Africa, and Southern Africa in particular, is a destination ripe with adventure. With destinations like Cape Town, the Garden Route, the Kruger National Park and Johannesburg are just a handful of places to explore, but if you are looking for an otherworldly holiday, Namibia is the place to be.
When the sunsets over Namibia and the red dunes are set ablaze by the last rays of the African sun, the reason why this country is considered to be one of the continent’s top destinations for everyone wanting to experience an authentic, unapologetic African experience, becomes clear.
Namibia is renowned for its unbelievable beauty. From iconic rolling red sand dunes, to magnificent mountains and tumbling waterfalls, Namibia has countless natural attractions to experience. The country is also well known for its abundant wildlife which thrives in the thirsty unforgivable landscape.
And the best way to see it all is with a Namibia tour.
Namibia tours are by and large the very best way to see all that the country has to offer. From traversing the rugged landscape in the comfort of a 4×4 vehicle, to stepping into Namibian culture while wondering around the bustling towns and cities, there is always something exciting to see.
This desert country might not be the biggest country in Africa, but it holds the continents soul. Its sparse population is a mix of modern meets traditional, with ancient tribes living in much of the land and contemporary communities making a more modern life in the cities.
The best kinds of Namibia tours are those that include a mixture of wilderness attractions and outdoor adventures, as well as time spent in the towns and cities. Guided tours are the ideal way to see the country, because the will ensure that you miss none of the best attractions.
Most of Namibia’s history is characterised by the various phases of colonisation to independence, as the years of being under colonial rule have certainly left their mark, both historically and culturally.
But the history of Namibia dates back to long before the colonialists knew of this mysterious nation’s existence. Dating back some 25 000 years, the indigenous people of Namibia survived in some of the harshest climates on the planet.
Some of the first humans to inhabit the region lived in the Huns Mountains, which can be found in the South of Namibia. From this era, archaeologists and the everyday traveller alike have uncovered unique painted stone plates from the settlements from the tribe who once resided here as well as some of the oldest art on the planet.
A piece of Hominoid jaw has also been uncovered in Namibia, and it is estimated to be some 13 million years old.
Historians and archaeologists can track the human life here from the earliest period through to the Stone Age. From this period weapons and tools have been stumbled upon. This gives us an indication that these early humans survived by hunting wildlife.
Other rock paintings, which can be seen in the Brandberg Mountains, date back to 2000 BC. With these paintings, there is no real indicatio0n as to who painted them.
To the north of Namibia, close to the Angolan border, the Ovambo and the Kavango people can be found. These people were ahead of their time. Unlike others living here during this time period, the Ovambo and Kavango people were settled and even had their own barter style economy.
In the 17th century, the Herero people immigrated into Namibia. Traveling from Africa’s eastern lakes, these people made their home in Kaokoland while towards the 19th century, some tribes broke away and travelled south. Those who remained in Kaokoland were the Himba people, who modern day tourists can still see when exploring Kaokoland while on a Namibia tour.
The first European to walk on Namibian soul was, like many explorers of the pre-colonial era, a Portuguese man. Diogo Cao made a very short stop on the Skeleton Coast in 1485 and while there, he erected a limestone cross.
He was followed by Batholomeu Dias, a fellow countryman, who stopped in Walvis Bay and Luderitz. But the Portuguese explorers were put off by the unforgiving Namib Desert and set sale for the more hospitable South African shores.
The Dutch, however, saw an opportunity to expand their territories and in 1793, they took control of Walvis Bay, choosing it because it was the best deep-water harbour in this section of the Skeleton Coast. The settlement of whites in the area would remain limited, unlike the rest of Africa.
But the most prominent colonisers of Namibia was, without a doubt, the Germans.
Having started working as missionaries in Namibia, Germany only really took control of Namibia in the 19th century, when there was a mad “scramble for Africa”, and European powers sought control of valuable, strategic points on the continent.
To this day, there is plenty of German influence on Namibia and its day to day life. There is also a lot of South African influence, given the fact that for a time, from 1915 to Namibian independence in the 1980’s, the South African Government held control over the country.
When walking the cities and small towns, you might catch some German and Afrikaans being spoken by the locals. You should also expect to see a lot of German inspired architecture.
Relics of history now forgotten to the sands of time, Namibia’s fascinating ghost towns are on many a Namibia tour.
There are several places in Namibia which have been all but abandoned, and which are slowly disappearing. Two of the best known places are Pomona and Kolmanskop.
Pomona is situated on the southern coast of Namibia, close to the town of Luderitz. It was built in an area called Sperrgebiet, which is a diamond mining zone, and as such, access to the town is somewhat restricted.
