When you travel one of the best ways to experience local culture, and to get a sense of what a country is really all about, is to try the food. A traveller who does not eat adventurously will not really be travelling adventurously and with that, let’s take a look at some of Namibia’s most popular and distinctive food.
Oysters at Swakopmund.
If you are exploring Katatura in Windhoek then you have to try some of the local vendors’ famous Kapana. This meal is traditionally raw beef cooked on an open flame. It is authentic, quick to prepare and also inexpensive. It is a real good slice of Namibian culture all in one meal.
(Image via Changes in Longitude)
Namibian Oysters are some of the finest molluscs in the world. This is largely thanks to the cool Benguela current that flows past the Skeleton Coast. From Swakopmund to Luderitz be sure to tuck in to some of these delicious treats at any of the local restaurants along the way.
Kabeljou (Silver Cob) is a large fish that is excellent for eating. It can be caught all along the Namibian coast but one of the best places to get fresh fish at a restaurant is in Walvis Bay at the Raft, a restaurant that overlooks the bay. If however you want to catch your own fish then we recommend heading to Henties Bay and spend a few days fishing there.
(Image via Redbubble)
(Image via Namibiana)
Biltong is a dried meat snack that is famous throughout southern Africa and in Namibia the making and eating of this food is practically a national pastime. Where Namibia really excels is in the making of delicious game biltong, particularly kudu, gemsbok (oryx), springbok and eland. If you’re unfamiliar with biltong check out this website. Game biltong can be found pretty much all over the country, so keep your eyes peeled on your travels.
There are loads of things to do and see in the laidback coastal town of Luderitz, but few of these things are as colourful (or delicious!) as the annual crayfish festival. The festival usually takes place in the middle of the year and attendees can explore the sights of the historic little town whilst enjoying the locally prepared cuisine.
(Image via Responsible Traveller)
The omajowa is a wild giant mushroom found across Namibia. The mushrooms predominantly grow on termite mines and grow to enormous sizes, with diameters of up to 50cm not being uncommon. You can often find vendors on the side of the road in rural areas selling these delicacies after the first summer rains of the season, but supply is limited and they are hotly desired items across the country- so be quick! The mushrooms are used in much the same way as any other mushroom is, but a particularly popular way to eat them is simply pan-friend in butter.
What's your flavour?
Are you a local or have you been to Namibia before? We haven't included all the local treats you can find in Namibia, so let us know what your favourite food was/is in the comment section below if it's not in the list above.
Whether you’re on holiday, or just looking to blow off some steam over the weekend, a round of golf is a good way to take in some wonderful scenery and spend some time with friends. Now many people may not know this but the Land of the Brave is home to several unique courses. Let’s take a look at some of them…
Sticking to the fairways at the world class Omeya course.
(Image via Omeya Golf and Residential Oasis)
The Windhoek Golf and Country Club is situated just on the outskirts of the capital city. Se amongst the natural bushveld just to the south of Windhoek this easily accessible golf course is a must visit for any golfing enthusiast spending time in the big city.
The club house overlooking the fairway.
(Image via Golf World Resorts)
The golf course is not the most challenging 18-holes in the world but this has the advantage of ensuring that nobodies’ blood pressure gets out of control. It makes the Windhoek Golf Course a great place to play golf while on holiday.
Voted one of the top-ten golf courses in Africa by CNN.
(Image via CNN)
The club is one of the oldest in Namibia and the country club next door is of top international standards. So if you are holidaying with a group and not everyone in you’re group is keen on a round of golf then they can always relax at the clubhouse or spend some time at the hotel restaurant and bar… Or if they’re feeling a little more adventurous they can try out the casino on the grounds.
The interior of the casino.
(Image via Bushtracks)
You can view the course layout and book a round here.
Just 30km’s outside Windhoek you will find the pristine Omeya Golf and Residential Oasis. Mountains surround the course and every hole offers up spectacular views of the incredible natural landscapes. It’s also not uncommon to encounter wildlife on the fairways with antelope and warthogs often found foraging in the rough and near the fences.
A golfer lining up a put as the sun goes down.
