Namibia Things to Do Tips by toonsarah

Namibia Things to Do: 367 reviews and 538 photos

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Elephants at a water-hole - Namibia

Elephants at a water-hole

Searching for elephants Etosha National Park Review

Etosha National Park in the northern part of Namibia is the best place in the country to see game animals, although it doesn’t compare to the game parks in some other African countries. You can stay in the park at one of several government-run rest camps (with fairly basic chalet style accommodation) or outside in more up-market lodges – we chose the former.

If you’re staying at a private lodge there’s likely to be the possibility of guided game drives but we drove ourselves. That’s got a few advantages – you’re in control of where you go and how long you stay. On the other hand if you go with a guide they’ll probably be in touch with other guides and know where to go for the best recent sightings.

Anyway, we did pretty well on our own. We saw lots of zebra, ostrich and giraffe, and were also really pleased to spot a rhino. My favourites are the elephants, and towards the end of the afternoon we found a large herd at a water-hole – definitely the highlight of our self-made game drive!

Address: Etosha National Park, northern Namibia

Directions: Head north out of Windhoek on the B1. Beyond the town of Tsumeb is the Von Lindequist gate area of Etosha.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Wildebeest - Namibia

Wildebeest

Overview of Etosha Etosha National Park Review

Etosha Game Park was declared a National Park in 1907. It covers an area of 22 270 square km, and while it isn’t as abundant with game as some of the more famous parks on the continent, it is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and one species of fish.

Etosha means "Great White Place", and the name suits the landscape, which is dominated by a massive mineral pan. This covers around 25% of the National Park, and was originally a lake fed by the Kunene River. However the lake dried up when the course of the river changed thousands of years ago. The pan is now a large dusty depression of salt and dusty clay which fills only if the rains are heavy and even then only holds water for a short time. But the springs and water-holes which remain along the edges of the pan attract large concentrations of wildlife and birds, and are the prime spots for viewing game.

The game viewing in Etosha National Park is excellent, the best time being from May to September - the cooler months in Namibia (we were there in July). Visitors can usually expect to see antelope, elephant, giraffe, rhino and lions, all of which we saw (though the lions only at night). Apparently some lucky visitors also see leopard and cheetah, but we didn’t here, although we did see the latter elsewhere in the country at Okonjima. There is a good network of roads linking the rest camps and various waterholes and other game viewing spots, all of which are navigable with a regular saloon car.

Address: Etosha National Park, northern Namibia

Directions: Head north out of Windhoek on the B1. Beyond the town of Tsumeb is the Von Lindequist gate area of Etosha.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Lagoon at Walvis Bay - Namibia

Lagoon at Walvis Bay

Walvis Bay to Swakopmund – an interesting drive Walvis Bay Review

Driving north from Walvis Bay you have high red dunes on your right and the grey Atlantic Ocean on your left. But this isn’t the wilderness it sounds. The coast-line is dotted with small, slightly incongruous resorts, while on the dunes tourists are sand-boarding and riding buggies. If like us you’ve just arrived from the dramatic scenery of Soussesvlei it all looks a bit bizarre!

There are several good places where you can pull over and enjoy the views, and the road itself is a delight – one of the few tarred roads in the country. But watch out for fog – it may not look like you thought it would but for all its commercialisation, this IS the Skeleton Coast.

Address: Approx 50kms south of Swakopmund

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jan 13, 2007
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Typical architecture of Swakopmund - Namibia

Typical architecture of Swakopmund

Little Germany in the desert Swakopmund Review

Swakopmund (often shortened by locals and visitors to Swakop) is a rather odd town to come across in the middle of an African desert! Founded by German settlers, the town still retains a Germanic feel, especially in the rather quaint architecture, which is certainly more European in style than African.

Things to do in Swakop include buggy rides and sand-surfing on the dunes, flights over the desert and Skeleton Coast, and shopping (there are some excellent craft shops). It’s also the ideal place to catch up on those essential travellers’ tasks of laundry and emailing! But we didn’t (in July) get a real sense of it as a seaside resort, although the ice-cream we had one afternoon was very welcome.

We were there in July, the Namibian winter, so the town was fairly quiet, but apparently in December and the other summer months it is invaded by families and other holiday-makers from Windhoek, so it’s essential then to plan ahead.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jan 13, 2007
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Dune 45 - Namibia

Dune 45

Climb Dune 45 Desert and dunes Review

OK I have to be honest – I didn’t climb Dune 45, but Chris did and told me all about it, so I figure I know enough to describe it here! Basically it’s a huge pile of sand and you climb up it – and if you think that sounds easy you’ve obviously never walked on even a small seaside dune. For every step you take forwards you slip almost the same amount backwards, which means it takes a very long time and a lot of effort to get to the top. And this is no ordinary dune – it’s one of the largest in the Namib Desert, at over 150 metres high. From the top (apparently) you get a great view of red sand in waves of dunes on all sides.

If you blow up my photo and peer at it carefully, Chris is the small figure just to the right of the dark shaded area at the top of the dune!

Directions: On the Sossusvlei road, 45 km from Sesriem - hence the name!

Website: http://www.namibian.org/

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Dec 23, 2006
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Hercules (cheetah) - Namibia

Hercules (cheetah)

Africat Foundation Cheetah Parks Review

The AfriCat Foundation ia a non-profit organisation, based at Okonjima. It is devoted to the conservation of cheetahs & leopards, rescuing animals that have been trapped by local farmers; providing humane housing, treatment and care for orphaned and injured animals; educating visitors and local people, especially farmers and school-children, about the animals they protect.

