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Driving through Namibia with Carlo van Wyk

  
  

Namibia: A Solo Overland Trip

by Carlo van Wyk

Every now and then, we all need a break. A few weeks ago I decided to take a much needed escape from the daily grind, and set out on a 3000 mile road trip through the south of Namibia. I didn’t have a set itinerary, just a road map, my four-wheel drive vehicle, cameras, and enough supplies to be self-sufficient for more or less two weeks.

Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

The famous Dead Vlei.

 

Taking a break and traveling solo

I’ve always wanted to do a trip to Namibia. The country’s natural beauty and its vast and desolate expanses have always appealed to me. I wanted to take some landscape pictures, and to take a bit of a break from my working life. I decided to focus most of my travels around the south and south-west of Namibia so as not to feel rushed while I explored the country.

Namibrand Nature Reserve - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

The NamibRand Nature Reserve...
There are no fences on the side of the road and the wildlife roams freely through the reserve.

 

I was afforded a certain freedom by travelling solo. I travelled on my own time and terms, and it’s amazing how different one’s experience of traveling is when one travels alone. I met people I would never have met if I were traveling with someone or in a large group of tourists.

Old Car Wreck, Namibia - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Being on your own allows you to take more time to linger at interesting places.
 

 

Camera equipment for Namibia

I was using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and I ended up taking the majority of pictures with three of my lenses: A Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L MK II, a Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L MK II and an EF 100mm Macro lens. I also used an EF 24mm tilt shift lens for a few shifted panoramas. I did miss not having a 70-200mm zoom lens, as there were plenty of opportunities where such a lens would have been ideal.

Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park- Panorama taken with Canon EF 24mm Tilt Shift lens.


If I could take only three lenses to Namibia I would pack a 16-35mm, a 24-70mm and a 70-200mm. These three lenses are my ideal choices for photographing landscapes and people. However, if I intended on photographing wildlife as well, I would simply add a 500mm lens with a tele converter to the above selection of lenses.

Namibian Winter Panorama - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Namibian Winter Panorama-
This panorama was taken with the Canon 24mm t/s F3.5ii L lens,
and really shows where this lens excels.


There’s a lot of dust and sand in Namibia. I managed to shoot with my camera for well over a year without the need for cleaning the sensor, but towards the end of my trip through Namibia, a number of dust spots started to show up at smaller apertures. So be sure to have a good camera bag to minimize dust build up.

Kolmanskop - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Remote locations like Kolmanskop (pictured above) are striking, but are hard on your gear.


Spectacular landscapes in Namibia

The light in Namibia has a magical quality to it. The skies have a very rich blue, and the light is unusually warm lending your photographs a rich tone. This country is breathtakingly beautiful with spectacular landscapes everywhere. It is a photogenic country- a photographer’s dream.

The Fish River Canyon, Namibia - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

The Fish River Canyon.

Climbing Dune 45, Sossusvlei - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Dune 45.

Trees at Dead Vlei - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Dead Vlei.


Remote, desolate beauty

Namibia is vast, desolate and beautiful. I really enjoyed the isolation of Namibia. Even in peak tourist season, you can pull over your car on the side of the road and not see a vehicle for a few hours. You can camp wild under African skies and some roads are so isolated that you can literally be alone for a day or two.

NamibRand - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

The NamibRand Nature Reserve.

 

I deliberately tried to stick to mostly gravel roads. The condition of the gravel roads in Namibia are excellent. Towns along these roads are mostly small, often consisting of a fuel station, a shop, with a few campsites or lodges scattered around it. A lot of the roads don’t have any fences and as a result I saw plenty of wildlife crossing the road. You quickly learn to look out for animals. It’s well advised to only travel during daylight hours, as nighttime brings the risk of hitting animals.

Gravel Roads in Namibia - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

The gravel roads in Namibia are great.
Wildlife crossing the roads poses a risk, so speed should be kept to about 80km/h.

 

For the most part, there’s limited or no cell phone coverage. Only the bigger towns and some smaller towns have coverage. The vast, desolate expanses of Namibia, coupled with a lack of communication to the outside world in many areas really allowed me to switch off, relax, and enjoy vistas of this beautiful country.

Wild Horses of the Namib - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Relax, take some time and find something special.


Why you should visit Namibia

Clearly, Namibia is a photographer’s paradise, and it’s easy to see why many of the world’s top photographers return to Namibia year after year. It’s easily the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited.

Tree Stump at Sossusvlei - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Tree Stump at Sossusvlei.


For first time visitors to Africa, it’s a very safe and peaceful country. Namibia has a low crime rate, there’s no wars, and religious or racial tension in the country. It’s commonly known to be the safest country in Africa. The people are warm and friendly too, always ready to greet you with a smile. Accommodation was also reasonable and top notch, with plenty of lodging and camping options to choose from, making finding somewhere to stay quite simple.

If you’re someone that enjoys nature, spectacular landscapes, world-class game, or if you want to have an adventure in Africa, Namibia should be at the top of your list of countries to visit. I returned home from my epic adventure, refreshed and with my batteries recharged. I met some great people and returned with more good pictures than I thought I would have taken.


NamibRand Landscape - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip

Namibia is rich in photo opportunities.


I returned home with an urgency to go back and explore more of this amazing country. There’s so much more to see: Etosha National Park, Damaraland, the Skeleton coast and more… Next time around, I will travel with my family. Watch this space.

The Dunes Surrounding Sossusvlei - Namibia : a Solo Overland Trip
On top of a dune, near Sossusvlei.


+++++++

 

 

Carlo has been a passionate photographer since high school, when his father introduced him to photography. Photography has been a life long learning experience for him. His goal is to share his passion with others.

Follow Carlo on Twitter

Contact Carlo


All words and pictures in this post are by Carlo van Wyk.
The original version of his article can be found on Photograhydo here.

Four Adventures in the South of Namibia

  
  

The south of Namibia is a rugged and exquisitely beautiful part of the country. It is vast, under-populated and yet incredibly diverse. As such there are a lot of adventures to be had in the Land of the Brave's southern region. We have picked four popular attractions and given you all the information you need to start planning your next trip...


1. Exploring Pomona and the Bogenfels

What it is

This tour, exclusively operated by Luderitz tour operators Coastways, takes travellers on an amazing journey through some of the south of Namibia’s most isolated and beautifully vast landscapes. The entire tour takes place in the “Sperrgebiet” (“forbidden zone”).

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure

You need Coastways to enter the Sperrgebiet.
The area is totally off-limits to the general public.


It was in this area that a large part of Namibia’s diamond mining was conducted more than fifty years ago. Today the region is almost completely deserted. The only remnants of the area’s diamond heydays are the abandoned settlements of the once bustling town of Pomona.

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure

An abandoned loading bay at the train station just outside the site of Pomona.


You may have heard of Namibia’s most well known ghost town Kolmanskop (which is nearby), but it is likely you have not heard of Pomona. This ghost town is absolutely stunning for pictures as the only people who will be with you on this tour will be whomever else is part of the small once-a-day tour group.

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure

Some ruins of the abandoned mining town.


After visiting the abandoned towns and satellite settlements of Pomona, your Coastways tour will take you to one of the greatest geological wonders in Namibia: The Bogenfels Arch. Extending from the land to the sea the Bogenfels stands at an impressive 60 metres at its highest point. With waves crashing at on end of the arch, while the other side slopes into the desolate Sperrgebiet, it is truly an impressive sight to behold. 