When mining started, it wasn’t long until settlements like Pomona popped up. The town was built in the 1860s. Once diamonds were initially found, it trigger a flood of prospectors to the area, all in search of riches.
Like many towns of its kind in Africa, Pomona consisted of the very bare essentials and as such, only a few buildings were erected. The town was home to prospectors from all over the country, and today it lies in ruins, with the sand slowly creeping in.
The other rather famous ghost town that many visit, is Kolmanskop. This dust covered town, left to the sands of time, is easily the more popular of the two and its haunting façade is visited by many tourists throughout the year.
In 1908, Zacherias Lewala was shovelling sand away from railway tracks, just as evening fell. The last glimmer of fading light shone on some bright stones, stones which would end up being diamonds. In a tragic injustice Lewala’s German employer would neither reward nor compensate him for he find that would end up launching Namibia’s prosperous diamond rush.
By 1912, Kolmanskop was rapidly being built as more people dashed to the area to lay their claim to wealth. From this part of Namibia alone, around 11.7% of the world’s diamond production would be unearthed.
Soon the town became a place of wealth and luxury, an oasis in the otherwise barren desert. The town had everything needed to function properly and even European opera groups were known to visit the town and put on entertaining performances.
But as with most African towns built for prospectors, the fun would not last forever.
When the riches were no longer easily found and the allure of new prospects proved too hard to ignore, the inhabitants of Kolmanskop slowly but surely began to leave the town. As the town emptied out, the sand from the Namib Desert started blowing in, covering everything in dust. As time when on, and the desert was left to its own devices, the town was slowly buried.
Kolmanskop is today part of many Namibia tours.
Although Namibia is somewhat arid and not overly populated, it is one country that is really easy to get to, with international visitors perfectly able to jet into the nation’s capital city Windhoek. Many flights to Windhoek arrive from Cape Town.
For this reason, guests have the perfect excuse to combine Cape Town and even Garden Route tours, with a trip into Namibia. This is arguably one of the greatest Southern Africa trips!
Namibia is well-connected. Not only is it easy to get into, but it is also easy to zip around the country. With its own national carrier as well as chartered flights, guests don’t necessarily have to rough it out win a 4×4 when touring the country.
It’s all a matter of budget size. It is easy to travel around Namibia on a low budget, especially as many tour companies will include travel as part of the budget.
When planning a trip into Namibia, most guests will fly to Hosea Kutako International Airport which is about 45 minutes to the east of Windhoek. Most of these flights will originate from Cape Town, which is the travel hub for many tourists.
Hosea Kutako International Airport is the starting point for many travellers. The airport connects guests to some of the far flung reaches of this fascinating destination and it is far from the only airport in the country. Eros Airport, situated outside of Windhoek, connects to attractions which include Swakopmund, Etosha, and Sossusvlei.
For most travellers, the question is “Should I drive or should I fly?”
While flying is so much more convenient, not to mention quicker, than driving, both means of transport have their pros and their cons.
If you are on a limited time schedule and you want to see specific things or head to a specific place for your holiday, flying is easily the best option. The fly-in safari is the quick and easy travel option, enabling you to journey over quite a distance in a fraction of the time.
Flying in Namibia is unlike flying anywhere else. The views from above, of the rippling Namib Desert sands are indescribable.
You will be missing out on seeing all of those small attractions along the way to your destination. But the biggest disadvantage is the cost. Since Namibia is such a big country, the flights can be incredibly expensive. And then, the amount of luggage you can take with you will also be incredibly limited, which means no souvenirs.
You will see it all! When on the road, you can easily stop off at various destinations and see things that many others have missed while flying. When you compare the two travel options, you will also find that driving is also far more affordable.
Whether part of a group, or on your own, when you drive through Namibia, you can completely immerse yourself in the environment and take loads of photos.
Taking on Namibia by road is a tiring adventure because the roads are long and quiet. Destinations are also quite far apart so it can get a little boring while between attractions. Self-driving is not for everyone, but with a 4×4 Namibia tour, you won’t be on your own. Instead, you will be driven to where you are headed.
When on the road you will also be travelling long distances, which are going to feel even longer when you are driving as opposed to flying.
Driving yourself presents more challenges than those who are going on tour would have to handle. If you are hitting the road in a hired car, keep in mind that Namibia roads are not in the best condition, drivers will be driving on the left hand side of the road, while most Namibian vehicles are right hand drives.
In urban areas, the speed limits are confined to between 60 and 80 km, while the open roads have speed limits of around 120 km.
