Namibia’s vast and unrelenting landscapes are unlike any other in Southern Africa.
Written by Lauren Maker
The red sand of the Namib down south mingles with white salt pans, while the remote Skeleton Coast stretches up north, its beaches littered with shipwrecks, jackals and seals. It’s not a land that is easy to inhabit, but it is a place that is full of natural beauty and wonder – and it makes for an incredible desert safari.
There are several luxurious camps and lodges across this indominable landscape, and instead of trying to make their mark, they simply fit into the natural environment. From the rocky outcrops of Damaraland to the white expanse of Etosha Pan, there’s a place and a space for everyone to experience the wonder of Namibia.
Here are our top 5 places to visit in Namibia in 2023.
ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK
Etosha – so called ‘The Great White Place’ due to the vast Etosha Pan, which dominates much of the park. This national reserve is Namibia’s flagship game-viewing destination, and is easily accessible from the capital, Windhoek, via a short flight or self-drive. There are several rest camps inside the park, as well as luxury camps and lodges in private concessions or reserves bordering the edge, making an Etosha Safari very popular.
The best time for game-viewing in Etosha National Park is generally during the dry season (May – August) when animals flock to the waterholes. It is not uncommon to stumble upon a scene that includes a herd of white-dusted elephants, a few cocky young male lions, a black rhino, an ostrich or two and even some skittish springbok!
Where to stay: Ongava Tented Camp is a classic safari camp situated in Ongava Private Game Reserve which borders Etosha. The camp offers luxurious comforts as well as a waterhole and is one of the only places in Namibia where you can see both black and white rhino. Guests can enjoy game drives into the park, as well as night drives and walks in the reserve.
Long at the top of Namibian travel bucket lists is the vast red dunes of Sossusvlei. Widely considered the largest sand dunes in the world, the Sossusvlei site is also part of a larger area worth visiting, including the ancient Dead Vlei and the striking Sesriem Canyon.
We recommend getting up at dawn and making your way to Sossusvlei for an early hot-air balloon flight, a favorite among honeymooners. There’s nothing more spectacular than seeing the morning sun hitting the red sand as it tips the horizon, and nothing more welcoming than a champagne breakfast after landing!
Where to stay: Kwessi Dunes is a cool and comfortable desert camp situated in the Namibrand Nature Reserve, and offers day trips to Sossusvlei, horse riding, star gazing and quad biking. We also recommend andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, a stylish stone and glass lodge that offers a variety of desert-based adventures, as well as trips to Sossusvlei, wellness experiences and dune ecology excursions.
Damaraland is a rugged inland desert, characterized by rocky outcrops, flat-topped mountains and grassy plains. It is scenic in the way of an ancient volcano; the landscape is almost other-worldly, and you feel a stranger in the environment. But it is the rock art at Twyfelfontein that makes a Damaraland safari a truly special experience.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to thousands of paintings and carvings, created up to 10,000 years ago by the Khoisan / San inhabitants, and is a must visit for those interested in natural history. However, Damaraland is not just a place of rock art and contemplation, it is very much alive with desert-adapted wildlife – such as the endangered black rhino, elephant and even lion.
Where to stay: Desert Rhino Camp is situated in Damaraland’s Palmwag Concession, which is well known for its sightings of desert-adapted black rhino. Experience authentic rhino tracking, guided walks and game drives, and top off a full day with a delicious meal under the Namibian stars.
The Skeleton Coast, aptly named due to the many centuries-old shipwrecks that dot her shores and left to erode under harsh conditions, stretches all the way beyond Swakopmund to the northern Angolan border. The scenery here is remarkable: crashing waves against pale dunes that eke off into the distance, and dried river valleys that prove a treasure for 4×4 enthusiasts.
There are just a few luxury lodges that dot the Skeleton Coast National Park, but which provide truly unique experiences. If you enjoy your 2021 Namibia safari out in this remote stretch of the country, you’ll likely embark on excursions to Cape Cross seal colony, enjoy day flights over the dunes, or spend a day on a guided walk through the valleys on the lookout for brown hyena.
Where to stay: For a truly unique experience, the Skeleton Coast Shipwreck Lodge is a special place to stay. This remote lodge has been constructed in the style of a ship, with wooden trusses and comfortable interiors. Enjoy day trips out to Cape Cross, Huarusib River excursions, fishing and quad biking.
This ever-popular German town still holds its heritage close to its heart. Swakopmund is situated on the coast, close to the shipping town of Walvis Bay, and is filled with authentic German architecture (like Bavarian church spires!), cuisine and culture that’s a true enjoyment.
Swakopmund proves to be the ideal mid-way stopover between the southern Namib and the wildlife destinations of Etosha, and the Zambezi Region in the far north. The biggest attraction to Swakopmund is its adventure vacation reputation. Sandboarding, skydiving, deep-sea fishing and quad-biking are just some of the many adrenalin-fueled activities available to enjoy, while more relaxed experiences – boat trips, scenic flights and photographic trips to the Walvis lagoons to capture pictures of flamingoes and pelicans – are available for those looking for a more relaxed Namibia safari.
Where to stay: The Strand Hotel is iconic to Swakopmund and is situated on the main promenade with wonderful views of the Atlantic Ocean. Make this comfortable and stylish hotel your base for exploring the town and enjoying the various adventure activities on offer.
A Namibia safari is the perfect 2021 adventure. Remote and off-the-beaten-track, with low risk and safe, well run camps and lodges, it is a welcoming and authentic way of experiencing a new side of Southern Africa. Whether you choose an adventurous escape to the Skeleton Coast, or a luxury safari in Etosha, Namibia is an excellent and affordable destination for all.
Contact Explorer Safari today to discuss your 2022 safari plans.