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10 Extreme Ways to Experience Namibia

  
  

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.

Namibia, Namibia adventure, extreme namibia, namibia sky diving, namibia biking, dragons breath, luderitz, fish river canyon, namibia hiking

Get ready for adventure…
(Image via Cazenove + Loyd)

 

Kitesurfing

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.

Namibia, Namibia adventure, extreme namibia, namibia sky diving, namibia biking, dragons breath, luderitz, fish river canyon, namibia hiking

A kite-surfer cutting through the water just outside Luderitz.
(Photo by Greg Beadle)

 

Shark angling

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.

SHARK

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!

Namibia, Namibia adventure, extreme namibia, namibia sky diving, namibia biking, dragons breath, luderitz, fish river canyon, namibia hiking

White water fun on the Kunene River.
(Image courtesy of Kunene River Lodge)

 

Skydiving

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.

Namibia, Namibia adventure, extreme namibia, namibia sky diving, namibia biking, dragons breath, luderitz, fish river canyon, namibia hiking

A tandem jump over Swakopmund.
(Image via Swakopmund Skydiving Club)

 

Paragliding

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.

Namibia, Namibia adventure, extreme namibia, namibia sky diving, namibia biking, dragons breath, luderitz, fish river canyon, namibia hiking

Check out this Redbull-sponsored paragliding expedition.
(Image via Redbull)

 

Motorbiking

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.

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The tours are a great to meet people and experience Namibia.

(Image via Madnam)

 

Rock climbing

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
Email: nacobta@iafrica.com.na

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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.

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The mighty Fish River Canyon.
(Image via Nomad Tours)

 

Sandboarding

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.

SANDB

Get ready to take flight!
(Image via VA Tourism)

 

Cave diving

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.

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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.

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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

Namibia's "Other" Photography Spots

  
  

If you’ve been Namibia before, or if you’ve read about it, you know that it is a wildly popular place for photographers to visit. Sites like Sossusvlei, Fish River Canyon, Kolmanskop and Etosha National Park are all spectacular places to capture on film… But what if you want something a little different from your photography safari? Well don’t worry we’ve got you covered- Here are some alternative photographic destinations in Namibia…

Kolmanskop, Etosha, Sperrgebiet, sesriem, onkoshi, namibia, namibia photography, safari, naukluft

Photographers... There's one in every family.

 

The Koichab Pan and Koichab Dunes

Instead of: Sossusvlei and Deadvlei.

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 The Koichab Depression (pan) is northeast of Luderitz.
(Map via Google Maps)


The Koichab pan can be found at the end of the Namib Sand Sea. The pan was formed as dunes slowly shifted and blocked the Koichab River from flowing into the sea. The resulting pan and dunes surrounding it are now a place where life can survive in a once inhospitable part of the Namib Desert.

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 The dunes of Koichab are uniquely spotted with vegetation thanks to the perennial underground water flowing beneath the sand.
(Photo by Johan Jooste via 500px)

 

The pan is home to several species of birds such as black crows, lanne falcons, southern pale chanting goshawks as well as a variety of smaller mammals and reptiles. The water and the resulting vegetation found in the area also supports larger animals like springbok, gemsbok and vultures. 

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A Gemsbok bounding through the sparse vegetation.
(Photo by Mel Gray)

 

The Sperrgebiet National Park

Instead of: Kolmanskop

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The Sperrgebiet National Park stretches from Luderitz down to the Namibian Border.
(Map via Google Maps)

 

The Sperrgebiet (which is German for “Protected Area”) was a diamond-rich area on the coast of Namibia that was completely off-limits to the public for decades. In 2009 the Sperrgebiet was proclaimed as a national park and now locals and visitors can explore the Sperrgebiet National Park like never before.

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The interior of an abandoned building deep in the Sperrgebiet. 

 

The area has several abandoned and semi-abandoned mining towns and settlements. These relics from the diamond boom years have since been left to be all but swept away by the passage of time and the howling winds and shifting sands of the Namib Desert.

Kolmanskop, Etosha, Sperrgebiet, sesriem, onkoshi, namibia, namibia photography, safari, naukluft

Pomona is one such abandoned town.
You can read more about this fascinating place here.

 

The park stretches over a massive 26,000 square kilometers, and because it has been off-limits to the public for almost a century the natural environment is in pristine condition. Over a thousand plant species, 120 terrestrial bird species, hundreds of reptile species and over 80 different kinds of mammals call the area home.

