National Parks of Namibia
An absolute must on any Namibia safari holiday in Africa, is to visit at least one of the famous Namibia National Parks like Etosha National Park, Fish River Canyon, Namib Naukluft Park.
Amazing wildlife experience and encounters with Lion, Elephant, Rhino and Leopard are offered in the world famous Etosha National Park. Buffalos can be spotted in the Caprivi Game Park. Adventure seekers and sports lovers can go on fascinating hikes in the spectacular Fish River Canyon.
For those who love solitude and seclusion, the Namib Naukluft National Park with the World's highest sand dunes is the right destination. Climb up the famous Dune 45 at sunrise and a stunning and almost unreal view will be revealed to you. Find live in the desert and encounter unusual little species in the red sand on a guided walk.
Etosha National ParkEtosha is the oldest and most famous National Park in Namibia and also the 3rd largest in Africa. What makes it so riveting is the incredible terrain which includes a shimmering white salt pan, a vast shallow depression measuring 5000 square km - 25% of the Park. What was a great inland sea is now a dusty bowl of salt, minerals and clay forming mirages in the intense heat.
After heavy rains, this area is transformed into a lake for a short while which attracts an incredible variety of game and birds. In the southern areas of the Etosha Pan game viewing is spectacular. A series of waterholes (30 in all) attract the wildlife, especially as the dry season progresses.
Time spent waiting at any one of these waterholes can be very rewarding and provide excellent photographic opportunities. Just about all African animals can be found in Etosha, including Rhino, Black-Faced Impala (endemic species) and Cheetah which are endangered. Etosha boasts the tallest Elephants in Africa, up to a magnificent 4 metres high. These huge animals number in the thousands in the Park only surpassed by the great herds of Giraffe and Zebra.
The largest amount of single species is the Springbok, at well over 20 000. Lions are plentiful; other animals that can be seen include Blue Wildebeest, Hyena and Leopard. There are many bird species to be found here, at least 340 including large numbers of Flamingos and Pelicans who especially love the Pan after the rains. There are 4 camps within the Park, Okaukuejo, Halali, Namutoni and Onkoshi. The theatre-like atmosphere on the waterholes will make this special experience last a lifetime. Etosha is 400km (249 miles) north of Windhoek.
- May - September the game viewing is the best
- November - March is perfect for bird-watching enthusiasts
Bwabwata National ParkThe Caprivi Game Park and the Mahango Game Park have been linked together to form the Bwabwata National Park, home of 4 of the Big Five. Known as the Okavango Delta of Namibia, this narrow stretch of land on the Caprivi Strip is in the far north east of the country, wedged between Zambia and Botswana. This remote place is unique from the rest of Namibia as it is the wettest region, fed by the major Okavango, Kwando and Zambezi Rivers; excellent for boating and fishing, there are rapids near Popa Falls.
Clear waters and lush islands surrounded by predominant woodlands characterise this Park. Animals inhabiting this area are Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Hippo, Roan, Kudu, Hyena, and more than 30 small game species as well as nearly 400 bird species. In the past tourism has been limited in this Park; it is now a superb conservation area with huge potential.
- For game viewing May - October is the coolest and best time, malaria medication is strongly recommended
- Only experienced 4x4 drivers used to wilderness terrain should undertake driving on the very sandy roads
- There are no fences so game roam freely
Mudumu National ParkLush with marshes, riverine forests, dense savannah and mopane woodland, this Park is characterised by the Kwando River waterways which are a delight when explored by boat. Located in the eastern Caprivi, the birdlife here is prolific, with at least 400 species.
There are significant small populations of Sitatunga (which are able to walk on the reed beds) and Red Lechwe antelope, Spotted Neck Otters, Hippos and Crocodiles. Other animals found here seasonally include Elephant, Buffalo, Zebra, Roan, Kudu and Impala. The rare African Wild Dog can sometimes be seen in this area too.
- April - September for best game viewing
- December - March the Park is lush and the birdlife is prolific
Kaudom Game Park
Untouched and very remote on the border with Botswana, Kaudom is a pristine conservation area on the edge of Bushmanland, a good combination to visit. The terrain consists of Kalahari sandveld with river beds that run briefly after heavy rains, and dry forests. The densely wooded wilderness is rich with game such as Elephant, Giraffe, Lion, Leopard, Hyena, and Jackal. Of particular note is the population of rare African Wild Dogs. Birdlife is excellent with around 320 species.
- The camp is open all year but the rainy season should be avoided
- Malaria medication is strongly recommended
- Visiting here can only be done with a minimum of two 4x4 vehicles in convoy
- Visitors must be completely self sufficient, the roads are on soft Kalahari sand
- There are no fences so game roam freely
Skeleton Coast ParkMost visitors to this area are at a loss for words to describe this stretch of coast littered with whale bones and wrecked ships - testament to the vessels that did not survive the dense fogs and roaring storms. Anyone aboard that may have made it through the treacherous rocks and surf on to the beach would find huge sand dunes and a 300km (186 miles) wide waterless and hostile desert.
