30 Things To Do In Namibia You’ll Love

There are so many things to do in Namibia that it can be overwhelming to plan a trip around the desert country. Namibia is a country unlike any other and sits at the top of our list of favorite places. I remember our trip to Namibia as if it were yesterday. The deep red sand, the silence of the desert air, wild animals, desert tribes, and the encompassing landscape grab ahold of you.

Namibia is like another planet. We discuss returning to many countries, but Namibia will be a reality. In addition, it’s one of Africa’s easiest and safest countries to travel around. Namibia will enchant and leave you yearning to explore more. This is surprising, as the country is empty and the population is sparse, but don’t be deceived.

Things to Do in Namibia

Venture into Sossusvlei

Sossusvlei Dunes At Sunrise

Sossusvlei is the one place in Namibia everyone has seen a photo of. It’s one of Namibia’s main points of interest. The dunes in this section of the Namib Desert are considered the highest on earth, but it is hard to describe the sheer scale in writing.

Despite being Namibia’s number one tourist attraction, one can still find complete solitude due to the sheer size of the dunes and desert here. At 325 meters, the dunes tower over visitors, with high winds sculpting a changing landscape. Seeing these dunes in person will take your breath away. If you can only do one thing in Namibia, I recommend heading to Sossusvlei.

The best time to visit Sossusvlei is at sunrise or sunset—go in the middle of the day, and you’ll be drenched in sweat in minutes. At sunrise and sunset, the tone of the desert is dramatic. It is a wonderful time for a photo opportunity, but be warned: You have to act fast, as the sun is quick.

Watch the Sunrise on Dune 45

Sunrise Over The Desert In Namibia

As the Namib-Naukluft gates open before sunrise, visitors make a mad dash for Dune 45. It’s not the highest dune in the Namib Desert, but it is the most popular because of its location right off the road. It is often one of the most popular things to do in Namibia. Dune 45 rises over 80 meters and is composed of 5-million-year-old sand blown in from the Orange River and the Kalahari Desert.

Dune 45 is the most popular spot to watch the sun come up over Sossusvlei. It gets popular as backpackers and independent travelers make their way here every morning for the “gram.” To make it into Sossusvlei before sunrise, you must stay overnight in the park’s campsite.

Campers are the only ones with access to Sossusvlei before the official gate opens. You will need to be up well before the crack of dawn to be among the first to the dunes and climb them. We woke up at 4 a.m., broke camp, and drove like hell to see the sunrise.

An alternative way to watch the sunrise is to drive past the groups at Dune 45 and find your own dune to climb. That way, you get the beautiful red dunes and the sunrise all to yourself. Don’t worry – there are plenty of dunes to go around!

Walk Across Deadvlei

Deadvlei Namibia With Famous Dead Trees And Red Sand Dune

Vlei is the Afrikaans word for “marsh” and that’s exactly what Deadvlei is – a dead marsh. Trees in this white clay pan are long dead after drought and climate change cut them off from water long ago. Nevertheless, they are still beautiful. The pan is surrounded by some of the tallest and most impressive dunes in the world, making this a photogenic spot.

The road to Deadvlei is a deep sand, and a 4×4 vehicle is required. If you arrive without a 4×4, the road ends in a parking lot where guides will drive you in for a small fee. It’s best to arrive at Deadvlei before 10 am if possible, as the area gets unbearably hot late in the day. Deadvlei and Sossusvlei are nearby to each other. My advice would be to head to Deadvlei right after watching the sunrise over Sossusvlei before the sun gets scorching hot.

Drink at the Down Corruption Bar

One of the more unusual things to do in Namibia is to have a sundowner at the Down Corruption Bar. During the Apartheid era, laws in Namibia prohibited native Africans from entering bars or liquor stores. So, “shebeens,” or illicit pubs, sprang up in many townships to serve the disenfranchised.

Shebeens became an important part of not just Namibia but many African communities. They were well known for lively parties and live music and as a gathering place for political organizing. This tradition inspires the name, decor, and ambiance of this popular and worthwhile bar outside Etosha National Park.