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25% of Namibia’s entire flora can be found in the Sperrgebiet.
(Image via Peaceparks)

 

Kolmanskop, Etosha, Sperrgebiet, sesriem, onkoshi, namibia, namibia photography, safari, naukluft

This National Park is full of incredible, and surprising landscapes.
(Image via Peaceparks)

  

Onkoshi Resort in Etosha National Park

Instead of: Namutoni, Okaukuejo, Halali, Dolomite

Kolmanskop, Etosha, Sperrgebiet, sesriem, onkoshi, namibia, namibia photography, safari, naukluft

The Onkoshi camp is in the top-right corner, right on the edge of the pan.
(Map via Etoshanationalpark.org)

 

A lot of people visit Namibia to catch a glimpse of its remarkable wildlife, and a lot of people choose to do this at the incredible Etosha National Park. When you consider the sheer volume of wildlife within the park it’s easy to understand why so many people visit the world-renowned game park. However, if you want to see it in a slightly different light then one of the most interesting places to stay at within the park is the Onkoshi Resort.

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There are only 30 beds in the entire camp, spread out over 15 units;
so be sure to book in advance.
 (Image via Afrikarma)

 

Situated on the rim of the massive Etosha Pan the camp is a low impact, environmentally friendly establishment. This means that you have undisturbed views of the sun setting on the pan as the parks inhabitants make their way across the great expanse. This will allow you to get shots of the scenery and wildlife from a unique perspective. 

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The views of the pan from the camp are unrivalled.
(Image via Kruger 2 Kalahari)

 

Here’s a video tour of the Onkoshi Resort: 

(Video via NWR)

 

The Zambezi Region 

Instead of: Desert landscapes

Kolmanskop, Etosha, Sperrgebiet, sesriem, onkoshi, namibia, namibia photography, safari, naukluft

The Zambezi Region is bordered by Zimbabwe, Angola and Zambia.
(Map via Google Maps)

 

The Land of the Brave is famous for its vast landscapes and sweeping deserts, but not many people know that in the northern regions of the country there is a lush and verdant corner of the world: This region is the Zambezi Region (formerly the Caprivi Region).

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The riverine landscape makes for unique photo opportunities in Namibia.

 

The northeast corner of Namibia is chock full of birdlife, wildlife and a flora making it unlike any other part of our mostly arid nation. The perennial rivers in the region ensure that there is plenty of water for plants and food for the local fauna and this makes it a stunningly verdant place.

Kolmanskop, Etosha, Sperrgebiet, sesriem, onkoshi, namibia, namibia photography, safari, naukluft

There are amazing photo opportunities when the local wildlife come down to the rivers.
(Photo by Anja Denker)

 

You can read everything we have published on this fascinating region of our country by clicking here. If you follow that link you will be able to begin planning a trip to the greenest corner of Namibia. 

Kolmanskop, Etosha, Sperrgebiet, sesriem, onkoshi, namibia, namibia photography, safari, naukluft

A boat making its way through the incredible scenery of the Zambezi Region.
(Image via Cardboard Box)


Special Mention: The Naukluft Mountain Range

Since we’re talking about some of the best places to exercise your photographic muscles we just can’t help but mention an often forgotten geological wonder of Namibia: The Naukluft Mountain Range in the Naukluft National Park. Here the dunes and sand of Namib Desert give way to towering mountains and deep canyons.

Kolmanskop, Etosha, Sperrgebiet, sesriem, onkoshi, namibia, namibia photography, safari, naukluft

An aerial view of the Naukluft Mountains.
(Picture via Expert Africa)

Kolmanskop, Etosha, Sperrgebiet, sesriem, onkoshi, namibia, namibia photography, safari, naukluft

The Sesriem Canyon can be found in this national park.
(Picture via Expert Africa)

 

The park is filled with attractions and accommodation options and is fairly easy to get to and explore on your own steam. For more information check out Namibia Wildlife Resorts page on the national park.

Kolmanskop, Etosha, Sperrgebiet, sesriem, onkoshi, namibia, namibia photography, safari, naukluft

If you want to read about more about the Mountains of Namibia, click here.
(Picture via Expert Africa)


 ++++++

 

Remember, anyone can take a fantastic picture of an amazing site, but truly great photography sometimes means getting off the smooth tarred roads and heading into the wilder parts of a country. Hopefully this list will inspire all the budding photographers out there to hit the road and capture the less explored side of Namibia.

The 2014 Chris Benz Luderitz Speed Challenge

  
  

The small coastal town of Luderitz in the south of Namibia is renowned for it’s laidback atmosphere and friendly locals. However, every year around October, the sleepy seaside community hosts one of the wildest water sports events in the world: The Luderitz Speed Challenge.

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Sunshine and speed on the Luderitz Channel.
(Photo by Greg Beadle)


Since 2007 some of the world’s most renowned kitesurfers and windsurfers have been coming to Luderitz with one aim: To reach ridiculous speeds on the purpose-built channel just outside Luderitz.