(Image via Omeya Golf and Residential Oasis)
Designed by Peter Matkovich, who has designed courses all over southern Africa, the thoughtfully laid out 18-holes have been installed in sympathy with the existing environment. Thanks to this golfers can enjoy the shade cast by the indigenous camel thorn trees that dot the estate and the course.
The camel thorn trees add to the peacful scenery in and around the course.
(Image via Omeya Golf and Residential Oasis)
The 18-hole course is open to non-members and non-residents and you can book a four-ball here.
There are only five desert golf courses in the world and the Rossmund Golf Course in Swakopmund is one of them. Interestingly, Rossmund inverts the traditional layout of a golf course with fairways and greens found in the sand, rather than having sand traps dotted along the greenery.
Sometimes the fairway is the bunker!
(Image via 2Travel4Ever)
Like Omeya the course is frequented by free-roaming wildlife and unique birdlife. Non-players are encouraged to walk freely along the course and enjoy the sights- provided they keep an eye on those flying golf balls! During the day Swakopmund and its surrounds enjoys wonderful weather in the summer and spring months and the cooling mist that rolls in during the evening does a good job at keeping players from overheating at the end of their rounds.
Clubs in the foreground, a springbok in the background.
(Image via 2Travel4Ever)
The par 72 18-hole course is a really special place to play a round of golf and thanks to its location is ideal for holiday makers passing through the famous seaside town.
A view of the course, clubhouse and some springbok.
(Image via Rossmund Golf Resort and Lodge)
For rates and booking enquiries click here (note that there are special rates for SADC citizens).
If you’re looking for a golf course that is out of the ordinary then the Walvis Bay Golf Course is what you want. While all the greens and all the tees on this course are grass this unique 9-hole course is mostly sand. Golfers are provided with a one of a kind opportunity to have a short round in a totally different environment.
Sand is the name of the game at the WB golf club.
(Image via Denigo Blog)
The Walvis Bay Golf Club is a friendly group of people and all members of the public are welcome to play a round on their special course. While not the best course for beginners, any golfer who wants to play a course that is unlike any other should consider popping in.
First things first, the Oranjemund golf course is one tough cookie. The course has wide fairways but these are bordered by punishing roughs throughout the course. On top of this players usually have to contend with some serious winds. Having said that, the club encourages golfers of all skills to have a go and social games with liberal use of mulligans are fully tolerated.
The course is tree-lined and beautiful.
(Image via Oranjemund Golf Club)
Just note that Wednesday and Saturday are the main competition days, so if you’re not too confident try and book on one of the other days of the week. And remember if the round gets too rough and you lose a few balls there’s always the 19th hole at the clubhouse to help you through your tough times.
An Oryx watching a round of golf from the rough.
(Image via Tracks4Africa)
The course is found deep in the Sperrgebiet diamond area and thus you need to have permits to enter the region. So be sure to organise these before you book your round of golf.
To get hold of the course and to make bookings click here.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to soar above the world’s oldest desert then read on. Angie Cosey is the star of our latest guest blog and in her piece she recalls the wonder and peace one experiences when floating along the wind currents of Namibia.
Pictures and words by Angie Cosey
Get ready for flight!
It was our Second day in Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert of Namibia. Dwight and I went on a hot air balloon flight over the desert. It was originally scheduled for another day, but we had been told that our booking had to be moved up because they were expecting rain. In the desert. During the dry season.
Ballooning over Sossusvlei.
Turns out what the locals were actually expecting was high winds, with a chance of sandstorm (which made more sense!). So our balloon excursion guides met us at the gate of the Sossus Dune Lodge just before 6am this morning and drove us for about half an hour into the desert to a huge empty plain where they had two hot air balloons inflated and waiting. The baskets that we stood in under the billowing canvas were fairly large, and there were 10 or 12 of us in each balloon including the pilot. It didn’t feel crowded though, and we still had an unobstructed view and nobody getting in the way of our photos.
The undisturbed panorama of the plains in the soft morning light.
We took off just before the sun came up over the mountains and our balloons drifted aimlessly over the plains and desert for about an hour. At least, it seemed aimless to me as we floated along on the breeze, it seemed we were literally travelling wherever the wind took us. The views were amazing. We wafted over the rocky hills that eventually gave way to brown sand dunes until we reached the tall red dunes that you see in all the guidebooks. Below us we could see tiny springbok jumping and kicking, and tiny ostriches racing each other in the distance. It was an incredible experience and if you ever find yourself in the Namib Desert you should definitely try it yourself.
