• Namibia safaris; cheetah cub

Namibia's National Parks

Namibia’s National Parks offer some of the greatest diversity on the continent. Vast sand dunes, never-ending deserts, canyons, salt pans and more. These national parks can be explored on foot, by 4x4 or by air and make for a truly unique experience with Namibia’s hidden secrets opening up to those that invest the time and effort to dig beneath the surface.

Some of our favourite experiences in Namibia are not luxury focused, but instead, are motoring around under our own steam, pitching camp, or flying the dramatic coastlines of the coast. Of course a touch of luxury never goes amiss either!

Africat Foundation – set on Okonjima Farm, Africat is a one of a kind conservation project that is dedicated to protecting the big cats of Namibia in particular cheetah and leopard. Whilst dedicated to conservation, Okonjima also offers travellers the chance to stay on the property with a number of comfortable lodge options available providing a number of educational programmes that you can engage in during your stay. Read more.

Ongava Reserve – adjoining Etosha National Park, Ongava is a private reserve consisting of 3 properties offering different standards of lodging. Ongava Lodge, Little Ongava and Ongava tented Camp. These properties offer the only access into the private reserve itself offering travellers a much more private and exclusive experience. Read more.

Swakopmund and Walvis Bay – known as the adrenalin capital of Namibia, Swakop (as it is affectionately known), is worth dropping in on even if only for 24hrs. Some great lodge options and some great eateries mean you can rest up and relax before setting off on the next stage of your adventure. Read more.

Etosha National Park – one of Namibia’s national park highlights this is the epicentre of Nambia’s wildlife experience. Big cats, elephants, giraffes, rhino and more make this a truly unique place to visit. Stay at one of the surrounding private concessions on the edge of the park, or alternatively one of the Rest Camps located inside the park itself. Read more.

Namib-Naukluft National Park and Sossusvlei – one of Africa’s largest reserves, the Namib-Naukluft afford jaw-dropping scenery with gravel plains, mountains, canyons and of course the dramatic dunes of Sossusvlei itself. Read more.

Skeleton Coast – a highlight of Namibia’s national parks, the Skeleton Coast lives up to its name. The wild ravaged coastline, winds whipping up sand dunes, seal colonies galore, and of course the eerily broken shipwrecks that dot the shoreline. A definite must-visit, but to truly appreciate the scale and drama of this coastal chaos, take to the skies with a private air safari. Read more.

Windhoek – for some reason, Windhoek just feels nice. It is calm, it is laid back, and it has some great places to stay and unwind either before or after your safari. A short drive from the airport, make sure you spend 24hrs in this capital city that is often overlooked for the wilder sides of Namibia. Read more.

Other National Parks and Areas to Explore

Caprivi Strip
Similar to neighbouring Botswana, the Caprivi Strip is a completely different Namibia where wide tropical rivers flow & vegetation thrives. Head east from Etosha and you enter a narrow tract of land, the Caprivi Strip, that nestles in the far northeast section of the country in the heart of Africa. Here you will find a Namibia of a different kind; wide tropical rivers flow fervently, vegetation thrives on river banks and in luscious national parks and wildlife sightings shift from desert-adapted animals to the grazing mammals more commonly found in the neighbouring countries of Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

There are a total of five national parks here: Mahango, Popa Falls Reserve, Bwabwata, Mudumu and Mamili. Mahango borders the Okavango River to the east and is the best park in Namibia for spotting a wide variety of birds. Mudumu covers riverine forest bordering Kwando River, whilst Bwabwata is highly undeveloped with less tourism infrastructure and roads for game viewing. Popa Falls are a series of rapids that give rise to the Okavango, which then spreads out across the Kalahari.

One possibility for those looking to explore this area is to fly into Katima Mulilo Airport after finishing in other areas of Namibia, which is the main airport serving the strip. From here you can head down into Botswana and the excellent Kwando Lagoon Camp, to create a unique itinerary that showcases the best of this region.