The first two days of the event were characterised by mild winds, but despite this some speed sailing legends were on hand to entertain the curious crowds that had gathered at the channel. Sébastien Cattelan, two times world record holder and the man who helped design the Luderitz channel, managed to reach a hair-raising 50.07 knots (90km/h or 60m/ph) on his second run on the very first day of the competition.

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The veteran kitsurfer in full flight on the channel.
(Photo by Greg Beadle)

 

The following day Erik Beale (who in the 80’s was the first windsurfer to reach 40 knots) made his long awaited comeback to competitive windsurfing on the Luderitz channel. The participation of these two veterans was a testament to lasting appeal that the event has for both seasoned and younger competitors.

 Windsurfing legends Erik Beale and Thierry Bielak. 

 

The Calm 

The days in the middle of this year’s competition were characterised by the riders waiting for the exact right conditions to maximise their speeds. While a few personal bests were set over this period of the competition, during this time most of the competitors fine-tuned their equipment and got used to the conditions in and around the channel.

 

There was also time for the guys and girls to relax a bit and soak up some of Luderitz’s famous hospitality at the world-class Crayfish Bar & Lounge in the Lüderitz Nest Hotel. The contestants even managed to get a little bit ridiculous on the water... 

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

The world's first kitesurfing leopard.
(Photo by Jonathan Tait)

 

The World Record

On Day 6 of the competition, while most spectators (and competitors) were not expecting too much in the way of serious record attempts, a spectacular record was smashed by Frenchman Chris Ballois.

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Chris Ballois, World Record holder.
(Photo by Jonathan Tait)


Chris managed to hit a top speed of 42.92 knots on the famous channel and in doing so became the undisputed World Record holder for disabled kitesurfers. The record-breaking run was ratified by both the WSSRC and ISAF-IFDS and confirms the Luderitz Speed Challenge as one of watersport’s premier events.

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

The Frenchman flying toward a new world record.
(Photo by Jonathan Tait)

 

Chris Benz’ passion for the sport has motivated him to gain the skills, strength, and mental conditioning to achieve speeds that many non-disabled kite surfers can only dream of. Check out Chris' record run by watching the video below:

 

Chris was not the only record breaker this year though and even though wind conditions this year were far from ideal the riders managed to make the most of their time on the channel. Over 11 New National Records (and of course one World Record) were broken by the 34 Windsurfers and Kite Surfers with the field representing 17 different nationalities. The results of this year’s Chris Benz Luderitz Speed Challenge once again confirm that the event is one of the premier competitions on the world speed sailing circuit. 

 

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

20 riders, 1 leopard and a whole bunch of sun and fun.
 (Photo by Jonathan Tait)

 

More than just a flash on the water 

Beyond the surfing the LSC is about community. The participants and fans who went to watch this annual event are all testament to that. On the slow days when the wind is down, to keep spirits up, the riders got involved with some of the local children and showed some of these kids the basics of windsurfing and kitesurfing.

In the video below the riders express their love for the tiny Namibian town they call home for a brief period every year:

 

The event would not be possible without the local community, especially the offical partner hotel, the Nest Hotel. It’s great to see that the participants and the communities work so well together and it is this cooperation and mutual benefit that has seen the Speed Challenge go from strength for the last seven years.

Namibia, Luderitz, Luderitz Speed Challenge, windsurfing, adventure

Here's looking forward to next year!
(Photo by 
Greg Beadle)


 +++++++

 

 

Check out this video of the 2014 event for a more in-depth look at all the fun:

 

 

RECORDS BROKEN AT THE 2014
CHRIS BENZ LUDERITZ SPEED CHALLENGE

Andrew Redfern (Fiji) with 40.87 kts (75.5 kph average speed over 500m)

Andrew Redfern1 280x200 (1)

Roger Ornvang (Sweden) improved his national record - Kitesurfing - with 43.19 kts (80kph)

Roger Ornvang 22000

Remo Diethelm (Switzerland) with 48.31 kts (90 kph)

REmo 88 280x200

Franz Grabner (Austria) smashed the National record with 47.88 kts (88.5 kph)

Franz Austrian

Martin Tóth (Czech Republic) broke his country’s record often and finally ending with 46.73 kts (86.5 kph)

Martin Toth 280x200

Mark Grinnell (South Africa) set a new South Africa and all Africa record in Windsurfing with a truly impressive 49.92 kts (92.5 kph) – just short of the magical 50 knots

South AFrican 76431 280x200

Alain de Gendt (Belgium) - new Production Board Record of 46.66 kts

Alain De Gendt

Christian Bornemann (Germany) - new record in Windsurfing of 48.82 kts (90.4 kph)

christianright 280x200

Zoran Jovanovic (Serbia) - new national record (Kitesurfing) of 40.31kts (74.5 kph)

Zoran

Patrik Diethelm (Italy) achieved the TOP windsurfing performance at the 2014 event by improving the Italian National Record with a very impressive 51.18 kts (94.7 kph) just 0.8 knots of the World Windsurfing Record!

