starkly beautiful land. Here gemsbok, springbok, kudu, even desert-dwelling elephants and rhino roam wild and free. Have a look at our suggested safari trips as well as independent unbiased reviews of lodges in Namibia.
Namibia is a large country so you need to allow at least two weeks – ideally more – for your safari to see the country at an enjoyable pace. One of your first decisions is to decide how you want to travel the country. It’s easy to take a self-drive tour, or you can opt for a private or scheduled tour with us. Some of the more remote regions such as the Skeleton Coast are best tackled via a fly-in safari, or you can use charter flights to cover some of the country and self-drive the rest. We find that using one of our private guides is a great option for your Namibia safari. Talk to us about your preferences!
The dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert
Big five game-viewing in Etosha National Park
Tracking desert-adapted elephant and rhino in Damaraland
Drifting over the desert in a hot air balloon
Meeting some of the Himba people in the Kaokoveld& Skeleton Coast
Public transport in Namibia is geared towards the needs of the local populace, and is confined to main roads between major population centres. Although cheap and reliable, it is of little use to the traveller as most of Namibia’s tourist attractions lie off the beaten track.
It is easy to travel around Namibia by car, and a 2WD vehicle is perfectly adaquate for most journeys. However, long distances, poor mobile phone coverage outside of main towns and infrequent petrol stations that only accept cash mean that planning ahead is vital.
There are major airlines that fly into Windhoek and Swakopmund. Other destinations are reachable by car or charter flight.
Namibians drive on the left and all signposts are in English. Seat belts must be worn at all times and talking in a mobile phone while driving is prohibited. The general speed limit is 120km/h on tarred roads outside of towns and 100km/h on gravel roads. In built up areas, the speed limit is 60km/h.
Traditional Namibian cuisine is rarely served and so the food at restaurants tends to be European in style and is, generally, of a very high standard.
Namibia is very meat-orientated, and many menu options will feature steaks from various animals. However, there is usually a vegetarian and seafood section offered by most camps and restaurants.
In the supermarkets you'll find pre-wrapped fresh fruit and vegetables (though the more remote the areas you visit, the smaller your choice), and plenty of canned foods, pasta, rice, bread, etc. Most of this is imported from South Africa.
The water in Namibia's main towns is generally safe to drink, though it may taste a little metallic if it has been piped for miles. Natural sources should usually be purified, though water from underground springs and dry riverbeds seldom causes any problems. However, filtered and bottled water are readily available in most towns and all camps, lodges and hotels.
Partially covered by the Namib Desert, one of the world's driest deserts, Namibia's climate is generally very dry and pleasant – it's fine to visit all year round. Namibia only receives a fraction of the rain experienced by countries further east. Between about December to March some days will be humid and rain may follow, often in localised, afternoon thunderstorms. These are more common in the centre and east of the country, and more unusual in the desert.
April and especially May are often lovely months in Namibia. Increasingly dry, with a real freshness in the air, and much greenery in the landscape; at this time the air is clear and largely free from dust.
From June to August Namibia cools down and dries out more; nights can become cold, dropping below freezing in some desert areas.
As the landscape dries so the game in the north of the country gravitates more to waterholes, and is more easily seen by visitors. By September and October it warms up again; game-viewing in most areas is at its best, although there's often a lot of dust around and the vegetation has lost its vibrancy.
November is a highly variable month. Sometimes the hot, dry weather will continue, at other times the sky will fill with clouds and threaten to rain – but if you're lucky enough to witness the first rains of the season, you'll never forget the drama.
Namibians have a somewhat relaxes attitude to dress codes. A jacket and tie is very unusual. In fact, long trousers and a shirt with buttons are often quite adequate for a formal occasion or work wear. A pair of sensible shoes, jeans and a t-shirt is recommended.
During the day it is generally hot, so pack light weight loose fitting clothes in natural fabrics, such linen or cotton, that will keep you cool and are easy to wash and dry.
Avoid blue clothing - the tsetse flies are drawn to the colour blue, and their bite can give you African Sleeping Sickness.
Long sleeved shirts and long trousers will protect your against mosquitoes at night.
Current is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles per second. A three-point round-pin adapter plug should be brought for your electrical appliances. Such adapters are also available at major airports.