Namibia – home to the world’s driest and most ancient of deserts, the Namib. The scenery in this country can be dramatic in the extreme, with red dunes like mountains, valleys full of dead trees, a coast littered with broken ships, and landscapes that resemble the Moon. Safaris here are a little bit special, with nature providing a uniquely stark yet somehow tranquil backdrop.
As one of our more challenging safari destinations, it may be said that Namibia is better suited to the more adventurous, experienced safari traveller. Due to the extreme aridity of the Namib Desert, the wildlife has been forced to adapt to the harsh climate, and isn’t always going to oblige visitors with easy sightings.
Nevertheless, although the wildlife here may not be quite as abundant as at other destinations, it can still be prolific in the right areas. Game is plentiful in the northern regions, such as Etosha National Park, where waterholes act as gathering places for many species, and sightings become much more feasible. Namibia also boasts the largest population of cheetahs in the world.
For the truly tenacious among us, however, Namibia has some of the rarest of the rare to be seen. The desert elephant, and the desert black rhino, for instance, are animals not to be found anywhere else in southern Africa. A persistent and organised safari expedition has a chance of sightings; anything less than this is just a wander in the desert.
So, consider carefully if a luxury Namibia safari is for you. We certainly hope it is, since if you decide to come along with us, you’re in for an experience that could change your entire life.
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Windhoek’s first ultra-luxurious sanctuary, the Olive Exclusive is a cool, contemporary and stylish boutique hotel in a tranquil corner of the city. The very essence of chic comfort, but with a warm heart and authentic African soul, the hotel offers individually themed and decorated suites that include lounge and dining areas, numerous convenient amenities as standard, plus an eco-friendly approach and dedicated personal service.
An exquisite desert retreat in the midst of the southern Namib desert, Little Kulala is elegant, spacious, and perfect for unwinding after a day’s exploration of desert treasures. Activities in this cool and serene hideaway include early morning guided nature drives to Sossusvlei, nature drives and walks in the private reserve, and also balloon and helicopter flights.
A small and exclusive camp in the Ongava Game Reserve bordering Etosha National Park, Ongava Tented Camp is a seamless extension of the African Mopani bush. Situated in one of the few reserves where guests can see both black and white rhino, the camp offers morning and afternoon safaris in Etosha and Ongava, night drives, guided walks, and superb wildlife viewing at the camp’s central waterhole.
The only one of its kind in Namibia, The Fort is massive raw walls, stone-clad features and a huge tower overlooking the local landscape, ideally situated for conducting safaris in Etosha National Park. Stylised with a classical African feel and incorporating Moroccan and Indian accents, one of The Fort’s primary features is its stunning tower views onto Fisherman’s Pan.
Uniquely located under lush greenery on the banks of the Kunene River, Serra Cafema is one of the remotest luxury camps in southern Africa. Safari guests at this camp will enjoy engrossing nature walks in the breathtaking Hartmann Valley, river boating, low-impact guided quad-bike excursions, and opportunities to view remarkable desert-adapted wildlife such as oryx, herds of springbok, ostrich and leopard.
Situated in arguably the most pristine wilderness area in Namibia, the Huab River Valley, Damaraland Camp is lauded as one of the country’s best, with magnificent views of the surrounding desert landscape and lofty Brandberg Mountain Range. Utilising eco-friendly construction methods, Damaraland Camp offers various nature drives and walks, as well as visits to local geological wonders and ancient rock art.
Characterised by its famous orange-red dunes that are among the highest in the world, Sossusvlei is a profoundly arid salt and clay pan that is possibly Namibia’s best-known and most spectacular attraction. An absolute must for visitors, the dunes and dead-tree valleys of this dry but fascinating landscape are a great destination all year round.
A holiday resort full of German colonial influences on Namibia’s west coast, Swakopmund is perfect as a traveller’s way station, or as a home base for exploring the Namib Desert and Skeleton Coast. The town enjoys a mild climate and numerous attractions for tourists, such as elegant colonial architecture, an aquarium, superb coffee houses, an impressively scenic coastal road, and various tours of the local environs.
Covering an area of over 22,000 square kilometres, Etosha National Park is one of Namibia’s premier safari venues. With an enormous dry salt pan at its centre, the park is exceptional for game viewing as wildlife tend to congregate at the park’s various waterholes, making sightings almost guaranteed. Etosha is malaria free, highly accessible, and offers numerous luxury accommodation options.
A land of rugged yet strikingly beautiful rock, mountain, and desert landscapes in Namibia’s north, Damaraland is one of the country’s last “untamed” wildlife regions. Home to a large assortment of desert-adapted game including elephant, rhino, zebra, and lion, Damaraland and its various lodges offer a challenge to the more adventurous traveller, plus the opportunity to view thousands of ancient rock paintings at Brandberg Mountain.
An ideal place to start your Namibian safari adventure, Windhoek is not necessarily what you’d expect from an African capital. An extremely clean, and mostly crime free destination, the city’s buildings are characterised by widespread German architecture, including even a handful of German medieval castles. In addition to its fascinating history, friendly populace, and relaxed atmosphere, Windhoek receives more than 300 days of sunshine per year.
When it comes to viewing some of the world’s most remarkable wildlife in comfort and style, Namibia is no slouch. Whether it’s the prolific game of Etosha National Park in the country’s north, more exclusive locations such as Damaraland, or other game reserves, Namibia has plenty to offer. Be prepared for a true desert safari experience however, as the Namib is an ancient, dry, mesmerising desert like no other.
You’ve never climbed anything until you’ve walked to the top of a three-hundred-metre high sand dune, and gazed out upon the otherworldly landscape of Sossusvlei. Dry, barren, and yet somehow at peace, the dunes of Sossusvlei make for one of the most spectacular sights in all of Namibia. You might even have time to visit the Deadvlei, the ancient and hauntingly beautiful dead-tree valleys of the nearby clay pan.
