From the sweeping deserts of Namib and Kalahari to deep canyons, savannahs, and the ocean, Namibia has a tiny population but plenty of animals to make up for it: elephants, lions, cheetahs, antelopes, giraffes, oryxes, dolphins and flamingos coexist in this beautiful, majestic land.
Photographer: Tereza Nesnidalova | Editor: Margherita Basso
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To begin your journey, land in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, and hire a 4WD car with air-conditioning. Windhoek is a quiet city where modern buildings of the center mix with the old Bavarian-style architecture, reminiscent of the German possession in the 19th century.
In the heart of the city, you can sleep at Windhoek Luxury Suites, a boutique hotel with lush green gardens, design rooms and a wood-decked pool area.
Only half an hour from the capital, another option is Zannier Omaanda, a boutique lodge set in the heart of the Zannier Reserve, a 22,000-acre wildlife conservancy. Designed with Owambo architecture and offering elevated views stretching across incredibly beautiful savannas, the hotel features 10 individual thatch and clay huts, each with their own sunken bathtub and panoramic terrace.
If you’re wondering which time is best to visit, In Namibia the seasons are opposite to ours and from April to October the climate is mild and dry with clear skies, making it the perfect time.
During the entire trip, keep in mind that distances are huge and petrol stations sparse - when you happen to pass by one, fill up your tank.
Leave Windhoek and head towards the Etosha National Park and its pristine landscapes and wildlife.
Etosha National Parks is one of the largest and most accessible national parks in Africa, where the scenery is unique and home to a wide variety of animals. The abundant wildlife congregates around the waterholes, making it easier to spot and giving almost guaranteed animal sightings. You can go on safaris on your own vehicle but most of the camps offer guided game drives; it may be worthwhile to take part in one of the night ones especially since after sunset it’s forbidden to leave the camp and drive independently in the park but it is also the time on which the big cats are most active - and if you’re lucky you might see even a leopard.
Not far from the park, we suggest booking a lodge at the Epacha Game Lodge and spa. The lodge boasts 18 luxury chalets spread over the hills with stunning views of the private game reserve below.
While at Ongava you can choose to sleep in a lodge with impressive views over the camp watherhole or in a luxurious tent immersed in the African bush.
One of the experiences you shouldn't miss when at Etosha National Park, is the visit to a Himba village. The camp will be able to organize the experience, bringing you to a truly local village, where the Himba population, isolated, still lives following traditional ancient ways. The traditional Himba villages are made of an external protective fence and a narrower internal fence where animals, mostly goats, are kept at night. Livestock is the only wealth of the village. A variable number of conical-shaped huts are always arranged in a circle and mainly made of mud, manure and brushwood. The Himba obviously know our way of life but did not want to conform to the lifestyle of modern society and prefer to continue following the traditions of their own people.
One of the most scenic parts in Namibia, in Damaraland you’ll find a combination of prehistoric water courses, grasslands, open plains, and sandy wastelands. This breathtaking mountainous region is home to an assortment of desert-adapted wildlife such as elephant, rhino, zebra and lion.
When in Damaraland, one cannot miss the picturesque Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain, which is home to thousands of ancient rock paintings, and the rocky outcrops of Twyfelfontein which feature exceptional Bushmen engravings, considered to be some of the best-preserved etchings on the continent. Another place you have to visit is the Petrified Forest, dating back millions of years and offering a haunting landscape of gigantic fossilized trees.
For a magical stay, Camp Kipwe is the perfect place. This camp, located in the Twyfelfontein Conservancy, is a true gem huddled in the rocks with stunning views across the Aba Huab valley. An intimate setting, welcoming guests to a lounge area where birds gather to enjoy the water and to a swimming pool nestled in the rocks and blending in perfectly with the natural surroundings. The accommodation boasts eco-friendly bungalows, which are the perfect base to climb into an open-air vehicle and experience the wonders of Damaraland.
Check out Doro Nawas Camp for another beautiful stay in the area, to experience a true cultural immersion amid dramatic scenery and amazing desert animals.
Next on the tour is the Skeleton Coast. Stretching 500 kilometers between the old German colonial town of Swakopmund and the Angolan border, this coast takes its name from the animal bones scattered across its endless strands and the hundreds of ships that have wrecked there over the centuries. Everything about this area feels hostile yet fascinating. Here, the Atlantic Ocean’s current clashes with the high dunes and desert.
Despite seeming inhabited, in the skeleton coast you’ll find a number of wild animals to observe, between desert-adapted elephants, rhinos, desert lions, brown hyenas, jackals, giraffes, seals, oryx, kudus and zebras. Not to mention the 11 shark species that patrol the offshore waters.
Here, surfers come seeking some of the best waves in the world, while other adventurers explore the area using kayaks, quad bikes and 4x4s.
Sleep at the Shipwreck Lodge Hotel, with shipwreck-shaped cabins nestled between the dunes with a view of the Atlantic Ocean or at the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, a true desert tented oasis between immense dunes and rocky mountains.
Going back to civilization, you reach the city of Swakopmund, a beautiful coastal town with a strong German influence, both architecturally and culturally. Swakopmund is a unique city on the Atlantic Ocean that was once a German colony, and is to this day inhabited by a large European population. Book a room at the Swakopmund luxury suites or at The Delight Swakopmund and make the most out of your time here by going on a marine dune day excursion. Combining the best of both worlds the experience will feature a marine cruise followed by a 4x4 dune excursion to sandwich harbor.
The final stop of this journey will probably be the most spectacular yet. The Sossusvlei area in the southern Namib is known for its high sand dunes - some higher than 200 meters.
Sossusvlei literally translates to “dead-end marsh”, as it is the place where the dunes come together preventing the Tsauchab River from flowing any further; it’s a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes. Despite the harsh desert conditions, you can find an array of plants and animals that have adapted to survive here.
Some not to miss experiences: a hot air balloon ride and a star bed. We can assure you will never forget it.
Make sure you book the Kulala Desert Lodge, for an unforgettable desert adventure. Each of the 23 canvas and thatch rooms features a flat rooftop, ideal for sleep-outs under the extraordinarily clear Namibian night sky. Another favorite stay is Little Kulala, with a décor that echoes the local geology, and private pools and rooftops that make your own room the perfect place for both animal sightseeing and stargazing.
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