Going on a safari in Namibia , what an experience! She was looking forward to taking some time out so she could tell you about it.
There are trips that mark you forever and I am clear that going on a safari through Namibia is one of them.
The contrast of the desert with the Atlantic, seeing how the dunes reach the very shore of the sea.
Rhinos, lions and even elephants in that desolate landscape, with the fossilized trees as immobile witnesses…
Even in Etosha National Park , where the desert gives way to the savannah and there are more sources of water, this contrast is incredible. Nothing to do with other places in Africa.
And then, of course, we also have to talk about their traditional tribes. The Herero women and their multicolored dresses, or the Himba tribes that cover themselves completely with mud to protect themselves from the sun (don’t forget the sun cream because the sun doesn’t let up here!)…
The Kalahari desert before entering Botswana or even the capital and its cities with their German colonial buildings. Namibia is incredible and, above all, it is a very different country from any other place in Africa.
However, its grandiose landscapes and abundant wildlife make it the ideal country to observe animals in their natural habitat. Embark aboard a 4×4 and realize your most beautiful safari in Namibia.
- 1 Where to go on safari in Namibia:
- 2 Etosha National Park
- 3 Kalahari Desert
- 4 Daan Viljoen Reserve
- 5 Waterberg National Park
- 6 Namib Naukluft National Park
- 7 What to know before going on a safari in Namibia
Where to go on safari in Namibia:
Etosha National Park
The first thing I want to talk to you about is the Big Five. This is the name given to the most difficult large mammals to hunt and they are also usually the most sought after in any photographic safari both in Namibia and in any other country.
We are talking about the African elephant, the black rhino, the leopard, the lion and the buffalo.
Well, in Namibia there are the Big Five, but not in the whole country. If you can’t normally guarantee seeing the big five safely anywhere anymore, in Namibia there’s only one of the most likely stops: Etosha National Park .
Etosha National Park is one of the top places to go on safari in Namibia. In northern Namibia, this animal reserve is one of the most unique on the planet. Covering nearly 22,275 km², Etosha National Park occupies a gigantic salt pan 130 km long and 50 km wide, dry most of the year but which fills up during the rainy season. Hire a guide and climb aboard a massive 4×4 to roam through the park and spot a plethora of wildlife, including lions, Angolan giraffes and families of elephants. Perfect for a successful stay in Namibia.
At the Ongava Lodge, a luxury lodge located very close to the park. Thatched-roof huts, a large terrace overlooking the reserve and an observation point so you don’t miss any of the wildlife await you.
Population and landscapes in Namibia
On the other hand, I also want to talk to you about the landscapes and nature of Namibia , which is very different from anywhere else.
First of all, I have to tell you that Namibia is a huge country , twice as Spain, being the fifth largest country in Africa . In such a huge country, as is normal, there is a lot of diversity in terms of its landscapes.
Also tell you that it is one of the least inhabited countries on the continent, number 41 out of 54. In fact, it is the country in Africa with the least population density . In other words, if we take its size into account, it is the country with which fewer people will come across.
Why? Well, the landscapes of Namibia and its orography have a lot to do with it. Virtually the entire country is desert, with very few sources of water, so the population is concentrated in the capital, Windhoek , and in various cities on the coast ( Walvis Bay , Swakopmund , and Lüderitz ).
Windhoek , in fact, is the only city in the country with more than 100,000 inhabitants.
Since there are so few inhabitants, there are not many roads and they are usually gravel. The desert reaches from the interior to the sea, with places like Sandwich Harbor where the same dunes almost jut out into the Atlantic.
In the northern area (Etosha) and in the Kalahari river basin there is a little more vegetation, savannah-type, but in the rest we will find dunes, gorges, fossilized forests, large rocks, a desolate but equally beautiful landscape.
If we are looking for a tropical forest, Namibia is not our destination. Namibia is inhospitable , it is a starry sky without an iota of pollution, it is desert and freedom.
I also want to talk to you about the cultural section, because in Namibia it is another of the great attractions of the trip. On the one hand, we have the country’s traditional tribes and cave paintings, and on the other, the legacy of German colonialism.
Namibia was part of the German colonies in Africa, along with Cameroon and Tanzania . Of the three countries, Namibia is where it is easiest to see the German heritage in the buildings of its cities.
It also helps that it is a safer country where you can walk through its streets without danger, something that does not happen in the other two countries (Going on a safari in Tanzania is super safe, but its cities are not a tourist attraction).
In addition to the capital, Swakopmund stands out for its German heritage. Being cities surrounded by desert, the contrast is incredible. It will look like a Black Forest town has been teleported to the desert dunes!
On the other hand, in the Namibian desert and savannah there are several tribes that live according to their traditional ways of life such as the Bushmen (which we can also visit in Botswana and are the oldest tribe in the world) or the Himba in the north.
Spending time with them on safari is a way to discover another way of understanding the world and nature. It has freaked me out both in Namibia and when I went to Botswana on a safari .
Getting into the matter, I want to start by talking about Walvis Bay , the second city of Namibia and the starting point of the boat safari in Namibia.