The desert elephants of Namibia are one of only two such populations known in the world, and the desert black rhinos are the only rhinos worldwide that have survived on communal land with no formal conservation status. Though genetically no different to their non-desert cousins, desert rhinos and elephants are a striking example of just how adaptable wildlife can be. To see them, we recommend joining a specifically organised expedition by a local lodge.
The Skeleton Coast and nearby environs are a place of stark and unforgiving beauty. Once littered with the bones left by the largely abolished whaling industry, these days the coastline is scattered with the poignant remains of shipwrecks. Various fly-in tour options exist, but whichever you choose, one thing is for certain – you are in for some stunning scenery.
The dry winter season (May to October) is the most pleasant time for luxury Namibia safari holidays. During this period you can expect warm, sunny days and cold nights, often with temperatures falling below freezing.
It’s best to avoid Namib-Naukluft Park and Etosha National Park in the extreme heat (December to March), and Fish River Canyon is closed to the public between December and April. The northeastern rivers may flood during this time too, making some roads either impassable or hard to negotiate.
Resort areas are busiest during both Namibian and South African school holidays – usually from mid-December to mid-January, late April to early June, and late August to mid-September.
South/Central: Midsummer temperatures can rise to over 35°C, while in the winter, day temperatures vary between 18-25°C and can drop to well below freezing at night and in the early mornings.
Coastal: temperatures range from 15-25°C in the west, but can vary, and blue skies can turn into thick fog within minutes. In winter, the early morning temperatures can be well below zero.
North: The climate is subtropical, with temperatures ranging between 26°C in winter to 45°C in the summer.
Rains: The rainy season is from October/November through to March/April.
Hint: Always wear sunscreen, carry a hat and have sunglasses with you. Always pack for both hot and cold conditions, year round, no matter which region you are visiting.
The Namibian Dollar (NAD) is divided into one hundred cents and is equivalent to the South African Rand. The Namibian Dollar and the South African Rand are the only legal tender in Namibia and can be exchanged freely for services or goods.
Foreign currency, travellers cheques and personal cheques are not widely accepted, but can be changed at almost any bank or hotel.
International credit cards are widely accepted at hotels, lodges, rest camps and shops. However, smaller or more remote camps may not accept credit cards. Vendors and fuel stations may only accept cash. It is best to have a combination of both with you to cover all situations.
No vaccinations are currently required for entry into Namibia when arriving directly from North America or Europe. However, we recommend that tetanus boosters for children and adults are kept up to date, with courses or boosters usually advised for diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis A and typhoid.
A yellow fever certificate is required if the visitor is over one year old, and arriving in Namibia from an infected area or a country where yellow fever is endemic (such as Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, or Zaire). In the case of yellow fever, the vaccine must be administered at least ten days before arrival. Travellers on scheduled flights originating from, but only in transit through, the infected areas are NOT required to possess a certificate provided such travellers remained at the airport, or adjacent town, in transit.
Malaria prophylaxis is strongly recommended. Fortunately, there are several safe and effective options for both adults and children. Malaria precautions are essential in the northern third of the country from November to June and along the Kavango and Kunene rivers throughout the year. Avoid mosquito bites by covering up with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers, especially after sunset. We also advise the use of insect repellents on exposed skin and, where necessary, sleeping under a mosquito net. Prompt investigation of fever or flu-like symptoms anytime within six weeks of travel is essential.
As with all travel to remote places, we recommend bringing a small supply of any medicines you may need, including a course of emergency “standby” treatment for malaria.
The official language in Namibia is English, and all documents, signs and notices are in this language.
German and Afrikaans are also widely used, and there are numerous African languages and dialects used by the locals.
All charter transfers on our luxury Namibia safari tours are in light aircraft that carry between five and seven passengers. Please note that these planes are limited with regards to the weight that they can carry. It is therefore vital that all passengers adhere to the luggage restriction of fifteen (15) kilograms per person in a soft bag.
This excludes a reasonable amount of camera equipment and carry-on luggage (up to 5 kilograms – 20 kilograms in total). In addition, please let us know if you are over 188 cm (6’2”) tall or weigh over 100kg (220lbs), so that we can plan our trip appropriately.
Tickets are generally not issued for charter flights; you will however receive a voucher for your trip.
All water from taps is purified and, although it does have a strong mineral taste, is safe for drinking. If visitors are worried, bottled water is readily available at local shops, hotels, lodges and restaurants.
Passport requirements: Each visitor to Namibia must be in possession of a valid, signed passport that is valid for at least six months beyond his/her scheduled departure date.
Each visitor also requires a valid return ticket or proof of transport enabling the visitor to leave the country. Under normal circumstances, entry is permitted for a maximum of 90 days.
PLEASE ENSURE YOU HAVE AT LEAST TWO BLANK PAGES IN YOUR PASSPORT FOR STAMPS/VISAS ETC. IF NOT, YOU MAY BE REFUSED ENTRY INTO NAMIBIA. FOR SECURITY PURPOSES, WE SUGGEST THAT YOU CARRY A PHOTOCOPY OF THE RELEVANT PAGES OF YOUR PASSPORT AND ANY OTHER IMPORTANT TRAVEL DOCUMENTS WITH YOU. IN ADDITION, WE ALSO RECOMMEND THAT YOU LEAVE COPIES OF YOUR DOCUMENTS WITH SOMEONE AT HOME.
VISA EXCEPTIONS: South African, British and US passport holders do not require a visa. Many nationalities are exempt from visa requirements and these will be advised on request. Further visa information can be obtained from your nearest Namibian Consulate or Namibian High Commission.