Views over the desert and the rocky hills.
After about an hour we landed, which was fun. The pilot expertly and carefully deflated the balloon in a semi-controlled manner, which brought the basket touching down – and after it touched down, the balloon continued to pull us as it emptied and billowed out behind. We all had to crouch down in the basket and hold onto the rope handles as we were dragged roughly along the ground. We finally tipped over on our sides and ground to a stop. We were a little dusty perhaps but no worse for the wear. The balloon operators then took us to an area of tables set up in the huge empty plain between the dunes and mountains, where we had a breakfast of champagne and cold meats and cheeses as the sun finished breaking over the horizon. I guess we hadn’t been drifting aimlessly in the sky after all, as we had only a short walk. After the flight we went back to the lodge and rested up for our next adventure.
An amazing experience in Namibia.
Want to do this yourself?
We booked our two-week Namibia safari adventure through Natural World Safaris, a specialist in wildlife safaris around the world. Will Bolsover tailor-made our trip based on our time constraints, budget, and our particular interests. I typically book most trips myself, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it really needs to be done right. They took care of every detail from flights to bonus excursions. I highly recommend checking out their website; in addition to private tailor-made holidays they also offer small group tours to phenomenal destinations.
See what they offer in Namibia here.
For more of Angie's travel writing head on over to her blog here.
Going on holiday in Namibia is not just about serene landscapes and safaris. The Land of the Brave has loads of extreme adventure on offer for visitors looking to get their blood pumping. In this blog we’ll be looking at ten activities for all you adrenaline junkies, speed freaks and explorers out there.
Get ready for adventure…
(Image via Cazenove + Loyd)
The fresh south westerly winds that reach Walvis Bay lagoon make this a prime spot for kitesurfing. Certainly, this is one of the world's most extreme water sports. Walvis Bay Kite Centre has equipment to rent of buy, and offers one to one lessons from beginner level upwards. Further south the coastal town of Luderitz is also renowned for its kitesurfing conditions. The conditions are so perfect in the lagoon just outside town that every year the world’s fastest kitesurfers compete in the annual Chris Benz Luderitz Speed Challenge.
A kite-surfer cutting through the water just outside Luderitz.
(Photo by Greg Beadle)
Fishing may not sound like a sport that gets the adrenaline pumping - but when you’re trying to reel in a 100kg shark we’re sure that your heart rate will pick up a bit! Tour operators along the coast of Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Henties Bay offer shark angling excursions, and from November-May you may get the chance to battle with a coppershark, also known as a bronzy. These giant fish can weigh anything between 15-190kg, and are sure to put up a good fight! Other species include smooth hound sharks and spotted gully sharks. For conservation purposes, all sharks are returned to the sea unharmed.
Catch and release is the name of the game when you take on one of these beasts.
(Image via Royal City Travel)
Rafting on the Kunene
Not only are the rapids of the Kunene River a challenge, simply getting to Namibia’s northern border with Angola can be a real adventure! Felix Unite's extreme ten-day rafting experience takes place just once or twice a year and is a round trip from Windhoek, including five days on the river and a drive through Etosha National Park. The river forms the border between Namibia and Angola, and you will paddle your way down towards the 40m high Epupa Falls. You might want to think twice about taking a dip though- there are crocodiles in the water!
White water fun on the Kunene River.
(Image courtesy of Kunene River Lodge)
Swakopmund is surely Namibia’s premier skydiving destination. Experienced and first-time jumpers are all equally welcome to throw themselves out of a plane and plummet toward the Namib Desert. Qualified skydivers can schedule a jump with a local skydiving club, while beginners have two options - a full-day training course with a solo jump at the end (with an automatically opening parachute), or a shorter course followed by a tandem jump, where your instructor does all the work. Don't forget to open your eyes and enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Namib Desert meeting the southern Atlantic Ocean! Check out Swakopmund Skydiving Club for more information.
A tandem jump over Swakopmund.
