15 Best Things to Do in Namibia
As one of the most tourist-friendly countries in Africa, Namibia continues to amaze travelers with its sprawling landscape and stunning natural attractions. It’s home to the world’s oldest desert, although the steep canyons, sandy coastlines, and rocky mountain ranges also add to the country’s diverse geography.
Namibia is also known for its abundance of wildlife. You’ll be stunned by the sheer number of lions, elephants, giraffes, and even rhinos that roam through the game farms and national parks. Prepare to have your breath taken away as you explore all the fascinating things to do in Namibia.
The dry, barren Brandberg Mountain Range may not seem like much at first glance, but it’s actually a testament to the region’s thousand-year-old history. Located in the Erongo region in western Namibia, Brandberg is known for its ancient rock paintings. There are over 50,000 individual paintings scattered throughout the range, many of them dating back 4,000 years.
The most common images in the paintings are of hunters and animals. However, the most well-known painting is the White Lady. Interpretation of the White Lady has been discussed over the past few decades, but many archeologists believe she is either a shaman or hunter. The hike to see the White Lady takes just under an hour, although the trek can be rocky and steep.
14. Skeleton Coast National Park
The fog-covered shores and sprawling desert landscape make Skeleton Coast National Park one of the most fascinating places to visit in Namibia. Many people believe the park gets its name from the deserted scraps of ship parts strewn across the beach. However, it was most likely named Skeleton Coast after settlers found decaying bones of stranded whales.
It’s worth visiting the park to see the remnants of old ships. On the other hand, Skeleton Coast National Park is also known for its abundance of roaming wildlife. Here, you can find jackals, hyenas, oryx, kudos, and zebras. You can also visit the east coast to see the huge colonies of Cape Fur Seals.
The colonial city of Swakopmund will have you feeling like you just entered a small town in Germany. Not only will you find traditional German architecture and restaurants, but a large percentage of the population still speaks German today.
Swakopmund sits on the coast and is one of the most thriving beach towns in the country. Its proximity to Walvis Bay, Langstrand dunes, and the Namib Desert also makes it a popular stop for those on a road trip adventure. Come to enjoy the picturesque water views, gourmet restaurants, and relaxed atmosphere during your visit.
12. Epupa Falls
Nestled on the border between Namibia and Angola, Epupa Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the country. The name translates to “Falling Water,” which is evident by the streams of cascading water that runs off the Kunene River. The surrounding fig trees and makalani palms add to the serene natural beauty of the area.
There are several different falls and drops, with the largest being over 120-feet. It’s important to take extra precautions before jumping into the refreshing waters; Epupa Falls is also known for being a crocodile habitat.
Many people visit Sossuvlei and stop once they get to the dunes. But if you continue driving, you’ll end up at Deadvlei, which is easily one of the most photogenic places in Namibia.
Here, you’ll find hundreds of black trees that died 600 to 700 years ago and have dried up from the lack of water. The dark hue of the trees is juxtaposed against the white clay ground and the bright orange dunes in the background. Although the trees are long gone, the wood does not decompose or petrify because the soil is too dry.
10. Kolmanskop Ghost Town
The haunted Kolmanskop Ghost Town is guaranteed to be unlike anything you have ever seen. Kolmanskop was once a thriving settlement with mostly German inhabitants, who came to take advantage of the nearby diamond fields in the early 1900s. Many residents left in the mid-50s, leaving nothing but the remains of old hospitals, houses, and shops to wither away.
As you walk through the empty buildings, you’ll notice the peeling paint, caved roofs, and decaying walls. Most of the rooms are covered in several feet of sand, which adds to the spookiness of this once populated ghost town.
The steep granite peaks and red, dust-covered ground of the Spitzkoppe may make you feel as if you’ve stepped foot on Mars. In reality, the Spitzkoppe mountains are actually located in the heart of the Namib Desert between Usakos and Swakopmund. It’s one of the best destinations in Namibia for hiking and rock climbing.