They provide a home and care for animals that currently cannot be released back into the wild. These are often orphaned cubs that are too young to cope on their own. These have either been captured without their mothers or their mothers have been killed. Others are animals that have been in captivity elsewhere and have become habituated to people or completely tame, making them unsuitable for release.

Most of the cheetahs and leopards that have suffered injuries are returned to the wild after recuperation, but in cases where the injuries have been too extensive, the cats have had to remain in captivity. The animals are housed in spacious enclosures of between five and four hundred acres in a natural, stress-free environment.

We visited the Foundation as part of our package while staying at Okonjima. We went first to see the clinic and food preparation area, and then went into the cheetahs’ huge enclosure in jeeps which were delivering their food (very large and bloody joints of game!) I’d imagined that we’d be lucky to spot a few cheetahs in the distance but that wasn’t the case at all. The animals have learned to associate the noise of the vehicles with food and soon came running towards us. It was a fantastic experience to see how fast and how beautifully they run, and then to be able to watch them from such a close distance – at times only a metre from the jeep. If you love big cats, this is really a must-see place on any visit to Namibia.

You can also adopt a cheetah, leopard or other animal – visit the website (below) to find out more.

Directions: On the farm of Okonjima, near the town of Otjiwarongo

Phone: 067 304566

Website: http://www.africat.org

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Dec 23, 2006
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Petrified tree trunk - Namibia

Petrified tree trunk

The Petrified Forest Damaraland - Rock Art, Brandberg Review

In Damaraland, not far from Twyfelfontein, you can visit a Petrified Forest. This is an entire forest of massive tree trunks that have turned into stone. The tree trunks are scattered over a large area; some are pretty small but others are huge – up to 34 metres long and 6 metres in circumference. They are estimated to be about 260 million years old. Altogether about 50 individual trees can be seen, some half buried on the rock or soil, others lying on the surface. There are also many small stones which, on close inspection, turn out to be petrified wood too. This is also a good place to see the amazing welwitschia mirabilis plants.

There’s no admission charge, perhaps surprisingly, but hiring a guide is compulsory and of course you must tip them – they rely on these tips as their income. However, as we discovered, they can be quite creative in maximising that income:

Our guide told us about his life looking after elderly relatives on a farm a couple of miles away. He pointed out the farm and the rough walk he had to take to and from the house several times a day. As we walked and talked he carved a Malakani nut - you'll be offered these everywhere you go, but this one was very well done, with a number of animals and my name, so we agreed to buy it in addition to giving him a good tip. When we returned to the car park he took us aside to pay for the nut, away from the view of the official souvenir stall. And the spot he chose to complete the transaction was ...

... beside his very good car. So much for the long daily walks in the hot sun! But it made a good story, and as I said, it was a beautifully carved nut, which still hangs in my kitchen to remind me of Namibia.

Directions: 40 km west of Khorixas on the C39 (signposted "Versteende Woud")

Website: http://www.namibweb.com/brandberg.htm

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Dec 23, 2006
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Dead Vlei - Namibia

Dead Vlei

Dead Vlei Desert and dunes Review

While staying at the Kulala Desert Lodge we arranged to visit Sossusvlei with one of their guides, Francis. He was an excellent guide and made sure we got to the best photo stops ahead of the tour groups (although that did mean a very early start to the day, of course!)

The highlight was visiting Dead Vlei. We parked the jeep and walked across several dunes. As we came over the top of the last, Dead Vlei was spread before us. It's an amazing sight and if you're a photographer you'll love it - the contrast betwen the white dried-up clay, stark black trees and surrounding red dunes is out of this world! See my travelogue for more images.

Directions: If you take the tour from Kulala you can arrive especially early because they have their own entrance to the National Park, but all the lodges and camps in the area will have similar ones on offer.

Website: http://www.wilderness-safaris.com

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jul 8, 2006
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Rock art at Twyfelfontein - Namibia

Rock art at Twyfelfontein

Prehistoric rock art Damaraland - Rock Art, Brandberg Review

The prehistoric rock engravings at Twyfelfontein are in every guide-book, and are certainly worth a visit. You need to be able to scramble up and over the rocks - make sure you take some water, a hat and some sunscreen. Your guide will point out some of the best images and if you get a good one will tell you a bit about the history of the area and what the pictures tell us about the people who used to live there.

Website: http://www.namibweb.com/brandberg.htm

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 16, 2006
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Lagoon at Walvis Bay - Namibia

Lagoon at Walvis Bay

Flamingos Walvis Bay Review

If you're staying in Swakopmund do make sure you find the time for the drive south to Walvis Bay. The road runs between the dunes and the sea, and for a brief while on your trip to Namibia you'll have the luxury of driving on tarmac!

When you reach Walvis Bay head for the lagoon where thousands of flamingos come to search for food in the shallow waters. There are several pull-offs where you can park and walk by the water, and while a pair of binoculars will help you get a close-up look at the birds you should find that they're near enough to see and photograph them quite easily.

When you finished watching the birds head for the marina area at the north end of the bay where you'll find some good places to eat and drink.

Address: Approx 50kms south of Swakopmund

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 11, 2006
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toonsarah

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