One of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, Namibia is home to vast, spectacular desert landscapes, dramatic mountains, incredible wildlife areas and some truly breathtaking otherworldly scenery. It’s also one of Africa’s best countries for road tripping, as its changing magical landscapes unfurl ceaselessly as you drive near-empty roads. Here are the six most photogenic places in Namibia.
The dunes of the Namib Desert
The Namib Desert, which stretches across much of Namibia, is said to be the world’s oldest, and it’s mind-blowingly beautiful. Spend time in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, which covers a vast swathe of the desert to see rolling seas of apricot, terracotta and blood-red sand dunes rippling in every direction to the horizon – definitely one of the most photogenic places in Namibia. The Namib has the world’s tallest sand dunes, some of which tower 300 to 400 metres above the ground, and climbing them – such as the famous Dune 45 near Sossusvlei – allows you to take in their splendour.
Photo credit: Joachim Huber
In Namibia’s far southwest, Kolmanskop was once a prosperous diamond mining town, but it was abandoned decades ago and is now being reclaimed by the desert sands. Half the town has been swallowed up, but there are still some buildings intact for you to explore, like the old bowling alley: it feels like the set of a horror movie! The once-grand mansions that are sinking into the sand make for the most amazing photos – images of Kolmanskop are now famous around the world, and it is undoubtedly one of the most photogenic places in Namibia.
In the Namib-Naukluft National Park, Deadvlei is one of Namibia’s most visited places. Surrounded by apricot dunes, the white clay pan is dotted with the blackened skeletons of trees that died hundreds of years ago when the water in the pan dried up, which makes it look like a Surrealist painting. It’s truly one of the most unusual places in the world to visit, and even amateur photographers can get some amazing shots here without even trying.
Etosha is Namibia’s flagship park – a 22 000-square kilometre area of wilderness set around a salt pan – is one of Africa’s best safari destinations, especially in the winter when water sources dry up and the animals congregate around the waterholes. Spotting elephants, rhino, lion and other animals is particularly easy – just pull up to a waterhole and wait for them to arrive. Even more photogenic than Etosha’s wildlife is the giant salt pan that cracks into huge geometric puzzle pieces in the dry winter months. Shots of giraffes crossing part of the salt pan, surrounded by its vast whiteness, reflect Namibia’s otherworldy beauty at its best.
The Fish River Canyon
Africa’s largest canyon – 160 km long, 27 km wide and up to 500 metres deep – is so dramatic that you can’t help but reconfigure your tiny significance in the face of raw nature. Peer over the edge to have your mind blown, or better yet, do the five-day hike that covers half the length of the canyon to really experience its breathtaking wonder.
South west of Etosha, Damaraland is a mountainous region that is home to Namibia’s tallest peak, the Brandberg. This is one of Namibia’s wildest places, a landscape of wild, rugged, rocky beauty dotted with ancient rock art paintings – it’s one of the most important rock art sites on the continent. It’s also home to desert-adapted animals, such as rhino and elephant, which make for striking sights against the backdrop of Damaraland’s majestic mountains.