Namibia's Top Attractions

What to See in Namibia

If you are planning a trip to Southern Africa, you'll certainly want to browse my pick of top 10 attractions in Namibia. Get inspired by the stark beauty of the Namib desert, and the misty wilds of the Skeleton coast. Namibia is one of Africa's premier safari destinations, but there's also plenty of unique cultural experiences to be had, from visiting traditional tribes like the Himba and San bushmen, to enjoying a beer in the German flavored seaside resort of Swakopmund.
Check out my photos of Namibia for more inspiration, and click on the headings below for more information about each destination.

  • 01 of 10
    A tree at Etosha National Park, Namibia
    ••• Etosha National Park, Namibia. Charles Roffey

    Etosha National Park is Namibia's top wildlife destination. Etosha is home to Africa's tallest elephants, the endangered black rhino, and 91 other species of mammal. Etosha is especially popular with photographers in the dry season who flock to the waterholes (along with the wildlife). Most visitors to Etosha will see plenty of giraffe, elephant, lion, rhino and have a very good chance of seeing cheetah and leopard, along with a huge variety of birdlife. Etosha National Park doesn't offer scheduled game drives; it's a self-drive safari experience. But there are several excellent upmarket lodges and camps available just outside the park boundaries in private reserves, where guided safaris are part of the package.

  • 02 of 10
    Skeleton Coast, Namibia
    ••• Skeleton Coast, Namibia. Getty Images/Digital Vision

    The Skeleton Coast derives its macabre name from the skeletons of thousands of ships, whale bones and seal bones that litter the desert along this treacherous coastline. The Skeleton Coast takes up the northern half of Namibia's coast line. The water is rough and absolutely freezing, so no one comes here for a swim, but the beach is endless! A more popular activity here apart from enjoying the eye-popping scenery, is shore based sea fishing. The skeleton coast is a haven for Cape Fur seals and they attract various predators including hyena and jackals. It's a great destination for a fly-in safari and a good opportunity to combine nature with culture, by adding a visit with the Himba people, a little inland.

  • 03 of 10
    Sossusvlei Sand Dunes, Namibia
    ••• Sossusvlei Sand Dunes, Namibia. Getty Images

    The Namib desert is the oldest desert in the world, and the central section of this great desert is where you find the Namib Naukluft park. If you've been attracted to Namibia by images of startlingly beautiful sand dunes, this is where you'll find them. The tallest dunes can be found in Sossuslvlei, and if the rains are good, there's a salt pan that fills up with water that attracts quite some birdlife. The Sesriem Canyon is an even better bet if you want to get that shot of zebra or springbok running in the golden sandscape.Of course the ancient Welwitschia is also an attraction, who knew a simple plant could be 1500 years old? Apart from hiking, hot-air ballooning and safari drives, this area is home to some wonderful lodges.

  • 04 of 10
    Fish River Canyon, Namibia
    ••• Fish River Canyon, Namibia. Sjaak Zijlma

    The Fish River Canyon is Africa's largest canyon, thought to have formed about 500 million years ago. The canyon is located in southern Namibia, on the border with South Africa. The Fish River has carved out over 160 km's of rock (100 miles), and some of the canyon walls are over half a kilometer high. You can hike the canyon but only during the cooler months between May and September. The hike takes 5 days (it's 85 km's) and there are no hotels or places to get food or water along the way. Accommodation is in tents or in the open air. The hike offers spectacular views and common sightings of baboons, klipspringers and hyraxes. At the end of the hike, the fabulous Ai-Ais hot springs resort awaits to ease your throbbing feet.