Having a drink in this bar is one of the best unknown things to do in Namibia. This bar is located inside Gondwana’s Etosha Safari Camp, an affordable place to stay while visiting Etosha. You don’t have to be a guest to enjoy the bar. It’s also a restaurant and museum that serves cold drinks, good food, live music, and plenty of historical memorabilia for all.

Walk Through the Quiver Tree Forest

Two Guides At Wolwedans

14 km north-east of the town of Keetmanshoop is the Quiver Tree Forest. The unique quiver tree can be found throughout Namibia, but the Quiver Tree Forest boasts 300 of these iconic Namibian trees in a very small area making it the perfect and guaranteed spot to see the trees. Be sure to watch out for the quivers, as they have poison-tipped arrows. Although the poison part makes us quiver at the thought, the trees are considered good luck for those who worship and nurture them.

Check out Kaokoland

A Himba Woman's Profile

If you’re still wondering what to see in Namibia you need to visit Kaokoland. The few visitors that make it to this region of Namibia are rewarded by proximity to desert elephants, giraffes, lions, and the Himba people. Kaokoland is one of the last wilderness areas in Southern Africa, but visiting here doesn’t come easy. You’ll need a four-wheel drive vehicle and have to be self-sufficient on your journey north. 

Roads here are a limited patchwork of dry riverbeds and rough paths that are more often trails or dry riverbeds. Kaokoland is also where the Himba people live. Yes, the real Himba, not the ones available to tourists for photos at the popular hotspots. The Himba are considered to be one of the last tribes of Africa living as they have for centuries with little use of modern technology. The Himba paint their skin in a distinct ochre to protect themselves from the harsh Namibian sun and are frequently the subject of photographers who come from all over the world to capture their images.

Visit Damaraland

A Trail Through The Wild Landscape Of Damaraland

If you’re wondering what Namibia is famous for and are an avid Planet Earth watcher, you may have heard of Damaraland. Damaraland is one of the most picturesque areas of Namibia, and you can find all the great animals in Africa. In Damaraland, granite formations mix with ancient riverbeds, grasslands, and mountains and the beauty is so great you may want to pinch yourself to ensure you’re not dreaming.

Damaraland is similar to Kaokoland, and together they form an area known as the Kaokoveld. The chief difference between the two areas is the ease and accessibility. In Damaraland, there are a number of roads, campsites, and lodges that make travel much easier.

Watch Life On the Kavango River

Natasha Looks Over River From Hakusembe Lodge

The Kavango River flows from Angola through Namibia and forms the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The rich river is a vital source of water for all three countries and the wildlife that calls it home. The river marks the beginning of the Caprivi strip in Namibia, making a swift departure from the rest of the arid country. Here, you can view a wide range of birds, hippos, and crocodiles while villagers paddle downstream in mokoros and carefully bathe along the banks.

Days can be spent relaxing along the river and watching, or you can choose to join the flow: Boat cruises are super-popular in the region and best enjoyed at sunset. To linger longer, reserve a luxury chalet or floating bungalow at the Hakusembe River Lodge, located outside the Namibian outpost of Rundu and across the river from Angola.

Day Trip to the Luderitz Peninsula

A Moody Edit Luderitz Lighthouse

One of the best places to go in Namibia is Luderitz. Make a day trip to this peninsula located outside the town of Luderitz. Here, you will be treated to the company of a plethora of colorful local wildlife, including brown hyenas, oryx, and flamingos. Diaz Point features a lighthouse and cafe along with a replica cross that was erected by the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, after making it to the Cape of Good Hope.

The largest penguin colony in Namibia is nearby on Halifax Island and is visible from here if you have some binoculars. The marine life in the surrounding waters around the Luderitz Peninsula includes whales and dolphins. Travelers have a good chance of spotting them from the beach, or they can join a wildlife cruise.

Safari in Bwabwata National Park

Elephants Hide Behind Bushes

Unlike most of Namibia, The Bwabwata National Park, located in the Caprivi Strip, is fertile and green thanks to the rainfall and the Cunbango River. This river forms the famed Okavango Delta in Botswana. Bwabwata is known as the “people’s park” because it is home to both wildlife and several villages.

