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Our Ultimate Safari Guide to Namibia

Lauren Curd

Namibia gained independence from South Africa in spring 1990 and has since grown exponentially, creating a brilliant reputation for self-drive safaris, culture and happy-go-lucky people. The Kalahari Desert takes up a large quantity of the country, giving way to the Namib Desert which eventually spills into the Atlantic Ocean. The capital Windhoek is found on a high plateau in the centre of the country. It serves as the social, economic, political and cultural centre, featuring some amazing architecture from its German, indigenous and South African heritage. Outside of the city, try a safari holidays in Namibia, visiting the sights and admiring the wildlife of Etosha National Park, Fish River Canyon, Sossuslvei and Damaraland.

What Makes Namibia Unique?

Due to its semi-arid landscape, a quick glance over the scenery might see it quite bereft of life; if you take a closer look however, you’ll notice just how animated it really is. The two deserts portray many colours, giving visitors the opportunity to see species only found in this part of Africa, while the diverging physical features, such as Fish River Canyon and Sossusvlei, give Namibia a sense of beauty unlike its neighbours. The best way to explore Namibia’s intriguing wilderness is with a self drive tour. Etosha is the most popular park for this kind of adventure due to the excellent road system but savvy travellers often choose to explore the whole country at their own pace. Distances are vast but the quality of roads is generally good and signposts make navigation easy. Of course, escorted tour options are also available for those who prefer to let someone else take the wheel.

Best Time to Travel?

A fabulous year-round destination, Namibia usually gets less rain than its neighbouring countries, although rain will usually arrive between December and March, granting this time of year the title “green season”.  April and May is a transitional period for Namibia, combing the earlier rains with the cooling temperatures, which can result in some beautiful landscapes and a selection of wildlife emerging to feed and frolic. June to October is considered the dry season - days are cooler and the nights can be cold, especially in the deserts. The rains are a distant memory by now which means game can often be easily viewed congregating around watering holes and rivers. By September, daytime temperatures begin to rise and October is generally hot.

Key Areas for Game Viewing

The major wildlife congregation area in Namibia is undoubtedly the Ethosha Pan in Etosha National Park, a densely populated sanctuary, particularly rife with elephants and lions. The Caprivi Strip in the north east of the country borders four rivers so its highly likely you’ll see a lot of animals who have come to drink, as well as water dwellers including crocodiles and hippos. Also in the north are Waterberg Plateau Park and Kaokoland, home to the Himba tribe, Epupa Waterfalls and many other attractions and opportunities. The desert lands feature some unique creatures, all perfectly suited to the environment in which they live; head to Damaraland, Kunene and the Skeleton Coast for spectacular glimpses of desert elephants and giraffe.

Our Favourite Lodges 

Caprivi Strip – Susuwe Island Lodge, Divava Okavango Lodge and Spa

Sossusvlei – andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, Little Kulala

Etosha – Onguma Tented Camp, Little Ongava, Mushara Bush Camp

Fish River Canyon – Fish River Lodge, Canyon Lodge

Skeleton Coast – Serra Cafema Camp

Damaraland – Mowani Mountain Camp

Waterberg Plateau – Frans Indongo Lodge

Other Things to Do

Swakopmund on the northwest coast is one of Namibia’s premier holiday destinations, acting as the gateway to the Namib Desert. Just down the shoreline, into the Skeleton Coast, you’ll find fantastic vistas and haunting shipwreck sights, and if you’re a true adventurer at heart, head into the dramatic red dunes of Sossuvlei and the mountain ranges of the Richtersveld. Elsewhere, hit Fish River Canyon, the largest gorge in Africa; the impressive Quivertree Forest outside Keetmanshoop; and a whole host of cities, parks and game reserves.

Our Top Tips for Safari Holidays in Namibia

Be wary of the roaming wildlife when driving in Namibia, particularly warthogs which can often be found by the roadside.

Malaria is not widespread in Namibia but we always recommend seeking medical advice regarding anti-malarial medication prior to travel, particularly if you are travelling to the north of the country.

Always carry plenty of water with you whenever you’re driving between destinations.

In a nutshell, the north of Namibia is the wetter part and offers classic safari territory for big game viewing. As you head to the drier south, expect to find various species of antelope including eland, gemsbok and springbok, plus zebra, mongoose, jackal and honey badgers.

Never pass a service station without filling up on fuel! It is also advisable to carry an additional 100 litres of fuel in more remote areas.

 

**This blog post was previously published on Medway Leisure Travel, now trading as Pettitts Travel**

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