From north to south and east to west, Namibia provides a playground of excursions, adventure, and activities to keep even the most experienced traveller entertained, happy and returning to this African adventure centre. The Top Ten Tourist Attractions in Namibia!
1. Etosha National Park
Namibia’s Etosha National Park is the largest game reserve worldwide, covering an area of approximately 80 000km² with the prominent feature of this park being the impressive Etosha pan, a large shallow depression measuring approximately 5000km².
Etosha is alive, with more than 340 bird species calling this region home while 114 mammal species are found in the park, several of which are rare and endangered and include the cheetah and black rhino. Interesting to note is that the Etosha’s black rhino population is carefully monitored and protected and is currently one of the largest growing populations worldwide.
The park is a wildlife photographer’s dream, with the wildlife in the area being reliant on 30 springs and waterholes, providing excellent game viewing opportunities as well as the chance to get that perfect photographic shot!
The Sossusvlei lies in the southern region of Namibia, and is literally a clay pan which was formed when the shifting sands of the Namib smothered the natural course of the river in the area, the Tsauchab River. The Sossusvlei and its surrounding dunes provide a picturesque image to catch on film, with the light being especially beautiful during the early daylight hours.
The pan can stay dry for periods of up to one decade but after heavy rains are experienced in the region, the pan can hold water for up to one year.
The gateway to Sossusvlei is the Sesriem canyon, named after a 30m deep canyon carved through layers upon layers of conglomerate by the Tsauchab River. Translated as meaning “six thongs,” it is a reference to the fact that pioneer farmers had to make use of six ox thongs to lower buckets to the pools in the narrow canyon area.
In June 2013 Namibia celebrated its second natural UNESCO World Heritage site, namely the Namib Sand Sea area! The area, which comprises a large part of the Namib Naukluft Park also includes the beautiful areas of Sossusvlei and Sandwich Harbour.
3. Swakopmund & Walvis Bay
Swakopmund is seen as Namibia’s premier holiday destination and this quaint town is characterised by well preserved German colonial buildings. If you are looking for a holiday adventure second to none, then Swakopmund is the destination of choice, with sand boarding, quad biking and parasailing providing the entertainment while the town’s world-renowned bakeries will keep visitors returning to sample more tantalising baked goodies!
Walvis Bay is internationally renowned for its impressive wetlands, with large concentrations of waders, flamingos and shorebirds providing excellent bird watching opportunities. The inherent southwesterly winds create ideal conditions to explore numerous water sports such as boardsailing and kayaking.
4. Damaraland and Kaokoveld
The Damaraland and Kaokoveld regions demand respect. Granted, both are beautiful and have stunning attractions with interesting names such as Burnt Mountain, the Petrified Forest and Skeleton Coast, but the names also indicate a level of drama that must have unfolded in this arid unforgiving area.
Take for example the local inhabitants, the Himba, who protect themselves and their bodies by rubbing themselves with red ochre and fat to protect their skin against the harsh climate. Even local animals such the desert elephants have certain behavioural characteristics to ensure their survival in this harsh landscape.
But luckily for visitors to the area, the accommodation and cuisine options are many, varied and not the “roughing it” type, so your time in this Namibian wonderland will be exceptional!
5. Fish River Canyon
The Fish River Canyon, created more than 500 million years ago, was formed not only by water erosion but through the collapse of the valley bottom due to movements in the earth’s crust. It is the second largest gorge worldwide and the largest in Africa. As with many of Namibia’s rivers, it remains dry for most of the year except during the raining season (January – April).
Apart from providing excellent photographic opportunities, the Fish River Canyon has become a very popular hiking trail. This trail is definitely not for the faint hearted and requires a doctor’s note confirming an individual’s ability to complete this four day grueling challenge! The hike is open for participators from May to September, but be warned – be prepared or be prepared to suffer the consequences!
Twyfelfontein (meaning doubtful fountain) is home to Namibia’s first World Heritage Site and is situated in Damaraland. It boasts more than 2000 rock paintings and is estimated to be more than 6000 years old. Twyfelfontein’s massive, open-air art gallery is of immense interest to international rock art connoisseurs and it is believed that the artists of these fascinating artworks were in fact medicine people or shamans. It was awarded World Heritage Site status in June 2007.
The midday heat makes it difficult to photograph this world heritage site and therefore it is recommended to visit Twyfelfontein early in the morning or late afternoon or even during the early evenings to capture the site at sunset.
7. Zambezi Region
The Zambezi Region (formerly known as the Caprivi) is a narrow stretch of land situated in the far northeast section of Namibia. It is 400km long, roughly shaped like a protruding finger and shares borders with four other countries, namely Angola, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Zambezi Region is the wettest region in Namibia and consists mainly of major wetlands, floodplains, woodlands and rivers such as the mighty Zambezi and impressive Okavango Rivers. Impressive herds of elephant, buffalo, red lechwe as well as enormous crocodiles in excess of 5m and big families of hippopotamus are often sighted in the area and therefore make it one of the most popular in Namibia for game viewing.
The Popa Falls are found in the Zambezi Region and are well worth a visit. Although they can be classed more as rapids than actual waterfalls, they are still impressive and rage through a four metre high rocky riverbed and beautiful scenery.
The Kalahari Desert, the world’s largest continuous stretch of sand is technically not even a desert at all, as thanks to a small amount of rainfall the landscape can at times be well vegetated with a variety of shrubs, trees, red ebony, camel thorn and a wide variety of acacias!
Amazingly enough, springtime can see its plains covered in masses of flowers and grass while summer showers encourage the greenery of the area.
A trip to the Kalahari is definitely not complete without an introduction to the area’s proud inhabitant, the San Bushman. Tour operators in the area will introduce you to the tribes, giving you the opportunity to learn more about their traditions, origins and beautiful “click language” and their vast knowledge of the bushveld which has seen them dwelling and surviving in this cosmic place of solitude for hundreds of year!
Namibia’s capital city of Windhoek is bounded by the Auas Mountains to the south and the Khomas Hochland in the west, with the mighty Eros Mountains in the East. It provides a meeting place of old and new, where the tradition of German colonial buildings forms a sharp contrast style with the new architectural offerings on show in the city’s main streets.
Windhoek provides a good starting point for travellers wishing to explore the country, with its variety of people and their melting pot of cultures providing a variety of attractions, cuisine and accommodation options. Windhoek’s walking city tours are legendary and provide a good overview of the history and tradition of this proud city while simultaneously showing visitors its laidback, eclectic and somewhat European feel.
10. The Skeleton Coast
Long ago the entire region of Namibia’s coastline used to refer to the Skeleton Coast but more recently it refers to the Skeleton Coast National Park, an area that stretches approximately a third of Namibia’s vast coastline.
The name of Skeleton Coast is well earned, with many shipwrecks still littering the vast expanse of coastline where the cold Benguela Current, dense fog conditions and rough surf served up the perfect mixture of conditions for boat and ships to run ashore on this unforgiving section of sand. For the best bird’s eye view of the wrecks, a fly-in visit is recommended.
The Skeleton Coast Park, despite its somewhat ominous appearance, is home to a large variety of animals including large mammal cats, the desert-adapted elephant and black rhino, among others.
From one to ten, Namibia consists of a variety of activities set to interest and enthrall its visitors. For further information regarding Namibia, contact the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) on Cape Town (021) 4223298 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website on www.namibiatourism.com.na. Like NTB on Facebook/namibianexperience or follow them on twitter/ntbsa.