Windhoek is the capital city of Namibia. It is located right at the center of the country. Whether this is a coincidence or the product of ingenious German civil planning is up for debate.
The city is surrounded by rolling mountains on all sides. Being the capital city of the country, Windhoek is the first and last place that tourists usually go to on their visit to Namibia. On most occasions, it also serves as the base for other Namibian travels.
However, Windhoek is not just a travel base – it has a charming aura around it, making it a tourist destination on its own. The Christuskirche (Christ Church), a Lutheran church erected in 1896, is one of the main attractions of the city. Guided tours to the National Museaum in Alte Feste (Old Fort) are also another popular activity.
Once you enter Windhoek, you will instantly notice that the city is a melting pot of people and culture. Treat it as the first stop in your marvelous Namibian vacation.
The Skeleton Coast
In generations past, the entire coastline of Namibia was referred to as Skeleton Coast – a name conferred to it because of the multitude of shipwrecks that litter the coast of the country. The shipwrecks were caused by the dangerous trio of the strong Benguela Current, the dense fog in the area, and the rough surf. Bones of seals and whales, remnants of a time when the whaling industry was still allowed, can also be seen in Skeleton Coast.
Today, however, Skeleton Coast usually refers to the Skeleton Coast National Park – a far cry from the gloomy description that befitted its predecessor. The park constitutes the entire Namibian coastline, which includes rolling sand dunes, steep canyons, and wide mountain ranges. It is home to a variety of species such as elephants, rhinos, and seals.
Tourists who visit Skeleton Coast usually do so by flying in with a small aircraft, so that they can see the collection of shipwrecks that the Skeleton Coast has amassed before proceeding with their exploration.
Caprivi is in northeast Namibia – a very narrow strip of land that is bordered on all sides by Angola, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Roughly 400 kilometers long, Caprivi looks like a finger on the map, stretching out from the boundaries of Namibia.
Caprivi is by far the wettest region in Namibia. The area is mostly made up of rivers, floodplains, wetlands, and woodlands, which make it the home of an extensive array of wildlife.
Some of the animals you can see in this area include herds of elephants, buffalo, and zebra. Lechwe and reedbuck, two kinds of antelopes, are also abundant in the area. In the waters are families of crocodiles and hippopotamuses.
Another site to visit in the area is the Popa Falls, which is actually more apt to be called rapids than a waterfall. It crashes through rock formations as high as four meters in its path down the river.
Etosha National Park
The land of Etosha National Park was the first claimed conservation area of Namibia. Today, the park, which was established in 1907, is considered one of the best wildlife reserves, not just in the country, but in the whole of Africa.
The eastern part of the park is covered by sand, while the rest of the park is filled with shrubbery, plains, and woodlands. The total land area of the Etosha National Park is estimated at around 22,000 square kilometers.
During the country’s dry season, several thousands of animals of different species meet at the waterholes of the park to quench their thirst. It is not unusual to see elephants, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and lions all together in one area.
The park has been designed to make it easy for tourists to explore the area and to observe the animals. Roads have been built and signposts have been erected to make the experience as hassle-free as possible.
There are also lodgings available for guests who wish to stay overnight. Restaurants and stores are located in the park as well.
Kaokoveld, the area once known as Damaraland, is known for its dryness. Although its conditions are unforgiving, it has beauty that can captivate travelers from all over. Kaokoveld covers the Skeleton Coast, along with other attractions such as the Burnt Mountain and the Petrified Forest.
The landscape of the area is filled with rock formations that seem to have been molded into their unique and sometimes unimaginable shapes. Traveling through the Kaokoveld will have you going around, over, and under these rock formations.
The harsh environment has pushed both its people and wildlife to adapt. The Himba, a tribe known for their tall and slender people, slather their bodies with fat and red ochre to fight the heat. Elephants in the area have also made behavioral adjustments to live in the desert.
Tourists, however, would not be carelessly exposed to the harshness of the area. Kaokoveld is a place worth exploring, so comfortable accommodations have been put up in the desert to serve as a starting point for tourist journeys.
Twyfelfontein is a piece of culture and history that provides a preview on the richness of Namibia.
Twyfelfontein is an art gallery out in the open. Red rocks in the area have been carved by members of the Bushmen tribe. Some of the carvings are estimated to be around 6,000 years old.
The engravings are like a journal on the wildlife living in the area. Looking at the rock faces, you would see rhinos, ostriches, lions, elephants, and giraffes, among others. It is believed that the carvings were made by the Bushmen as a means to enter the world of the supernatural, with these carvings serving as records of their experiences.
The area was named a World Heritage Site in 2007, earning it worldwide recognition.
Visiting Twyfelfontein is best during the morning or late afternoon, when the temperature is manageable to thoroughly explore the rocks. The light during these times will also allow you to photograph the rocks.
The Kalahari Desert is the largest continuous stretch of sand in the world – and it isn’t even a desert. The Kalahari receives a significant amount of annual rainfall compared to other deserts, which makes the landscape well vegetated.
There is a wide variety of shrubs and trees in the Kalahari, among which are several kinds of acacia. During spring, flowers bloom and grass grow on the plains. During summer, frequent rains add more greenery to the landscape.
The Kalahari is most notable for one thing – the expansive open space, providing a sense of solitude amidst the silence of the area. Tourists who visit the Kalahari go to a place where they can gather their thoughts while appreciating its beauty.
Tour guides may also introduce you to the San Bushmen – the tribe that lives in the Kalahari. You can learn all about their culture and traditions, and you may even listen to the unique “click” language that the tribe uses.
Fish River Canyon
The Fish River Canyon is the world’s second largest natural gorge and the largest one in Africa. The canyon is a breathtaking sight that will leave tourists in awe upon seeing it.
The canyon is located in a dry and rocky plain. However, there are a few species of plants here that are resistant to drought, including the quiver tree, also known as kokerboom.
The Fish River Canyon was formed more than 500 million years ago, through a combination of water erosion and the collapse of the bottom of the valley due to crust movements. The canyon just suddenly drops vertically by half a kilometer, so be careful where you tread.
The canyon’s namesake, the Fish River, is another amazing sight. However, it is generally dry for most of the year and is filled with water only during the rainy season, between January and April.
Swakopmund and Walvis Bay
Swakopmund is a popular holiday destination for both locals and tourists. Guests flock to Swakopmund to escape the heat of inner Namibia and also to participate in unique activities that only the area can offer.
The city of Swakopmund resembles a tiny German city, a holdover from German colonial occupation. There is a vintage feel in the city, with streets lined with palm trees; promenades on the seaside; and cafes, restaurants, museums, and art galleries.
Swakopmund has a lot to offer, but the popular activities are held outside the city limits. Such activities include quad-biking, sand skiing, sand boarding, and parasailing – all of which can be arranged with the adventure companies that operate within the area.
At nearby Walvis Bay, tourists have the option of joining a dolphin cruise. They can also just relax at the beach, soaking themselves in the cool water to take a break from the intense Namibian heat.
Sossusvlei means “dead end marsh” but can also be translated to “the gathering place of water.” Though you would most likely have difficulty finding water here, you would get a sight of the world’s tallest sand dunes.
The dunes in Sossusvlei are part of the Namib Desert, and they have been formed over a period of several millions of years. The dunes are shaped by the continuous wind in the area, pushing the sand further and further inland to form the dune patterns. The warm color of the sand and the white surface of the clay base of the dunes paint a vivid desert picture.
Tourists who climb up the sand dunes are treated to a view of the whole area. The best time to visit Sossusvlei would be during sunrise and sunset, when the dunes reflect burning blends of reds, browns, and oranges.
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