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.
Characterised by rugged mountain ranges, barren valleys and dramatic escarpments, Damaraland is a pristine wilderness that is largely unpopulated. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is a region of wide-open spaces and jaw-dropping vistas with a network of caves that are home to a myriad of rock art. Damaraland is also one of the likely first places you will come across Namibia’s wildlife as it plays host to desert-adapted elephants and black rhino. A great chance to track these desert beasts by 4x4 or on foot for those looking for a bit more of a thrill.
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 grazing mammals.
Etosha National Park is the home to Namibia wildlife with its silver salt pans shimmering in the heat haze covering a huge proportion of the northern landmass, and open savannah plains, acacia woodlands, and water holes characterise the south. This is one of Africa’s biggest game reserves and during the dry season, the water holes to the south attract impala, wildebeest, and zebra. Being such a dry country, Namibia’s wildlife relies on the permanent water that is often pumped to the surface from boreholes underground. These man-made water holes are the lifeblood for the wildlife of this region and provide the perfect backdrop for the wildlife traveller as a diversity of species gather around a waterhole at any one time.
Forming a section of the oldest desert in the world, the experience of venturing into this wilderness via private flying safari is one that is unlike any other on the continent, as you pass over extraordinary lunar-like sand formations, with expert guides that take you into remote areas where it feels pristine and uncharted; silent yet intriguingly powerful.
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.
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.
The Namib Desert itself is often referred to as the world’s oldest desert and it is within this vast expanse that the iconic landmarks of Sossusvlei, Swakopmund and Namib Naukluft Park are located. The landscape is every bit the spectacular picture postcard, with brilliant red dunes set against a vivid blue sky and endless deserts punctuated by skeletal trees and the odd incongruous breakout of vegetation.