Namibia Regions and Attractions

Hot air balloon flight over the Namib Desert.
Namibia offers a great variety of landscapes and areas. Wilderness, fascinating animals, waterfalls, famous towns, ocean, sand dunes, rocks, grassland and forests: This country combines it all!

The arid Namib Rand Reserve or the Kalahari Savanna change to a long coastline with beautiful beaches or the green and lush area of the Caprivi Strip. Namibia's Rock formations like the Spitzkoppe or Waterberg Plateau, the second largest canyon on the World, the Fish River Canyon or the Etosha National Park are only a few reserves that have to be visited while staying in this beautiful and scenic country.

The North and North East : Etosha National Park

Wildlife which gather around the waterholes in the dry season; the transformation of the salt pan after the rains; incredible landscapes.

Covering more than 22 000 square km, this magnificent Park is quite a wonder, and while it attracts thousands of visitors every year it never feels crowded. It is a major wildlife sanctuary and place of great fascination. The main features are the 30 odd waterholes and springs in the southern area, and the vast salt pan which dazzles the eye with its whiteness  both features attract just about every type of animal in Africa.

Animals can number in the thousands, especially the Giraffe, Zebra, Elephant and Springbok. Other animals include Lion, Leopard, Wildebeest and Hyena. The endangered Rhino, Black-Faced Impala (endemic) and Cheetah are all present.

Birdlife is also prolific, with Flamingos and Pelicans especially active after the rains. The towns of Outjo and Tsumeb are closest and offer a variety of accommodation; otherwise there are 4 great camps in the park itself.

Kaokoveld

Attractions: Ruacana and Epupa Falls on the Kunene River; Marienfluss Valley and Puros; Desert dwelling Elephant on the Hoanib and Hoarosib Rivers.

Kaokoveld has specific boundaries. Namibia and Angola are separated by the Kunene River in the north. In the east it is met by the Owambo people of the Omasuti Region and Etosha National Park. In the west it is the Skeleton Coast Park and in the south it is the seasonal Hoanib River, altogether this area is about the size of Switzerland.

This remote and least accessible area has great natural beauty and is home to the OvaHimba people. Steep mountain ranges and passes, valleys, desert, and seasonal rivers characterise the land.

Regarded as one of the last wild places in Namibia, it is now receiving more and more visitors in search of adventure and seclusion, only self-sufficient 4x4 drivers may enter this area, the wet season should be avoided. In Opuwo wilderness guides and advice can be obtained. The extreme west is really only for the very experienced traveller used to total wilderness journeys.

Damaraland

Attractions: Spitzkoppe and Brandberg Massif; Bushmen rock engravings at Twyfelfontein; weird rock formations called the Organ Pipes, and the ancient Petrified Forest which is millions of years old; Erongo Mountain caves.

This area runs inland along the Skeleton Coast north of Swakopmund and south of Etosha Park. Khorixas is the main town in this area. Wildlife here have adapted to the intense climate and terrain to survive and include the Black Rhino, Desert Elephant, Lion, Desert dwelling Giraffe, mountain Zebra, Gemsbok, and Springbok. The pre-historic plant called a Welwitschia can also be found here.

Caprivi Strip

Attractions Superb wildlife conservation area; Bwabwata National Park (Caprivi Game Park); Popa Falls.

The Caprivi Strip forms a narrow finger along the far north-eastern edge of the country and covers about 450km (280 miles); it borders Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Angola. This area is fed by permanent rivers, the Okavango, Kwando, Chobe, Linyati and Zambezi and receives a high rainfall.

Game animals that can be seen include four of the Big Five and Hyena, Hippo or antelope species. It is also a tropical wonderland and perfect for boating, canoeing and kayaking. Katima Mulilo has most amenities including an airport and great art and craft including basketry can be purchased here. .

Bushmanland

Attractions: Nyae Nyae Pans after the rains; huge Baobab trees; taking part in traditional hunting and gathering activities with the Bushmen, Kaudom Game Park.

This area can be roughly divided into east and west from Tsumkwe. The San people live here and still follow their traditional way of life which is hunting and gathering. The Bushmen have an intricate knowledge of nature and the ecology, their incredible understanding of their environment has enabled them to survive in the most remote areas.

They have established 2 conservancies, one of which is the Nyae Nyae in the east from Kaudom Game Park along the border of Botswana and across Tsumkwe. Although, only experienced 4x4 travellers should attempt driving in this region and in Kaudum, the two make a worthwhile combination destination to experience, especially after the rains.

It is possible to take part in the traditional life of Bushman in communities in Omatako and Tsumkwe to see how they hunt and gather food. Permission needs to be gained well in advance from the Namibia Community Based Tourism Association.

Central

Windhoek and Surrounds

Attractions: Windhoek; Daan Viljoen Game Park; Gross Barmen Hot Springs near Okahandja; Arnhem Cave in the south-east; Rehoboth Hot Springs and Oanib Dam in the south.

Namibia's capital Windhoek is located in a lovely valley with a number of interesting attractions in the surrounding areas. For a picnic, hiking and game viewing the best place is the Daan Viljoen Game Park and dam which is just a short drive from Windhoek. The city has a number of mountains in the vicinity the highest being Gamsberg in the Khomas Hochland range.