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure

The mighty rock arch that is the Bogenfels.


This tour is a must for anyone interested in history, photography and getting off the beaten path. Not only will you be given a unique historical insight into Namibia on this tour but you will also be able to spend some time in one of the most abandoned places on earth, far away from the crowds of tourists and bustle of the city.

To read a first-hand account of this adventure read our blog on the tour through the Sperrgebiet.

Where to stay

There is really only one realistic accommodation option if you want to do this tour and that is Luderitz. Coastways operates out of the small town and the tour is a full day so you will be spending the night in Luderitz.

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure

Luderitz, one of the friendliest places you are likely to visit.


The Nest Hotel in Luderitz has a good relationship with Coastways and they will be able to book you a tour if you ask at reception. To find out more click here to go to the Nest Hotel's website.

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure

The Nest Hotel.

There are several other places to stay in Luderitz as well, here’s a list of the various options available to travellers:

Bayview Hotel: Tel: +264-63-202-288
, bayview@namibnet.com

Kapps Hotel
: Tel: +264-63-202-345
, pmk@mweb.com.na

Kratzplatz B&B
: Tel: +264-63-202-458

Haus Sandrose
: Tel: +264-63-202-630

Hansa Haus Self Catering
: Tel: +264-63-203-581

Obelix Village B&B
: Tel: +264-63-203-456

Island Cottage Self Catering
: Tel: +264-81-292-298

 

2. Finding the wild horses of Namibia

What it is

Namibia’s southern region is home to one of the few feral populations of wild horses in the world. Near the small town of Aus these majestic animals roam freely along with ostriches, gemsbok and whatever other migrating herds of animals traverse through the region.

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure, wild horses

A herd of wild horses on the move.
(Photo by Cheryl Korff, via Panoramio)

 

It is widely believed that the current horse herds are a result of animals having escaped from the German military during World War I. These horses then interbred with other abandoned horses from nearby stud farms that used to operate in the area. If you are interested in a more thorough history of these animal you can read it here

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure, wild horses

The horses have had to adapt to their harsh envrionment.


The great thing about these animals is they offer wonderful photo opportunities for photographers as you have a chance to take some quite surreal snaps of these usually domesticated animals living in the wild.

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure, wild horses

Two horses in full flight.
(Image courtesy of Vincent Grafhorst)

 

There is an observation point from which you can watch the horses. It is a shelter that has been constructed so that visitors can sit on benches and under shade while they watch the horses and various other game interact at the nearby watering hole.

 

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure, wild horses

An unusual gathering of horses, ostriches and Oryx is common place at this watering hole.


Where to stay

The best place to stay if you want to spend an afternoon with the feral horses is in the village of Aus. Aus has several accommodation options that can account for everybody’s needs.

Klein Aus Vista is a collection of different accommodations that range in price and size. Check out their website here to make a booking.

The Banhof Hotel is also a good bet if you want to stay in the charming little village. Visit their website by clicking here.

 

3. Kitesurfing in Luderitz

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure, wild horses

This is Kitesurfing.
(photo courtesy of Geesche Neuberg)


What it is

Luderitz is undeniably one of the best places on earth to do Kitesurfing. This is not an exaggeration as every year the best kitesurfers flock to this tiny coastal town to get in on the action at the Luderitz Speed Challenge (read more about this event here).

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure, wild horses

Kitesufer at the Luderitz Speed Challenge.
(photo via KitesportsKitesurfaris)


Of course the Speed Challenge only last a few days every year but that is not when the kitesurfing ends. Element Riders, who operate out of both Luderitz and Swakopmund, offer a variety of options to visitors who want to get on a board.

Element Riders can provide you with all the equipment you will need to cruise atop the Atlantic waves just off the shore of Namibia. They offer lessons and local advice for people who have never gone kitesurfing before and for those who are more experienced and are in search of the perfect conditions.

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure, wild horses

Element Riders have a large variety of equipment.
From small scale kites to the big ones pictured above.


The weather in Luderitz is remarkably consistent and there is almost always a good strong wind blowing to make sure your kite stays up in the air. The swell rarely becomes dangerous and remains consistent; it is these factors that make Luderitz a must-visit for kitesurfers.

Where to stay

The great thing about kitesurfing with Element Riders is that they have their own backpackers that you can stay at. Check out their website here for more info on their accommodations.

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure, wild horses

Element Rideris is also centrally located in Luderitz, making it easy to find.


For those of you looking to stay in a hotel The Nest Hotel (mentioned above) comes highly recommended, you can book a room here.

Here, once again, is the list of guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and backpackers in Luderitz:

Bayview Hotel: Tel: +264-63-202-288
, bayview@namibnet.com

Kapps Hotel
: Tel: +264-63-202-345
, pmk@mweb.com.na

Kratzplatz B&B
: Tel: +264-63-202-458

Haus Sandrose
: Tel: +264-63-202-630

Hansa Haus Self Catering
: Tel: +264-63-203-581

Obelix Village B&B
: Tel: +264-63-203-456

Island Cottage Self Catering
: Tel: +264-81-292-298

Shark Island Camping & Bungalows
: Tel: +264-63-202-752

Backpackers Lodge
: Tel: +264-63-202-000

 

4. The Fish River Lodge Five Night Hike

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure, wild horses

A guide surveys the long trail ahead.


What it is

This adventure is an absolute must for anyone who is interested in hiking. The multiple day scenic trek will take you through the world’s second largest canyon. Along the way you will be treated to superb scenery and clear blue skies. You are also more than likely going to catch glimpses of Oryx, mountain zebras, and if you are lucky, rhinos.

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure, wild horses

Unfortunately sometimes the only trace one finds of the rhinos on the trail are their spoor or droppings.


The Fish River Lodge offers guided tours of this amazing canyon, but take note, this hike is not for young children and should only be attempted out of summer by individuals in sound health. If you want more specific information on this hike then check out the Fish River Lodge’s activity page here.

The hike on offer is astonishing and if you want to get a small taste of what it is like to hike through the canyon then check out our post on hiking through the canyon. From the amazing terrain and wildlife, to the brilliantly clear night sky this journey through one of Namibia’s natural wonders comes highly recommended.

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure, wild horses

Hikers in the late morning sun.


Where to stay

On arrival you will spend your first night in the Fish River Lodge once your hike is complete you are free to book a few more nights at the lodge or move on to the next destination.

Namibia adventure, Pomona, Bogenfels, Fish River, hiking, kitesurfing, luderitz, adventure, wild horses

The lodge is luxurious- just the thing you want after five days of hiking!


++------++

 

These are just four adventures in the south of Namibia. There are many more to be had, and if you must decide which adventure is best for you. Happy planning and happy exploring!

Motorbiking through Namibia

  
  

There are few more exhilarating ways to get around a country than by motorbike. Namibia, with its extensive and well-maintained road network, is the perfect place to go on a long and winding ride through its scenic and sweeping landscapes.

In this post we have collected the information of several tour operators in Namibia that offer bike riders a chance to explore our country in a unique way. So read on if you have a taste for adventure of the two-wheeled variety.