PATRIK Diethelm 280x200

Christophe Ballois (France) set a new Disabled World Record (Kitesurfing) with a superb and inspiring performance of 42.94 kts (80 kph)

Speed Chris Ball 280x200

 
To stay up to date with all the latest news visit the Speed Challenge's Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, or watch more of their excellent videos on their official Youtube channel.

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.

Namibia, namibia 4x4, namibia 4x4 hire, 4x4 safari, namibia passes, namibia road trip, namibia tourism 

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.

Namibia, namibia 4x4, namibia 4x4 hire, 4x4 safari, namibia passes, namibia road trip, namibia tourism

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.

Namibia, namibia 4x4, namibia 4x4 hire, 4x4 safari, namibia passes, namibia road trip, namibia tourism

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.

Namibia, namibia 4x4, namibia 4x4 hire, 4x4 safari, namibia passes, namibia road trip, namibia tourism

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!
 Swakopmund, Namibia, namibia fishing, luderitz, waterberg, fish river canyon, adventure, namibia hiking, safari FLY002 

The National Parks of Namibia- Nkasa Lupala and Dorob

  
  

Namibian national parks like Etosha National Park and the Waterberg Plateau Park are world-renowned and well-visited by international and national tourists. This blog post is not about those parks. Today we want introduce you to two national parks run that you may not have heard of before...

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A Land Rover with Sandwich Harbour in the background.
One of the best things to do in Namibia is to explore locations that are off the beaten path.

(Image via Cardboard Box)


Nkasa Lupala National Park

We start in the north-east of Namibia in the Zambezi (Caprivi) Region. As you may already know this part of this huge nation is markedly different from most of the stark landscapes you find through out the mostly arid countryside. The land in the Zambezi is riverine and lush. It is home to several wetlands which and the region is criss-crossed by perennially flowing bodies of water.

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The landscape is spectacular in the Zambezi.

(Image via Cardboard Box)

 

In this corner of Namibia, just to the north of Botswana, you can find the Nkasa Lupara National Park (formerly known as the Mamili National Park). The park contains the largest protected wetland area in the Land of the Brave.

Screen Shot 2014 08 01 at 12.37.22 AM1024px Map Nkasa Rupara National Park

Maps showing the location of the park.
(Images via the MET)

 

The network of rivers flowing around small islands and reed beds are home to hippopotamuses, crocodiles, several buck species and a massive population of birds. There are, in fact, more species of birds in this small area than anywhere else in Namibia.

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A bloat of hippos silently swim through the river.

(Image via Cardboard Box)

 

Before you back you pack your bags and head to Nkasa Lupala you should know that journeying through this national park is not for the feint of heart. There are very few facilities and sometimes the park is inaccessible due to heavy rainfall.

This usually will only happen during the rainy months of January and February. However, if the rains don’t spoil the fun, and you have a thirst for adventure then you should know that the camp is a 4x4 enthusiast and wildlife tracker’s dream location. For information on exploring the park by 4x4 click here.

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Exploring the park is tough, but worth it to see undisturbed wildlife.

(Image via Cardboard Box Travel Shop)

 

In the winter some of the riverbeds dry up and visitors to the park can watch lions, large herds of buffalo and elephants migrate across the park. Making Nkasa Lupala the perfect place for a rough and tumble adventure tourist to do some exploring.

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There are even occasional sightings of lions in this riverine park.
(Image via Cardboard Box)


Click here for the official Nkasa Lupara National Park page, courtesy of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

 

Dorob National Park

The second national park we are looking at is located on the coast in the middle of Namibia’s vast Atlantic coast. Close to the Skeleton Coast and pressed up against the Namib Desert you will find Dorob National Park. As you might imagine, this national park’s landscape is very different to the lush and watery Nkasa Lupala National Park. Dorob is also far more accessible with the towns of Swakopmund, Henties Bay and Walvis Bay found within the park's borders.

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This map shows the area of the coast that falls under Dorob National Park.
(Map via NACOMA)

 

We mentioned Dorob a few weeks ago in an interview with Chris Nel (that you can read here). However, many visitors outside of Namibia have yet to hear about this gem of a park… Dorob was created in 2010 and since its creation the entire coastline of Namibia now falls under strict environmental protection. The reason this had to happen is because of the fragile biodiversity of the ecosystems found in this part of Namibia.

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This coastline has been rescued from destruction.

