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Four Scenic 4x4 Mountain Passes in Namibia

  
  

If you are into 4x4 adventures, Namibia has some beautiful mountain passes just for you. We have selected four passes on routes that start in Windhoek and head down the face of the Great Escarpment and into the Namib Desert and beyond.

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Namibia's mountainous regions are well-worth exploring.

 

A Short Note on 4x4’s in Namibia

Upon arriving in Namibia for the first time you would be forgiven for thinking that much of the driving you do around the countryside seems like a 4x4 adventure. With most of the roads in Namibia untarred and cutting through rugged landscape, this assumption is not crazy. However, the extensive gravel road network of Namibia is well maintained and is, for the most part, very easy to drive on. So fear not!

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Clear skies, clear roads.

 

Most car rental agencies will have 4x4 vehicles for hire and you can find a list of some agencies in Namibia here. Be sure to double-check any insurance policy you take out for your hired vehicle. Some policies will not cover damages incurred while using the vehicle off-road, so make sure with your agency before you bound off into the rugged outdoors.

Check out everything we have on car hire here.

 

Scenic Ascents and Breath-taking Descents

The passes below are incredibly scenic and along the way you will find loads of great places to stop and take in the awesome scenery of the remote locations you will drive through. This means that these routes are not just rewarding for novices but also for more experienced drivers who can enjoy the amazing sights and landscapes that these mountain roads cut through.

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One of the scenic picnic spots en-route.
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

 

1. The Remhoogte Pass

If you are hoping to explore Sossusvlei, the Sesriem Canyon via the isolated town of Solitaire when you visit Namibia then this may be the perfect pass for you to take. There is also a lot of interesting geology along this trail with wind battered rock-faces rising out of the ground all along the route.

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The start of the scenic pass.
(Image via Tracks4Africa by Nakkiran Sunassee)

 

The Remhoogte Pass will take you over the Great Escarpment and into the Namib Desert and it is much less steep (and therefore easier to navigate) than the nearby Spreetshoogte Pass. This route is good if you are a little apprehensive about heights, or your ability to traverse a serious mountain pass. However, you must note, while it is possible, it is not the best idea to tackle this route with a sedan or light two-wheel drive vehicle.




A sedan will probably not cut it on this route.


How to get there

The pass can be found on the D1261. 

Take the B1 south out of Windhoek and head to Rehoboth. Just after you go through Rehoboth take the C24 going west for 37 km. Then turn onto the D1261 going south. Keep driving until you get to the C14- the C14 is the road you must take to get to Solitaire in the south.

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Welcome to Solitaire!
(Photo via Panoramio)

 

2. The Spreetshoogte Pass

This route follows a similar path to the Remhoogte pass. It too will take you from Windhoek to Solitaire meaning that you will be close to Sossusvlei and Sesriem. The major different between the two routes is that Spreetshoogte is much, much steeper than Remhoogte. As such, it is a little trickier to drive.

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Steep descents and sharp corner mean you will need a decent vehicle.
(Image via Panoramio)

 

The sharp bends and steep gradients are not bad news for intrepid explorers. These two aspects of the pass combine to provide travelers with unrivalled views of the dramatic landscape below the pass. It is best to drive in the afternoons as the landscape in the later afternoon sun is truly gorgeous and offers some awesome photographic opportunities.

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Another spectacular sunset on the Spreetshoogte Pass.
(Image via Alex Pompe)

 

How to get there

The pass lies south of the Gamsberg on the D1275.

Take the B1 and head south out of Windhoek, heading to Rehoboth. Just after you go through Rehoboth take the C24 for 37 km going West. Then head southwest on the D1261 for about 55km. Look out for the D1275. Once on the D1275 simply follow it until you get to the C14. Get on the C14 and head south to get to Solitaire.

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Both the Spreetshoogte and Remhoogte passes will put you en-route to the Sesriem Canyon.


3. The Gamsberg Pass

The mountain which this pass traverses got its name from the Nama word “gan” (flat on top). The Gamsberg Mountain is a flat top mountain and some even wryly referred to it as Namibia’s very own Table Mountain.

 

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The Gamsberg.
(Image via Tracks4Africa)

 

The route travels through the southern regions of the Namib Naukluft National Park, and should you choose, will lead you all the way to Walvis Bay on the iconic Namibian coast. This region of Namibia has a little bit of everything for everyone, with great rock climbing, challenging off-road 4x4 trails and awe-inspiring views of the foothills around the Kuiseb.

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The Kuiseb Valley.
(Image via Outdoorphotos by Andre Moller)

 

The pass is one of Namibia’s most popular passes and it is in fact the highest and the longest pass in the country. Its elevation and the fact that you overlook the Kuiseb River in the valley below it make it one of the most scenic 4x4 routes you can travel on in Namibia.

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The region has an average of 300 clear days a year.
Making it an ideal place for camping and stargazing.

(Image via Lynn Greenlee)

 

How to get there

The pass is on the C26.

All you need to do is head south on the B1 out of Windhoek and turn right onto the C26. The C26 is about 190km in length, at which point you will encounter the C14. Head northwest on the C14 to get to the nearby Walvis Bay, or head south to get to Solitaire.

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A rare shot of an unusually cloud-covered Gamsberg Pass.
(Photo via Alex Pompe)

 

4. The Bosua Pass 

The Bosua Pass is along a road that will take you from Windhoek to the famous coastal town of Swakopmund. The road is a far more scenic alternative to the traditional route along the tarred B1 and B2. However, like the Spreetshoogte Pass there are some very steep sections as you drive over the mountain and as such you should not try to do it with a car that does not have decent tires and brakes.

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The sun setting over the C28 just after the pass.
(Image via MEI)

 

The pass takes adventurers passed several abandoned mines and houses. Two notable sites along the route are the old Liebig House and the ruins of the Von Francois Fort. The former was once the residence of the copper mine’s top brass, while the latter was most recently used as a “Tronckenposten”- a drying out post for alcoholic German soldiers in the early 1900’s. Keep an eye out for these two landmarks!

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The abandoned Liebig House.
(Image via TREKEARTH)

How to get there

You can find this pass on the C28.

This pass is very easy to find. All you need to do is head out of Windhoek, on the C28 and head due east. The C28 snakes through the countryside for 319km and a trip from Windhoek to Swakopmund along this road should take you about five and-a-half hours.

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And once you get to the beaches near Swakopmund the fun and games can begin!


General notes

There are several picnic spots on these four passes. Some are at the beginning of the pass while others are at specific lookout points, so keep your eyes open for places to stop.

Please also note that you are not allowed to drive wherever you like in Namibia. You must stick to the roads on the map unless you have permission from the owners of the land on which you are driving.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly: Please ensure you close all gates that you drive through. Leaving these farms gates open endangers wildlife, drivers, locals and tourists. 

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Remember to keep those gates closed.
(Image via Zanzig Photography)

 

Happy trails!

 

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What to do in Namibia during Winter

  
  

Winter in Namibia is a great time of year to explore our vast and diverse country. The weather is more moderate than in other months of the year and our country is a great option if you want to avoid the huge crowds of the northern hemisphere's summer months. Read on for a few more reasons why we think you should visit Namibia in the winter months.

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Winter is a great time to explore Namibia- find out why below.

 

The Manageable Weather

As you probably know already, Namibia is a place associated with hot, dry and sunny weather. The cloudless skies and blazing sun can, at times, become overwhelming in the warmer months (particularly over December, January and February). Winter is a slightly different story in the Land of the Brave. Daytime temperatures for the season stay manageable and rarely climb above the 25 degrees Celsius.

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Another cloudless and temperate winter's day in Namibia.
(Image via Deal's Holidays)

 

Namibia gets its rain in the summer months so the winter daytime skies are also incredibly clear and cloudless. It is not uncommon to go for days without seeing a cloud in the perfect blue sky and this allows photographers ample opportunity to take some incredible high contrast pictures against a deep blue background.

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The blue of the sky contrasts excellently with the whites and browns of Namibia's landscapes.