Ride2Roam

This company offers tours in Namibia and its neighbouring countries. Take a trip from South Africa to Namibia, or why not travel between Namibia and Botswana.

namibia, motorbike namibia, africa bike adventure, sossusvlei, etosha, motorcycle namibia, self drive namibia

Riders heading toward Sossusvlei
(Image source Ride2Roam)

Ride2Roam limits its tour groups to ten bikers at a time so you will never be part of a swarm of tourists. Bike enthusiasts run the company so they know what they are doing and you can feel completely safe when striking out on the road with these guys.

namibia, motorbike namibia, africa bike adventure, sossusvlei, etosha, motorcycle namibia, self drive namibia

Riders striking out on a desert road.
(Image source Ride2Roam)

Their website is comprehensive and easy to navigate, check it out here.

namibia, motorbike namibia, africa bike adventure, sossusvlei, etosha, motorcycle namibia, self drive namibia

Mountain, biker.
(Image source Ride2Roam)

Dualsports Adventures

This is a company that specialises in doing tours throughout Southern Africa. There are guided tours and there are self-guided tours. Either option you choose the folks at Dualsports Adventures will hire out all the gear you need to tour around Namibia including GPS equipment when needed.

Their Southern Namibia Adventure is highly recommended as it will give you a unique way to explore Namibia’s Southern regions (read more about Namibia’s south over here).

The ride will take you past Sossusvlei, rugged landscapes and the Fish River Canyon as you make your way through Namibia and into South Africa.

namibia, motorbike namibia, africa bike adventure, sossusvlei, etosha, motorcycle namibia, self drive namibia

The Deadvlei, just outside Sossusvlei.

Motorcycle Tour South Africa

While based in South Africa this company does offer two tours through Namibia. The first is a ten-day tour that will take you along many of Namibia’s most scenic dirt roads. There won't be any camping on this tour and adventuers can choose betweenb a three or five star package.

namibia, motorbike namibia, africa bike adventure, sossusvlei, etosha, motorcycle namibia, self drive namibia

Exploring Namibia with friends on motorbikes- perfect!
(Image source Motorcycle Tour South Africa)

namibia, motorbike namibia, africa bike adventure, sossusvlei, etosha, motorcycle namibia, self drive namibia

The charming seaside town of Luderitz will be one of your many stops.
(Image source Motorcycle Tour South Africa)

The second tour begins in South Africa and heads up the West Coast into Namibia. Check it out here.

Africa Motorcycle Tours

This is the international agent for South Africa Motorcycle Tours, and you can read more about the man in charge, Tyler Hare, here.

namibia, motorbike namibia, africa bike adventure, sossusvlei, etosha, motorcycle namibia, self drive namibia

Tyler Hare.
(Image source Africa Motorcycle Tours)

This comapny offers perhaps one of the most interesting bike rides you can do in Southern Africa. Their Namibia/RSA tour is a must do for anyone who has 14 days and the urge to ride all around stunning Southern Africa. Starting in Cape Town your trip will take you north toward Namibia, and once in Namibia the real fun begins.

namibia, motorbike namibia, africa bike adventure, sossusvlei, etosha, motorcycle namibia, self drive namibia

You never know what you'll find when you bike into Namibia.
(Image source Africa Motorcycle Tours)

On this tour you will visit Keetmanshoop, Windhoek, the Skeleton Coast and Etosha National Park before returning south back down to Cape Town. For a detailed tour description click here.

Enduro Namibia

For those riders who are looking for a little bit more of a challenging ride through Namibia this is an operator that can cater for your needs. Enduro Namibia proudly takes riders, of varying degrees of skills, over Namibia’s 37000 km’s of untarred roads, showing them exactly what the country has to offer.

namibia, motorbike namibia, africa bike adventure, sossusvlei, etosha, motorcycle namibia, self drive namibia

Off the main roads are some truly beautiful untouched landscapes.
(Image source Enduro Namibia)

Most of the tours are suitable for the average rider, with only two (the Wild West and the Kaokoveld rides) being singled by the folks at Enduro Namibia as needing more skilled and physically prepared riders.

The company has a page with need to know facts about biking through Namibia as well as detailed biographies of some of the riders who will be leading you on your group tour.

On many of these tours you will be camping out in the wild and this would make it the perfect tour for those bikers looking for a bit more adventure than usual.

namibia, motorbike namibia, africa bike adventure, sossusvlei, etosha, motorcycle namibia, self drive namibia

One of the many camping spots you will visit on one of this company's tours.
(Image source Enduro Namibia)

Gravel Travel

Another company that specialises in off-the-beaten-path tours is Gravel Travel. Check out their site here.

namibia, motorbike namibia, africa bike adventure, sossusvlei, etosha, motorcycle namibia, self drive namibia

Cut your own path with your group of riders.
(Image source Gravel Travel)

They also have several package options available for you to choose from just head to their website and begin planning your trip.

Great African Outdoors

With over 20 years of experience and a brand new fleet that has just been bought, GAO are one of the more established companies offering motorbike tours throughout southern Africa.

GAO have a “Windhoek to Windhoek” tour and on this ride you will visit Etosha, Epupa Falls, Swakopmund and Sesriem. It is a 12 day tour and will take you through some of Namibia’s top attractions.

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Sesriem Canyon.

The “Ocean to Desert” tour is another tour that starts in Cape Town, South Africa and makes it way up to Windhoek Namibia. On this tour you will go through Sesriem, the Fish River Canyon, Etosha, Swakopmund and Windhoek. It is a 14 day tour finishing in Windhoek.

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Stunning views abound in the Fish River Canyon.

The “Big Five” tour will take you on a circular route between Zimbabwe and Namibia and as you can guess the focus will be on visiting safari parks and seeing big game. The Okavango delta, Etosha National Park, Mdumu Game Reserve and Chobe National Park are some of the highlights on this 13 day tour.

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Elephants in Etosha National Park.

Overlanding Africa's Bike/Car Tour

Now many riders have families. And many riders’ families are not necessarily able, or willing to ride a motorbike through a foreign country. So if you have family members or significant others who are not too keen on riding around Namibia then fear not. The people at Overlanding Africa have a solution for you.

While you are riding along the dirt roads, tearing up a dust storm on your motorbike your companions, if they choose to not join you on two wheels, will be right behind you in the Overland Safari Truck. Not only will you all be able to share in the same views and experiences but you everyone gets to do it in the manner that they’d prefer to.

Their website is a bit light on information but they respond to any queries you might have about doing a motorcycle tour with you via email.


Additional reading

Live to Ride- Windhoek

Live to ride is the oldest motorcycle club in Namibia. If you are looking for like-minded riders and advice on the best routes to travel on throughout Namibia and Windhoek then be sure to visit their official page and drop them a line.

Cynthia in Namibia

Cynthia, a Dutch motorcycle enthusiast talks about her time biking through Namibia. Read all about it here.

namibia, motorbike namibia, africa bike adventure, sossusvlei, etosha, motorcycle namibia, self drive namibia

Cynthia on her way through Namibia.
(Image source Motoress)

A Guide to Namibia for the First Timer

  
  

In a country with so much to do, and so much to see it can be difficult to know what you want to do on your first visit to Namibia. This post is aimed specifically at the traveller visiting our beautiful country for the first time, but even the most seasoned Namibia explorer could benefit from reading on.

What to do

First, you have to decide what you want to get out of your holiday. If you have a limited amount of time it is probably best to try and not do everything Namibia has to offer since there is simply too much to do in a short period of time.  

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Enjoy the hustle and bustle of Windhoek.