Whether from the city itself or from nearby Swakopmund , taking a boat to spot cetaceans, seals, and sea lions is an incredible experience.
I recommend a mini-cruise with local oysters and sparkling wine, I did it and I loved it and I also got to see both whales and dolphins.
If you’re more adventurous, you can also kayak with seals at Pelican Point . I promise you that you will not be able to stop laughing! The water in this area is also super calm and although there are plenty of seals to navigate and play with, it is not as oppressive as in Cape Cross .
In this area, in the Namib desert, there are hundreds of thousands of seals and sea lions and the smell is so intense that it hasn’t left our noses for a week!
Also, near Walvis Bay is the Sandwich Harbor area , where the desert dunes meet the ocean. And not just any dunes, but hundreds of meter dunes, it’s impressive.
Among them, I have to highlight the famous Dune 7 , the highest dune in the world at 383 meters high. You will not see anything else like it because it simply does not exist.
We don’t often think of a desert for a safari. And yet, the Kalahari Desert is perfect for safari in Namibia. On the border of Botswana, this colorful desert stands out with its large areas covered with red sand and its yellow sand dunes. On board your 4×4, you will see Angolan giraffes wandering freely among the acacias. You will also have the opportunity to admire oryx, lions, elephants, but also other predators like the cheetah, the leopard, the hyena and the African wild dog.
At Gondwana Kalahari Anib Lodge, a charming lodge with swimming pool that can also organize game drives.
Daan Viljoen Reserve
This 40 km² reserve, west of Windhoek, is located in the desert mountains of Khomas Hochland. This is the perfect place to go on a safari in Namibia. The opportunity to observe all kinds of mammals, including wildebeest, elk, giraffe, mountain zebra, hartebeest, ostrich and more than 200 other species of birds that live there in total freedom.
Waterberg National Park
Waterberg National Park, with an area of 405 km², is one of the parks that we recommend for a safari in Namibia. It is home to several rare species, including black and white rhinos, which live there peacefully, hidden by the dense vegetation. The park also allows you to come face to face with the roan antelope and the black antelope. You can also come across a few dik-diks (dwarf antelopes), rock lovers, warthogs and many birds.
Namib Naukluft National Park
It is the largest national park in Namibia with nearly 50,000 km² in area. It is part of the Namib Desert. Due to its desert climate, the national park has wildlife adapted to its environment. Thus, it allows to observe the oryx, the spingbok and the ostrich which evolve there in complete freedom. Towards the Naukluft mountains, Hartmann’s zebra and the leopard try to live together, even if they remain difficult to see. Finally, during your safari, take the opportunity to go to Walvis Bay, not far from there. It is the perfect place to see a colony of pink flamingos which gather by the thousands on the shore.
To give you an idea, there are twice as many sea lions in this small spot in the Namibian desert as there are human inhabitants in the entire country .
Seeing the colony is an amazing experience, although as I mentioned before I warn you that the smells are not particularly pleasant. I would have appreciated that they had warned me and brought a tissue for the nose or something like that.
So many millions of animals that eat and relieve themselves in the same spot and sometimes the remains of food they eat rot (all fish that hunt in the sea), because it is normal for it to smell. But it still impacts.
Imagine, six and a half million, more sea lions than there are inhabitants in the entire Community of Madrid. And all together. Is incredible.
Through the Namib desert we are not going to find practically any animal and even so, it seems to me one of the most interesting stops on this route through Namibia.
There is an exception and that is Cape Cross or Cabo de la Cruz in Spanish. In Cape Cross lives a colony of six and a half million sea lions. As you hear it, six and a half million!
Finally, among the things to see on a safari in Namibia, I want to talk about the vicinity of the city of Mariental and the Kalahari basin.
In this area it is also possible to see many animals, as well as a cheetah recovery center, which once numbered in the thousands and now there are much fewer.
In the Kalahari Basin you will also be able to see how the Bushman tribes live, maintaining their traditional way of life.
Going on a safari through this area will also allow us to discover all kinds of herbivores and ungulates, hyenas, giraffes and other animals ideal for taking photos in a dreamlike landscape. Even lions if we are lucky!
And I don’t want to forget to recommend that you look up at night either. One thing that often happens on safaris is that we get so tired from the excursions that we eat dinner and fall asleep until the next day.
However, the sky in Namibia is incredible and you should not miss all its stars. Also, since Namibia is in the southern hemisphere, they are different constellations than the ones we can see from home.
What to know before going on a safari in Namibia
Several options are possible to go on a safari during your trip to Namibia. You can either ask the lodge or the hotel where you are staying to help you organize your safari with a guide or driver, or use an external service provider, or rent a 4×4 and make your own excursion without a guide, Of course, following the rules of the park. You also have to pay a small contribution to bring your vehicle into the parks, which is generally limited to NAD 10.
The best time to go on safari in Namibia is between April, September and October. Temperatures are not too high and showers are rare. For Etosha Park, prefer the period between May and October because this is the time when the fauna gathers around the water points and can be observed.