The park’s non-human population has increased in recent years thanks to a progressive restocking and relocation program of rare species such as the red lechwe and sitatunga. This focus on becoming an ecotourism destination has benefitted humans by increasing business and creating new jobs for the local population.

The park is a route for migrating elephants traveling from Southern Angola to Chobe National Park in Botswana. Known collectively as the KAZA region, five countries collaborate to protect the majestic pachyderms’ seasonal path: Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Stay at the Gondwana Canyon Village

Gondwana Canyon Village

The Gondwana Canyon Village features hiking in a 127,000-hectare reserve, which once belonged to local farmers until the Gondwana Collection purchased the land. Visitors can enjoy wandering through the interesting geology and getting as up-close as they allow with animals such as oryx, zebra, and jackals.

The local lodge here was set up in the form of a small village oasis in the desert, accessible from the main road. We stayed here and enjoyed venturing around the desert before returning to a comfortable lodge. For those seeking to relax and cool off, the lodge features one of the only pools in Southern Namibia—the perfect place to unwind amidst beautiful desert scenery.

Make a Stop In Solitaire

The famed Abandon Truck In Solitaire

One of the top tourist activities in Namibia is Solitaire. The small settlement of Solitaire is located in the middle of the desert. Almost every traveler in Namibia makes a stop at this watering hole at the crossroads of C14 and C24, two major routes connecting Walvis Bay and the Sossusvlei section of the Namib-Naukluft National Park.

Solitaire has the only gas station for miles, plus a repair shop, post office, bakery, and small general store. The town is decorated with the decaying ruins of old cars from various decades, which many travelers take as a chance to get a picture-perfect “Namibia” photo.

See the Flamingos at Walvis Bay

Flamingos On Walvis Bay

One of my favorite activities in Namibia is Walvis Bay. Walvis Bay is often overshadowed by the nearby city of Swakopmund. But the 30-minute drive from Swakopmund is worthwhile. Walvis Bay is the country’s chief port town. The waters here are rich in plankton, drawing in many southern right whales each year.

While many birds and sea animals make the area their home, Walvis Bay is known for hosting an estimated 35,000 flamingos. You can’t miss them as you drive along the coast, and I recommend pulling over to observe them for a while.

If you keep driving, you’ll hit the tip of Pelican Point, a natural sand spit that stretches out into the ocean. Pelican Point gives visitors another chance to see more marine life. If you can’t find suitable accommodation in Swakopmund, try Walvis Bay!

Live in Luxury at Chobe Water Villas

A Drone Photograph Of The Chobe Water Villas On The Chobe River

On the Namibian side of the Chobe River are the luxurious Chobe Water Villas. These villas are located in the Kasika Conservancy at the eastern tip of the Zambezi Region and are set on stilts above the flowing Chobe River. All the balconies here look out onto the famous Chobe National Park and Sedudu Island in Botswana.

The food here is exceptional, and the hospitality is on point. For activities, guests can leave Namibia to head into Botswana’s Chobe National Park across the water. We loved a sunset cruise to get up close to elephants, crocodiles, buffalo, and hippos from the boat.

Wolwedans Dune Lodge

Natasha In Bed At Wolwedans

If images of towering red dunes, ancient rock formations, desert animals, sandstorms, and mysterious “fairy circles” are in your Namibian dreams, then the NamibRand Nature Reserve is where your dreams will become reality. This area is a 200,000-hectare non-profit private nature reserve in southwest Namibia. The focus of the reserve is the preservation and restoration of the Namibian land.

Wolwedans is one of the few lodges in this desert and is breathtaking. Waking up in a canvas tent while the sun rises over the desert is the best way to experience the area’s beauty and brings back great memories of Africa.

A Server Sets At A Table At The Private Camp Of Wolwedans

Wolwedans has been featured in countless travel publications and offers some of the best accommodations in Namibia, and Africa. It is the epitome of a classic African safari lodge. Focusing on sustainability, conservation, and high-end travel accommodations, the Wolwedans’ four main camps treat guests like royalty. Be prepared for lots of gin & tonics, wildlife, delicious meals, luxurious tents, and fiery sunsets. It’s not a cheap place to stay, but the experience is out of this world.