 
Ask yourself, are you looking for a high-octane adventure holiday?

Namibia, namibia tourism, self drive namibia, flying safari, etosha, namibia safari, na'an Kuse

A climber scales a cliff face.
(Image courtesy of Element Riders)

Or perhaps you would like to take it a bit slower and build your travelling plans around photographing the stunning landscapes and wildlife on offer.  

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Namibia’s wide open spaces are perfect for panoramic photographs.  

If, on the other hand you like nothing more than relaxing in a sun drenched dipping pool overlooking the wilderness and not doing much else, there is something for you in the land of the brave.  

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Have a soak whilst taking in a view of the Fish River Canyon.

 
Below, in no particular order, are some of our travellers’ favourite spots and activities in Namibia. Click on the images for more information.

 

Bird Watching Namibia The Waterberg Namibia Experience Sossusvlei Namibia
Meet the himba Namibia Track desert rhinos namibia Etosha Namibia
Katutura township tour Namibia Adventure Camping Namibia Hiking in the Fish river canyon
Explore ghost towns Namibia Flying safaris Namibia Volunteering in Namibia
Adventure Activities in Namibia Windhoek Namibia Meet the San Namibia


The basics  

Click here and have a look through our travel guides. The most important thing is to make sure that you have all the necessary documentation to ensure that you can enter and travel freely through Namibia. To check if you need a visa, visit Namibia's Ministry of Foreign affairs here and click on the visa link on the right hand side.  
Namibia is a country of contrasts, and its weather is no exception. In the summer expect hot days with very rare thunder storms in some of the regions. Winter nights meanwhile can get very cold, so if you are in the desert regions of our country then be sure to pack some warm jackets as the temperatures drop with the sun.  

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Always remember to pack according to the activities you have planned.        

Getting around

By train

Namibia is a big a country, vast and largely uninhabited so there isn’t a vast public transport network. There are tourist trains like the Desert Express, but most travellers get around by either driving or flying.  

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The Desert Express.
(Image courtesy of Rail Tours)  

By car

Many tourists drive their own vehicles or hire one from a company to get around the country. Driving is very manageable in Namibia as the national road network is easy to navigate and is well maintained.

Below is a list of some car-hire companies in Namibia: **Note make sure you have a driver’s licence that is valid in Namibia as the penalties for unlicensed driving are severe, and there are several police checkpoints on the national roads that will ask you to display a valid licence.**  
When driving always make sure you have enough petrol in your car and be certain that you have planned your trip so that you are never out of reach of a petrol station. Also, make sure you have enough hard cash to pay for petrol as many of the more remote service stations do not accept cards for fuel.  

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A car stopped on the side of the road in Etosha National Park.  

Another option is to enquire about hiring a driver for a few days, although this can be expensive. You can always use the local taxis in whichever town or city you find yourself in, and check with your hotel or lodge reception to know the going rate.  
As with driving anywhere the same rules apply, be cautious, alert and considerate. Note, in Namibia we drive on the left.

By plane

Something that many people do not know about Namibia is its extensive network of private and public airports dotted around the country.

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An Air Namibia plane at Luderitz airport. 

The three major airports can be found in Windhoek (including Hosea Kutaku International) and there are several domestic airports around the country. If you want a full listing of airports run by the Namibia Airport Company here.  

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Hosea Kutako International.

There are also many private airstrips at several of the game lodges, national parks, and secluded areas in Namibia with landing strips for light aircraft. There are chartered plane companies and if you are able to pilot a craft you can even hire a plane.  
And if it's a scenic flight or flying safari that you're after, here are just some of the operators you can get in touch with:

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A map of many of Namibia’s airport.
(Map courtesy of Maps of the World)

Here is a detailed list of airstrips and information you will need if you wish to fly yourself around Namibia. There is no exhaustive list of landing spots, so always remember to check wherever you go to see if they have a nearby airstrip if you require one.  

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Have aircraft will fly!
(Image courtesy of the Namibian)

 

Photography guides

We have several photography tips from professional photographers for those of you who would like some advice on taking photographs of this beautiful land. Below is a list of some of the people who spoke to us about snapping the perfect shot in Namibia, and shared the amazing images they managed to capture. 

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Marsel van Oosten

Christopher Rimmer

Paul van Schalkwyk

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Bill Gozansky

Roy van der Merwe

Hougaard Malan

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Matthew Hood

Ted Alan Stedman

Jan & Jaye Roode

 

Come and visit

The people of Namibia are friendly and welcoming and if you arrive adequately prepared there is no reason why you won’t enjoy your first (and definitely not only) trip to Namibia.  

 

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Namibia is waiting to welcome you!

 

Download our Travel Planning Guides

Click hereto download our planning guides about traveling to Namibia, adventure, photography, self-drives and wildlife.

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REST: Saving Namibia's Vultures

  
  

The Rare and Endangered Species Trust is an organisation that operates in Central-Northern Namibia near the town of Otjiwarongo and the Okonkjima game reserve. Many of you may remember them from our post on Pangolin conservation, but REST also plays a leading role in the effort to conserve endangered vultures in Namibia. Read on to find out how you can help too.

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The Cape Griffon vulture, in flight
.
(Image courtesy of REST)

The vultures' plight

Most people are surprised when they find out about the plight of the various species of vultures in southern Africa. The fact is that vulture numbers are down across the region, and unless strong action is taken immediately we risk losing many of these species.

In Namibia Maria Diekmann decided to take action and many years ago founded REST. The trust now runs many programs to help save various species of animals in and around Namibia. Maria, along with her dedicated band of volunteers and permanent staff, hopes to educate the public on the plight of the vulture and in doing so illustrate just how vital these birds are for a functioning and healthy ecosystem.

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Maria preparing to release Diana, a White Backed vulture, into the wild.
(Image courtesy of REST)

What vultures do for us

Simply put, vultures are nature’s clean-up crew. These birds can eat just about anything, ingest any pathogen and remove it from the ecosystem. What this does is it takes this undesirable meat, and disease, out of the ecosystem.

Without vultures doing this, whatever disease is in an animal’s carcass will get ingested by other scavenging animals (wild dogs, jackals etc) and will eventually land causing a lot of harm to the entire ecosystem that has been robbed of its vultures.

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Wild White Backed vultures nesting.
(Image courtesy of REST)

What is happening to Namibia's vultures?

Poaching is a massive problem for vultures in southern Africa. These birds are the ultimate innocent bystanders in the bloody war that is poaching. This is what happens: A gang of poachers will kill an animal for its ivory, horn or pelt and will then discard the carcass in the bush. Once this is done the vultures, who have keen eyesight and a knack for sniffing out a meal, will circle and eventually descend down to feed on the dead animal.

Many game rangers and anti-poaching teams had begun to use the circling vultures as a way of spotting where an act of poaching may have occurred and could then begin to give chase to any possible poachers. But the poachers have gotten wise to this. Now these highly organised gangs of thieves and smugglers will poison a carcass that they have killed in the hopes that it will kill off the vultures in area and thus make it harder for the game rangers and authorities to find them.

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Nelson, a rescued Cape Griffon vulture who, unfortunately,
is too damaged to send back into the wild.

(Image courtesy of Linda Millington, via REST)

In August, this year, 600-1000 vultures were killed when one poached elephant carcass was deliberately poisoned in an attempt to rid an area in the north of Namibia of its vultures. Visit here to see if you can lend a hand to help lessen this crisis. It is estimated that every year nearly 2000 cultures are deliberately poisoned.