 

And while we are talking about awesome photo opportunities, you should know that toward the end of winter you will be treated to some incredible sunsets. Toward the end of winter the winter months the desert winds begin to start blowing. These winds pick up dust into the air, which then spectacularly refracts the light of the setting sun.

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A giraffe at sunset in Etosha National Park.

 

At night the temperatures can get quite nippy, but it never gets quite as cold as the frigid winters of northern Europe or northern America. The temperatures in Namibia are cool enough to justify lighting a warming fire and nothing makes winter more enjoyable than sitting around a roaring fire and sharing some stories with your friends and family.

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A large camp fire keeps the night, and the cold, at bay.
(Image via Wofford)

 
Note: In the southern and central regions of Namibia it can occasionally get to freezing. These temperatures are exceptional though and you can expect it to not get much colder than 5 degrees Celsius.

 

Winter adventures

Winter is the perfect time to be physically active in Namibia. The lack of humidity and the relatively moderate daytime temperatures make doing physical activity far easier in the winter than in the summer months. Rock climbing, cycling, trail running and several other adventure sports are all best done in the winter. The sun is at a less steep angle and the cooling winter breeze make any physical exercise much easier to deal with.

 

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Winter walking in the dunes near Swakopmund.

 

Hiking is another great activity to take part in when visiting Namibia in the winter. Some hikes, like the Fish River Canyon Hike are not offered to guests in the summer months as the temperatures are too high and the heat makes the hike too strenuous. Check out our blog on this particular hike here.

 

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Getting ready to set out from the floor of the Fish River Canyon.

 

While not exactly physically demanding, going on safari is also very worthwhile during winter. The animals become easier to spot because the vegetation dries out in the rainless months giving the wildlife less cover. This is coupled with the fact that the animals are drawn out to the remaining waterholes in search of water and means that your chances of catching a glimpse of some of Namibia’s awesome wildlife are greatly increased during winter.

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The wildlife, no matter how big or small, is easier to spot in winter.


Note: Even though the sun is less harsh in the winter in Namibia you still need to make sure you are protected from it. Always use sunscreen and wear a hat and sunglasses.

Hit the beach

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The Namibian coast is spectacular during winter.

 

The winter months are arguably the best time of the year to head to the beach in Namibia. All along the famously rugged coastline temperatures remain warm and the fog stays away. These favourable weather conditions are as a result of the foehn winds (berg winds) that travel down the great escarpment and into the ocean.

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Swakopmund is Namibia's most popular seaside town.
(Image via FotoD)

 

The warm winds ensure that the coast stays dry and the frequent evening fog that descends over towns like Swakopmund, Luderitz, Walvis Bay and Henties Bay is kept at bay by the dry warm winds. The fine weather, coupled with the winds, make this time of year ideal for anyone who wants to take part in water sports like kiteboarding, windsurfing, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and body boarding.

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Get your heart racing on the Atlantic Ocean!
(Image courtesy of Geesche Neuberg)

 

It should be clear now that the winds are a key feature of this season on the coast and at times they can get quite strong. When they pick up enough, usually as the sun is setting, sand from the Namib Desert can become suspended in the air in a dramatic fashion. With the right amount of skill, timing, and photographer’s luck you can capture these surreal moments and leave the coast with some unforgettable photographs.

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The winds sweeping over Dune 45 near Sossusvlei.
(Image by Adomas Svirskas via Photography Blogger)

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A sandstorm blows across a national road.
(Image by Asco via Photography Blogger)

Note: A great place for water sports like those mentioned above is Luderitz and within the small town there are a few operators who can take you out on to the ocean. Find out more by reading about the town here.

There is loads to do in Namibia throughout all of its seasons, but if you are looking for moderate temperatures and adventure filled activities then winter could be the ideal time for you to visit the Land of the Brave. Also, during the Namibian winter the northern hemissphere's tourist hotspots are traditionally over-crowded with holiday makers soaking up the sunshine. So why not give the summer crowds a skip and come and spend some time around a warm fire in Namibia?

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Here are two more of our blogs to help you plan your trip to Namibia:

Want to know what to do in Autumn? Plan your next Namibian adventure!
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Three New Self-drive Routes Through Namibia

  
  

Open Africa is an organisation that prides itself on promoting sustainable tourism ventures in countries like Namibia. Recently at last week’s Namibian Tourism Expo, Open Africa, in conjunction with the Namibian Tourism Board and the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia, launched three new self-drive routes through Namibia.

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Each self-drive route has been carefully planned out to highlight aspects of Namibia that are a little bit less well known to both local and international tourists. This blog post will provide you with an overview of all the experiences you can have on each route (for a detailed itinerary visit our page here or click any of the names of the experiences below).


The Omulunga Palm Route

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What you can expect on the Omulunga Palm Route

There are several notable cultural experiences to be had on this tour as many of the local tribes along of this route have a proud history. The Owambo homesteads along the way are reminders of Namibia’s hard-fought liberation struggles as well as its promising future.

Many of the local communities along the route manage conservancies that aim to provide locals with the opportunity to share their traditions, culture and wildlife with visitors.

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An Owambo homestead.

 

Regions the Omulunga Palm Route will take you through

The route takes you on a journey from the arid northwest of the country to the fertile and verdant northeast. It should also be noted that this route also takes travellers down to the world famous Etosha National Park.

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Visitors getting close to some game at Etosha.

 

Experiences on the Omulunga Palm Route 

The Roof of Namibia Experience

The Roof of Namibia experience is 467km long and roughly runs parallel to the Angolan border in Namibia’s north. The journey traces the Kunene River from the Ruacana Falls across to the Okavango River. The trip takes travellers past several pans and flooded channels. These watery ecosystems are home to a massive amount of birdlife on offer.

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The Ruacana Falls.
(Image by Tom Jakobi via Wikicommons)

 

This part of the Omulunga Palm Route is not just about rural wildlife as there are several urban settlements along the way with attractions such as the Outapi War Museum, Ombalantu Baobab Museum and the Eenhana Shrine.

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The mighty Ombalantu Baobab.
(Image via Wikimedia)

 

The King Nehale Experience

This experience is a 641km trail through the culturally rich and unique towns of Oshakati, Ongwediva and Ondangwa. There are also several rural villages that surround these larger towns, so be sure to be on the look out for those!

The major attractions on the King Nehale Experience are the Omugulugwombashe National Monument, Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead, Uukwambi Kings Monument, Oshakati Open Market, Ongula Traditional Homestead, Nakambale Museum and Lake Oponono. This part of the route also takes you through Etosha National Park. Exploring this world-class National Park is a must-do activity when visiting the Land of the Brave.

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A Blue Crane at Lake Oponono
.
(Image by Alastair Rae via Wikimedia)

 

The Arid Eden Route

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What you can expect on the Arid Eden Route

This route is a dream come true for travel photographers. As you head away from Swakopmund the arid desert landscapes and the crystal clear skies offer up some of the best photography opportunities in Namibia.

There are several unique locations along this route ranging from ancient rock paintings to modern cultural experiences in the heartland of the Himba people.

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A Himba woman looks on.
(Image courtesy of Expert Africa)

Regions the Arid Eden Route will take you through

The Arid Eden Route begins in the coastal town of Swakopmund and runs all the way up to northern border with Angola. Something that makes this route quite special is that it winds through the previously restricted western part of Etosha National Park.

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The beach at Swakopmund.

 

Experiences on the Arid Eden Route

The Welwitchia Experience

The Welwitchia Experience is 860km long and allows travellers to experience all the excitement of Swakopmund as well as the awe-inspiring Etosha National Park. The route, which is mostly gravelled roads, is well maintained and any car with sufficient ground clearance and sturdy enough axel will be able to navigate it.

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A typical gravel road in Namibia.
(Photo by Andreas Seehase via Foto Community)

 

The Windhoek to Galton Experience

The Windhoek to Galton Experience is the experience that gives adventurers access to the previously mentioned western part of Etosha via the Galton Gate. The route is 520km in length and as you drive from the capital city to the Galton Gate be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife on the verge of the road.

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Explore the western parts of Etosha.