(Image via Swakopmund Skydiving Club)
The dunes make for a nice, soft landing, but paragliding around Swakopmund is still extreme! The coastal winds offer extra lift, so that gliders can get high enough to admire the stunning views of the desert and ocean. The best flying takes place during the summer months of October through March with all flights regulated by the local flying school to avoid overcrowding. Depending on your experience, you can choose from a half-day introductory course, a full day flight, a pilot's licence course, or a tandem flight.
Check out this Redbull-sponsored paragliding expedition.
(Image via Redbull)
New off-road motorcycle tour operator Madnam is launching a brand new series of biking tours around Namibia, visiting iconic sights such as Cape Cross, Brandberg, Erindi Game Reserve and Waterberg. To join their thrilling eight-day trip you need plenty of experience on a motorbike, including gravel roads - Namibia's terrain can be tricky to navigate. Bring your own bike or hire one of Madnam's BMWs for the ultimate off-roading adventure.
The tours are a great to meet people and experience Namibia.
(Image via Madnam)
Namibia's two main climbing sites are the jagged, 1,728m bulk of the Spitzkoppe, and the Brandberg Massif, which at 2,573m is Namibia's highest point. Justifying its "extreme" reputation, Spitzkoppe does not offer any established hiking trails, so climbers can feel like true explorers. Brandberg presents mountaineers with a constant scramble over boulders - it's a three-day clamber to the top and climbs should only be attempted with a trained guide from the local community who knows where to find water and will prevent you getting lost amid the rocks.
Find your guide through the Namibia Community Based Tourism Association (NACOBTA) in Windhoek:
Tel: +264 (0) 61255977
The Spitzkoppe from afar.
Fish River Canyon
One of Africa's top hikes is through the arid, inhospitable Fish River Canyon in southern Namibia. The second deepest canyon in the world offers an extreme environment indeed, and hikers must undertake the 80km, 3-5 day hike entirely unsupported, as there are no facilities en-route. The hike can only be carried out in winter, when the temperatures are slightly lower and the rains have produced enough water for the river to flow - this being the only source of water for hikers. Book your tour well in advance with Namibia Wildlife Resorts.
The mighty Fish River Canyon.
(Image via Nomad Tours)
Known locally as the "ultimate speed machine", a waxed, metre-long piece of hardboard can reach phenomenal speeds of 80km/h on Namibia's steep, coastal dunes. You lie face down on the board, bend the front edge up to avoid it sticking into the sand (and flipping you over!) and lift your feet off the ground - then wait to be pushed over the cliff! Definitely not for the faint hearted, this is a major adrenaline kick! You can book with Alter Action Namibia.
Get ready to take flight!
(Image via VA Tourism)
With an extreme combination of altitude, deep-water diving, abseiling, rock climbing and pitch darkness, cave diving as Namibia's ultimate extreme adventure. The caves and sinkholes are all over 1,400m above sea level, with depths of between 30 and 130m, and you may have to abseil as far as 140m (with all your diving equipment!) just to reach the water.
Exploring the darkness- it doesn't get a lot more extreme than this!
(Image via Africa Geographic)
The Dragon's Breath Cave, 46km north of Grootfontein, is one of the most famous cave diving spots, as it contains the largest subterranean lake in the world. Harasib Cave and Lake Guinas are also recommended. Booking is required at least three months in advance, and it can take up to a week to prepare the caves for diving. Otjikoto Diving Enterprises is the only operator permitted to work in these waters.
The subterranean lake in the Dragons Breath cave system.
(Image via All Over the Map)
Information about these activities was taken from Namibia Holiday & Travel - the official Namibian tourism directory.
For more inspiration download your copy of the Namibia Adventure Planning Guide
There’s a new Arts & Crafts Centre in the holiday town of Swakopmund and it’s 100% Namibian. On the surface, it is a fantastic venue for locals and tourists to soak up Namibian art and enjoy something to eat and drink at the new Yambeke restaurant. But at its heart lies a grander ambition: the training and uplifting of local artists. Namibian people have a vibrant, diversified culture, which this Centre wants to promote and develop.
The Centre provides a fantastic venue for open-air events – keep an eye out for the latest happenings on the COSDEF Arts & Crafts Facebook page.