There are other problems facing vultures in our modern world as well. Loss of habitat, internal organs for use in traditional medicine, ignorance and even misguided farmers who pump their cattle and herds full of an anti-inflammatory drug that is as deadly as a poison to a vulture. We cannot stop all of these things at once, but we can begin to reverse the thinking behind each of these problems, one at a time.

The good news

The good news is that you now know about the problem. More good news is that through organisations like REST we can all lend a hand to making the world a little bit more vulture-friendly. And as with most conservation efforts it starts with education. By learning about the vital role, and by teaching this to young children REST fulfills an integral role in bringing awareness to the masses about the plight of the vulture, and you can help.

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Volunteers at REST tagging a Cape Griffon vulture.
This was the first time ever that this species had been tagged using telemetry.

What we can do

You can volunteer. Not only is this a fantastic way to get to learn about a variety of different animals that REST concerns itself with, but it is also a fantastic way to have a unique and moving experience in Namibia. Click this link to find out all the details on REST’s volunteer project.

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Volunteers at REST get the full hands-on experience.
(Image courtesy of REST)

There is accommodation for volunteers with running water and all the amenities you need to live comfortably in the bush. You won’t be finding a TV or anything like that though! The prices are reasonable and all the money paid is ploughed straight back into the trust’s efforts.

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A vulture, flying the coup.

If you do not have the ability, or time, to volunteer then you can always donate money to the trust. All money is directly spent on conservation efforts as the organisation is well streamlined to ensure that no money is wasted on needless bureaucratic expenses.

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Funds are used to maintain things like REST's vulture restaurant.
(Image courtesy of REST)

Maria and REST rely on donations and sponsorships to allow them to continue doing the good work that they do, so once you have finished reading this article please consider donating some time or money to their cause.

The future

One of REST’s focuses is the critically endangered Cape Griffon vulture. There are only 12 breeding pairs left in Namibia of this majestic bird. That is not a big number, and it is even more shocking when you consider that 50 years ago there were over 2000 of these birds.

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Nelson having a bit of a pose for the camera.
(Image courtesy of REST)

But, if you visit REST you can see what is hoped will be the first successful breeding project of the Cape Griffon in captivity. Things are looking good right now and everyone is holding thumbs that this will be the start along the long road to recovery for these vital, and too often forgotten about, birds.

We need to support organisations like REST and we have to educate ourselves, and everyone we know, about the importance of vultures in the wild and by extension, our lives.

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REST is planning for the future by protecting what we have now.


How to Explore Etosha National Park

  
  

Etosha National Park spans over 22,270 km2 and is criss-crossed by a network of roads that you can drive on to visit the park’s various watering holes which number more than 30. With a network this vast and with over 114 mammal, 340 bird, and 110 reptile species to see you will need a game plan, and this post is all about helping you figure that out. Follow this link to see what we found using the easy steps in this guide!

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Begin planning your adventure now!

How to get to Etosha

Getting to Etosha from Windhoek is very simple, it is a six hour drive along well surfaced roads that is easy to do. And if you want to break up the journey then why not try find a suitable rest camp to stay at to split your journey over two days while soaking up as much of Namibia as possible.

How you drive to Etosha will depend on which gate you will want to use to access the park. Traditionally there have always been three gates: The Anderson Gate in the South of the park, the Von Lindequist Gate in the East, and the King Nehale gate on the Northern border. In June 2011 the park opened a new gate called the Galton Gate and this is now a fourth entry point into the park.

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Map of Etosha.
(courtesy of Mappery)


Depending on where you are driving from, and depending on which camp you want to stay at in the park you will have to select the appropriate gate to enter park through.

Once in the park and through the gate you have chosen you will have to check in at Okaukuejo or Namutoni and from there you can head out into the park or go straight to your rest camp to put your belongings in the your room. 

Where to stay

In the park

First things first, if you plan on staying more than one day in the park then you will need to find somewhere to overnight.  Finding a place to stay inside the park is actually very easy and there are four camps run by the Namibia Wildlife Resorts that you can choose from.

Each rest camp has its own spot lit watering hole that allows guests to do some night time game viewing as all the creatures of Etosha come out on their nightly routines.

*Top Tip*

Once you've checked in at Namutoni or Okaukeujo, take your time to get to your rest camp, turning your journey into a mini-safari.

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Namutoni- rest camp and administrative centre for the park.

Outside the park

There are also several accommodation options just outside the park and these range in price and proximity to the park. So visit the pages below, see which one suits your plans best.

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A giraffe and an oryx making a speedy getaway, but from what...?

Driving on your own safari adventure

So now that you have settled into your camp you can begin to plan out how you are going to go about exploring the park.

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In your own car you can spend as long as you like, wherever you like!

Wherever you drive in the park you will have to observe certain rules and protocols to avoid making a nuisance of yourself or at worst, endangering yourself and others.

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Take it easy! 
The slower you go the more likely you'll cross paths with the wildlife
.

Some driving “Do’s”
  • Plan your route thoroughly and make sure you have enough petrol. You can fill up with fuel at Okaukuejo so it is very easy to keep your car running once in the park.

  • Always return back to your camp before sunset, the roads are mostly gravel so be sure to take this into account when you are planning how long your drive will be.

  • Drive on the left, just like any other road in Namibia.

  • Make sure you have water in your car to avoid getting dehydrated while on your long safari.

Some driving “Don’ts”
  • Don't drive quickly or recklessly. Driving slowly will minimize your chance of getting punctures and more importantly will increase your chance of seeing some of the amazing animals in the park.

  • Don't ever leave your car unless you are in the appropriate area, these areas are very clearly marked.

  • Driving at night is strictly prohibited and penalties will be enforced if you drive after sunset and before sunrise.

  • Don't feed or interact with any of the animals from your car.

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The roads of Etosha are easy to drive on, but care is required when using them.

*TOP TIP*
It is always best to go to Etosha in an off-road vehicle, but it is possible to do the park in smaller city-dwelling cars as well- you may just have to go even slower to avoid causing damage to your vehicle.

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Having the freedom to do what you want in your own time
is one of the best parts of visiting Etosha.

Where to go for the best chance of seeing wildlife

First things first, you should pick up a map from the kiosk at Okaukuejo. This is not only a map of the entire park, but it also gives you information about each of the watering holes in the park. The maps are available in German and English.

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The Kiosk at Namutoni- here you can find all the information you will need.

Which animals go to which watering hole is explained on the map, and this can be a boon to anyone who is looking for a specific animal. The map also has checklist so you can mark off which of Etosha's residents you have seen on your safari.

You can also buy an illustrated animal identification book from the same kiosk and this will help you to identify the various mammals, birds and reptiles that you might spot whilst exploring the park.

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Can you identify the antelope in this picture?

Top tips for spotting wildlife in the park

So now you have your map, and you are in your car, and you are about to go on your self-drive safari.

Your best chance of seeing wildlife in Etosha is by doing things slowly, and being observant. The watering holes are good for catching animals in their natural state, and if you spend significant time at these venues you have an excellent chance of spotting some of Namibia’s unique critters.

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Two lions hiding from the sun in the shade of a tree.

Here are some tips and tricks we have picked up over the years from other travellers who have explored Etosha extensively.