To ensure that your Namibia tour goes off as planned, it is helpful to have access to all of the necessary planning information. From plotting your map and making sure that you will be hitting all of those attractions you hope to see, to making sure that your vaccinations and basic administration and paperwork is in order, planning is made easy when you have the right information.
If you are planning a Namibia tour with a company, a lot of the planning will be done by the tour company. Things like determining which attractions you will be seeing, and where you will be staying, as well as handling all of the transport, will be in the hands of the tour company.
But even though the tour company is going to take care of a lot of the planning, there is still lots of information you will need to have.
When visiting your doctor before you leave for Namibia, you need to make sure that you are up to date with various vaccinations. Polio, Hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, and Diphtheria are all recommended as is a vaccination for Rabies. If you are travelling from a country which is infected with Yellow Fever, you will require a vaccination certificate.
Being a desert nation, not all of Namibia is considered a malaria area. Only the wetter, more humid, northern part of the country has malaria, and then it is only at certain times of the year.
If you are planning to visit this part of the country, it is important that you take the necessary precautions in the form of anti-malaria medication. It is also recommended that you dress in such a way that mosquito bites will be prevented. You should also bring along mosquito repellent.
To completely avoid malaria infection, it is best to visit in the winter months. Like much of Africa, malaria peaks during the humid summers that much of sub Saharan Africa experiences.
Africa has developed an unfair reputation for having no safe drinking water, but that really couldn’t be further from the truth. Tap water in Namibia is safe to drink, but when you are out on the road, it is always best, and always safer, to bring along purified bottled water.
To stay on the environmentally friendly side of travelling, you should consider bringing along a reusable water bottle. Around 200 billion plastic bottles are used every year. Investing in a good quality reusable water bottle and then filling it with fresh water or water that has been boiled or treated with iodine pills.
Water can be bought in restaurants, shops and various accommodation facilities.
As a vibrant nation, with rich cultures, food in Namibia is representative of the many people who live here. Guests can choose from a variety of ethnic meals, snacks and drinks. Traditional food includes mealie pap (often served with meat and a fresh tomato sauce), potjiekos (a meat and vegetable stew cooked slowly in a pot, over an open fire), and of course braai meat.
Namibia is a meat eating nation, but there are also plenty of vegetarian options available and beer is the beverage of choice!
But traditional bites are far from the only food available.
Namibia is a very Western Nation in many ways, which means you can expect to find your fast foods and more recognisable meals. This is very important because those who are visiting the country from outside of Africa are not going to be used to the rather heavy foods.
Often guests who tuck into Namibian food are left with uncomfortable stomach complaints. The last thing anyone wants is to be sick while on tour, so if you’d rather skip the Namibian delicacies, don’t feel too bad about not trying out the local cuisine.
On a side note, food is well prepared and ending up with food poisoning is rather rare. If you are travelling in a remote area, it does help to avoid buying and/or eating meat.
Namibia is one of the safest places to travel in Africa. While Africa certainly has a bit of a reputation for being unsafe, the most problems you will encounter while in Namibia is the wildlife!
Namibians are very friendly and their country has a reputation for having far less corruption than its neighbouring nations. The country is peaceful, but being Africa, there is quite a bit of poverty which does tend to exacerbate the crime that does happen.
The worst crime in the country will generally happen in the cities. Personal crime and petty crime does happen, and so it is important that you take the same precautions that you would when back home. You should not leave valuables out of your sight, or in your vehicle, and you should always be aware of who is around you while in busy areas. If you are travelling alone in the cities, it is best to not travel at night.
Basically, always have your street smarts with you while you are in crowded places.
Although you are unlikely to experience crime, it is always better to be safe than sorry. When you are out in the open country, you are unlikely to encounter many people, so you will be safe.
If you have booked a Namibia travel package, the majority of your expenses will be covered as a part of the tour. Should you be travelling on your own, and paying your own way, the costs, depending on where you are travelling from, shouldn’t be overwhelming.
By far, the most expensive part of your tour is going to be the accommodation. Food can also be expensive depending on where it is bought. Naturally, street food will be cheaper although as a traveller, you might not want to take a risk.
Renting a car can be quite pricey as well, especially as it is priced on a day to day basis.
Most lodges, cafes, and restaurants have Wi-Fi access although once you leave the towns and cities, connectivity can become less frequent. Internet speeds in Namibia are also unlikely to be as fast and stable as you are used to, but this is Africa and we do things differently here!
