Areas, parks & places to visit in Namibia
Beside Botswana in north-east Namibia, the Kalahari's endless sand-sheet covers Bushmanland, a remote area which receives few visitors. Spare at least 3-4 days for a compelling insight into the culture of the Bushmen/San people at Nhoma Camp, or perhaps a private fly-camping safari to Khaudum National Park.
Wetter and more verdant than further south, the Caprivi Strip has permanent rivers and lush game parks boasting particularly rich birdlife (including Mahango National Park and Mudumu National Park). It's ideal for your second or third visit to Namibia – and can be combined with Victoria Falls.
A variety of guest farms and lodges are scattered throughout Namibia's Central Highlands, between Windhoek and Etosha. All are different, reflecting their individual hosts and locations. Many have a real local flavour and organise activities around local points of interest, such as unique rock formations and cave paintings.
South of Kaokoland, Damaraland is a rugged, mountainous area with stunning landscapes. This vast and largely arid wilderness is home to very few people, but a surprising amount of wildlife including black rhino and desert-adapted elephant – plus some of Africa's best San/Bushman rock art.
Etosha National Park
Dominated by a vast barren salt pan, dense herds of big game make Etosha National Park one of Africa's top safari destinations. At its best during the dry season, you can be driven around here, but it's a very easy and rewarding park to drive yourself around.
Fish River Canyon
From central Namibia the Fish River meanders south, into the Orange River bordering South Africa. On the way it flows through the world's second largest canyon. Walk yourself around the top, take a serious five-day hike along the bottom, or explore by guided 4WD or even mule!
A 1908 diamond boom around the small coastal town of Lüderitz left some beautiful colonial buildings and several nearby ghost towns. Base yourself here to explore the old mining towns and rocky peninsula; enjoy a boat trip to the penguin colony; and dine on the great local seafood.
Namib-Naukluft National Park
To experience the best of the Namib Desert, come to the huge Namib-Naukluft National Park. The most famous dunes are around Sossusvlei, but also seek out Sesriem Canyon and the excellent hiking in the Naukluft Mountains. Stay longer to include the spectacular private NamibRand Nature Reserve.
Skeleton Coast & Kaokoland
North of Swakopmund, the South Atlantic Ocean washes onto a barren, gravel desert – a coast which is aptly named for the skeletons of ships and whales found here. Drive yourself through this unforgiving area, or fly here into tiny, remote camps to explore with expert guides.
Both the Namib and the Kalahari stretch across Southern Namibia, but they differ greatly in topography, flora and fauna. Various small lodges and guest farms are dotted around – each with a different flavour and attractions varying from desert-adapted horses to semi-tame meerkats, balancing rocks and a quivertree forest.
Swakopmund & Walvis Bay
Swakopmund provides a breath of sea air between desert travel; a quaint Germanic town with good sea-food restaurants. Stay a few days for the activities: fun adrenaline sports; bird-watching and gentle kayaking in Walvis Bay Lagoon; excellent boat trips and first-class 4WD trips to Sandwich Harbour.
Waterberg Plateau National Park
East of the Central Highlands, freshwater springs attract excellent wildlife and birdlife around the flat-topped sandstone of Waterberg Plateau. Visit the area for one or two nights, especially if you're a keen hiker; you can walk up to the plateau without staying inside the Waterberg National Park.
A small, friendly capital, Windhoek is spread around a wide valley between bush-covered hills. The cafés and picturesque old German architecture give it a very pleasant air. Most Namibia trips start and/or end here; there are plenty of good hotels, restaurants and interesting small guest houses.