The Centre is a project of COSDEF (Namibia Community Skills Development Foundation); a non-profit organization that provides disadvantaged communities, unemployed youth, and vulnerable people the opportunity to learn skills to earn an income. The Swakopmund Centre helps the community to develop the skills needed to be self-sustainable by providing an outlet for products and artisans as well as training and mentorship programs (these programs include business and design skills).
The Centre offers a host of different artistic courses ranging from an Introduction to Fine Arts, to Jewellery and Fashion design. The Centre has its very own craft shop and Gallery that show cases 100% Namibian craft sourced from all over the country.
It also provides a space for small retail shops where local business men and women have the opportunity to both produce and sell their goods - jewellery, knitting, t-shirt printing, textiles, photography, art work and local food. You’ll also find some well-known local artisans at the Centre - Karakulia Weavers, Desert Hills’ Nara products and Kubatsirana Helping Hands.
The Arts & Crafts Centre also has a beautiful Amphitheatre and stage, a conference hall and an art gallery which you can rent for events.
The new Yambeke Restaurant inside the Centre provides the perfect spot for lunch with local flavour. They also serve daily specials that can be pre-ordered to take home for dinner.
Soak up the creative atmosphere as you munch some brunch at the Yambeke Restaurant.
Some events to watch out for:
African Dance & Drumming classes; two classes during the week during business hours and certain Saturdays (from 3 March 2015)
Easter market with egg hunting for the kids and a performance by a local African group (4 April 2015)
Monthly themed film showcases (dates TBA)
Art exhibitions (dates TBA)
Saturday Kiddies activities (dates TBA)
Follow COSDEF Arts & Crafts Facebook page to stay up to date with the latest events and dates.
Shops & Yambeke Restaurant: Weekdays 9am – 5pm & Saturdays 9 – 4pm.
Look out for the brightly coloured Centre on the Swakopmund Airport Road.
The Centre’s many different stalls showcasing Namibian art and providing budding artists with a platform for success.
Locals are trained in many artistic forms to improve their skills and livelihoods.
Take a browse through the art gallery to discover truly Namibian talent.
Pick up some 100% Namibian crafts and support the local community!
All images courtesy of COSDEF.
MCA-Namibia (Millennium Challenge Account) helped to develop and fund the Centre’s building and equipment. MCA strives for economic improvement through infrastructure development, capacity building and vocational training to provide greater opportunity for economic growth and livelihood improvement.
Namibia’s mighty dunes and rolling deserts often take centre stage, but there are other types of awesome landscapes in the Land of the Brave. This blog will be covering some of our country’s unique collection of mountains and mountain ranges where the adventurous can hike, explore, or simply take in the majesty of the world from a lookout point.
The Naukluft Mountain Range.
(Image via Agama River Camp)
This mountain looks like a volcanic crater but it was in fact formed by an upwelling of magma millions of years ago, this kind of formation is called a caldera and it is why the the mountain has its distinctive shape we see today.
Approaching Brukkaros by road.
(Image via Wikimedia)
At 1,590m above sea level this mountain stands out on the plains of Namibia’s Karas Region, yet is often forgotten about in guidebooks and travel planners. This makes it a great spot to visit if you want to get off the beaten path. There are basic campsites at the foot, and on the upper slopes, of the mountain where travellers can spend a few nights.
A stream running into some pools in the crater.
(Image via Wilkinson’s World)
Please note, however, that you will have to come fully prepared. There is no running water, fuel, or places to stock up on food once you get to the mountain. If you are low on supplies then your only option is to stock up at the town of Berseba 12km away.
An abandoned solar observatory on the slopes of Brukkaros.
(Image via Wilkinson’s World)
When you get to the campsite’s parking lot and have unloaded all your gear look for the signs showing you were the hiking trails begin and end. There are some incredible walks through and around the crater with the views from the top of the mountain being particularly stunning.
The spetacular view from the rim.
(Image via Wilkinson’s World)
Book at the campsite here
The Naukluft Mountain Range
The Naukluft are a well-known and well-travelled range of mountains south west of Windhoek. The mountain range is situated in the Namib-Naukluft National Park and thanks to this it has more well-developed campsites and walking trails than Brukkaros.
The Naukluft are found in a parcticularly beautiful part of Namibia.