The best time of year is without a doubt during the dry winter months of June, July and August. Most days are sunny and bright, with a touch of coolness. Packing some winter attire is a must as there are occasionally those days where the temperature is really unpleasant.
Compared to summer though, winters are the best, especially when you are travelling through the desert. Day time temperatures reach an average of 20 degrees Celsius in the day, while at night the temperatures can be expected to drop by a lot, especially when in the desert. Cold nights in the desert are also common in summer.
Summers are extremely hot and if you are planning on seeing wildlife when in Namibia, you will be out of luck in the summer, as the wildlife will be cooling off in the shade. During the dry winters, animals are more likely to be spotted.
The cooler months are also ideal if you want to avoid mosquitoes and the possibility of contracting malaria.
One important thing to keep in mind when planning a trip to Namibia is that like many tourist destinations, has a peak season. July to October are some of the busiest months of the year, and while the popular attractions are not going to be overloaded, they are certainly going to have their fair share of visitors.
This former German colony, which was only granted independence in 1990, is now one of Africa’s best kept secrets. Never overwhelmed by tourists and ever the place for an exciting adventure, the best way to ensure that you see all that Namibia has to offer, is by embarking on a packaged tour.
From stunning waterfalls, to sand swept ghost towns and undulating red sand dunes which move and change in the unforgiving wind, and that unforgettable sunset that one could never become tired of seeing, Namibia is a place of utter mystery and beauty.
As with all popular travel destinations, there are those attractions which are more worth the visit than others. These are some of the best places you can visit.
A rustic little port town with a real African vibe, Walvis Bay might look laidback, but it is still a major port.
The town has become quite a popular destination for those who are looking to enjoy a spot of desert sports such as kitesurfing and dune boarding which is similar to snowboarding but without the snow, of course.
Fishing, and seal and dolphin watching cruises are available on the coastline, and for those bird lovers, the nearby wetlands are home to flamingos.
Namibia’s bustling capital city, is a cultural and business hub. Like many capital cities, here travellers can find the best restaurants, bars and places to go shopping. Time spent in this historic city is time well spent. While here, guests can have a look at the Namibia Parliament, an ancient Lutheran church, and they can shop till they drop at local markets and the various malls.
Seeing that Windhoek is the starting point for many Namibia tours, it is a great place to get stocked up on all of the essentials before heading out on a desert adventure or pick up a few last minute souvenirs before heading home.
The quaint coastal town of Luderitz sits on top of a bit of land that juts out to sea. The town is best known for its stunning German architecture, which is very art nouveau, and its striking German street names which seem quite out of place for a town in sub Saharan Africa.
With its German colonial past and the ghost town of Kolmanskop being close by, there is so much to see while here. Guests are encouraged to immerse themselves in the culture, and explore the cuisine while in the town.
Many of Namibia’s towns are situated along the coast, mostly because the rest of the country is covered by the desert. Swakopmund is another former colonial town and it is filled with some eye catching architecture. This town is the ultimate place to have an action packed adventure. Here guests can enjoy camel safaris, quad biking, sand boarding on the dunes and plenty of time sun bathing on the beach.
The town also has quite a fantastic cultural vibe, with plenty critically acclaimed restaurants to try out and numerous bars to enjoy a sundowner. Swakopmund is so popular, that even Namibians choose it as their holiday destination of choice.
Etosha National Park is one of those bucket list wonders. Surrounding the picturesque Etosha salt pan. It is the second largest game reserve in the country, and remains one of the best places to spot wildlife.
The salt pan is on its own, a well-known attraction and for most of the year it remains dry. When the rains arrive in the summer, the salt pan fills up slightly with water, which encourages the growth of blue-green algae. As the salt pan comes to life, flamingos flock to the pan to feast on the algae.
For many reasons, planning a summer visit is the ideal. After the rains, the wildlife can be seen at the watering holes and although it is warm in the park, guests can enjoy the real feel of Africa!
Formed by the Fish River, this canyon is one of the biggest in the world and the longest one in Africa. The canyon forms part of the Fish River Canyon Park and one of the best ways to explore it is by foot. The park boasts a number of hiking trails and there is one trail that is 80km long.
Another exciting way to experience the canyon is to take a dip in the river or view it from above with a memorable flight.
Part desert and part mountains, this is Namibia’s biggest game park. In fact, it is the biggest game park on the continent.
Those gorgeous, iconic photographs of the Namibia sunset over sand dunes is what guests can expect when they visit the park. The park so often resembles the moon surface. The Namib-Naukluft National Park is home to the Sossusvlei, one of Namibia’s most popular attractions.