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  • 05 of 10
    Ichingo River Lodge, Caprivi Strip, Namibia
    ••• Ichingo River Lodge, Caprivi Strip, Namibia. Ichingo River Lodge

    The Caprivi strip is quite different from the rest of Namibia, it's green and populated. The Caprivi strip is a narrow finger of land in northern Namibia, that juts eastward and borders Angola as well as Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana (Africa's four corners). This area is filled with wildlife and ideal for a water based safari since several major rivers flow in this region, this area is home to the Zambezi, Okavango, Chobe and Linyanti rivers. It's also a big birding destination, with over four hundred species flying around. With several national parks to enjoy, lovely lodges and even houseboats to choose from, it's a destination not to be missed. It's easily combined with Botswana's national parks and the magnificent Victoria Falls.

  • 06 of 10
    Main Street in Swakopmund, Namibia
    ••• Main Street in Swakopmund, Namibia. Charles Roffey

    Swakopmund is Namibia's premier seaside town. The main street is lined with palm trees and German style colonial buildings. Swakopmund is a very popular spot for local tourists who visit to escape the heat, especially during the hot Namibian summer (November - February). Swakopmund has lots of ​hotels, restaurants and even a casino to enjoy. The water temperatures are usually too chilly to really enjoy swimming here, but shore based fishing, dolphin, seal and whale watching, as well as birding will fill your time nicely. The Namib desert is just inland, so having fun in the dunes is part of the attraction. You can sandboard, quad bike, or just enjoy the sunsets and watch the dunes turn red. Brad and Angelina had their baby near Swakopmund.

  • 07 of 10
    Brandberg Mountain, Namibia
    ••• Brandberg Mountain, Namibia. Charles Roffey
    Brandberg Mountain is Namibia's highest mountain (2606 m). It lies in the northwest Namib desert, an area of stark and stunning beauty. "Brandberg" means "fire mountain", a testament to the fiery red color of the mountain at sunset. Appreciating stone-age rock art in the hundreds of caves on the mountain is the main reason visitors come here. There are thousands of wonderful depictions of ancient hunting scenes, mythical stories and more, all painted by San Bushmen thousands of years ago. The most famous rock art here is "White Lady Lodge.
  • 08 of 10
    Young Himba Ladies, Namibia
    ••• Young Himba Ladies, Namibia. Charles Roffey

    Kaokoland is home to the Himba, one of Namibia's staunchly traditional tribes, a people you may be familiar with if you watched the film Babies. Kaokoland is very remote and sparsely populated due to its arid, rocky landscape. There are some rivers and even waterfalls, that provide a little greenery, as well as beautiful mountain ranges, great for hiking. The Himba and other peoples that live here, eke out a living by grazing goats and cattle. Visiting the Himba is a highlight for many people coming to this area, as well as hiking and a chance to see the rare desert elephant. It's proximity to Etosha makes it easy to combine a little culture with your safari. Note, you can only travel here with a 4x4. More on the Himba.../p>

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    San bushmen of the Kalahari
    ••• San Bushman. Cardboard Box Travel Shop

    If you're interested in visiting traditional San Bushmen, then add Nyae Nyae to your list of places to go. This conservancy is the ancestral homeland of the Ju/'hoansi bushmen. This area has a disturbing history like many traditional San areas, where successive governments have tried to force a different lifestyle on the bushmen. In 1998 the Nyae Nyae Conservancy became the first communal area in Namibia to be declared a conservancy and thus gave the people the right to manage their own resources, hunt, and promote their culture for tourism purposes. Please visit and support their efforts! Also check out, Nhoma Safari Camp, and Grashoek. More on the San...

  • 10 of 10
    Waterberg Plateau, Namibia
    ••• Waterberg Plateau. © http://www.namibian.org/
    The Waterberg Plateau has a rather violent history and was the scene of an awful massacre of the Herero people by German colonists at the turn of the century. It's thought that almost two thirds of the tribe were wiped out during this period. But it's a beautiful spot and was declared a nature reserve in 1972. The remote location has made this an ideal spot for conservancies to set up protected areas for rare species of wildlife like rhino, sable, cheetah and buffalo. The bird life here is also excellent. There are plenty of nice safari camps and lodges to stay at, and bush walks are a highlight for any visitor here.