Watch the Sunset Over the Kalahari

Several Eland In The Kalahari At Sunset

Watching the sunset over the Kalahari Desert is a sensation to behold. 1.2 million square kilometers of deep-red-toned sand stretches across all of Southern Africa. Despite harsh conditions, the Kalahari hosts many animals that have adapted to the environment. Lions, gemsboks, meerkats, zebras, and cheetahs can all be found in the Kalahari.

Stand in Awe of The Fish River Canyon

The Fish River Canyon At Sunset From A Drone

Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon on earth and is magnificent, to say the least. Despite its impressive size, few tourists make it to Southern Namibia to marvel at it. The canyon’s origin is the separation of the Gondwana supercontinent, an event that shaped much of the landscapes of Southern Africa today.

Most travelers take a relaxing approach and head to the canyon rim in the evening with some cold Windhoek Lagers to watch the sunset. Adventurous travelers can descend the 550 meters to the canyon floor for an active adventure.

This hiking option is only available a few months out of the year due to seasonal extreme heat and flash flooding. Should you accept the challenge and visit at the right time of year, the hike takes around five days and covers 88 kilometers of the canyon floor.

Learn about the Kavango people

Observing Mbunza Culture

Located outside Rundu and the neighboring Hakusembe lodge along the Okavango River lies the Mbunza Living Museum. Set up by the Living Culture Foundation, a Namibian nonprofit, the museum is both a school for traditional culture and a community-based business aimed at preserving the culture of the Kavango people, while providing an additional source of income for rural villagers.

You can spend a few hours or a whole day learning about the different aspects of the local culture. I promise you will be entertained and educated about rural Namibian life. There are many living museums around the country so be sure to see if any are nearby!

Find the Desert Horses of Aus

Desert Horses Look At Land Cruiser In Desert

The tiny mountain town of Aus is set in a desert landscape 125 kilometers outside of Luderitz. This stop isn’t well known and won’t appear on many road trip itineraries, but it should. There isn’t much in Aus besides two campsites, a lodge, a petrol station, a restaurant, and a hotel. It is located along one of the few major roads in Namibia, the B4. The B4 is largely flat, but near Aus, the mountains rise up out of the desert. Catching sunrise or sunset here won’t be a disappointment.

In the neighboring area of Garub—itself nothing more than a wheel and water tower in the desert—visitors can find the feral horses of the desert. They are often thought to be the only feral horses in Africa. No one is quite certain where these 150 wild desert horses originated. These special horses have adapted to the harsh desert environment and are said to be able to go five days with little to no water.

When we were there, the horses looked quite skinny. The Gondwana staff told us that human intervention during severe droughts was necessary to save the species. Now, the Gondwana collection provides enough water and hay for the horses to survive.

Drive the Skeleton Coast

A Shipwreck On The Skeleton Coast

One of the most beautiful places in Namibia is the Skeleton Coast. Once referred to as the “Gate of Hell,” this stretch of coastline is one of the least hospitable places on earth. Along the drive, you won’t find much besides the remains of shipwrecks littered along the coast. The Skeleton Coast—once the moniker of the entire coast of Namibia—now describes the stretch north of the coastal town of Swakopmund.

There is no place quite on earth like the Skeleton Coast. While the sand dunes and vast ocean are breathtaking, the weather here is ferocious, as the heat from the desert whips up massive winds from the cool and wild Atlantic Ocean.

As you pass the last of crumbling fishing towns and reach the Skeleton Coast Gate with skull and crossbones, a sense of foreboding is inevitable. From the gate, drivers are on their own. There are no services available, so it’s important that you are self-sufficient if you travel here. That means a 4×4 vehicle, enough gasoline for your trip, food, water, and, god forbid, knowing how to change a tire.

Safari in Etosha National Park

Driving in Namibia GoPro Selife With A Giraffe

Etosha National Park is arguably one of the best national parks in Africa and one of the top places to visit in Namibia. However, many international travelers don’t venture or think of Namibia regarding safari, but they should. Etosha is filled with wildlife in the massive Etosha salt pan that can be seen from space.

