Swakopmund : Swakopmund is Namibia’s biggest coastal town and a popular beach resort for Namibians on holiday. The city’s German origins are quite pronounced in beautiful old German Colonial buildings throughout the city, a stark contrast to the Namib Desert at the edge of town. The nearby sand dunes provide several activities such as sandboarding, horse riding and quad biking, while the beaches of Swakopmund provide plenty of good surf and sand.
Sossusvlei : Sossusvlei means ‘the gathering place of water’ in the local Nama language. Sossusvlei is located in the ancient Namib-Naukluft National Park. This Park includes the oldest desert in the world. One of the biggest attractions here is massive red sand dunes, some reaching over 300 meters in height. Visiting the area at sunrise or sunset ensures amazing photographic opportunities. One can’t forget Dead Vlei, often more photographed than the dunes themselves. For an ultimate experience soar silently above this magnificent area in an early morning hot air balloon safari.
Cape Cross : Situated 120km north of Swakopmund, Cape Cross is home to one of the largest colonies of Cape Fur Seals in the world. The surrounding area was proclaimed a reserve in 1968 to protect the biggest and best known of the 23 colonies of Cape Fur Seals which breed along the coast of South Africa and Namibia. During the November / December breeding season, as many as 150,000 seals gather at Cape Cross. The name refers to the large stone cross erected here by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century.
Fish River Canyon : The Fish River Canyon in southern Namibia is second only in grandeur to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It is quite magnificent and breathtaking in its immensity. The canyon features a gigantic ravine, in total about 160km (100 miles) long, up to 27 km wide and in places almost 550 meters deep. Because the Fish River is being dammed it only contains a small amount of running water.
Damaraland : Without doubt a destination in its own right but, being so achingly close to Etosha en route from the Skeleton Coast, the beauty and solitude that is Damaraland is so often missed. Home of desert-adapted elephant, rhino and lions as well as oryx, springbok and hundreds of bird species, Damaraland is at once beautiful, unique and fascinating with rocky mountains, grass-covered plains and every conceivable range of brown from dark russet to bleached blonde, under a sky which is invariably a deep vivid blue.
Caprivi Strip : The Caprivi Strip is a narrow strip of land between Botswana on the south, Angola and Zambia to the north, and Namibia’s Okavango Region to the west. The Caprivi is the wettest region in Namibia with high rainfall and a number of major rivers like the Okavango, Kwando and Zambezi. The abundance of water sustains a large variety of animals, including a large population of elephants. The wildlife is being protected in four reserves. There are no fences however, so the animals can roam freely across the borders of the neighbouring countries.
Kolmanskop : Kolmanskop is a ghost town in the Namib desert, a few kilometers inland from the port town of Lüderitz. Many Germans settled in this area after a diamond was found here in 1908. Driven by the enormous wealth of the first diamond miners, the residents built Kolmanskop in the architectural style of a German town, with amenities and institutions including a hospital, ballroom, school, casino as well as the first tram in Africa. The town declined when the diamond-field was slowly exhausted and was ultimately abandoned in 1954. The forces of the desert mean that tourists now walk through houses knee-deep in sand.
Skeleton Coast : The Skeleton Coast is the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia. Dense fogs, mighty storms and violent surf caused many ships in the past to run aground along the Skeleton Coast, and the desolate coastline has become known as the world’s biggest ship graveyard. Those who were shipwrecked and managed to swim through the heavy surf and reach the coast, still had to face the waterless, hostile coastal desert. The coast north of Terrace Bay, which is dominated by high sand dunes, is the most attractive stretch of the Skeleton Coast.
Sesriem Canyon : Sesriem Canyon is located along the road that takes you to Sossusvlei, approximately 4.5km from the entrance gate of the Namib-Naukluft Park. The Canyon is one of the few places in the area that holds water all year round and was named by the early Afrikaans explorers in the region after the fact that they had to use six (“ses”) leather straps (“riem”) tied together to create a rope long enough to lower buckets to fetch water from the canyon below. The Canyon is made up of stunning rock formations that have been shaped by the Tsauchab River over millions of years. It is well worth a visit.
Petrified Forest : The petrified forest is an area of open veld scattered with petrified tree trunks up to 34m long and 6m in circumference, which are estimated to be around 260 million years old. The original trees belonged to an ancient group of cone-bearing plants known as Gymnospermae, which includes such modern plants as conifers, cycads and welwitschias. Because of the lack of root or branch remnants, it’s thought that the trunks were transported to the site in a flood. About 50 individual trees are visible, some half buried in sandstone and many perfectly petrified in silica – complete with bark and tree rings. In 1950, after souvenir hunters had begun to take their toll, the site was declared a national monument, and it’s now strictly forbidden to carry off even a small scrap of petrified wood. Guides are compulsory.
Twyfelfontein : Located in north-western Namibia, Twyfelfontein contains one of the largest concentrations of rock engravings in Africa. Most of the carvings were created over 6,000 years ago by ancient Bushmen. The carvings were made by cutting through the hard surface layer of sandstone and represent animals such as rhinoceroses, elephants, ostriches and giraffes as well as depictions of human and animal footprints.
Spitzkoppe : Nicknamed the “Matterhorn of Namibia”, The Spitzkoppe is a group of bald granite peaks in the Namib desert. The highest peak rises about 700 meter (2,300 ft) above the flat desert floor. The granite massif was created by the collapse of a gigantic volcano more than 100 million years ago and the subsequent erosion exposed the volcanic rock. Attractions include the many bizarre rock formations and several San (Bushman) paintings found in various places.
Kalahari Desert : The Kalahari Desert stretches from the eastern parts of Namibia and crosses over the border into Botswana. With red undulating dunes dotted with golden grasses waving in the wind, the home of the Bushmen lends a new definition to wide open spaces. The sprawling landscape is home to uniquely adapted species of wildlife and flora with treasures to be found around the bend of the dunes.
Kaokoland : Home to the remarkable Himba people, the Kaokland is vast, beautiful and harsh. Its dry riverbeds and wide open plains are traversed by desert adapted elephants as well as other incredibly adapted Fauna and flora species. Many of the Himba tribes still live strictly according to their traditional ways and beliefs. With geologically rich hills and amazing scenery, the Kaokoland is a must for all who visit Namibia.
Bushmanland : As the home of the last true San communities, Bushmanland is a collection of incredible scenery, dune belts, thorny veld and splendor. The San people live in harmony off the land amidst grassy plains, wildlife and diamond night skies. As one of the last remaining wilderness areas, Bushmanland expresses the true heart of the Kalahari.
Walvis Bay : Walvis Bay is another remote foothold of the colonial powers. It is a pleasant alternative to Swakopmund and a great base for bird watching or exploring the nearby Namib-Naukluft National Park. Walvis Bay Lagoon is home to hundreds of thousands of birds, most notably flamingoes. The name Walvis Bay, or Bay of Whales, originates from 16th Century Portuguese maps. First ‘discovered’ by the Portuguese, the Cape Dutch then explored the hinterland in search of cattle and copper, before the British hoisted the flag.
Brandberg Mountain : Brandberg Mountain is Namibia’s highest mountain (2606 m). It lies in the northwest Namib desert, an area of stark and stunning beauty. “Brandberg” means “fire mountain”, a testament to the fiery red color of the mountain at sunset. Appreciating stone-age rock art in the hundreds of caves on the mountain is the main reason visitors come here. There are thousands of wonderful depictions of ancient hunting scenes, mythical stories and more, all painted by San Bushmen thousands of years ago.