The 20 best places to visit in Namibia

 

Around halfway up the countries Atlantic Coast is the town of Walvis Bay, famous for the nearby Walvis Bay Wetlands. Considered one of the most important coastal wetlands in Africa, between early October and late April thousands of Flamingos descend on the area making it among the best places on the planet to view this amazing bird.

20. Walvis Bay

 

South west of the capital, Windhoek, in the Namib Desert at the southern end of the Naukluft Mountains is the Sesriem Canyon. Measuring a relatively small 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) in length, this natural river carved canyon can measure up to 30 metres (100 ft) deep in certain places. In sections where water is present all year round, it is common to see many species of wildlife.

19. Sesriem Canyon

 

In the extreme north east of the country, along the Caprivi Strip, the thin strip of land that separates Angola from Botswana, is the Bwabwata National Park. Created in 2007 from combining the Caprivi Game Park and the Mahango Game Reserve, the area is now a 6,274 square kilometre (2,422 square mile) protected park, as one of the most important migration routes for the African elephant. Other larger animal species that can be witnessed in the park are lion, leopard, cheetah, spotted hyena, Cape buffalo, antelope, hippopotamus, zebra, wildebeest, crocodiles as well as many more.

18. Bwabwata National Park

 

In the southern centre of the country, directly south of the capital, Windhoek, is the extinct volcano of Brukkaros Mountain, it's peak rising to 1,590 metres (5,216 ft) above sea level. In the dry flat lands of the Ilkaras Region, this huge mountain rises 600 metres (1,968 ft) above the surrounding plains, making for the most stand out landmark on the horizon.

17. Brukkaros Mountain

 

Almost directly west of the capital, Windhoek, on the Atlantic Coast of the Dorob National Park is the Cape Cross Seal Reserve, home to one of the largest colonies of Cape fur seals in the world. Considered a protected area, visitors can witness this enormous colony pretty much all year round.

16. Cape Cross Seal Reserve

 

Directly north of the capital, Windhoek, from the Afrikaans word 'Waterburg', meaning 'Water Mountain', is the Waterburg Plateau National Park, named after the prominent table mountain that rises from the plateau. Rising high above the plains of the Kalahari, covering an area of some 405 square kilometres (156 square miles), this area of protected park land is a picturesque natural landscape, as well as being home to some of Namibia's most endangered species, including the extremely rare black rhinoceros.

15. Waterburg Plateau National Park

 

At the northern end of Dorob National Park, in the north of the Namib Desert, standing at 2,573 metres (8,442 ft) above sea level is the Brandberg Mountain, the highest in Namibia. A favourite among hikers, visitors that wish to reach the summit should take note that summer temperatures often reach 40 °C, but from it's peak it offers unhindered views across the Tsisab river valley and the vast flat gravel plains.

14. Brandberg Mountain

 

In the extreme south of the country, close to the border with South Africa is the Kokerboom Woud, meaning Quiver Tree Forest. This unusual species of tree is known as the Aloe Dichotomum, but as the local bushmen from the area used their branches to make quivers, they became known as the Quiver Trees. Though common in southern Africa, it is unusual to find them covering such a large area. Considered a blessed and sacred tree, the entire Quiver Tree Forest has been declared a national monument of Namibia.

13. Quiver Tree Forest

 

In the northern centre of the country, covering an area of some 22,270 square kilometres (8,600 square miles) is Etosha National Park, a protected area of land named after the Etosha Salt Pan, itself covering 4,760 square kilometres (1,840 square miles) and accounting for almost a quarter of the park. Surrounded by woodlands, savanna and grassland, the park is home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds and reptiles including several threatened and endangered species. The larger species of frequently seen animal include the African bush elephant, southern white rhinoceros, endangered black rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard, cheetah, zebra, ostrich among many, many more.

12. Etosha National Park

 

North west from the capital, Windhoek, in the Namib Desert, is a group of barren granite peaks that stand out from the flat surrounding plains. The highest of these outcrops is the Spitzkoppe, meaning 'Pointed Dome', reaching 1,784 metres (5,853 ft) above sea level it has been described as the Matterhorn of Namibia. The dry barren landscape is also home to unusual and interesting granite formations, including the naturally formed Rock Bridge, an arch created over thousands of years of erosion.

Pictured is the Rock Bridge.

11. Spitzkoppe

 

In the extreme north west of the country, on the Namibian side of the Kunene River, the natural border between Namibia and Angola, is the Epupa Falls, one of the prettiest in the country. Within absolute picture perfect surroundings, the river drops in a series of waterfalls over 1.5 kilometres, with the greatest single drop being the 37 metre (121 ft) Epupa Falls. 

10. Epupa Falls

 

In the extreme north of the country, within one of Namibia's most remote and inhospitable wilderness landscapes, is the Marienfluss Valley, famed for a mystery known as the 'Fairy Circles'. Circular patches of barren land appear within the grasslands, varying between 2 to 15 metres (7 to 49 ft) in diameter, often encircled by a ring of stimulated growing plants. Extending some 2,400 kilometres (1,500 miles) down the Northwestern Cape, myths and mystery surround this little explained phenomenon.