There is a plateau on top and those that make the ascent by 4x4, which is very steep, can enjoy the beautiful sweeping views to the Namib in the west and the Auas Mountains next to the city. South of the city there is the privately run Observatory, if visitors would like to see the night sky here then an appointment can be made.

Waterberg Plateau and Hereroland

Attractions: Waterberg Plateau Park; game viewing; hiking; military cemetery; Dinosaur prints between Omaruru and Otjiwarongo; Hereroland.

Since the 70s the Waterberg area has been a designated as a nature conservancy to protect some of the endangered animals residing there such as the Black and White Rhino, Blue Wildebeest and Sable Antelope. The game reserve is actually on the Plateau.

The military cemetery is a reminder of a tragic event which occurred in 1904 when 40 000 Herero people including children were surrounded by 1 600 German colonial soldiers. A battle ensued, only some of the Herero people managed to escape into Botswana through the Kalahari Desert.

Hereroland, now called Okakarara is just to the south-east of the Waterberg Plateau. Traditional Herero way of life can still be seen here. The Herero people have always been herders and their livestock is their most important status symbol.

Sour milk is the staple diet of these people; it is kept in large calabashes. The Herero women wear elaborate Victorian costumes and headgear in the shape of cattle horns for special occasions.

The Namib Desert And Atlantic Coast

Skeleton Coast; Namib Naukluft Park; Swakopmund; Walvis Bay

Attractions: Skeleton Coast; Seal Colony at Cape Cross; Swakopmund; Welwitschia Drive; Walvis Bay lagoon; Dune 7; Sandwich Harbour; Namib Naukluft Park; Sesriem and Kuiseb Canyons; Sossusvlei; NamibRand Reserve; Ballooning over the desert.

Stretching along the Atlantic coastline for 1 200km (746 miles) the desert encompasses the Skeleton Coast in the north, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay in the middle and Namib Naukluft Park in the south. This incredible desert is ancient and really the most extreme on earth

The Atlantic waters are cold due to the Benguela current; the coastline is for the most part, treacherous. The worlds largest ship graveyard can be fully appreciated from the air along the Skeleton Coast; even whale bones can be seen.

Dense sea fogs and roaring storms characterise this coastline. The Namib Naukluft Park is rugged with vividly coloured giant dunes, mountains and gravel plains where only the most adaptable animals and plants can survive they are unique and highly innovative, surprisingly a great diversity of life can be found in all the different habitats here.

Ballooning over the Park is an extraordinary life-changing experience. In contrast, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay in the middle section are very popular holiday havens, providing cooler climes compared to Namibias interior.

Swakopmund is the 2nd largest city in the country, it is an attractive seaside destination with beautiful colonial buildings, historic attractions, a lighthouse and handsome townhouses, and the nightlife is also good. A great variety of outdoor activities, like Sandboarding, Quad Biking, Skydiving or Dolphin Cruises are offered. The locals are a cosmopolitan mix of people.

It is an excellent base for exploring with fantastic drives going north to the Skeleton coast, Spitzkoppe and Etosha and south to Walvis Bay and the Namib Naukluft Park. Walvis Bay has a beautiful lagoon, quite exceptional for viewing Flamingos, Pelicans, sea birds and migratory species in their thousands.

The South

Fish River Canyon; Ai-Ais; Keetmanshoop and Surrounds

Attractions: Fish River Canyon; Ai-Ais Hot Springs and the Richtersveld Transfrontier Park; the Orange River; Keetmanshoop; Quiver Tree Forest; Giants Playground.

Ancient landscapes, shaped by incredible forces are plain to see in the south of Namibia. There is the Kalahari savannah in the east and the beautiful Namib Desert and Namib Naukluft Mountains in the west, and in the south Ai-Ais and the magnificent Fish River Canyon,so old it is like a map of the earths geology over aeons. This region has experienced a meteor shower at Gibeon, an inexplicable movement of the earth at Brukkaros, and seen the formation and subsequent mining of diamonds.

Namaland and Luderitz

Attractions: Rehoboth Hot Springs; Hardap Dam and Game Park; Sesriem and Kuiseb Canyons; Sossuvlei; Brukkaros; Duwisib Castle; wild horses of Garub; Luderitz; crystalised sand roses; Kolmanskop.

This region also has a fascinating history of human struggle, Hendrik Witbooi (depicted on Namibian banknotes) from Gibeon rebelled against German rule and died in action in 1905  his grandson later took up the mantle to protest against South African Apartheid policies, the hamlet of Warmbad also has a history of uprising amongst the Nama people. A commemoration to ancestors in this regard is held in both areas in October and visitors are welcome (a special privilege).

In 1883, in Bethanien, a Nama Chief Joseph Fredericks signed away most of his lands in error (through misunderstanding of actual measurements used in the sale), to Adolf Luderitz, this was the beginning of German South West Africa and what is now known as the Namibian town Luderitz. Adolf Luderitz became bankrupt within 3 years when the bay he purchased did not yield the bounty he expected (gold, silver, copper), he sold the estate and later drowned on an expedition.

Kolmanskop, near Luderitz was established in 1908 as a diamond mining area, an entire community sprang up in 2 years due to the diamond fever, within 40 years the settlement experienced total boom and bust and is now a ruined ghost town almost covered in sand. It was abandoned when the diamonds became less and less and better supplies were found in Oranjemund.

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