German delicatessens, coffee shops and local butcheries with locally sourced game and beef are also dotted along the route. So be sure to take a bit of time out and pop in to one of these establishments.

If you have time (and are properly prepared!) don’t forget to get off the beaten track and explore some of the landscapes that the route traverses. Massive mountain peaks, unique geological formations, desert-adapted wildlife and never ending horizons abound in these parts of the Land of the Brave.

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There is wildlife aplenty on this route!


North West Trails

This trail is for those who seek a bit more adrenaline coursing through their veins. The main attractions on this part of the route are surely the Spitzkoppe and Mount Erongo. These mountains are favourites among both mountain bikers and rock climbers and offer several routes up and down their slopes and faces.

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Explorers taking in the Spitzkoppe.


The North West Trail also takes travellers past Namibia’s highest mountain, Brandberg. The area around the huge mountain has over 2000 recorded rock art sites and there are professionally run tours that take tourists to the major sites. Such a tour is a must for anyone interested in the ancient history of Namibia.

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An example of some of the rock art you can find in the area.


The foothills of the Brandberg are also home to some of Namibia’s desert-adapted elephants. The region is easily accessible and it is thus it one of the best places in the world to catch a glimpse of these mighty and rare large mammals.

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A young desert-adapted elephant near the Brandberg.
(Image courtesy of the Cardboard Box Travel Shop)

 

Twyfelfontein (or ǀUi-ǁAis) is another attraction on the North West Trail. It is an official World heritage Site thanks to its numerous petroglyphs and the naturally formed geological wonders like the Organ Pipes and many petrified trees. If you want to explore Twyfelfontein then using the small town of Khorixas is a good idea as it is the last convenient place to stock up with supplies before heading out in the arid northwest.

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A unique rock formation near Twyfelfontein.


The Himba Cultural Experience

The Arid Eden Route, as mentioned above, will take you through the heartland of the Himba people of northern Namibia. The Himba Cultural Experience focuses on these unique people and the suggested 443km goes through several homesteads in the area.

The remote Himba settlement at Puros is particularly unique as its massive camel thorn trees provide shelter for all from the unrelenting sun. At Puros there is a supply store where locals and travellers can stock up on essentials like sugar, cooking oil and soap. There is also a billiard table at the store where you can share a conversation and friendly game with some of the Himba people.

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A group of Himba cutting loose.


The Four Rivers Route

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What you can expect on the Four Rivers Route

The route focuses on getting travellers off the beaten path and the meandering course it takes through the riverine landscape encourages exploration and discovery.

As with the other two routes discussed there are a variety of culturally diverse experiences along the Four Rivers Route. The people of the Zambezi are particularly culturally distinct from the rest of Namibia and this makes this route particularly worthwhile for travellers who have been to Namibia before.

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A local homestead in the Zambezi region.


Regions the Four Rivers Route will take you through

This route starts in the northeast at Nkurenkuru and going through the lush Zambezi (formerly Caprivi) region and on to the world-famous Victoria Falls. The regions along this route are crisscrossed with rivers and their tributaries and as such this part of Namibia is verdant and teeming with birdlife, wildlife and surprises.

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Elephants ahead!

 

Experiences on the Four Rivers Route

The Kavango Open Africa Route

This part of the Four Rivers Route traces 383km through the lush regions along the Kavango River. Starting at Nkurunkuru in the west and ending at the eastern border post of Mohembo the route allows travellers to experience the birds, people and wildlife of the region up close.

 

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The banks of Kavango River are particularly picturesque.

(Image courtesy of Dr Klaus Dierks)


This route opens up an area for travellers that has only been explored since the nineteenth century and is thus the perfect place for those of you who have the need to explore this lesser seen side of Namibia. The Mahango and Khaudum National Parks on the border of Botswana are also magnificent and are well worth the visit.

Other notable attractions that form part of the Kavango Open Africa Experience include the Mbunza Living Museum, Khaudum National Park, Nyangana Mission, Andara Mission, the Okavango River System and Popa Falls as well as the Mahango National Park.

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Popa Falls.
(Image courtesy of Dr Klaus Dierks)


The Caprivi Wetlands Paradise

This experience takes you on an incredible 430km trip through some of the most diverse landscapes and unexpected ecosystems in the Land of the Brave.

One of the most unique parks in the world, Bwabwata National Park, just north of the Okavango Delta is part of this experience. Within in this park there are 5000 residents who live side-by-side with the free-roaming animals in the park.

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A hippo at Bwabwata National Park.
(Image via Cardboard Travel Box)

 

The residents living on this land, thanks to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Namibia, help run and conserve the ecosystem. The local people then derive financial benefits from the tourists visiting the area in what is one of the most innovative and community-orientated conservation programs in the world.

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Locals fishing on the Kavango.


The area surrounding the Kwando River is not only famous for it’s free-roaming elephants but it is also one of the best places to go birding in Namibia. The region is home to over 400 species of birds that live in habitats ranging from acacia woodlands and mopane forests, to floodplains filled with plant and animal.

Self-drive, Namibia, Adventure, Caprivi, Zambezi, Etosha, namibia self-drive, open africa, millennium challenge account

The river banks in this region are full of varied flora and fauna.


The Four Corners Experience

The Four Corners Experience is different from all the other experiences on the three routes we have described as it actually takes you out of Namibia and into two of its neighbouring countries, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Your journey will begin at the Ngoma border post and the trip will take you through the Chobe National Park in Botswana. The route will then lead you to where the mighty Zambezi and Chobe rivers merge. The area where these two great rivers converge is famed for its wildlife and luxury lodges.

Self-drive, Namibia, Adventure, Caprivi, Zambezi, Etosha, namibia self-drive, open africa, millennium challenge account

The Chobe/Zambezi confluence seen from the air.
(Image via Springbok Classic Air)

 

The final experience on the Four Corner Route will also take you to one of Africa’s truly great wonders: The Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Self-drive, Namibia, Adventure, Caprivi, Zambezi, Etosha, namibia self-drive, open africa, millennium challenge account

The awesome Victoria Falls.
(Photo via Wikimedia)

 

+-------+

 

These are just three routes through the vast expanse of Namibia. Remember, you can always create your adventure. If you feel like putting together your very own roadtrip then why not have a look at our other blog posts on self-drive adventures through the Land of the Brave:

 


Driving Through Etosha
self drive namibia, namibia, etosha, etosha national park, etosha game park, safari, etosha safari, etosha accomodation, namibia travel tips

 


Motorbiking through Namibia
CAPIRCORN

 

 
Self-drive Tips
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2014 Namibia Adventure Calendar: June to August

  
  

Namibia is a land full of adventure. From its churning seas, to its sand swept deserts there are loads of different ways thrill-seekers can get their adrenaline fix. This blog post is the first in a two-part series that will provide you with all the information you need to know about what extreme activities you can take part in across the Land of the Brave this year.

Rostock Fly-in (June –TBC)

The Rostock Ritz Desert Lodge is a luxury lodge in the ancient Namib Desert close to the iconic Sossusvlei. The lodge is a popular destination for people who are exploring the Land of the Brave in a light aircraft and every year the Ritz holds an annual “Fly-in”. The “Fly-in” consists of groups of privately owned planes that make the trip to the lodge to compete against one another in a series of airborne events.

ROCKSTOCKGATE

The entrance to the picturesque lodge.
(Image via the Rostock Ritz Desert Lodge)

 

In previous years the Fly-in’s challenges have included “pot landing”, “bomb dropping” and a navigation exercise that required pilots to follow the trail of famed geologists Henno Martin and Herman Korn as chronicled in Martin’s quintessential book on Namibia: “The Sheltering Desert”.

FLY002

Contestants arriving back from their challenges.
(Image via the Rostock Ritz Desert Lodge)

 

So if you have your own small plane, or know someone who does, then be sure to get hold of the staff at the Rostock Ritz to make a booking, their details are directly below.

Reservation: +264 81 258 5722
Fax: +264 88 616 556
Lodge: +264 64 694000

The Rostock Fly-in typically takes place in June every year so be sure to book your place as soon as possible.