9. Marienfluss Valley

 

In the north west of the country, surrounded by the Namib Desert and the Kalahari Desert is an area known as Grootberg in Damaraland, named after the Grootberg Mountain, standing 1,640 metres (5,380 ft) above sea level. The landscape is one of steep canyons, vast open plains upon a high plateau of deep ravines and long valleys. Home to one of the countries most acclaimed and picturesque views from the rim of the Klip River Valley, visitors flock to this part of Namibia for this view alone.

8. Grootberg

 

The Bushmen of Namibia called it 'The Land God Made In Anger'. Portuguese sailors once called it, 'The Gates Of Hell', and after the title of book released in 1944 the world now knows it as the Skeleton Coast. Comprising most of Namibia's desert Atlantic Coast, the name derives from the whale and seal bones that once littered the shoreline, though in modern times the name is more associated with the remains of shipwrecks that have fallen foul of the offshore rocks and hazardous weather. Visitors can today see more than a thousand vessels of various sizes rusting on the desert shore.

7. Skeleton Coast

 

In the far south of the country, along the border with South Africa is the /Ai-/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, an amalgamation of two national parks that cross the borders of Namibia and South Africa. This vast landscape is a place of rocky mountains, arid rolling hills and deep canyons, making for some of the most naturally spectacular scenery in the country, encompassing one of the richest botanical hot spots on our planet. One of the most unusual plants in the area is the Pachypodium Namaquanum, also known as 'Halfmens Succulent' or 'Elephants Trunk'. A cactus type specimen covered in sharp spines that can reach 4 metres (13 ft) high.

6. /Ai-/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

 

In the south west of the country, in the Namib Desert bordering the Namib Naukluft National Park is the 2,150 square kilometre (830 square mile) NamibRand Nature Reserve. The area consists of dunes, sandy plains, gravel plains, flat lands and mountains, designated a protected reserve to conserve the unique ecology and wildlife of south western Namibia. Within this stunning landscape visitors can catch a glimpse of large mammals such as leopard, hyena, jackal, Oryx gazelle, springbok, baboon, zebra, giraffe as well as a whole host of other mammal and bird species.

5. NamibRand Nature Reserve

 

Along the countries western Atlantic Coast, encompassing part of the Namib Desert and the Naukluft Mountain Range, covering some 49,768 square kilometres (19,216 square miles) is the Namib Naukluft National Park, the largest game park in Africa and the fourth largest on the planet. Considered the oldest desert on Earth, it's sand dunes are the tallest in the world, in places rising more than 300 metres (1,000 ft) from the desert floor. Dune Seven, named due to it's location as the seventh dune past the Tsauchab River is the single tallest dune on the planet, rising to a staggering 383 metres (1,256 ft) above the desert floor. Where the dunes rise above the flat lands makes for one of the most spectacular scenes in Africa.

4. Namib Naukluft National Park

 

In the far south of the country, within the /Ai-/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is the 160 kilometre (100 mile) Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa. This gigantic ravine is one of the most visited locations in Namibia, with the canyon walls reaching almost 550 metres (1,804 ft) high in places. The landscape is regarded to be some of the most rugged and picturesque in Namibia, as well as all of southern Africa.

The Fish River Canyon Hiking Trail is one of the most popular in southern Africa, and undoubtedly the finest way to witness the canyon. Estimated to take five days to cover the 90 kilometre (56 mile) hike, visitors require a permit, must be older than 12 years of age and show a certificate of fitness completed by a medical doctor. Prone to flash floods and storms, top summer temperatures can reach 48 °C in the day and 30 °C at night, and with no amenities along the route visitors must carry everything they require.

3. Fish River Canyon

At the southern end of the Namib Desert, within the Namib Naukluft National Park is a salt and clay pan known as the Sossusvlei. Like the nearby Deadvlei, the pan was formed when the Tsauchab River flooded creating temporary pools where trees were able to grow. As the climate changed and the dunes encroached, the river was blocked and the trees subsequently died. The trees are estimated to have died at some point in the mid 14th century, with what remains having turned black, scorched by the sun and unable to decompose because of the sheer dryness of the area. What can be viewed today is a landscape from another world, where blackened trees rise from a fat white salt pan with a backdrop of red sand dunes, the tallest on Earth, reaching over 300 metres (1,000 ft) from the desert floor. The Deadvlei and Sossusvlei have become the most visited sites in Namibia.

Pictured is the Deadvlei.

2. Sossusvlei

 

Extending an incredible 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) along the Atlantic Coast, reaching up to 200 kilometres (120 miles) inland to the foot of the Great Escarpment is the Namib, meaning 'Vast Place', sometimes called the Namib Sand Sea. Having been arid for some 80 million years, the Namib is considered the oldest desert in the world, containing some of the driest regions on Earth with only the Atacama Desert in South American challenging it for the title. Encompassing many of the national parks and beautiful landscapes that make up the rest of this list, home to the largest sand dunes on the planet within a terrain of exceptional natural beauty, the Namib Sand Sea has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1. Namib Sand Sea

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