The Hot Spots of Namibia and Why You Should Visit Them in Your Lifetime
A special thanks to guest contributor Wim van den Heever at Tusk Photo for this great article and images!
Namibia is a vast piece of African land to cover. It makes a stunning getaway and really combines beauty, solitude and nature into one place – making it one of Africa’s’ ultimate travel experiences catered for anyone’s interests.
This guide is essentially our ‘Namibia Bucket List’ that we recommend having saved on your phone should you ever visit this land of wonders. Namibia has some beautiful and unique scenery to drive through. Not only are the sites stunning but it also makes room for an abundance of activities like fishing, hiking, cycling and even sand-boarding in the Dunes.
Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is a hit for Africa first-timers. Its salt pan is so large that it can actually be viewed from space and is believed to have been formed over 100 million years ago. The park itself is covered in a mixture of green and white land (with its greenery subjecting itself to soft, tolerant grass). With its nutrient-rich grounds it’s a hub for a variety of wildlife both common and rare, in fact more than 340 bird species have been spotted in Etosha National Park– so if you’re a bird enthusiast definitely plan your next trip around its rainy season.
Its array of waterholes attracts different animal crowds giving you a unique opportunity for sightseeing and photographing.
Kalahari Desert – Namibia
Kalahari Desert boasts 360,000 square miles of land – at first glance it may cause some confusion at as it’s housed with a variety of localised environments and species that aren’t typically associated with a desert – making this hot spot completely unique and well worth the visit. Kalahari is also home to thousands of plant species (most of which are specifically Namibian!).
As beautiful as the sights are – there’s nothing more interesting than the indigenous San people living along fringes of the Kalahari. Although the population is sparse (around a hundred thousand), the nomads in this area have lived in the desert for more than 20,000 years and are known as one of the oldest residents of South Africa – making the Kalahari a beautiful and cultural place to visit.
Sossusvlei translates to ‘Dead-End Marsh’ and is situated in the largest conservation area in the whole of Africa and is highly regarded as Namibia’s most breath-taking attraction. The most common ‘to-do’ thing in this vast piece of land is climb a dune and watch the sunrise.
Other attractions within Sossusvlei is the Deadvlei – an eerie yet equally as stunning clay pit punctured with dead Acacia streets (making it great for a photographer/filmmakers’ imagination!)
Skeleton Bay/Skeleton Coast
The Skeleton Bay takes up a whopping 40km wide stretch of the Namibian Coastline. Much of the Skeleton Bay is difficult to get to by road as vehicles are generally prohibited. A popular mode of travel to this stunning destination is a hot air balloon or other form of flight travel. Skeleton Bay is a haven for unusual yet stunning rock formation shipwrecks (where it gets its infamous name from) and picturesque moonscapes.
Much of the wildlife is seen further inland from Skeleton Bay including Baboons, Giraffes, Lions and Springbok that are known to dig wells to access the mineral-rich water from the sea nearby.
Damaraland is based in the Kunene Region and en-route from the Skeleton Coast lays yet another solitude spot for the desert-adapted elephants, rhinos and lions (as well as an abundance of other species). This is the perfect spot for all things wildlife and is a super popular safari hotspot. Klip River Valley’s infinity pools are highly recommended a visit if you’re in the area (but just be careful of any Leopards taking a kip on the pool front).
One of the biggest reasons to visit this place is to spot the world’s last free-ranging and critically endangered Black Rhinos. Rhino-tracking tourism has contributed to the conservation of the remaining 700 (approx.) of this species left.
Another popular reason to visit Damaraland is to climb the infamous Spitzkoppe (literally translated to ‘Sharp Head’), also inspiring its nickname ‘The Matterhorn of Africa’. Originally crafted naturally by a Volcano it was first climbed in the mid 1940s and has since become a popular climbing spot for mountaineering tourists (and an abundance of technical climbs made available since).
Top tips we recommend when you visit Namibia:
- Prepare yourself for a long drive
- With Namibia being such a huge country you can only imagine how vast the distances are.
- With the varying road conditions in mind, be prepared to change your tires often
- If you really want to cut down on a bit of mileage, we recommend skipping the 8 –hour drive to the Fish River Canyon in Sossusvlei.
- Book as far in advance as you can
- With Namibia being a former German colony, it’s still rather popular amongst them as well as the rest of Europe. Namibia gains over 1 million tourists a year on average but like with most places with small lodges we recommend getting your accommodation sorted right away.
Wim van den Heever is a professional wildlife photographer based in South Africa and owner of Tusk Photo, who has had an ever growing interest in image-making and nature since a young age. His work is internationally published in the likes of BBC Wildlife and National Geographic. His ranges of safari tours are designed to show the beauty of African landscapes at their finest.