Namibia is often overlooked as a safari destination in favour of the more famous South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania. Namibia, a huge, sparsely populated country to the north west of South Africa, may not have the stereotypical safari settings of rolling savanna that you’ve seen on the National Geographic Channel, but it does have its own uniquely spectacular landscapes and wildlife which are worth travelling across the world for.
Here are 5 reasons to go on safari in Namibia:
Etosha National Park in winter
Etosha is Namibia’s flagship park – a 22 000-square kilometre area of wilderness set around a giant salt pan – offers one of Africa’s best wildlife viewing destinations, especially in the winter months from May to October, when animals congregate at waterholes. All you have to do to spot elephants, rhino, lions, giraffe, zebra and countless other animals, is drive up to a waterhole, park off and wait for the animals to arrive. If you choose to go on safari to Namibia, Etosha will undoubtedly be your wildlife highlight.
The dune sea of the Namib Desert
The Namib Desert, which stretches across much of Namibia, is said to be the world’s oldest – these beautiful shifting sands have been here for millions of years. The Namib-Naukluft National Park, the biggest park in Africa, conserves a large tract of the desert and its animals – including gemsbok, springbok, zebra and 200 species of birds. The wildlife of the park, however, comes up second against its striking landscapes. The Namib has the world’s tallest sand dunes – towering mounds of blood red sand rising hundreds of metres above the ground. Sossusvlei is the most popular place for a desert safari, where you can climb to the top of dunes for a view over an undulating sea of sand and walk among an otherworldly scene of petrified trees at nearby Deadvlei.
The desert elephants of Damaraland
In the north of Namibia, above Etosha National Park, the harshly beautiful, mountainous, arid region of Damaraland is home to a population of desert-adapted elephants, which you find in very few places in the world, as well as the largest population of free roaming black rhino in Africa. A safari to Damaraland is as much about seeing these large mammals as it is about being in this truly wild and remote area – a far cry from over visited parks such as South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
The seal colonies on the Skeleton Coast
The 500-kilometre stretch of dune-swept coast bordered by the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean is barren and desolate. It’s not where you’d come to see abundant wildlife – hardly any animals can survive in the harsh environment of the Skeleton Coast National Park, which is only accessible by 4×4 and plane. What is abundant here is Cape fur seals, which live in colonies of thousands spread out along the coast. If you’re lucky, you may also be able to see whales and dolphins in the ocean while you’re seal spotting.
Caprivi Strip – Namibia’s answer to the Okavango Delta
A narrow strip of land wedged between Angola and Botswana, the Caprivi Strip offers a totally different safari experience to the rest of Namibia. Unlike the desert-dominated rest of the country, the Caprivi Strip has rivers and floodlands and lush vegetation that supports abundant birdlife (over 400 species have been recorded) and large mammals such as elephant, lion, kudu, buffalo and hippo in four parks. Stay on river banks in lodges and campsites (fall asleep to the sound of grunting hippos) and get the experience of the Okavango Delta by going on wildlife-spotting river cruises and mokoro trips.