Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, is located in a basin between the Khomas Highland, Auas and Eros Mountains. It is 1,680m above sea level, 650km north of the Orange River and 360km from the Atlantic seaboard. Whether due to pure luck or a brilliant stroke of Germanic planning, the city is situated in almost the countries epicenter.
The majority of tourists visiting Namibia on a fly drive safari start their adventure in the capital as it is the main entry point to the country.
The city centre is characterised by a proliferation of German style buildings, a lasting reminder of Namibia’s early colonial history.
Nightlife in the city centre has grown with the population, with a decent number of restaurants, bars and night clubs.
A Windhoek city and Katutura tour gives the traveller great introduction to the capital city.
The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid sandy savannah. Even where the Kalahari “desert” is dry enough to qualify as a desert in the sense of having low precipitation, it is not strictly speaking a desert because the ground cover is too dense.
In contrast to the high sand dunes in Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert, the look of the Kalahari is characterized by little grass clumps and red dunes. They are not very high but long and have a sharp crest.
This area is inhabited by the San people (Namibian bushmen), who used to be hunter-gatherers. They are now surviving by game hunting and collecting edible plants, like berries or desert melons. Trees that grow in this area include shepherd’s tree, blackthorn, and silver cluster-leaf. In the drier southwest, vegetation and wildlife are much more sparse, but Hoodia cactus – used for thousands of years by the San people to ease hunger and thirst during long hunting trips – still maintains a foothold there.
Animals that have adapted to the extremely dry conditions in the Kalahari include meerkats; gemsbok; social weavers and the Kalahari lion.
The Fish River Canyon is regarded as the largest Canyon in Africa (second largest in the world after the Grand Canyon. The Canyon forms part of the state-run Ais-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. Entrance to the Park is situated 10 kilometres from the well-known view point Hell`s Bend at the Hobas Rest Camp.
The Fish River is 800 kilometres long and thus the longest river of Namibia.
It is the habitat of some small hardy mammals such as rock-hopping Klipspringer Antelope, little Dassies (rock hyrax) and Baboons. There are also Kudu, Leopard and Mountain Zebra, whose spoor you might come across, but are unlikely to see. Birdlife is more prolific with well over 60 species such as Herons, hammerkops, Egyptian Geese, Plovers and Wagtails.
Drives in the Canyon, sundowner drives and canyon day hikes are some of the activities you can enjoy while here, depending on the Lodge where you are booked.
Luderitz is a quirky town lodged in one of the best harbours on the least hospitable coast in Africa. It was founded in 1883 when Heinrich Vogelsang purchased Angra Pequena and some of the surrounding land on behalf of Adolf Lüderitz, a hanseat from Bremen, from the local Nama chief. It began life as a trading post, fishing and guano-harvesting town, but when diamonds were discovered in 1909 in nearby Kolmanskop, Lüderitz enjoyed a sudden surge of prosperity.
One of Luderitz’ main attractions is Kolmanskop Ghost Town. This previously bustling diamond town is now abandoned and fights a constant struggle with the sand dunes of the Namib desert.
Also highly recommended is the Zeepaard Catamaran daily boat trip to Halifax Island.
A drive to Diaz Point and Grusse Bucht (Big Bay) is also a worthwhile activity’ Southern Africa is long since gone but a replica still stands.
Sesriem is a small settlement located in the Namib Desert, in Namibia, close to the southern end of the Naukluft Mountains. It is especially known because the “Sesriem gate” is the main access point to the Namib-Naukluft National Park for visitors entering the park to visit the nearby tourist attraction of Sossusvlei.
The top attraction of the park and the second most popular attraction in Namibia, Sossusvlei is renowned for its majestic, warm red, star-shaped dunes contrasting against the stark white floors of the pans.
Other attractions in close proximity to Sossusvlei include Sesriem Canyon, Dune 45, Hiddenvlei, Big Daddy and Deadvlei. All of these attractions can be accessed from the road that takes you to Sossusvlei, and are all well worth a visit. In a number of areas surrounding Sossuvlei look out for the petrified dunes. These are ancient dunes that are approximately 1 billion years old and have solidified into rock
Swakopmund is a coastal city in Namibia, west of the capital, Windhoek. Its sandy beaches face the Atlantic Ocean. Established by German colonists in 1892, the city’s colonial landmarks include the Swakopmund Lighthouse and the Mole, an old sea wall.