Damaraland
Demonstrating perfectly the dramatic contrast that draws people to Namibia, Damaraland is a place of barren plains, petrified forests, flat-topped mountains, ancient valleys and rocky outcrops; a wilderness that not only entices with its scenic beauty but also contains desert-adapted wildlife and one of the few places where Africa’s magnificent wildlife can be seen successfully co-existing with rural farms and villages.

Arguably the main attraction of Damaraland is tracking the rare desert-adapted elephant, and you get a real sense of how powerfully adaptable animals can be when you first witness these dust-blown animals in such a harsh environment, as they usually rely so heavily on bountiful food and water. Black rhino have also survived on communal land without any conservation status here, meaning that Namibia is the only place in the world that this is currently true of. Tracking on foot with one of our expert guides to sight the rhino roam freely in this harsh environment comes highly recommended.

Twyfelfontein
An important archaeological site and UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains some of the finest examples of Bushman paintings and rock engravings in southern Africa that date back some 10-20,000 years, and this makes it one of the most visited sites in the region. It is also a palaeontologist’s dream, with Jurassic sites located in the area, and some of the unusual rock formations such as the Organ Pipes and Burnt Mountain add to the intriguing landscape.

Fish River Canyon
The southern hemisphere’s largest canyon is slightly off the beaten track in the southern half of Namibia in the Karas Region. The canyon was formed by the erosion of the Fish River, the country’s longest interior river, which started 500 millions years ago. If the canyon itself wasn’t impressive enough, visitors are also treated to a variety of animals that roam the nearby plains in modest supply, such as antelope, zebra, kudu and baboons.

Kaokoland
One of Namibia’s most pristine and untouched regions nestled in the northwest corner of the country. Sparsely populated, serene and largely empty, you will find scattered settlements of semi-nomadic Himba tribes and a variety of ecosystems from desert terrains to the west and mopane savannah to the east, with mountain ranges to the north near the Kunene River. Due to the remoteness of these parts, they are usually visited through fly-in safaris. Wildlife in this region is mostly centred on the desert elephants, and it is possible to see herds roaming the desert plains.

Luderitz & Kolmanskop
Once thriving cities, Luderitz & Kolmanskop are now some of Namibia's most famous ghost towns.

The port town of Luderitz lies in the south west of Namibia on what is one of the continent’s least hospitable coastlines. Founded in 1883, it was in 1909 that diamonds were discovered in the region and a surge of popularity ensued, creating a boom town in the nearby Kolmanskop, where the diamond mining settlement burgeoned as German miners were attracted to the region. The village saw grand mansions spring up out of the desert, as well as facilities such as hospital, school, casino and theatre, reminiscent of a small German town in the middle of the desert, also with a rail link to Luderitz.

Following World War I the diamond field slowly diminished, and the town started heading into decline, and was ultimately abandoned in 1954, becoming one of Namibia’s most infamous ghost towns.

Namib Naukluft
Namib Naukluft National Park covers an area of 40,000 square metres, making it Africa’s largest game reserve. Comprising gravel plains, desert, canyons and mountains, its highlight are the desert dunes that surround Sossusvlei.

Located in the southern region of the country in Sesriem, Sossusvlei is set within the heart of the park. Sossusvlei itself refers to the clay pan or 'vlei' (an Afrikaans word meaning ‘valley’ or ‘pan’) that is created by a river that flows through the Namib Desert every 5 to 10 years. Mostly dry, the pan rarely fills with water, but it is surrounded by towering dunes of up to 300 metres from the desert floor.

 

Where to go in Namibia to see...

Big Cats - Big cats can be seen in Etosha but the best place is the AfriCat Foundation, especially for cheetah.

Big Sand Dunes - For the sand dunes you must go to Sossusvlei, with its unique red sand. The stretch of coast south between Swakopmund and Sossuvlei is spectacular, where the desert meets the ocean and vast sand dunes plunge down into the sea.

Elephants - You can get excellent elephant sightings in Etosha National Park and the Ongava Reserve.

Best scenery - The whole of Namibia is impressive but the wild Skeleton Coast, Sossusvlei with its gnarled ancient trees against the red sand background and Damaraland for its rocky mountains and grass-covered plains offer some of the country's most photographed landscapes. 

 

 

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