(Image via World Super Travel)

 

As far as attractions go in this park, BirdLife International has declared the park an “Important Bird Area” because this part of the Namibian coast is a haven that over 1.6 million birds call home. This makes Dorob an absolute must-visit place for anyone who is a birding enthusiast. Of particular interest to many tourists in this regard is Sandwich Harbour that boasts a sizeable population of flamingos.

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This famous spot located within Dorob and is definitely worth a visit.
(Image via Sandwich Harbour)

 

There is also some excellent fishing in this park and the town of Henties Bay should be the place you should aim for if you are a keen angler. Before you plan a trip read this page, as it details what anglers can and can’t do in the park.

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Going to Dorob? Why not go fishing!
(Image via Henties Bay)

 

While unguided exploration of the park is allowed, it is important to note that after years of careless behaviour by locals and tourists the area has had to become subject to some badly needed restrictions. So if you want to explore the park on your own you can check out some maps which detail where you can and can’t go in the park here.

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Rare creatures like the Namib Ghecko live along the coastline and need to be protected.
(Photo by Chris Nel)

 

For more information on the park you can download their press kit here or have a look at Travel News Namibia's breakdown of the regulations here.

 

These are just two national parks you can find in the Land of the Brave. In total there are eleven nationally run parks within Namibia and over the coming months we will bring to light some of these other parks. For a list of these parks click here.

 

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Want to know more about National Parks in Namibia?
Check our our posts on Etosha and the Waterberg below.

How to Explore Etosha

Safaris in the Waterberg

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Three Shipwrecks on Namibia's Skeleton Coast

  
  

Namibia has several thousand shipwrecked vessels strewn across its vast coastline. The Skeleton Coast’s rough seas, roaring winds and strong ocean currents are primarily responsible for many of these beached ships’ fate.

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(Image via I Dream of Africa)

 

Many of the wrecks on the harsh coastline have been completely destroyed by the sun, sea, and wind but a few are still visible. The vessels' remains can be seen up close by explorers who are keen on making the trek along the Land of the Brave’s beautiful but perilous coastline.

This blog post is about three of these still visible wrecks.

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(Image via I Dream of Africa)

 

The Eduard Bohlen (1907)

This is perhaps one of the most well known shipwrecks in Namibia if not in the world. Its fame is largely as a result of its strange location. This is because the Eduard Bohlen appears to be stranded in the middle of the desert.

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Stranded, in the desert.
(Image via BePic)

 

The Eduard Bohlen was a German cargo ship that ran aground while it was on its way to Table Bay from Swakopmund. It is believed that thick fog caused the ship to founder close to Conception Bay. Years after the ship ran aground the desert began to encroach on the ocean and the ship that was once stranded in the ocean slowly became stranded in the desert. The wreck currently sits about 500 metres from the ocean, making it a must visit site for wreck enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

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The Eduard Bohlen, up close.
(Image via I Dream of Africa)

 

How to get there

If you want to get as close as possible to the Eduard Bohlen you can go on a guided 4x4 tour from either Luderitz or Walvis Bay with Coastways. You can also embark on a flying safari that will take you over the wreck. Suricate Safaris offer a few flying safari options and one of them will take you over the famous wreck.

An aerial view of the famous wreck.


The Dunedin Star (1942)

During the Second World War the Dunedin Star left Liverpool carrying munitions and supplies for Allied forces. On board as well as the cargo were 21 passengers who wanted to escape a war-torn London. The vessel, however, hit an underwater obstacle and landed up grounding 500 metres offshore, stranding its passengers and crew on the inhospitable Skeleton Coast.

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A photograph taken shortly after the boat was wrecked in 1942.
(Image via John H Marsh)

 

The rescue efforts that followed were dogged by bad luck and adverse conditions. A tug boat dispatched to aid in the rescue efforts ran aground, while a Ventura bomber, tasked with dropping supplies for the survivors of the Dunedin Star, crashed into the sea after delivering its cargo to the stranded crew and passengers of the wreck. Both the tugboat and the warplane are still visible today.

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All that is left of the famous vessel.
(Image via Trekity)

 

How to get there

The wreck is in the far north of the Skelton Coast National Park and as such you will not be able to drive yourself there. Flying into the northern section of the park is the only realistic option if you want to explore this famous wreck. Skeleton Coast Safaris offer a variety of aerial tours of the region.

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Sometimes a 4x4 is just not sufficient.
(Image via Skeleton Coast Safaris)

 

The Suiderkus (1976)

Close to Henties Bay there are several visible shipwrecks, one of which is that of the Suiderkus, a relatively modern fishing trawler. The ship ran aground near Möwe Bay on her maiden voyage despite having a highly sophisticated navigational system. After a few months most of the ship had disintegrated but a large portion of the hull still survives to this day.