  • If you see other cars stopped on the side of the road, slow down; maybe they have seen something and you can share in their sighting.

  • Take a pair of binoculars.

  • Be patient and be quiet.

  • Keep a look out under trees. Many animals will seek shelter from the hot Namibian sun and often wildlife can be spotted resting in under a tree in its shade.

  • Ask at your accomodations about the best parts of the park to visit. Animals move and migrate around the park so it does change.

  • Always leave your camera on and make sure it's battery is charged every night (you'll be using it a lot!)

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A herd of elephants make their way to a nearby waterhole

Most are very fortunate when it comes to spotting wildlife in the park becuase there is such an abundance, from the big five to the smallest antelope, Etosha has it all. Check out our blog on what we found when we visited this astonishing place.

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 Oryx and Warthog: An Etosha story...
Coming soon to a theater near you!

Luderitz- Exploring Namibia's Historic Diamond Town

  
  

The small town of Luderitz is located in the South of Namibia and if you are lucky enough to have some free time on your holiday, then you should definitely go on a tour of it and its surrounds. From quaint old German-style architecture, to beautiful wide-open skies and crystal clear seas with white beaches, Luderitz is a small town with a lot to see.

sign
Welcome to Luderitz!

Arriving

The first great thing about Luderitz is that it has its own airport. Flights go to Luderitz from Windhoek once a day, and getting a ticket is usually not a problem.

One can also drive from Windhoek to Luderitz. It's a straight shot along the B4 and will take you about 6-7 hours to do.

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The flight into the isolated town, over the desert sands, was amazing.

The Nest Hotel

Once in Luderitz I made my way to where I would be laying my head down for the duration of my trip. I was staying at the Nest Hotel, which is the perfect spot to stay if you feel like having all the creature comforts of modern living.

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This was the view from my room- it was spectacular all day long!

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The Nest Hotel in the twilight.

Take your time

Luderitz exists as a town largely thanks to the diamond industry in Namibia, and to this day diamonds continue to be an important part of the town's economy. And with the railway being refurbished and new buildings going up all the time, the future is looking bright for this sometimes forgotten town.

Most travellers go to Luderitz just to use it as a stepping stone to other locations in Namibia's South, but doing this would be a waste of an opportunity to do some exploring. The coastal town has enough going on to keep a busy adventurer happy for a good few days.

Colourful streets, colourful buildings

But today we will concern ourselves with the past and of particular interest is the unique architecture of Luderitz. Colourful buildings built during the time of German occupation line the streets, and businesses more than a hundred years old can be found on some of the streets.

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Rows of brightly coloured houses can be found all over the seaside town.

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A shot of some of the local businesses.

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Barrels- the towns friendly watering hole.

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House Groenewald.

Historical sites

The town also has several historical sites, which are worth visiting. There is a wealth of information on the town’s history and you can find this information at any tourist centre or hotel in Luderitz.

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 A memorial for those who died fighting for their land.

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Plaque honouring Heinrich Vogelslang, Luderitz's first pioneer.

A short drive outside of town and one can find Dias Cross, which is a must see if you are in Luderitz. The site marks the location of where Bartholomew Dias landed in Namibia. Tourists can now visit this spot and enjoy the delicious cake and coffee on sale at the small café run nearby the site.

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The foot bridge leading up to the historic site.

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 Dias Cross, erected where the explorer landed in 1488.

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A modern lighthouse overlooks Dias Cross and Grossebucht.

Beaches near Luderitz

The beaches near Luderitz are also quite spectacular. White sands and shallow waters make these beaches perfect for picnicking and sunbathing. The fact that there are so few people in this part of the world only helps you appreciate the isolated beauty of the locations around Luderitz.

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An abandoned ship at Grossebucht.

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On our way to Agate Beach we had to obey the sign and not enter
the area still designated for diamond mining.

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Agate Beach-
Hundreds of agates lie on the shore and can be taken home and cherished.

Discover Luderitz

Luderitz is the gateway to the South of Namibia, and when staying in Luderitz it is very easy to visit such attractions as Kolmanskop, Pomona, Fish River Canyon, Klein Aus and many, many other places that are of interest to anyone looking for a bit of adventure.

So when you go to Luderitz, do not forget to stick around a bit in the town and take in its sites. It is a quaint, friendly place, unique and unlike any place you have stayed in.

The pictures above are by no means an exhaustative list of things to do in Luderitz. If you like exploring hidden gems, and finding out more about the rich history of one of the oldest towns in Namibia, then get yourself down to this small town, and get exploring!

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A view of the old harbour.

Namibia Heritage Week 2013

  
  

Namibia has a varied collection of different cultures that live within its borders, and this is a large part of the reason why Namibia is such an incredibly interesting place to visit. From urban centers to national parks the people of Namibia are as varied as its landscapes.

Herero

Herero Woman

So to celebrate the cultural heritage of all Namibians the National Heritage Council Namibia holds an annual Heritage Week across Namibia to showcase the different cultures that can be found in Namibia. Heritage Week is from the 16th to the 22nd of September 2013 and we're going to explain what that means to you, whether you are a local or just visiting this exciting country.

San Namibia

The San people, one of the oldest communities on earth

The theme for this year’s Heritage Week is ‘Heritage: Namibia’s Knowledge Bank’. The theme is in reference to the continuingly positive influence remembering one’s heritage has on a community or an individual. In Namibia, heritage is how we came to be who we are and is therefore one of the most important things for us to remember.

Himba Namibia 3

Himba woman

In order to share the different strands of culture that make up the tapestry of Namibia, the National Heritage Council of Namibia has set aside next week (16-22 of September) to promote museums, art galleries and heritage institutions across the country.

Owambo village

Owambo village

We have collected all the information you will need to take part in the celebrations happening around the country. So whether you are a local looking to reconnect with your roots, or a visitor looking for a meaningful cultural experience, have a look below and see if you can get yourself to any of the following events.

Heritage Week Program of Events

City of Windhoek
The City of Windhoek will be organizing a `Walk for Culture’ on Saturday, 21 September to mark the start of the /Ae//Gams Festival.  If you would like to take part please gather at 08:30am (the walk will start at 09.00) next to the new City of Windhoek Museum on Robert Mugabe Avenue.  The walkers will visit a number of important heritage sites and encounter cultural performances along the route which will end in Zoo Park.

For more information please contact: Mariah Hamata, Tel: +26461–290-2588, E-mail: mnh@windhoekcc.org.na

Namibia Wildlife Resorts
A range of Namibian Heritage Week specials are on offer across NWR’s camps and lodges.  Bookings must be made in advance and will include free entry to the Park. Take this special opportunity to enjoy Namibia’s outstanding beauty.

For more information contact: the NWR on +26461-285-7200.

Franco-Namibian Centre
At the Franco-Namibian Centre there will be an exhibition titled ‘What We See’. The exhibition will be open to the public throughout the week (09.00 – 18.00).  The exhibition focuses on the racial documentation project that collected the sound recordings and body casts made of people in the 1930s.

For more information contact: Ruth on +26461-387-330.

Gobabeb Desert Research Foundation
The Foundation will be holding a special Open Day will take place on Sunday, 22nd September to celebrate the declaration of the Namib Sand Sea as Namibia’s Second World Heritage Site.  UNESCO recognizes the outstanding importance of this site so come and help us celebrate and appreciate the Namib Sand Sea.
For more information contact: Esther Uushona on +264-694-199.