FLY001

Photo opportunities abound at the Rostock Fly-in.
(Image via the Rostock Ritz Desert Lodge)

 

Koës Rally date (July – TBC)

In the first week of July, rallying enthusiasts descend upon the small Kalahri village of Koës. Their goal? To race against each other in one of the most unique and wild DIY rallying events in the world. You can read more about the event here and here.

BUGGY

The rally is a chance for some weird and wonderful vehicle to kick up some dust.
(Photo by Jacobus Blaauw via Facebook)

 

The rally is a must-see event for any petrol-head that is in the area around this time of year. Entries are open to the public and no previous rallying experience is needed. Take note though, you will have to bring your own vehicle. This rally is not a scenic drive through the desert. Contestants will be up against some serious terrain and competition.

If, this sounds like a bit too much for you, and you would rather be a spectator then you can visit Koës while the rally is underway and take in the local fare and enjoy the races from the safety of the spectator areas.

For more info on the rally contact Bonsai Combrink at the Koës Hotel on: (+264) 063 25 2716.

FINISH

The Koes Rally is really a one-of-a-kind event.
(Photo by Annette Erasmus Schoeman via Facebook
)

 

Windhoek Light Fish River Ultra Race (July 11 – 12)

The Fish River Ultra is one of the most gruelling trail running competitions that you can do in Namibia. It is a 96km trail through the spectacular Fish River Canyon, the second largest canyon in the world. The trail follows the extremely popular canyon hiking trail.

FISH RUN

The Stunning Fish River Canyon.
(Image by Marius via I Love Ultras)

 

The trail takes about five-days to do when done at a regular hiking pace but since 2013 trail running enthusiasts have been doing the root in under 10 hours. 2012’s winner, Ryan Sandes, finished the race in an astonishing 6 hours and 57 minutes!

PAINGAIN

No pain no gain!
(Image via Trail Running)

 

If 96km’s sounds a bit too much for your likings then fear not. The organisers have organized a “lite” version of the race that will take contestants on a 65km circuit through the canyon.

For full course information, entrance fees and a full history of the event click here.

RUNNERFISH

Scenic views, and challenging trails.
(Image via Events Nam)

 

The Namib Desert Challenge (July 21 - 25)

The Namib Desert Challenge is a 220km race through the Namib-Naukluft National Park- the park being home to some of Namibia’s most spectacular desert landscapes. The trail will take you through the Sesriem Canyon and up two of the world’s largest sand dunes, Dune 45 and Big Daddy.

DUNE

A runner takes on the Big Daddy.
(Image via Namib Desert Challenge)

 

The race is particularly awesome because some of its trail will take contestants through parts of the popular park that are often not open to the general public.

CONTESTANTS

Warming up before the start of one of the stages.
(Image via Namib Desert Challenge)

 

The race this year is on the 21 – 25 of July and entries are selling like hotcakes. Currently (May 28th) there are only 20 entries left. So if you are interested in this highly regarded and challenging run then you best get a move on! You can register for the race here.

DUNE RUNNING

Contestants charging down the dunes.
(Image via Namib Desert Challenge)

 

Wispeco Otjihavera Experience MTB Marathon presented by FNB (30 - 31 August)

The Otjihavera Xperience is a mountain bike race that covers just over 70km’s of scenic, rugged and challenging terrain in the Otjozondjupa region in central Namibia. The race has been run for the last eight years and its increasing popularity year on year is testament to the dramatic and panoramic trail that the race traces.

 

OTJIX

(Image via Rock and Rut)

 

The route takes riders through several of the area’s farms, and the farmers’ contribution to the race’s success is part of the charm of the event. The local communities not only allow access across their lands to the cyclists, but the locals also set up water stations along the way for the thirsty contestants.

NAMINNNK

The scenic dunes of the Naukluft National Park.
(Image via Wikicommons)

 

This year’s Otjihavera Xperience will take place on the 30th and 31st of August and entries opened on the 17th of April. Spaces are sure to fill up quickly so be sure to book as soon as you can.

For a detailed description of the route, and to register as either a solo competitor or as a two-person team, click here.

CYCLE

Cyclists preparing to set out from the Midgard Country Estate.
(Image via Midgard Country Estate)

 +-------+

Looking for more adventure? Then check out our follow-up post which will tell you all about the up and coming events from September to December in 2014...

Also, check out these three posts on some of Namibia’s year-round adventure holiday activities.


Luderitz -
Extreme Holiday Mecca
Rock Climbing
in Namibia
Three Airborne Adventures
in Swakopmund

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Exploring Windhoek with Rachel Lang

  
  

A few months ago travel writer Rachel Lang was part of our Go Big Namibia team who spent a few weeks exploring Namibia. On her tour Rachel spent some time in Windhoek and in this special guest post she shares her experiences and offers some suggestions for travellers visiting the big city for the first time. So read on, and follow the links at the bottom of this post for even more travel tips.

Namibia, Windhoek, Katatura, Namibia adventure, go big namibia, rachel lang, bushbound girl, bush bound girl

Windhoek.

-Cruising through colourful Katutura-

by Rachel Lang

I’m usually not a big fan of bustling through cities, so it came as a surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed a morning of doing just that in Namibia’s capital city, Windhoek.

I was with a great bunch of people (which makes all the difference, doesn’t it?), and together we whizzed around discovering a vibrant blend of old and new – long-standing colonial churches built by early German settlers stand amongst stark modern-day infrastructure. Windhoek is safe to explore on foot, and, if you know where to go, you’re in for a delightful cultural and culinary adventure! My favourite part of the city was (without a doubt) the bright and colourful township of Katutura.

When the first World War ended, Namibia (then South West Africa) was passed from German colonial rule to South African governance (under the League of Nations Mandate). Sadly, South Africa imposed their system of apartheid, forcibly dividing Windhoek into areas inhabited according to race and ethnic groups. Katutura Township was the area allocated to “blacks” and remains home to 65% of Windhoek’s population.

I recommend taking a slow drive along Katutura’s legendary Evaline Street (‘the street that never sleeps’) – a Joseph’s techni-coloured-coat of houses, shebeens, hair-dresses, friendly car-washes and enthusiastic entrepreneurs.

Namibia, Windhoek, Katatura, Namibia adventure, go big namibia, rachel lang, bushbound girl, bush bound girl

Photo by Rachel Lang

We stopped to investigate the extremely popular meat market at Single Quarters. This is not a place for faint-hearted vegetarians! If that’s you, be warned!! (luckily I’m not). If you’re brave enough, you can join the locals by tucking into some famous Kaplan (braaied) meat, or, if you are feeling particularly adventurous, try a mopane worm. I couldn’t help noticing that it’s also a hunting ground for young single locals – especially teenage girls who do little to hide their ogling over the braaing men, who are, of course, only too happy to show off their meat-chopping muscles. But no judgement here – I’m a huge fan of Masterchef Australia, and this obviously has nothing to do with toned surfers in aprons! The market is also a popular date venue for local couples. If it were me, I’d definiatley prefer somewhere more romantic! What do you think?

Namibia, Windhoek, Katatura, Namibia adventure, go big namibia, rachel lang, bushbound girl, bush bound girl

Photo by Rachel Lang

We then headed to the ‘Soweto Market’ where I did the real touristy thing (why not), and got a few braids put in my hair by a lovely hairdresser called Maria. The speed at which she worked was a spectacle in itself – intricate, perfect little plaits were done in no time at all.

Namibia, Windhoek, Katatura, Namibia adventure, go big namibia, rachel lang, bushbound girl, bush bound girl

Photo by Rachel Lang

If you would like to do a tour of Windhoek with a guide (I would recommend this) here are some options:

2 hour double-decker bus city tour: 2 hours (two tours run daily, must book at least an hour ahead)

  • Tel: +264 61 275 300 | Fax: +264 61 263 417

Four hour private tour with local guide in air-conditioned vehicle:

  • Email – tours@discover-namibia-safari.net / Tel : +264 (0) 81 364 5069

This tour was made possible thanks to Africa Geographic and the Nambian Tourism Board, as part of the Go Big Namibia campaign.