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Water flowing through the wreckage of the Suiderkus.
(Photo by Charlie Summers)

 

The hull is now perched on the beach and is currently a home for a group of cormorants. Because of its peculiar location and decaying frame it is a popular destination for photographers visiting the area.

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The wreck is deteriorating rapidly; so don’t delay in getting there!
(Photo by Olwen Evans)

 

How to get there

The Suiderkus, as with many of the visible wrecks in Namibia, can be found within the Skeleton Coast National Park. The Skeleton Coast Camp offers tours of the nearby wrecks, the Suiderkus included, and if you choose to stay at that lodge then they will happily take you on a tour. Anglers who are fishing at the nearby Terrace Bay drive past the wreck on their way to the fishing grounds.

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There is some world-class fishing on offer near Terrace Bay.
(Image via Cardboard Box Travel Shop)

 

As mentioned above, there are literally thousands of wrecks dotted along the coast of Namibia. The three chosen for this article have been picked because they are still visible and are relatively easy to access. As the Skeleton Coast National Park continues to become more accessible to more and more people other wrecks will be easier to visits. For now, however, you can beat the crowds and get exploring in one of the world's strangest and most haunting landscapes.

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Bits of ships and old boxes of cargo are strewn across the Skeleton Coast…

Who knows what you could find!
(Image via Africa Travel Resources)

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Looking for more eerie adventure?
Check out our post on the ghost town of Pomona by clicking on the picture below:

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Explore Namibia's Precious Coastline and Dunes with Chris Nel

  
  

Chris Nel is a tour guide who runs the Living Desert Adventure through the Namib Desert near Sossussvlei. On these tours he shares his wisdom and expertise with visitors. Chris was also involved in the establishment of the Dorob National Park in 2010 along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.

We had a chance to sit down and chat with Chris about desert conservation and the role that ordinary citizens can play in protecting Namibia’s natural treasures.

Chameleon 9

A desert-adapted chameleon photographed on one of Chris' adventure tours.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

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Vehicles Chris uses for his Living Desert Adventure Tours.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

How long have you been involved with desert conservation in Namibia? What made you decide to get into it in the first place?

I have always loved nature and always been interested in protecting it since a little child but in 2002 I started doing day tours in the dunes around Swakopmund. At that stage I realised that quad-biking had become the new craze of the nation and thousands of people were driving all over the Namib Desert just for fun.

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Chris getting up close with a desert chameleon.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

I attempted to run an educational tour for tourists and it was virtually impossible to do a quality tour because of the noise, aesthetic destruction (with tracks all over the place) and the little creatures we were showing people were getting killed under the wheels of the quads and 4x4 vehicles.

The year I started doing tours out of Swakopmund I realised Namibia had a big problem in the coastal Namib, largely caused by quads and 4x4’s. I did a flight over the Namib to take pictures and videos of the state of the desert. It was this day that my heart broke- I saw one of the most destroyed deserts in the world.

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When Chris saw the damage he knew he had to do something to help.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)


What are the most important lessons you hope to impress upon the people in your tour groups?

For me it is vital that people learn to respect and appreciate the desert, it is only then that we have a chance to understand the desert. If more people understand the desert better then there will be a greater chance that they will see the beauty of the desert.

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Chris feels that once people understand, they will want to protect.
This is why he encourages guests to close to the fauna of the desert.

(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

What do you enjoy most about taking a guest into the desert for the first time in their life?

I love showing them from the beginning that this is one of the driest places on earth relative to rain, but because of the fog we have a certain degree of moisture that sustains a large variety of specialised desert life.

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A desert adapted chameleon having a snack.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

I always start by telling them that because it almost never rains we will not see typical ‘safari’ wildlife (some tourists want to see lions and elephants no matter what part of Namibia they are exploring). I then tell them that the fog is made of micro drops and this means that on the tour we will only find micro elephants, bonzai crocodiles, and tiny lions.

 

The Namib Desert is an extremely fragile ecosystem, what do you think are some of the greatest threats to its survival and continuing biodiversity?

The Namib is very fragile, especially its gravel plains. When vehicles or quads travel on the gravel plains the tracks can last for hundreds of years. Dust and gravel form a crust with the humidity of the fog over hundreds of years. When the wind blows over these tracks, the dust comes out but the ridges of the tracks stay on the plains for just about forever. You can see where the Germans crossed the desert in 1880 in ox wagons.

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Marks from the German settlers' wagons from well over a hundred years ago.
(Image via Andy Cowley)


I believe the aesthetic damage is of great concern as tourists and local Namibians don’t want to see their beautiful desert scared for life. I don’t think all of the animals are in danger but many get killed from off road driving.