The southern part of the Park is the most accessible to visitors with various operators and lodgings offered. Driving in this area should always be approached with caution and visitors should always be well prepared as the distances are vast. Fly-in tours give visitors a better overall view of this desolate area. The Park is popular for angling and the massive seal colony at Cape Cross. Others may appreciate the incredible history and solitude to be found on the Skeleton Coast.
Also interesting is the diversity of animal life here and the adaptations required to survive. Animals found are Jackal, Gemsbok, Springbok, Ostrich and Hyena. The dunes are alive with many reptiles, insects and along the rivers. Flamingos and Pelicans, while desert-adapted Elephant, Black Rhino, Lion and Giraffe roam along the dry river beds.
- October - May are the coolest months
Namib Naukluft Park
Intensely beautiful desert, mountains and gravel plains form this Park. Only the most adaptable creatures and plants can thrive in the largest nature conservation area in Africa. Visitors have access to 4 areas in the Park namely the dunes of Sossusvlei, the Naukluft Mountains, and the gravel plains of the Namib between the seasonal Rivers of Swakop and Kuiseb, as well as the dune area on the Atlantic coastline around the Sandwich Harbour lagoon.
Namib Naukluft Park's highlights include, climbing the giant Dune 45, hiking in the mountains, following 4x4 trails, exploring Sesriem and Kuiseb Canyons, and learning about the incredible plants like the ancient Welwitschia and desert animals such as the Tok-Tokkie beetle and Oryx creatures that have unique survival techniques.
Surprisingly there is a large array of animals living in the various areas; some of them are very rare. Mountain mammals include Cheetah and Leopard, desert mammals include shrews, moles and gerbils and their associated predators Black-Backed Jackal, Bat-Eared Fox, African Wild Cat and Hyena. The reptiles and spiders are particularly interesting. Waterbirds, eagles, vultures, larks and lovebirds can be seen in their respective habitats.
- September March is the rainy season, bringing to life many flowers in the desert
Fish River Canyon
Immense and breathtaking, the Fish River Canyon twists and turns with incredible chasms and cliffs worn away by the waters of the seasonal Fish River, winding along for about 100 miles down to the Ai-Ais Hot Springs, with sulphurous waters rich in minerals that bubble up from deep underground.
The world's 2nd largest Canyon is only accessible between Hobas in the north and Ai-Ais in the south. The Canyon floor is the route of a truly magnificent 5 day hike only possible from May August (physical fitness is a pre-requisite for this trail).
Most of this area is covered by the Ai-Ais / Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and crosses over into South Africa and the Succulent Karoo, home of the halfmens, lithops (plants that look like stones until they flower), rare aloes and crassula which turn this landscape into a carpet of flowers during the rainy season.
- May - September is pleasant and cooler, being the winter period
Hardap Game Park
Animals that can be seen here include Black Rhino and a large variety of antelope species like Kudu, Zebra and Hartebeest, this area also has the largest Pelican and Flamingo breeding colony. Namibia's largest Fish River dam divides the Park in to two sections; the southern section has the highest concentration of game. The lake is a hotspot for aquatic sports but visitors can also hike and go on game drives.
Waterberg Plateau ParkThe plateau is quite a landmark, rising up straight out of the ground with sheer sides and a flat top. Permanent springs at the foot of the plateau ensure lush vegetation and amazingly Wild Fig Trees and Fire Lilies can be found here, also pre-historic Rock engravings and even Dinosaur prints. Hiking is especially popular on the plateau. The military cemetery here is also a sad reminder of a tragedy in Namibian history.
Animals resident in the Park include Black and White Rhino, Buffalo, Cheetah, Brown Hyena, Leopard, Black-Backed Jackal and Caracal. Antelope species include Eland, Giraffe, Kudu and Roan. Around 200 bird species live here. The Park is situated 300km (186 miles) north east of Windhoek. There is a very good rest camp with leisure facilities in the Park.
- Open all year, but the road may be flooded after heavy rains
- Guided hiking trails take place between April and November
Daan Viljoen Game Park
For a quick getaway from the city, the Park is just 24km (15 miles) east of Windhoek in the rolling hills of the Khomas Hochland. There is a dam and 2 hiking trails available and the facilities are good. The Park covers a small area (almost 4 000 hectares) but a surprising amount of game species live here including Blue Wildebeest, Zebra, Giraffe, Kudu, Eland, Hartebeest and a wide variety of other antelope species. Baboons and Rock Dassies can also be seen. Interesting birds include the Rockrunner, Whitetailed Shrike and Monteiros Hornbill.