(Image via Audley Travel)
Hiking is one of the main reasons people visit the Naukluft and there are several trails that criss-cross through the range. Some of the most famous trails are the 4km Olive Trail, the 17km Waterkloof Trail and the mammoth 8-day Naukluft Hiking Trail. You will need to secure permits from NWR for all hiking (and camping) in the Naukluft, so be sure to do that well in advance.
The trails are all cleary marked.
(Image via Info Namibia)
The ever-changing landscapes of the Naukluft are always awe inspiring.
(Image via Wikimedia)
The range is famous for its abundance of wildlife including Hartmanns mountain zebras, African wild cats, klipspringers and leopards. There are also several small streams and waterfalls that can be found throughout the range. These streams attract a lot of birds to the region and with over 190 species having been spotted you'd best bring your binoculars!
Hartmann's Mountain Zebra.
(Image via Blaine Harrington III)
There is a fantastic 4x4 route for those of you who want to explore this rugged landscape from behind the wheel of a tough and capable vehicle. Take note though, that this route has been closed since October 2013, however, keep checking on it as it will be opened once it safe again. For updates on this over-night 4x4 trail click here.
The Naukluft Campsite, managed by Namibia Wildlife Resorts is a great place to stay if you intend on exploring the Naukluft and its surrounds. The campsite has six rooms available as well 21 camping spots. So if you want to sleep under a roof you should book far in advance.
The sun setting over the range.
(Image via Audley Travel)
Book at NWR’s campsite here
The Spitzkoppe are probably the most well-known site on this list. For years mountain climbers, cyclists, hikers, geologists and star gazers have been coming to these unique granite formations to satisfy their thirsts for adventure. If you are at all interested in mountains, or the outdoors in general, then you must make a stop at these peaks.
The Spitzkoppe from afar.
Camping is a breeze at the Spitzkoppe and accommodation at the community run Spitzkoppe Campsites, ranges from tented campsites to thatch huts, all in close proximity to the formation. The great thing about staying at this campsite is that the locals will be able to help you plan out some activities while you stay in the region. They offer stargazing, birding and mountain climbing.
Even a fairly easy walk will get you to astonishing places in the Spitzkoppe.
For those of you who are more seriously into climbing, check out his page for a detailed description of what routes there are on this famous mountain.
Conquering Namibia’s Matterhorn.
(Image via Travel News Namibia)
If, however, you’d rather take it a bit easier then do not fear, there are three walking trails through the Spitzkoppe on which you can take in the beautiful scenery and even catch a glimpse of some ancient San rock art.
Enjoy the isolation and the long deep quiet of nature.
There is the Pontok Route (4 – 5 hours), the Matterhorn Route (6 – 8 hours) and the Bushman Circle Route (6 – 7 hours). All these routes must be done with guides in order to ensure there is a minimal impact on the fragile ecosystems around the Spitzkoppe.
The area is a national heritage site- so be mindful of where your feet fall.
Book as a day visitor or an overnight guest here
The Spitzkoppe by night.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
And once you get to the beaches near Swakopmund the fun and games can begin!
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.
Remember to keep those gates closed.
(Image via Zanzig Photography)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The winds sweeping over Dune 45 near Sossusvlei.
(Image by Adomas Svirskas via Photography Blogger)
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?
Here are two more of our blogs to help you plan your trip to 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.
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
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.
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.
Visitors getting close to some game at Etosha.
Experiences on the Omulunga Palm Route
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.
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.
The mighty Ombalantu Baobab.
(Image via Wikimedia)
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.
A Blue Crane at Lake Oponono.
(Image by Alastair Rae via Wikimedia)
The Arid Eden Route
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.
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.
The beach at Swakopmund.
Experiences on the Arid Eden Route
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.
A typical gravel road in Namibia.
(Photo by Andreas Seehase via Foto Community)
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.
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.
There is wildlife aplenty on this route!
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.
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.
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.
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.
A unique rock formation near Twyfelfontein.
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.
A group of Himba cutting loose.
The Four Rivers Route
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.
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.
Experiences on the Four Rivers 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.
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.
(Image courtesy of Dr Klaus Dierks)
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.
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.
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.
The river banks in this region are full of varied flora and fauna.
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.
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.
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
Motorbiking through Namibia
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
Extreme Holiday Mecca
|Three Airborne Adventures