This town has the ambiance associated with a small German village, and seems to be stuck in time. There are countless pursuits to help you spend your time. For those interested in adventure activities Swakopmund offers sandboarding, quad biking, dune carting, parachuting, hot air ballooning, shark fishing, deep sea fishing and beach angling to name but a few. For the more sedentary there are restaurants, cafes, art galleries, the Swakopmund Museum, a snake park and aquarium.
The Skeleton Coast is the northern part of the Atlantic coast of Namibia and south of Angola from the Kunene River south to the Swakop River, although the name is sometimes used to describe the entire Namib Desert coast. The Bushmen of the Namibian interior called the region “The Land God Made in Anger”, while Portuguese sailors once referred to it as “The Gates of Hell”.
The Skeleton Coast Park is divided into two parts:
The southern part, which stretches from the Ugab River up to Torra Bay, is freely accessible. However as from the entrance gate at Ugabmund and Springbockwater a permit is needed, which can be purchased in Windhoek, Swakopmund or directly at the gate.
The northern part from Torra Bay up to the Kunene at the Angolan border is not accessible. This area is the most attractive area of the park and can only be visited when you are staying at the lodges inside the park.
Another exciting way to explore this extraordinary area is by Scenic Flight.
Not only the anglers enjoy the fish, it is also the staple diet for the Cape Fur Seal occurring in great numbers along the eastern coast where they form huge colonies. At Cape Cross one of the largest colonies can be visited, an unforgettable experience.
Damaraland is one of the most scenic areas in Namibia, a huge, untamed, ruggedly beautiful region. Here there are prehistoric water courses with open plains and grassland, massive granite koppies and deep gorges. Towards the west, the geography changes dramatically with endless sandy wastes, that incredibly are able to sustain small, but wide-ranging, populations of desert-adapted elephant, black rhino, giraffe, ostrich and springbok. These animals have adapted their lifestyles to survive the harshness of the sun-blistered, almost waterless desert spaces
Highlights of the area include, Brandberg – Namibia’s highest mountain and home to the famous ‘White Lady’ Bushman Painting. Twyfelfontein – a wonderful rocky outcrop with thousands of Bushman engravings. Spitzkoppe – a typical pointed inselberg, and a place of great mystery to the ancient San people The Petrified Forest – which is millions of years old. The Vingerklip (finger rock) – a towering finger of limestone that rises 35m above its base.
A new addition to tourism in the area is the exciting addition of Rhino and Elephant tracking safaris. Proceeds from these safaris go towards the preservation of these animals.
Kaokoland is one of the last remaining wilderness areas in Southern Africa. It is a world of incredible mountain scenery, a refuge for the rare desert dwelling elephant, black rhino and giraffe and the home of the Himba people. Although it is harsh and offers little respite at midday, the rugged landscape is especially attractive during the early morning and late afternoon when it is transformed into softly glowing pastel shades. The Marienfluss valley is very scenic and relatively greener than the Hartmann’s valley. Hartmann’s valley is closer to the Atlantic and yet much more arid. However, it does have a strange atmosphere when the sea mists drift inland.
The Himba people who inhabit Kaokoland are the descendants of the earliest Herero’s who migrated into this area in the 16th century.
In terms of wildlife Kaokoland is probably most famous for it’s desert elephant. The possibility of obtaining a glimpse, however brief, of a herd of desert dwelling elephants is what draws most tourists to the area.
What we call Etosha today was proclaimed as Game Reserve No 2 in 1907 by the then German Governor Frederich von Lindequist. With subsequent additions it became the largest game reserve in the world, covering a vast area of ±80 000 km2.
Of the 114 mammals species found in the park, several are rare and endangered, such as black rhino and cheetah, and the lesser-known black-faced impala, which is endemic to north-western Namibia and south-western Angola. Etosha’s current population of black rhino represents one of the largest growing populations of black rhino in the world.
Other large mammals in the park include elephant, giraffe, blue wildebeest, mountain and plains zebra, hyaena and lion. Cheetah and leopard complete the trio of ‘big cats’. Antelope species range from kudu, gemsbok and the large and stately eland, to the diminutive Damara dik-dik. Smaller mammals include jackal, bat-eared fox, honey badger, warthog and the ubiquitous ground squirrel.
Etosha is open throughout the year and is accessible by tarred roads via the Andersson Gate on the C38 from Outjo, the Von Lindequist Gate in the east from Tsumeb on the B1, the Galton Gate in the west from Kowares on the C35 (open only to registered tour operators and guests to Dolomite Camp) and the King Nehale Gate located on the Andoni plains just north of the Andoni waterhole, which provides access from the north-central Owambo regions on the B1 from Onyati.