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Animals like this Namib dune gheko are at risk when vehicle access is not regulated.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

Can you tell us a bit more about your involvement with the Dorob National Park?

After seeing the destruction of the desert I started an online petition to bring it to the attention of Namibia and the rest of the world. The petition was signed by thousands of people and it lead to the Namibian government forming the Coastal Management Committee (the CMC). The CMC brought together people from all different spheres of the community - town councils, regional councils, commercial fisheries, tourism stakeholders, local residents - to work together in finding a solution to the devastation of our precious desert.

A video about Namibia’s incredible and fragile coastline.
(Video via NACOMA)

 

Around the same time, fellow conservationist Rod Braby managed to get sponsors from the World Bank to start NACOMA (The Namibian Coast Conservation and Management project). Together with NACOMA, the CMC and the people of Namibia, we were able to establish the Dorob National Park.

Helping with a project like Dorob was stressful at first. Holiday makers from all over Southern Africa would flock to Swakopmund with their quad bikes and 4x4s. As an advocate for restricting their playground, locals feared tourism (their livelihood) would suffer. There was a lot of opposition, even death threats. This was despite expert conservationists like the late Dr. Hugh Berry saying: “The most destroyed accessible coastline in the world is found in Namibia”.

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No rational person could deny the seriousness of the situation.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

The truth is that we didn’t want to ban people from enjoying our dunes, but there were simply too many people joy-riding over Namibia’s deserts and ruining the beautiful landscapes that would be so important for tourism in the future. Steps had to be taken and access to the park had to be controlled.

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Etosha has strict rules about staying on the roads in the park…
That’s why it looks like it did 50 years ago even though millions of tourists visit each year.


The government zoned areas so everyone could enjoy this unique part of Namibia. So whether you are a tourist, an environmentalist, or a quad biker, there's something for everyone to enjoy. You can download the park’s rules and regulations here.

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Namibia is now the only country on earth with its entire coastline falling into a national park.

 

Is there a way that people not already directly involved with a conservation organisation can get involved?

The best way for the public to get involved is through NACOMA. You can read their brochure on their website. You can also be a game warden in your own capacity – approach people who are driving off the road and hand them the brochure, stop them littering, and make sure they respect the area.

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There is still a long way to go, but there is good reason to be hopeful about the future.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

What part of your conservation work are you most proud of thus far?

I am most proud of my involvement in the creation of Dorob. Ten years ago everything was destroyed, it felt like mission impossible, but today it’s quiet, beautiful and flourishing again. Thinking back to all the death threats and stress I had to deal with, I still think it was totally worth it.

I am also proud of our country. It took a lot of years, tears and sweat but now our children can enjoy our hard work. The town of Swakopmund is within the area that has been declared a national park- several thousand people live in a national park, and that is quite something if you think about it.

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Dorob National Park is Namibia’s first national park since independence.
Its creation ensures that landscapes like the one above can be shared with future generations.

 

+++++++

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.

gravel road namibia 88c90f18 902e 4486 925d 712761bd7ba4

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.

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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.

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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.

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The awesome Victoria Falls.
(Photo via Wikimedia)

 

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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
namibia, self drive namibia, self drive safaris, 4 x 4 africa, etosha, adventure holiday, namibia roads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Namibia Adventure Calendar: September to December

  
  

As promised, this is a follow up post to our recently published Adventure Calendar for 2014. You can find the calendar for June to August by clicking here. These two blog posts will equip you with all you need to know about the major adventure events that are happening in Namibia.

Desert Knights Mountain Bike Tour (7 – 12 September)

The Desert Knights MTB Tour is five days of cycling, and one day of canoeing, through Namibia’s scenic /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. The park is located in the southern region of Namibia and straddles the border between South Africa and the Land of the Brave.

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From the seat of you bike you will be able to take in the beautiful landscape.
(Image courtesy of Desert Knights)

 

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You will also get a chance to zip down some Orange River rapids in a canoe.
(Image courtesy of Desert Knights)

 

This cycling tour is unique in that it affords its participants the opportunity to cycle both during the day and at night. Cycling through the desert at night, and under the full moon (which falls on the 9th of September), participants in the Desert Knights Mountain Bike Tour will get to witness the isolated and vast region in a light that few people ever will.

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The landscapes transform at night.
(Image courtesy of Desert Knights)

 

To enter the event click here. Entries close on the 30th of June. There are only 100 places available on this tour, so be sure to book soon!

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Riders riding out into the approaching twilight.
(Image courtesy of Desert Knights)

 

Pick n Pay Cycle Classic (12 October) 

This year will see the fifteenth time this cycling road race is being held in Namibia. Starting off as a small race of just over 750 cyclists the event has grown from strength to strength with each passing year.