Grootfontein Museum
Guided Tours and animal quiz for all local grade 7 groups  - by appointment
For more information contact: The Grootfontein Museum  @ Tel +264-67-242-456

Helvi Mpingane Kondombolo Cultural Village and Tsumeb Museum
The Cultural Village will provide free entry to Namibians throughout the week.  Guided tours for school groups will take place on Wednesday and Friday at the Tsumeb Museum.  The main celebration involving performances by cultural groups will take place on Friday, 20th September. On Saturday 21st September there will be a craft market where visitors will be able to purchase unique Namibian crafts and dine on traditional foods.
For more information contact: Lemmy Geingob, at +264-6722-1056 or +264-81-146-0011,

Keetmanshoop Museum
The museum will host a three-day programme of activities with demonstrations of local crafts and cultural performances involving local schools. 
For more information please contact: Ms Valerie Kleintjies on +264-63-221-256.

Munyondo gwaKapande Cultural Village
A programme of activities will be taking place throughout the week at the village. Including a competition for schools on local culture, traditions, and drum-making and playing. 
For more information please contact: Mr. Mukuwe +264-81-218-0213, Mr. Pessa +264-81-248-5508/ +264-81-601-6012

Nakambale Museum
A group of skilled local craft-workers will be based at the museum throughout the week.  Visitors will be able to learn and observe traditional skills such as basket weaving, pottery making and how to make oil from marula fruit. 
For more information please contact: Ms Magdalena Kanaante on +264-65-240-472 or +264-81-249-3108.

National Archives of Namibia and National Library of Namibia
An exhibition that provides archival materials and literature pieces showing the importance of the traditional knowledge of Namibians. 
For more information please contact: Mr Werner Hillebrecht on +264-61-293-5211.

National Art Gallery of Namibia
On Saturday 21 September the Gallery will host a panel discussion about  ‘Namibian Art’ from 11am to 13.30 with light refreshments included.  This is your chance to meet local artists and learn more about the richness and diversity of Namibia artworks. 
For more information please contact: Ms Selma Kaulinge @ +264-61-231-160.

National Earth Science Museum
There will be a varied programme of events at the museum throughout the week including screenings of a film on Copper Smelting by the Kwanyama. There will be daily tours from 10:00 in the morning, with a daily treasure hunt for kids from 09:00 to 09:40.
For more information please contact: Ms Helke Mocke at +264-284-8391 or email hmocke@mme.gov.na

National Heritage Council
Namibians can enjoy free entry to the Council’s major sites, such as Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site, Heroes Acre and Lake Otjikoto
For more information please contact: Ms Beverley van Wyk on +264-61-244-375.

National Museum of Namibia
The specialized curators at the museum will be providing unique `backstage’ tours of their collections and are inviting school groups to participate in these tours throughout the week. 
For more information please contact: Benson on +264-61-276-817

Ombalantu Baobab Tree Heritage Centre
A programme of activities throughout the week at the centre will include performances by local cultural groups and storytellers throughout the week for visiting groups from local schools. 
For more information please contact: Mr Gebhard Shiimbi on +264-81-438-4705

Swakopmund Museum
Guided tours of the museum for local school groups throughout the week.  
For more information contact: Engela at the Museum on +264-64-402-046

Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead, Tsandi
At this homestead, local schools will be participating in a programme of activities and competitions to learn about local culture and heritage. 
For more information please contact: Joel Nekwaya on +264-81-285-3249 or Ms Hilda Lita on +264-65-258-025.

University of Namibia:  History Society
The society will mount an exhibition in the foyer of the library and will have a programme of consciousness-raising events for students at the campus on 18th and 19th September. The society is also going to be holding a `Walk for Culture’.  Activities will include a cultural performance, a  heritage tour, and a quiz on Namibian Heritage for students (with prizes). The event will be held at UNAM Olupale Square on the 18th September 2013 from 10h00 to 14h00.
For more information please contact: Bethel +264-81-871-2057, E-mail sylviaumana@gmail.com.

Walvis Bay Museum
Activities will take place during the week aimed primarily at local schools.  Members of the Topnaar community will be on hand to introduce learners to their cultural traditions. There will also be a demonstration of the ways in which the !Nara melon plays an important role in the communities of this part of Namibia. 
For more information please contact: Ms Antoinette Mostert on +264-64-201-3273 or email the museum on museum@walvisbaycc.org.na

Getting Married in the Middle of Nowhere... Namibia

  
  

Imagine tying the knot in one of the most sparsely populated places in the world. Where you feel like the only people on earth. Where Mother Nature has taken care of the décor. Where dramatic thunderclouds rolling over the grasslands or red sand clashing with blue skies provide the ultimate backdrop. A wedding in Namibia is sure to be not only unusual, but unforgettable.


Top wedding destination ideas in Namibia    

 

#1 The Desert Wedding   

Probably the most iconic of all landscapes in Namibia is the desert. Rolling dunes as far as the eye can see, set against the cloudless sapphire sky – it’s quite something. Set up a marquee in the middle of the dunes for an unforgettable wedding experience. With the entire desert as your playground, you can have as many guests as you like! If you’re looking for more solid ground, ask about the rockier plains of the Moonlandscape. It’s an ancient riverbed in the desert, with beautiful rock formations and endless horizons that will leave your guests speechless.  The desert is accessible from Swakopmund, the popular coastal town of Namibia. This makes the location relatively easy to get to and there are lots of different accommodation options for your guests. Many service providers operate out of Swakopmund, like Desert Catering, and can help to co-ordinate everything you’ll need for the big day.  

Why we like it: How many people do you know get married in the desert?  

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Photos courtesy of Susan Nel Photography 

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Photo courtesy of Chris Johnston Photography

 

#2 The Moonlandscape Wedding  

Not far from Swakopmund and the big dunes that set the stage for the desert wedding, lies more solid ground. An ancient riverbed in the middle of the desert, with beautiful rock formations and endless horizons that will leave your guests speechless. It's called the Moonlandscape, and looks like movie set straight from Mad Max (in fact, one of the sites is actually called Mad Max and the latest Mad Max movie was filmed around this area). As with the desert wedding, the number of guests is all up to you and nature is your playground.

Why we like it: Out of this world 

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Photos courtesy of Susan Nel Photography

 

#3 The Safari Wedding  

Want the Big 5 to be on your guest list?  When it comes to safari venues, Namibia is a world classsafari destination and there are plenty of great choices. Etosha is probably the most iconic wildlife destination in Namibia. A national park the size of New Jersey, and it is famous for its picturesque salt pan and wildlife sightings – Elephants, rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes, honeybadgers, leopards… you name it! EmanyaLittle OngavaOnguma and Mushara are just some of the great wedding locations to choose from. Or if you’re looking for something a little wilder, you and your guests could camp between the wild animals under the southern sky in the Elephant Lodge at Erindi.  

Why we like it: The Big Day deserves The Big 5  

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Photos courtesy of Susan Nel Photography

 

#4 The River Boat Wedding

Contrary to what some may think, Namibia is not just one big desert! The landscapes are as diverse as our people and our wildlife. Further up north, the land is lush, the hippos bark in the night, unusual birds crowd the trees and reeds, and the hut villages that line the rivers and roads give you the feeling of being deep within Africa. Imagine floating down the river in an exclusive houseboat, with just you and 15 of your closest friends and family. Or staying in one of the many beautiful stilted lodges, the Okavango river flowing right beneath you. The friendly villagers are sure to get involved in the festivities and you can expect the village kids on the riverbanks to cheer you on.  