The Sossusvlei is the place where the nation’s biggest dunes can be explored. Where the striking red sands meet the deep blue skies, oryx and other wildlife indigenous to the area have adapted to life in the unforgiving desert. Dead and dying trees dot the landscape, making for stunning photo opportunities.
Taking the time to explore the desert and really just be still in the overwhelming silence is one of the best ways to gain a true appreciation for the utter beauty to be seen here.
A 4×4 drive through the Sossusvlei is one of the more interactive ways to see it, but if you’d like to see the real, full view of the Sossusvlei, a hot air balloon ride is without a doubt the best option. From above, the rolling ever changing sand dunes can be seen in such a way that seeing it from the ground just doesn’t deliver on.
Close to Etosha and on the road heading out of the Skeleton Coast, Damaraland is a picturesque, almost magical place to visit. It is beautiful and quiet here, mostly because it is often missed by those visiting Namibia on tour.
In the mountains and plains of Damaraland, desert elephants, lions, oryx, and springbok make their homes alongside hundreds of different species of birds. This unique landscape boasts rusty browns and golden hues, where the grass and the earth meets. Its exquisite beauty is simply unforgettable.
An almost oasis like piece of land, close to the Botswana border, where the Okavango flows into Namibia, the Caprivi area is filled with wildlife and is yet another fantastic place to go to spot various animals.
In the north eastern corner of Namibia and the north western corner of Botswana, animals migrate along their seasonal migration paths.
Guests travelling along the perennial rivers and flood plains catch sight of birdlife and wildlife. Journeying through Caprivi is a real African adventure.
Bordering South Africa, the red sands of the Kalahari are calling. The desert is home to South Africa’s most indigenous people, the San and the Khoi-Khoi, many of whom are still living the same life that their ancestors once lived.
As daunting as the Namib, with a reputation for being a harsh landscape made for the brave, the Kalahari is dry and arid.
It is not just the landscape that is mesmerising, but the animals who’ve made their homes here are just as wonderful to catch sight of. Having adapted to a life in the desert, guests can see black lions, oryx, and meerkats.
The remote Kaokoland lies in a place where the desert meets the mountains. Guests who are looking to escape from modern life venture to this destination to just take a break from it all in a place that sees very little human life.
Not many come here, in fact it is considered to be one of the least explored places on the planet, not only because it is not easily accessible, but also because there is really nothing here but dry earth and wildlife.
For the real intrepid explorer, Kaokoland is a special place, magical even. While travelling here, guests might be lucky enough to encounter the Himba people, a traditional tribe who live off the land.
The Himba tribe live life close to the earth and are easily recognisable for their stunning mud mattered hair styles. This look is quite unique to them and they are also known for covering their bodies with a red mud, which almost blends them in with the landscape.
A trip to Kaokoland is only possible with a 4×4 vehicle and It is always best to visit as a part of a group, because when travelling in such a remote place, there is safety in numbers, just in case things go wrong.
With its colonial past and an eclectic group of indigenous peoples and tribes, Namibia is one of Africa’s most fascinating melting pots of cultures. Living side by side in peace, this massive country has a rather small population, which makes every Namibian tour feel as though you have left the world as you know it.
Namibia tours are always off the beaten path kinds of journeys and those who come here, leave with a renewed sense of life and a more appreciative love for nature.
The ideal way to travel to Namibia is to sign up for a packaged tour. With a Namibia tour, guests can look forward to having every aspect of their journey taken care of. Accommodation is generally a mix of the best lodges on offer as well as some rustic camping.
Many of Namibia’s more far flung destinations are out of reach of civilisation and so camping is the only option. This is not necessarily a bad thing though, as there is nothing quite as memorable as camping out beneath the stars. Seeing that Namibia has very few urban areas, there is no light pollution once you are well away from the busier towns and cities. Star gazing can be mesmerising and while here, you will see the Milky Way as our ancestors once saw it.
Camping is not necessarily a rustic experience, as many travel companies invest in luxury tents, giving their guests space and comfort while on the road.
Within national parks there are often lodges, but in the Kalahari, should you be venturing that way, as well as in some of the other out of reach areas of Namibia, tents are erected on top of the 4×4 vehicles, out of reach of wildlife. Although predators are not all that common, they do make an appearance every now and then which is why camping out on top of a vehicle is the safer option.
A trip to Namibia is a once in a lifetime experience that you can enjoy with Kurt Safari. Browse through our selection of carefully created Namibia tours. Bookings can be done via our website or you can get in touch with one of our consultants who will help you plan an unforgettable trip.