We spent two days on safari here and saw rhinos, lions, hyenas, giraffes, jackals, and so much more. With scarce water throughout, the local animals are forced to congregate around a limited number of watering holes. You can sit by one of the many watering holes and watch the wildlife come in from kilometers away.

It’s one of the easiest parks in Africa to self-drive, as the roads aren’t in terrible shape, and the signage is good. The best part about Etosha, though? The price! At 80 NAD, Etosha National Park is the cheapest place in Africa for a safari. Seriously, we’ve been on safari in most of Africa’s best parks, and that price can’t be beaten.

Breathe in the Air at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve

A Big Seal At Cape Fur Seal Colony

Namibia’s largest seal colony can be seen (and smelled) at Cape Cross Seal Reserve. Although you may need nose plugs, seeing 100,000 floundering and wailing beasts is amazing. These fat sea mammals enjoy the full advantage of the nutrient-rich Atlantic Ocean here, with large concentrations of fish concentrated along the shoreline due to the famous Benguela Current.

This area is one of the few “stops” along the Skeleton Coast drive mentioned above, but it’s still close enough to Swakopmund for a day trip. Don’t forget to bring a camera and snap some photos of the seals, but be careful – they bite!

Check Out the Quirky Town of Luderitz

A Landcruiser On Luderitz Beach Namibia

Luderitz may be one of the strangest cities/towns we have ever visited. Originally built by German settlers, Luderitz is nestled between the turbulent Atlantic Ocean and the massive dunes of the Namib desert. German architecture, beer houses, and marine life dominate the town. Piles of sand blow through the streets and fill the gutters.

The vibe is wonderfully strange, like something out of the twilight zone, stuck in time and almost forgotten, and any visit here may make you feel as if you’re in the twilight zone. Nevertheless, it is a real and working town in Namibia, and it is well worth exploring for a few days! Plus, it’s the gateway to the unmissable Kolmanskop!

Photograph the Ghost Town of Kolmanskop

Inside A Home At Kolmanskop Namibia

In the early 1900s, a German railway worker found a diamond lying on the ground in the desert, and the rest is history. The town of Kolmanskop was quickly established and grew in size, and diamond mining in Namibia boomed.

Kolmanskop, despite being located in the middle of the Namib desert, exploited the diamond field at the turn of the century. The town was completely abandoned in the late 1950s, and now a ghost town sits in the sand dunes of the Namib Desert. In the 1980s, DeBeer turned the area into a museum, and now it is one of the most photographed spots in Namibia.

Daily tours provide information for visitors who want to learn about the area and take stunning photographs of the decaying, abandoned buildings in the sand. Seriously, it’s hard to get a bad photo at Kolmanskop! Same-day permits are required to enter Kolmanskop and can be purchased at the gate for 75 NAD, which includes an hour-long tour that starts at 9:30 am. Plan to stay longer and wait out the crowds to get the best photos.

Enjoy the Vibes in Swakopmund

A Traditional Building In Swakopmund

Swakopmund is easily the hippest city in Namibia and the country’s tourism epicenter. It is a cool, beachside retreat that provides relief from the scorching hot desert and has long served the weary traveler. Since Namibia was once a German colony, you can find beer halls, plenty of bratwursts, and colorful wooden homes here.

You can also acquire almost anything you need to tackle the surrounding desert. The desert is never forgotten, though, as dunes surround the city and roll into the wild Atlantic Ocean. There are tons of things to do in Swakopmund, the ultimate destination for adventure in Namibia. Entertain yourself with sandboarding, four-wheeling, paragliding, or skydiving—all on or over the Namib desert.

Spend a Night in Spitzkoppe

The Wild Landscape Of Spitzkoppe

Aside from the stunning dunes of the Namib Desert, Spitzkoppe may be the most photographed landmark in Namibia. An imposing granite rock formation that reaches a height of 1,728m, its summit’s shape has earned it the nickname “The Matterhorn of Africa.”