More things to do in Windhoek

Where to eat in Windhoek

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Katatura Bicycle Tour

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 Namibia, Windhoek, Katatura, Namibia adventure, go big namibia, rachel lang, bushbound girl, bush bound girl

Rachel Lang, in her own words...

I'm Rach – a freelance writer, blogger and environmental educationist based in Cape Town, South Africa. Born into a family of wildlife lovers, I spent my childhood immersed in nature and developed a love for wild places that has continued to grow for 26 years.

My blog, Bush-bound Girl, is a collection of family stories, travels, interviews, poems, and inspiring guest posts; all written on an adventure to discover Africa's wild side. Follow my journey on my blog, Facebook page, and Twitter.

If you would like to work with me, or share your own stories, send me an email.

Riding Across Namibia: An Interview with Motorcyclist Tyler Hare

  
  

We got the chance to interview Africa Motorcycle Tours' Tyler Hares about his experiences when he rode across Namibia on a motorcycle. Tyler is about to embark upon his second trip through the Namibia and we found why he was coming back to the Land of the Brave.

*All images in this post are courtesy of Tyler Hare unless otherwise noted.

namibia, motorbike namibia, africa bike adventure, sossusvlei, etosha, motorcycle namibia, self drive namibia
Choose your own adventure!
(Image source Motorcycle Tour South Africa)

First up, could you explain to our readers who you are, where are you from and what kind of motorcycling have you done through Namibia?

My name is Tyler Hare and I am an American who explored Southern Africa’s explored paved and unpaved scenic byways on an adventure motorcycle.  I entered Namibia at the Caprivi Strip when leaving Zambia after visiting Victoria Falls on an 11,000 km loop through seven countries.

Riding through Namibia was a highlight of my trip that has led to a two-year quest to return and explore the country’s potential.  I am returning to Africa in a few months to see everything I missed. I will be spending a lot of time in Namibia and will be updating my exploration on my personal travel blog.

 CAPIRCORN

The Tropic of Capricorn

You have written that your first trip to Namibia was largely unplanned. Tell us a bit about this- would you do it the same if you could do it over again?

Largely unplanned is an understatement, I virtually knew nothing of Africa before landing in Cape Town a month prior and did very little research. I was following a rough outline of where to ride suggested to me by owner of the company where I rented my bike.

DEADVLEI

Looking at the Dead Vlei in Sossusvlei.

Whilst waiting to check into a hostel in Windhoek I had a change of heart after looking through some tour brochures and decided to lengthen my trip instead of returning the bike in a few days as originally scheduled. I realized I was so close to the deserted Skeleton Coast, Sossusvlei with its deep red sands as well as the iconic lunar landscape near the Dead Vlei. How could I pos­sibly miss all that.

POINTROAD

The Skeleton Coast.

From a biker’s perspective I was foolishly underprepared in my exploration of Namibia. I am thankful now, though, to be given an opportunity to approach things differently on my next trip.  I would not change a thing as good luck was with me on my journey but may recommend a different course of action to other riders. 

Given that you didn’t completely plan your trip down to every last detail the first time you biked across Namibia, would you say that other first-timers should following your footsteps or find a guide to help them out?

I had fallen in love with the excitement and uncertainty each day brought.  Wrong turns were solved by friendly locals; tales of routes that shadow mine were shared on roadside shoulders with other bikers; and tips on accommodation or where to ride to next were given by many of the locals  I came across. These kinds of experiences can still be had on a trip with better planning and I encourage your readers to be prepared.

FISHRIVER

Looking over the edge of the Fish River Canyon.

Namibia is a vast gorgeous country with so much biodiversity and if you only have once chance to visit it I suggest you plan your time wisely and prepare properly.  Read ride reports, find out what the country has to offer your interests and then seek a scenic route to link those locations together.

There are lots of options available in Namibia for motorcyclists and it makes the decision to just get out there and go easier. A planned tour is an excellent choice, a ride with friends would be a dream, but if these options are not available it is better to do it by your self than not at all.

What are the three most important pieces of advice you give to someone who is setting out on their first motorcycling trip through Namibia?

    1. Fresh Tires.

    Just over 10% of the roads are paved which makes it a dual-sport motorcyclist paradise, but with that comes the risk of wear and tear on the bike where the rubber meets the road. 

      LONGROAD

      Wide open Namibia.

        2. Bring goggles!

        Sunglasses won’t cut it so my advice is bring a helmet that allows goggles to be worn under the visor.

          SELFIE

          Proper equipment can make all the difference. 

            3. Take the time to enjoy it. 

            The roads, even the unpaved ones, are impressively maintained which may allow for higher speeds.  Don’t be tempted to ride any faster than is necessary and be sure to pull over and sit to enjoy the seclusion offered in one of the least densely populated countries in the world.

              HATTER

              Entertaining myself, never miss a photo opportunity.

              Let’s talk gear… First, what kind of motorbike is best suited to riding through Namibia? Also, are there any specialty pieces of gear that you recommend bringing to Namibia that other riders might not think to bring? 

              The best type of motorcycle is a properly maintained one. While I have a love for the desolation, the desert offers it is not necessary to ride strictly off road. There is so much to see along the major highways from the Orange River in the south to the Etosha Pan in the north. 

              A massive adventure bike may not be the best option if you are riding unpaved highways as a smaller bike tends to be more nimble, easier to handle on sandy roads.

              CARBIKE

              Finding an abandoned treasure in the Namib desert.

              Bring a well-ventilated riding suit if the outfitter you rent from is unable to supply you with one for your trip. The climate changes quite a bit from the coast to the interior and you will want to change with it to avoid overheating or dehydration.  Ensure your suit is armored and you ride in boots with good ankle support.  An injury is what I considered my most serious threat while riding through southern Africa.

              DONT SPEED

              Good advice given by the department of transportation while in South Africa.

              You have been through places like the Skeleton Coast, the Namib Nakluft, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Fish River Canyon… What was your most memorable area to ride through in Namibia?

              This is a tough one, but the most memorable area to ride through, for me, was the Namib Nakluft on my way to Sossusvlei purely based on the sheer openness the road offered.

              But one of the most memorable moments on my trip was my stay in the Okavango Delta headwaters. I rented an en suite tree-house over the river where wild crocodiles and hippos swam freely beneath.

              TREE HOUSE

              My ensuite tree house.

              While I showered with river water in open view along the banks Cape buffalo would graze across from me in the Bwabwata National Park. The highlight of this stay was swimming in a giant floating cage protected from the rivers predators.

              CAGE

              Floating caged pool in the Okovango head waters in the Caprivi.

              Budget is an important factor when planning trips through southern Africa- it can get expensive really quickly- do you think people can still do a motorcycling trip through Namibia on a medium budget as you did in 2012?

              Adventure is always possible. Expeditions do not have to be done on a grand scale, with a personal bike, a seemingly limit­less budget and planned down to the tiniest detail. My life was changed in several short weeks with no direction, a rental bike, and a middle-class budget.

              DESINN

              The desert camp outside sesereim.

              When travelling by motorcycle you have a different set of priorities. If possible bring or secure camping equipment and take advantage of the isolation the desert offers with its unmatched views of the night. Hostels are often overlooked but as a rider you really only need secure parking for your bike and a place to shower. I chose hostels for accommodations on days that weren’t deemed needed for recovery, you will often find that B&B’s have more character as well as lower rates than chain hotels. ***Click here for a list of unique hostels and B&B's in Namibia***

              What makes motorcycling through Namibia unique when compared to its southern African neighbours?

              The vastness of the desert has an ability to make you feel small and insignificant, especially after hours of travel with seeing very few people, you truly do feel lost in a great big world. The isolation, the chance to be alone with your thoughts and experience a place few will ever see makes riding through Namibia even more special.

              ALONE 

              Alone with my thoughts in the Namib.