The race is a great way for you to visit Windhoek if you are interested in competitive cycling. It will give you the opportunity to meet, greet and compete with the local cyclists in the capital city.  

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2012’s runner-up Costa Seibeb (L) and 2012’s winner Till Droblisch (R).
(Image via the Sun)

 

This year the event is taking place on Sunday the 12th of October and there will be several routes on offer to entrants. The race is organised by the Windhoek-based cycling club Windhoek Pedal Power. If you want to be able to register for this race then all you have to do is subscribe to their newsletter here.

Registration for the Cycle Classic typically closes in early October so it is best to book your place in advance. Details are still being finalised for the event, so be sure to keep an eye on your inbox after you have registered with Windhoek Pedal Power.


Luderitz Speed Challenge (October 29 – 9 November) 

The Luderitz Speed Challenge is one of the world’s premier water sporting events for kiteboarders and windsurfers. The perfect water and wind conditions draw out hoards of international watersporting stars and this ensures that each year the Speed Challenge is a thrilling and record breaking event.

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A contestant kicking up some spray in 2013.

(Photo via Luderitz Speed)

 

The event has seen numerous world records broken and this year there promises to be more of the same record breaking action. The Speed Challenge will be taking place from the end of October to mid-November, so if you find youself in Namibia's south during that time then be sure to head down to Luderitz to check all the action out.

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Windsurfers and kiteboarders flock to Luderitz for this event.
(Photo via Luderitz Speed)

 

If you want to enter the race, or get involved as a sponsor of the event you can contact the organisers, Sebastien Cattelan or Sophie Routaboul on the details below.

Sébastien Cattelan

Email: cattelan.sebastien@gmail.com

Mobile: +33 (0)61 5341 411 (France)

+27 (0)791 634555 (South Africa)

Skype: seb.cat1

Sophie Routaboul

Email: luderitz.speed.challenge@gmail.com

Mobile: +33 (0)61 07 44 69 (France)

+264 (0)817 44 64 69 (Namibia)

Skype: soevent34

If you want a more detailed description of the event and its history then check out our blog post on it here.

KITE NEST

A windsurfer on the purpose built canal.
(Photo via Luderitz Speed)

           

Desert Ultra (November 14)

The Desert Ultra is an event organised by Beyond the Ultimate and it is a trail running race like no other in Namibia. The course is over 250km and it focuses on well-trained runners who are looking for an extreme challenge through some wonderfully isolated and awesome desert landscapes.

STARK

Stark, challenging and one of a kind stages.
(Image via Beyond the Ultimate)

 

Contestants are expected to be able to carry all your gear and water and the fields are usually very competitive. While there are refreshment stations along the way, you will be expected to fend for yourself along the gruelling stages.

PREP

Preparation is key if you want to succeed.
(Image via Beyond the Ultimate)

 

Here is a good link to a page that deals with FAQ associated with the Desert Ultra. If you want register for the race then simply follow this link.

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Runners making their way through a checkpoint.
(Image via Beyond the Ultimate)


It should be noted that Ultras are not for casual athletes, but if you are fully prepared, and in good physical and mental shape, then they can be some of the most rewarding extreme adventures one can have.

REWARD

Desert heat and tough trails make for a rewarding run.

(Image via Beyond the Ultimate)

 

100km of Namib Desert (30 November – 7 December)

Quite simply this event is a 100km race through one of the world’s oldest deserts, the Namib. The Namib is home to some of Namibia’s most famous wonders; these include Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon making it this ancient desert an amazing area to be able to run through.

AMAZE

From the Dead Vlei…
(Image via 100km of Namib Desert)

CANYON

…to the Sesriem Canyon.
(Image via 100km of Namib Desert)

 

The 100km run through the desert is organised by an Italian company who put on races through out Africa (check out some of their other races here and here). It is the ninth time that the event has been held in Namibia and each year the field of participants has increased.

FUN RUN

A runner summits one of the massive dunes.
(Image via 100km of Namib Desert)

 

The race is a tough affair, but, you will be staying in top-notch accommodation for each of the four competing nights you are out on the route. So there will always be time for you to unwind and recharge. For a detailed program check out this page.

NICEPIC

Beautiful surrounds make this race a must.
(Image via 100km of Namib Desert)

 

If you want register for the race then click here and fill in your details and the team will get back to you with all the information you need. If you still need convincing then have a look at the subtitled video below.

(Video via 100km of Namib Desert)


+-------+

 

This and our last post should give any adventure holiday seekers enough ideas to fill a few months up in their trip.

If you know of any other extreme adventure events happening in Namibia in 2014 then leave a comment below.

Happy reading, and happy planning!

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