Due to the difficulty of the terrain, only 600 people have successfully reached the top of the Spitzkoppe peaks. If you’re not ready to commit to the treacherous journey, you can still visit Spitzkoppe to admire the hundreds of rock paintings on the sides of the mountains.
8. Twyfelfontein Rock Art
With a 6,000-year-old history, the area of Twyfelfontein has the largest concentrations of rock paintings not just in Namibia, but in the entire continent of Africa. There are over 5,000 petroglyphs in total.
The images shed light on what daily life was like for these hunter-gatherers. Some paintings show them playing board games or making weapons like bows and arrows. There is also a vast collection of animal rock paintings. Giraffes, kudos, lions, and ostriches are just a few animals you’ll find carved into the rocks.
7. Cape Cross seal colony
Take a journey down the Skeleton Coast and say hi to some of Namibia’s most adorable residents. The Cape Cross seal colony is home to around 100,000 cape fur seals, which is the largest colony of this sea lion species in the entire world.
This wildlife reserve offers the seals a safe place to breed while protecting them from fur trappers and traders. During your visit, you’ll see them basking in the sun, splashing in the waves, or playfully barking at each other. If you can deal with the pungent smell, then you’ll be in for a real treat.
The Waterberg Plateau is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Elevated high in the Kalahari Plains, this table mountain is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the country. Not only is it home to 200 different types of birds and mammals, but it’s also known as a protecting ground for rare and extinct creatures like the black rhinoceros.
To make the most of your time at Waterberg, hike to the top of the plateau for spectacular views of the valleys and forests. It’s also possible to go wildlife tracking, where you’ll come face to face with rhinos, giraffes, and kudus. You can also stop by the village of Okakarara to learn more about the culture of the Herero people.
Considered the little brother of Swakopmund, the coastal town of Lüderitz is one of the most fascinating cultural destinations in Namibia. Lüderitz is mostly known for its colorful colonial German architecture, including the towering Felsenkirche (Rock Church) and the iconic Goerkehuse.
Popular activities in Lüderitz include dolphin watching, harbor tours, and visiting the decommissioned railway line to Keetmanshoop. It’s also just a short drive to the deserted ghost town of Kolmanskop.
4. Walvis Bay Lagoon
The industrial city surrounding the Walvis Bay Lagoon may not be the most beautiful area in Namibia. However, journey towards the coast, and you’ll encounter one of the most diverse habitats for wetland birds and creatures. The lagoon is most notably known for its large colony of South African flamingos. You’ll find hundreds of them basking in the sun or feeding in the shallow waters.
You can also visit the sprawling salt pans located south of the lagoon. It’s one of the few places in the country where you’ll find pink lakes.
3. Etosha National Park
No trip to Namibia would be complete without a wildlife safari through Etosha National Park. Here, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most fascinating animals, like lions, giraffes, elephants, and antelopes. You can join a safari tour or rent a 4×4 and venture through the park on your own.
At the heart of the park is the Etosha salt pan, which covers almost 1/4 of the entire park. Although it can be dried up for the majority of the year, you’ll still be able to see animals congregating around the watering holes for a drink.
2. Fish River Canyon
The massive crevices and steep ravines of Fish River Canyon are breathtaking, to say the least. As the largest canyon in all of Africa, it stretches towards the horizon as far as the eye can see.
If you come during the rainy season, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the Fish River snaking its way around the bottom of the canyon. Otherwise, the landscape is mostly bare and full of dry stones and desert-like plants. Experienced hikers can embark on the five-day journey through the canyon, although the views can also be admired from the public viewpoints.
Home to some of the largest sand dunes in the world, Sossusvlei is a must-see for those traveling to Namibia. The area is dotted with gigantic orange and red hills, some of which are over 1,200 feet high.
Come in the early morning and hike up Dune 45, a five-million-year-old dune with jaw-dropping views of the entire area. The hike up the spine of the dune takes 30-minutes, but the exhilarating run back down makes the entire trek worth it.