              My personal view on adventure is that I develop a more profound admiration of places I visit when I have no expectations.  The amazement I found in Namibia’s natural beauty came as a complete surprise. The scenery changes from lush and tropical in the Kavango-Caprivi to dry and desolate in the Namib Naukluft.

              Are there any tour guides or Motorcycle tour operators in Namibia that you can recommend?

              Paul Shaw is an accomplished rider who has left very little of Namibia unexplored and he offers a magazine for free on his site. Their 2013 “Cape to Etosha Route Biker” magazine is a 96 page guide filled with maps and route choices, photo galleries, and anything else you can imagine which can be downloaded for free on their page.

              SKELECOAST

              Riding the skeleton coast.

              bio  

              Tyler Hare, in his own words...

              With 6 of the 7 continents visited and only 25 countries under my belt I have recently resigned from my job to continue seeing what the world offers over the next horizon.  Living a new life as a digital nomad I will be able to expand more on the travels I have done and the misadventures still to be attempted.   

              Tyler can be reached for motorcycle tours of South Africa on his webpage or follow him on his personal blog where he frequently shares insights on travel, motorcycling, and paragliding.

              Follow Tyler on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

               

              Interested in motorcycling or driving around Namibia?
              Then you should check out these other blogs we have posted previously...

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              What to do in Namibia during Autumn

                
                

              It’s that time of year in the Southern Hemisphere where summer begins to leave and winter starts knocking at the door. In Namibia, autumn (or fall) is a particularly beautiful time of year. The weather is mild and there a whole host of activities and events for you to keep you entertained.


              Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

              Sossusvlei in autumn.

              Autumn in Namibia

              In autumn the colours of Namibia come out in full force. Puffy white clouds, crystal clear skies and the deep red of the desert sands combine spectacularly to provide any photographer with enough backdrops to fill a thousand photo albums.

               

              Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

              The land meets the sky in spectacular fashion during this season.
              (Image via Tok Tokkie Trails)

              Late rains sweep through the usually arid countryside and provide photographers with a unique chance to get shots of the Land of the brave as these powerful, but brief, storms sweep through it.

              Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

              Lightning at night near Gobabis.

              The temperatures during these months are mild with daytime temperatures rarely exceeding 30 degrees Celsius and nighttime temperatures seldom dropping so low as to cause discomfort. The wind dies down on the coast, while the southern regions cool off, and in the central parts of the country seasonal rains often refresh the landscape that has been baking in the summer heat. Autumn then is truly a ‘goldilocks’ season in Namibia.

               

              Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

              Not too hot, not too cold… Everything is just right in Namibia during autumn!

              With all these factors in mind, let’s take a look at some activities that we recommend you try do while visiting Namibia in autumn.

              Walking in the desert

              Deserts are, as you all know, very hot during the day and extremely cold at night, but the mild autumn temperatures mean that explorers have the perfect opportunity to go out into Namibia’s deserts without having to deal with blisteringly hot days and freezing cold nights. Below are a few operators that offer some of the best guided desert walks in Namibia.

               

              Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

              Explore the desert by foot.
              (Image via Tok Tokkie Trails)

              The Living Desert Tour with Tommy’s Tours and Safaris

              Tommy has been running tours of the Namib just outside Swakopmund since the 90’s. On Tommy’s Living Desert Tour he takes guests on a journey through the seemingly empty dunes near the bustling coastal town. Focussing on the smallest creatures this tour will highlight the amazing variety of desert-adapted animals that call the Namib home.

               

              Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

              Tommy with one of the little critters that live in the harsh desert.
              (Image by Wendy Kaveney)

              Tommy not only focuses on the animals that live in the red sands of the dunes but also on the plant life and the landscape itself. His Welwitchia/Moon Land Scape Tour is definitely worth checking out if you have the time to spend the full day trekking around the dunes.

              Discover Namibia’s “Little Five” with Living Desert Adventures

              Based in Swakopmund Chris Nel’s Living Desert Adventures also takes guests on a tour of the dune belt near Swakopmund. Chris’ focus is on the so-called “Little Five” which includes the Palmato Gecko, the Cartwheeling Spider, and the Shovel-Snouted Lizard, the Sidewinder Snake and the Namaqua Chameleon. If you’re lucky then you may catch a glimpse of all five!

               

              Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

              The Palmato Gecko, probably the cutest of the Little Five.
              (Image via Living Desert Adventures)

              Exploring the Namib with Tok Tokkie Trails

              This is a locally run company that gives guided tours in and around Sossusvlei and the NamibRand Nature Reserve since 1991. Tok Tokkie specialises in putting visitors in touch with the fragile ecosystems of the Namib Desert at once giving guests the opportunity to take in the beautiful surrounds and learn about the need for conservation in these fragile environments.

              Check out their itineraries here for a detailed description of the different tours they offer and you can choose which one best suits you.

               

              Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

              Get in touch with the Namib and its contrasting surrounds.
              (Image via Tok Tokkie Trails)

              Coastal Fishing

              The favourable weather conditions in autumn make for excellent angling opportunities on the coast line of the Land of the Brave. Fishing in Namibia is very highly rated and there is an avid community of fishermen within the country.

              The Skeleton Coast in particular is one of the most talked about fishing spots in Southern Africa and people come from all over the world to try catch a few of the ocean’s finest there. The 200km stretch of coastline that is Dorob National Park is completely open to anglers, as long as you have a valid fishing permit.

               

              Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

              Coastal fishing on the Skeleton Coast.
              (Image via Planet Sea Fishing)

              Here is a great guide to fishing in Namibia if you are interested in planning a dedicated fishing trip. While here is a list of fishing safaris ranging from day excursions to multiple night adventures that one can embark upon.

              Cycling

              Getting on a bicycle and touring around Namibia is a great compromise between driving and walking through the country. You get to cover greater distances than by foot, while still being close to the natural surroundings. There are several companies that run guided cycle tours through out Namibia and cycling pretty much anywhere in Namibia in these mild months is sure to be a worthwhile experience.

                Mountain Bike Namibia

              This is a local company that offers shorter six day tours as well as a massive 4-6 week tour that includes the must see locations of Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Damaraland, Kaokoland and the Etosha National Park.

              image Cycle Namibia  

              Cycle Namibia specialises in tailor made tours to suit all skill levels and tastes. Have a Look at their website to find out more.

              Screen Shot 2014 04 10 at 2.03.36 AM  Bike Tours Direct

              This internationally run company offers a 17-day cycling safari that is not to be missed.

              Hiking 

              You should know by now that the weather is your friend during autumn in Namibia. This means it is an excellent time to strap your backpack on and head up some mountain trails. We have chosen two hikes that would be spectacular to do during this time of the year.

               

              Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

              Hikers setting off on an adventure.

              Fish River Canyon

              In the south of Namibia one can go on the epic Fish River Canyon hike. There are various options ranging from day hikes to a mammoth five-day camping hike. You can read more about these hikes here. Note that you are not allowed to hike into the canyon unaccompanied by an official guide as it has been deemed to risky to explore the canyon without an expert.

               

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              If you’re into hiking, don’t miss the opportunity to see this canyon.

              The Waterberg

              The Waterberg in the central northern region provides visitors with somewhat more leisurely hiking options. As opposed to the Fish River Canyon hike explorers can walk around at their own leisure in the Waterberg Plateau Park.

              You do not need a guide with you and you can pick up a map of the various trails at the NWR reception at the entrance to the park. Read more about the walking/hiking trails you can explore in the park here.

               

              Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari

              The trails are clearly marked and easy to follow.

              Be advised though, it is never, ever, a good idea to go hiking on your own and you should always take someone with you no matter how simple a trail seems or how well you know the route.

              +++++++++++++++

              There it is! Several reasons why you should spend some time in Namibia during autumn. If you don't have plans to come to Namibia already, but want to, then know that if you plan your adventure for this time of year you are sure to have an amazing time.

               

              9241785532 64c7474399 b

              The autumn sun setting behind a lone windmill.

              Three Airborne Adventures Over Swakopmund, Namibia

                
                

              Swakopmund has long been known as an adventure holiday hotspot around the world. There is a range of activities that thrill seekers can indulge themselves in and today we will be focussing on three activities that put you high in the sky over the historic coastal town.  

              Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

              There’s a lot of adventure in the skies above Swakopmund.
              (Image via Swakopmund Diving Club)

               

              Hot Air Ballooning

              We start with the most sedate option for would-be sky explorers: The hot air balloon. Hot air balloons have traditionally been one of the best and most relaxing ways to take in a country’s beauty and there are few better ways to appreciate the vast beauty of Swakopmund and its surrounds than from the basket of one of these balloons.

               

              Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

              Don’t forget to pack your camera… There will be photo opportunities galore!
              (Image via Wanderlustress)

              African Adventure Balloons have been operating balloon rides in Swakopmund for many years now. Your flight will begin early in the morning behind the dunes, and as the sun comes up and touches the vast landscape the uniqueness of the Spitzkoppe Mountains, the mystery of the famous Moon Landscape and the beauty of the Naukluft Range will be revealed.

               

              Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

              A balloon being prepped for flight.
              (Image via Cardboard Box)

              There are three different kinds of balloons that are used and all flights have an experienced and knowledgeable staff member that will train and guide all guests on what to expect during their flight over the coastline.

              After your flight is complete your pilot will take you for a champagne breakfast where you can relax and let all the sights and sounds of your recent adventure sink in.

              Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

              Floating above the dunesyou can get a new perspective on the oldest desert in the world.
              (Image via Cardboard Box)

              If you want to book a flight with African Adventure Balloons, or if you want to know anything more about their operation, then simply click here for their booking form and contact details.

               

              Paragliding

              If you want to get your heart pumping a little faster on your airborne adventure over Swakopmund then maybe you should consider trying your hand at paragliding. Currently there are two companies that are running paragliding operations in Swakopmund and they are Element Riders, and Namib Gliding.

              Element Riders

              Element Riders currently offer a basic introductory course and training flights to guests. The company is in the process of registering with the civil aviation authority and until this process is complete they cannot offer a full paragliding course to visitors looking to become fully accredited pilots.

               

              Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

              Paragliding is both serene and exhilarating.
              (Picture courtesy of Element Riders)

              For those adventurers who want to learn how to paraglide Element Riders is a good choice. Their course on offer will teach you about the equipment you will use, the weather and terrain of the region and basic safety procedures. The course also includes initial introductory flights on the dunes where you can put into practice all that you have learned.

              A video showcasing the Element Riders team in action.
              (Video via Element Riders)

              If you need more information on their paragliding courses, click here for their contact details.

              Namib Gliding

              Namib Gliding is the most established gliding company in Swakopmund and their chief instructor, Mario Oprandi has over 18 years paragliding experience. They offer half and full day flights around Swakopmund and also provide training courses; no previous experience in paragliding is required and all are welcome to sign up for a course.

              Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

              A paraglider coming in hot over the dunes.
              (Image via Namib Gliders)

              One of the great things about this company is that they offer gliders the opportunity to go on paragliding safaris to destinations such as Sandwich Harbour, Sossusvlei, Dune 7, Henties Bay and Damaraland.

              Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

              Paragliding may be the best way to get you where no cars go.
              (Image via Namib Gliders)

              So if you want to have a scenic flight over Swakopmund, or some of the other amazing parts of Namibia, be sure to contact Namib Gliders here.

              Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

              A paraglider circles above Swakopmund.
              (Image via Namib Gliders)

               

              Sky Diving

              Few activities can match the adrenaline filled rush that skydiving brings, and the skydiving near Swakopmund is no exception. The area is considered by some to be one of the best ‘drop zones’ in the world and thousands of seasoned and beginner divers flock to the small town every year to get the chance to free fall toward the ancient Namib desert.

              Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

              There really is no rush quite like skydiving.
              (Image via Namibia Tour Guide)

              One of the most popular companies taking people up into the skies over Swakopmund is Ground Rush Adventures. It is an extremely well run and professional skydiving organisation with an experienced team of master divers. No chances are taken with your safety and their safety record in there nearly 20 years of existence is impeccable.

              Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

              Trusting your partner is important when jumping out of a plane.
              (Image via Cardboard Box)

              Ground Rush Adventures offer tandem dives, accelerated free-falls and static line jumps. Check out this link for a full description of the various options they offer. The company operates every single day of the year and will be happy to take you up as long as the weather permits. There are also several courses, and these are perfect for the novice or beginner skydiver.

              If you have any other questions or queries about skydiving in Swakopmund then feel free to contact the team here.

              Paragliding, hot air ballooning, namibia, swakopmund, adventure, extreme namibia

              Take the plunge over the dunes of the Namib!
              (Image via Swakopmund Diving Club)

               

              Five Must-visit Spas and Wellness Centres in Namibia

                
                

              After a hard few days of trekking through the Namibian wilderness, or after climbing some mountainous dunes, you may find yourself longing for a bit of rest and relaxation. Well the good news is that there are several spas and wellness centres dotted around the whole of Namibia that exist to help you unwind your mind and rejuvenate your body. Below are five of Namibia's finest spots for relaxation.

              Namibia wedding, Accommodation, Windhoek, Wedding, Namibia spa, Namibia, Namibia Wellness, Gocheganas

              View from the GocheGanas chalets.
              (Image via GocheGanas on Flickr)

               

              1. GocheGanas

              GocheGanas is a 6000ha nature reserve aimed at providing visitors with a variety of activities to help them unwind. It is situated less than 30 minutes from Windhoek and offers walks, safari drives and access to international quality wellness facilities.

              Namibia wedding, Accommodation, Windhoek, Wedding, Namibia spa, Namibia, Namibia Wellness, Gocheganas

              Two guests on a walk through the reserve.
              (Image via GocheGanas)

              The wellness facility is fully equipped to ensure that the lodge’s guests can fully unwind and rest up for the next leg of their Namibian adventure. There are eleven treatment rooms with state of the art crystal baths, hydrotherapy baths, and Vichy showers so there is little that you will want for when visiting this mecca of relaxation.

              Namibia wedding, Accommodation, Windhoek, Wedding, Namibia spa, Namibia, Namibia Wellness, Gocheganas

              A guest reclines in one of the specialised baths.
              (Image via GocheGanas)

              In addition to the treatment rooms there is a heated indoor pool, a cave sauna in a cathedral-like masonry vault, and a well-equipped fitness gym if you want to work up a healthy glow. All this makes the Wellness Village at GocheGanas a must-visit for any weary traveller looking to recharge their mind, body and spirit.

              CATHEDRAL

              The cathedral is truly a sight to behold.
              (Image via GocheGanas)

              Click here for booking information.

               

              2. /Ai /Ais Hot Springs

              The /Ai /Ais Hot Springs Resort can be found in the southern most region of the Fish River Canyon nature reserve, and it is perfectly situated for adventurers who have just finished exploring the beautiful canyon.

              The water from the springs is naturally hot and issues from a warm water spring called/Ai /Ais. The unique spring was discovered in 1850 by a young Nama sheepherder and the spring was named /Ai /Ais which means “burning water” in the local language.

              Namibia wedding, Accommodation, Windhoek, Wedding, Namibia spa, Namibia, Namibia Wellness, Gocheganas

              This is the actual site of the natural hot spring.
              (Image via The Cardboard Box)

              A soak in the warm water is ideal for anyone suffering from joint or muscle pains of any kind and it is also good for relieving any other kinds of stresses or aches that you may be suffering from.

              Namibia wedding, Accommodation, Windhoek, Wedding, Namibia spa, Namibia, Namibia Wellness, Gocheganas

              One of the warm water pools at the resort.
              (Image via The Cardboard Box)

              The resort offers a host of other activities for active guests including hikes, walks and even tennis. As a result of its proximity to the South African border the resort is very popular with travellers from both countries so booking ahead is a must.

              Click here for booking information.

               

              3. Diplomat Hydro Spa

              In the heart of Windhoek lies a hidden gem of wellness, the Diplomat Hydro Spa. The spa is situated in the foothills of Windhoek and as such seems completely cut off form the hustle and bustle of the capital city. Spending time in the resort it is easy to forget that you are just kilometres away from a major city.

