Tim Culley

Namibia is vast in area as well as sparsely populated. So while this means planning your trip carefully is essential, its scenery and variety also means it offers holiday makers an impressive list of not-to-be-missed activities to add to their wish lists. 

Due to its epic landscapes, and unique, otherworldly scenery, most of the must-do’s you’ll find on this list are outdoorsy, and inclined towards adventure, so as to make the most of the beauty, space and sense of freedom that makes Namibia such a memorable place to visit. 

Climb the world’s highest sand dune 

A major highlight for any tourist to Namibia is the chance to see first-hand the largest sand dunes in the world, which are situated in Sossusvlei. These dunes are an astounding 300 metres high, and have been estimated to be the oldest of their kind in the world. If you’re up for a challenge, climb the aptly named Big Daddy (325 meters high) for a well-deserved vantage point of the desert. 

View the desert from up on high

Sometimes a change of perspective can give you a greater appreciation of a place’s beauty. One of the best ways to see Namibia is from above – viewing the landscape with a bird’s eye view from a small plane, or floating over the desert in a hot-air balloon is an experience that will remain embedded in your memory for life. 

Add a pinch of salt to you holiday dish

Etosha means the ”great white area” and refers to the biggest salt pan in Africa and home to the Etosha National Park which is Namibia’s foremost wildlife sanctuary.

The landscape is unique and varied and subsequently home to a wide variety of animals including lion, elephant, leopard, giraffe, cheetah, hyena, springbok, two kinds of zebra, eland, and many more. A particular highlight is viewing the wildlife at one of the floodlit watering holes close to man of the main camps.

Sleep under the stars

Due to its huge expanses of wilderness, and incredibly sparse population, the night skies offer some of the best stargazing to be found on the planet – unpolluted by city lights. One of the best – and most memorable – ways to experience this natural beauty is by sleeping under the stars. Various lodges offer ‘starbeds’ (an idyllically set up outdoor sleeping scenario – sometimes a rooftop, sometimes a sleeping deck in the desert), which will allow you to sleep connected to nature’s atmospheric night sounds and smells.  

Visit forgotten towns

Namibia has unique architecture across its various cities thanks to its German origins, but it’s the abandoned diamond-mining town of Kolmanskop that makes the most intriguing town tour. In the 1920’s, with diamond prices dropping as a result of World War 2 and richer deposits being pursued in other areas of the country, this outpost gradually emptied out and by the mid 1950s was completely abandoned. The powerful desert forces have slowly reclaimed the buildings, filling them with sand which makes for a fascinating, if eerie, photo op. 

See elephants & rhino in less typical surrounds

Damaraland is a beautiful region, boasting spectacular desert vistas, some of the most impressive mountains in Namibia, plants that live for hundreds of years, and starry nights that can take your breath away.

However, the biggest attraction of the region is the chance to track the rare desert dwelling elephants and free-roaming black rhino. Indeed, Damaraland is one of the few places in Southern Africa where African wildlife can be found outside of National Parks or private game reserves, and co-exist with traditional villages and farms.

Coastal pursuits

Namibia’s protected coastline stretches 1 570 kilometres, linking 12 000 square kilometres of wild untamed ocean to almost 110 000 square kilometres of vast desert. Namibia is the only country in the world that federally protects its entire coastline – which means that it is an unspoilt as you’ll find anywhere in the world. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy it however, and numerous aquatic activities are available to you – from fishing, to kayaking and shipwreck hunting (the Skeleton Coast’s famous beached vessels paint a vivid picture of the rough seas).