The unique geology and beautiful views have attracted humankind throughout history, and so a large number of bushmen paintings can be found on the granite mountain. Spitskoppe is a fantastic destination for hiking, climbing, and photography. Visitors may make it a day trip from nearby Swakopmund or stay closer to the mountain at a small community-run desert campsite.

Try your Hand at Sandboarding

A Man Ride Down A Dune On A Sandboard

Have you ever tried snowboarding? Now, consider swapping out that fresh powdery snow for some harsh desert sand and riding it. That is sandboarding in a nutshell. Sandboarding is one of the most popular things to do in Swakopmund, as just outside town lies the “perfect” dune for sandboarding. With six different faces and a towering height of 100 meters, visitors can have an adrenaline-filled day shredding the sand.

See Epupa Falls

Epupa Falls With High Waters In Namibia

Perched on the border of Angola and Namibia, in the region of Kaokoland, these magnificent waterfalls are a series of cascades that drop 60 meters over 1.5 kilometers. At their most impressive point, the falls span across 500 meters before dropping and creating a beautiful mist.

The whole area up to and around the falls is unspoiled wilderness with baobabs, wild fig trees, and makhani palms lining the river and road. The falls are easy to reach in all seasons. A high clearance vehicle is recommended but not required unless you’re traveling in the wet season, it’s advisable to come in a 4×4. However, you will need to be self sufficient and equipped for camping with plenty food and fuel.

Have a Braai!

Setting Up Sundowners On A Dune In Namibia

Like South Africa, the braai culture is strong in Namibia. Braai is Afrikaans for “grilled meat,” and that’s what a braai is all about—a bunch of grilled meat. “Having a braai” means someone is having a social gathering similar to a BBQ. We’ve become quite accustomed to the typical Southern African braai now.

Braai can consist of any meat, but the two most common items are beef and a spiced sausage called boerewors. This is typically served with “pap” Afrikaans for maize porridge and a relish of green vegetables cooked down. In general, Namibia is a very meaty country, and vegetarians may find it hard to find the food they want in this desert country – but of course, it can be done!

Go on a Desert Bush Walk

We love going on bush walks around Africa as they allow us to explore the beauty of Africa up close. It’s not the time to see big game (although it’s possible) but to explore the intricacy of the desert eco system. You can learn about plants and insects of the desert, such as the sand snake or toktokkie. It’s also when you can see snakes, reptiles, and droppings and analyze footprints without the nuisance of a loud engine. You’ll want some good boots and a hat for this activity.

Quick Tips On Travel in Namibia

  • Capital: Windhoek
  • Currency: The Namibian Dollar, equivalent to the South African Rand
  • We found the land borders hassle-free for self-drivers.
  • Self-driving is the most popular way to get around Namibia. The distances are great, and petrol stations are scarce, so buy a map and plan.
  • We could get around with credit cards for most of our time in Namibia.
  • Most roads around the country are in very good condition. However, expect corrugation and some bumpy rides.
  • Visitors will be able to get by fine with English in Namibia. The majority of Namibians are exceptionally friendly people.
  • We experienced no bribes, hassles, or police corruption during our month in the country.
  • We felt safe traveling in Namibia but did not go to Windhoek as we felt no need to see another big city.
  • Visitors can find about anything they need in Swakopmund and Windhoek. However, don’t expect common amenities in many of the other towns.
  • MTC and TN Mobile are the two main cell phone providers. We received 1.3 GB of data promotion for $N40 for one week with TN Mobile Jiva Surfer. Cell phone service was only available in towns and cities.
  • We felt that Namibia had a very “Western” feeling and felt very much like South Africa. It wasn’t until we got into Damaraland and the Caprivi region that we felt we were truly back in “Africa.”
  • Driving at night in Namibia is not recommended, especially in the north, where cattle, goats, and donkeys graze on the roads.

Book A Safari in Namibia

Cameron Walks Across Deadvlei

Traditionally if you wanted to book a safari, you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book your safari for you. However, Timbuktu is a new platform that allows you to select the lodges you’d like and see the pricing per day to choose your best itinerary. They will then contact the lodges and help you by booking your safari. Experts on staff can also provide suggestions and arrange the little details like a travel agent.

About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

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