              The spa is open six days a week and offers a variety of different wellness treatments for its guests. All the treatments are water-based and the spa sticks strictly to the mantra that “water is nature’s greatest healer”. You can read more about their ethos here.

              Click here for more booking information.

               

              4. Seaside Hotel and Spa

              Situated right on Swakopmund’s iconic beachfront the Seaside Hotel and Spa offers guests a wonderful place to kick back and enjoy some wonderful sea views while being pampered in the hotel’s world-class spa.

              Namibia wedding, Accommodation, Windhoek, Wedding, Namibia spa, Namibia, Namibia Wellness, Gocheganas

              The hotel is literally on the beach.
              (Image via Stay Today)

              Facials, pedicure and manicures are just some of the specific treatments that the spa offers its guests. There is also a sauna, steam room, jacuzzis and the unique Spa Oceana. Here is a list of all the treatments on offer at the spa.

               

              Namibia wedding, Accommodation, Windhoek, Wedding, Namibia spa, Namibia, Namibia Wellness, Gocheganas

              Two pools within the spa, overlooking the ocean.
              (Image via Stay Today)

              The spa of the hotel is available to both day visitors and hotel guests alike so whether you are just passing through Swakopmund or staying there for a prolonged period of time it is definitely worth your while to check out the Seaside Hotel. The spa also specialises in couple packages- perfect for honeymooners!

              Namibia wedding, Accommodation, Windhoek, Wedding, Namibia spa, Namibia, Namibia Wellness, Gocheganas

              Another happy couple.
              (Image via Stay Today)

              Click here for booking information.

               

              5. The Kalahari Sands Hotel

              Sun International’s Kalahari Sands hotel is another location in Windhoek that offers guests the opportunity to relax and unwind. The hotel’s wellness facility is located on the panoramic rooftop of the international hotel and casino.

              The wellness centre offers a full range of treatments and therapeutic products as well as a gym. Whether you are staying at the hotel or not the Kalahari Wellness Centre can provide you with a few hours (or days!) of much needed time off from the bustling modern world.

               

              Namibia wedding, Accommodation, Windhoek, Wedding, Namibia spa, Namibia, Namibia Wellness, Gocheganas

              Nothing relaxes a tired body like a few hours of shuteye.
              (Image via Kalahari Sands)

              Click here for more booking information.

              So go on and treat yourself to something a little out of the ordinary in Namibia. Both your body and your mind will thank you for the precious hours you dedicate to relaxation and wellness on while you are travelling through Namibia.

              Exploring Namibia's Starry Skies

                
                

              Namibia is one of the top destinations in the world for stargazing. Its dark and clear night skies are amongst some of the most pristine in the world and below are four reasons why we think you have to go stargazing while visiting Namibia.

               Namibia photography, sossusvlei, stargazing namibia, photography, astrology

              The moon rises in the clear winter sky.
              (Image via I Dream of Africa)

              1. Dark Sky, Bright Stars

              In 2012 the NamibRand Nature Reserve was selected by the International Dark Sky Association as an official dark sky reserve on account of its low light pollution and cloudless night skies. And indeed the whole of Namibia has some of the darkest skies measured on earth allowing stargazers to gaze deep into the night sky on just about every night of the year. 

              Many lodges around Namibia take advantage of the unusually dark skies in the country and have their own telescopes. All you need to do is enquire at the reception of wherever you are staying to find out if your lodge has such facilities.

              Namibia photography, sossusvlei, stargazing namibia, photography, astrology

              Starry sky over the desert.
              (Image via I Dream Africa)

              2. Photographing the night sky

              The night sky over the Land of the Brave lends itself incredibly well to photography. Countless photographers, amateur and professional, travel from all over the world to capture astonishing images of our universe. 

              Below is a particularly stirring video made from a collection of over 16,000 still images of the Namibian night sky.

              The award winning Namibian Nights by Marsel van Oosten.
              (Video ©Marsel van Oosten Squiver Photo Tours)

               

              3. Guided tours

              The great thing about visiting Namibia is that you can always find someone willing to take you on a guided tour of its attractions. The night sky is no different. There are several tour operators around the country that offer guided tours of the night sky.

              Namibia photography, sossusvlei, stargazing namibia, photography, astrology

              Taking a guided tour of the night sky is perfect for the whole family.
              (Image via I Dream Africa)

              The local guides are knowledgeable and passionate about the stars that shine down on Namibia and they are always more than willing to share their stories with visitors from near and far. Below are a few tour operators who offer stargazing tours.

              Solna’s stargazing experience.

              Rob Johnstone has been an astrology enthusiast since 1986 and his company SOLNA (Space Observation Learning in Namibia) offers two guided tour options for visitors.

              Namibia photography, sossusvlei, stargazing namibia, photography, astrology

              Guests at the SOLNA viewing site.
              (Image via SOLNA)

              The first is just 29km south of Windhoek at the Gocheganas Nature Reserve. If you wish to book a tour at the reserve then email reservations@gocheganas.com or telephone Gocheganas at +264 (0)61 224 909.

              SOLNA also works in partnership with Wilderness Safaris with whom they organise stargazing tours throughout the whole of Namibia. It is best to get in contact with Wilderness Safaris if you want to organise a stargazing trip and you can email them on constancet@wilderness.com.na.

              Namibia photography, sossusvlei, stargazing namibia, photography, astrology

              A picture of Saturn taken from the SOLNA viewing site.
              (Image via SOLNA)

              Stargazing tours near Swakopmund

              Stargazing Adventure Namibia is a company run by Dr Ansgar Gaedke and Lynette Gaedke that is based in Swakopmund. Dr Gaedke is a professional astronomer who graduated from the University of Hamburg in astrophysics and astronomy and now gives tours to visitors interested in astronomy.

              Namibia photography, sossusvlei, stargazing namibia, photography, astrology

              Photographs of one the company's many star tours.
              (Image via Stargazing Adventure Namibia)

              They have several activities for would-be stargazers and you should check them out here to see which tour suits you. They also have a great gallery of photographs to whet your appetite ahead of your stargazing adventure.

              Hakos guest farm

              Just west of Windhoek on top of the Gamsberg is the Hakos guest farm. On this farm the German-based International Amateur Observatory maintains an impressive collection of telescopes and other equipment for stargazing enthusiasts. There are several tour options on the farm and you can view them here.

              The guest farm is specifically geared towards giving guests a memorable astrological experience in an environment that is largely untouched and unspoiled by man.

              Namibia photography, sossusvlei, stargazing namibia, photography, astrology Namibia photography, sossusvlei, stargazing namibia, photography, astrology 

              One of the farm's many pieces of advanced equipment (L).
              The isolated location of the farm (R).
              (Images via Hakos guest farm)

              4. Sossusvlei by night

              If anyone needed another reason to visit Namibia’s iconic Sossusvlei, here it is: The stargazing opportunities at Sossusvlei are simply incredible. The sky is clear almost always and there is almost no light pollution out in the desert near the vlei.

              Namibia photography, sossusvlei, stargazing namibia, photography, astrology

              A tree on the vlei against a slowly rotating starry sky.
              (Image via Rhino Africa Safaris)

              The Sossusvlei Lodge was in fact recently ranked amongst the top 12 stargazing hotels in the world by CNN Travel. But this is not the only lodge in the area and there are also several other lodges that offer stargazing opportunities.

              Namibia photography, sossusvlei, stargazing namibia, photography, astrology

              The Sossusvlei Lodge by night.
              (Image via Sossusvlei Lodge)

              Below are three of the top-rated lodges that offer stargazing activities at or near Sossusvlei.

              Sossusvlei Lodge

              Little Kulala

              Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

              No matter where you are in Namibia the night sky is simply beautiful, and if you are visiting Africa from the Northern hemisphere then you should not miss out on this opportunity to see a totally different set of stars on the other end of the world.

              Namibia photography, sossusvlei, stargazing namibia, photography, astrology

              Quiver Trees by Night - Florian Breuer
              (via Florian's Photographs)

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