The sand dunes of this western African nation are matched in beauty by the majestic wild animals of its national parks and reserves.
Namibia stretches from its harsh Atlantic coastline over tall sand dunes to large salt pans and velds filled with African wildlife. Visit the country’s popular national parks or arrange guided travels to more remote areas.
The northern part of the country’s shore is appropriately named Skeleton Coast Park. Experience the wilderness of this fog-shrouded land. Look for evidence of shipwrecks on windswept beaches and 100 species of lichen on damp rocks and trees. Moving south, Swakopmund has colonial landmarks and a museum filled with relics from Namibia’s fascinating past, along with resort-style beaches.
Namib-Naukluft National Park stretches south along the coast and features huge sand dunes just off the ocean. Race across the dunes on quad bikes or four-wheel drives, visit coastal ghost towns and see the unusual rock formations of the Sesriem canyon. View the sunset at Sossusvlei, which is a good place to start a tour of the Namib Desert, one of the world’s oldest.
Inland, the UNESCO heritage site of Twyfelfontein in Damaraland has more than 5,000 petroglyph figures, some more than 2,000 years old. Many depict rhinoceroses and early Stone Age hunters. Travel farther inland to Etosha National Park, where more than 100 specials of mammals and 400 species of birds reside. Bring binoculars and a blanket for an evening at the Okaukuejo waterhole near a vast salt pan to watch as the lions, elephants and black rhinos come out of the darkness for evening hydration.
The Fish River Canyon in the far south evolved over 600 million years. In its Apollo 11 cave, animal images more than 25,000 years old have been found. Hike along the mountainous terrain and smell the sulfurous hot springs in this part of the /Ai-/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park (ARTFP), managed jointly with South Africa.
Fly into Hosea Kutako International Airport near the capital of Windhoek and arrange guided tours or a rental car. If you drive, stay on the left and watch for the abundant wildlife crossing the roads.