Why we like it: A real taste of Africa  

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Photo source: Afrizim.com

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#5 The Tailor-Made Wedding  

The Namib Rand Nature Reserve is a private nature reserve that boasts some of the world’s most dramatic landscapes and darkest skies. Nestled between red dunes, blue mountains and tufts of grass shimmering in the sunlight, Wolwedans lodge provides a spectacular backdrop for your wedding. As one of the most exclusive lodges in Namibia, you can expect the white glove treatment. Wolwedans can accommodate parties of up to 40. Or if you’re looking for something smaller and more intimate, the Boulders Camp at Wolwedans is perfect for parties of up to eight people. Guests can be booked into the sophisticated Dunes Lodge or the slightly more rustic but equally charming Dune Camp. For the bride and groom, there’s the idyllic and remote Private Camp, set in an enchanting valley and probably one of the most private places you will ever discover.  

Why we like it: Small and effortless 

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Photos courtesy of Susan Nel Photography 


#6 The [Most] Remote Wedding  

Ok, everywhere in Namibia is pretty remote. But undoubtedly among the most remote camps in Southern Africa is Serra Cafema, located in the extreme north-west of Namibia and only accessible by a three hour light aircraft trip from the capital, Windhoek. Once you've landed, the camp is about a 45 minute drive from the airstrip. It will seem like you are headed into oblivion, until finally you reach the peak of the last dune, peer down the slope and there the camp lies, along the lush Kunene river, deep in the Hartmann Valley – a secret paradise. Chat to the lovely lodge owners and they are sure to make the day really special, whether its on the dune or on an island in the river. With only 8 rooms at the camp, you’ll have to choose your guests carefully…

Why we like it: Only the elite few could afford such an extravagance!   

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Photos courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

 

#7 The Savannah Wedding  

There is something magical and just down right earthy about the savannah grasslands. If you get your timing right, you could be honored with a thunderstorm. 'Rain' and 'wedding' are not two words a bride usually wants to hear in the same sentence. But there’s nothing 'usual' about Namibia. If you’ve ever experienced a highveld thunderstorm, you’ll know just how powerful, beautiful and dramatic they are. Within what seems like minutes, perfectly blue skies are taken over by rolling black thunderclouds, that bring echoing grumbles and lightning bolts stretching from one corner of the sky to the other. The heavens open… and then, before you know it, it’s all over. The sun shining and the skies perfectly blue once more. The only sign of rain is the fresh smell in the air and a sense of the bush coming to life again. While its not a typical wedding destination, there are private game lodges and farms in the east of Namibia who would be more than happy to turn their land into a private wedding venue just for you.

Why we like it: Vast and dramatic  

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Photos courtey of Susan Nel Photography

 

#8 The Conservation Wedding  

The N/a'an ku se Wildlife Sanctuary Lodge is situated on a 3,200 hectare reserve near Windhoek. It provides a safe haven for various orphaned and injured African wildlife. The lodge is part of the N/a'an ku se Foundation, that aims to protect and conserve Namibia’s vulnerable wildlife and to improve the lives of the marginalised San Bushman community. So impressive is their work, that it caught they eye of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt who visited the foundation in 2010, and made a donation to N/a'an ku se in their daughter Shiloh's name (who was born in Namibia). Get married at N/a'an ku se and get have the elegant cheetahs make a cameo appearance in your wedding photos. Also ask about the N/a'an ku se gift list – your guests can choose from a variety of wildlife and community donations, instead of buying you another toaster!

Why we like it: A wedding that keeps on giving (back)    

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Photo courtesy of Snowball Studio Photography

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Photos courtey of Susan Nel Photography

 

Tips for planning your wedding in Namibia  

Keep it natural: The most beautiful weddings in Namibia are the ones that work with the natural beauty of the land. Instead of paying for roses to be flown in, think about how you can use the local produce, or if you even need roses on every table! The scenery is so overwhelming, you won’t need much more to impress your guests.  

Take your time: The more remote the destination is, the longer it will take for you and your guests to get there. Just bear it in mind when you’re working out a program for the day. Most international guests who get married in Namibia turn their wedding day into a long weekend or week-long adventure for them and their guests. Not only do they actually get to spend some quality time with their guests, but it’s a great excuse to enjoy the momentous occasion for as long as possible!  

Find a helping hand: Certain things may be difficult to source in Namibia. If you’re a bit of a perfectionist, we suggest organizing your wedding through a luxury lodge. They will be able to tend to every last detail (like non-indigenous flowers, guest transport, make-up, hair, etc.) and will plan your day down to a T.  

Stay cool: If you get married in the summer months, be sure to arrange some cool shade. Sun umbrellas are really handy all year round, and look great in the photos. Also be sure to have plenty of water available for the guests at all times.  

Prioritise: Make sure you book your dream venue and photographer well in advance to get the best. Once you’ve got the perfect location, and you know someone will be able to capture the memories of your day, everything else will fall into place…

  

Finding a Wedding Photographer in Namibia  

Below are links to just some of the local talent in Namibia, ready and waiting to capture your extraordinary Namibian wedding:

 

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Susan Nel Photography   Snowball Studio Photography  Joanne Brand Photography  Chris Johnston Photography

 

 

For more travel ideas and inspiration follow us!

     

 

10 Extreme Ways to Experience Namibia

  
  

This October, the Adventure Travel World Summit is to be held in Namibia, and with good reason: Namibia is one of the world's greatest destinations for extreme adventures.

We've picked just ten Namibian activities for adrenaline junkies, speed freaks and off-road fanatics, as well as ten less extreme alternatives for those who prefer to have a somewhat more relaxing holiday. Which would YOU rather do...?

 

Water namibia

WATER

Kitesurfing

The fresh southwesterly winds that reach Walvis Bay lagoon make this a prime spot for kitesurfing. Similar to traditional surfing but with a kite to pull you along - and lift you out of the water! - this is certainly 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 bay off the little town of Luderitz are also renowned for its ideal conditions - the fastest kitesurfing speed ever recorded was here! Element Riders offers complete courses for all levels.

Chickened out? Enjoy extreme kitesurfing without getting wet! Come and watch the annual Luderitz Speed Challenge for windsurfers and kitesurfers - who can reach speeds of over 90km/h over 500m. National and world records are broken each year. For more info visit www.luderitz-speed.com

Shark angling

Fishing may not sound like a sport to get the adrenaline pumping - but what if you were reeling in a 100kg shark?! 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 sea monsters 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 must be returned to the sea unharmed.

Chickened out? Namibia's freshwater dams offer the perfect conditions for relaxing fishing daytrips, including the hardap, Von Bach, Friednau and Naute Dams. Catfish, carp, tilapia, barbel and bass are some of the species to look out for here. Contact the Namibia Federation for Freshwater Anglers to obtain fishing permits and get a copy of the regulations. 

Rafting on Kunene

Not only are the rapids of the Kunene River a challenge, simply getting here is a real expedition! Felix Unite's extreme rafting experience takes place just once or twice a year and is a ten-day 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. Don't think about taking a dip - there are crocodiles in the water!

Chickened out? Go canoeing along the Orange River instead, as it winds through the beautiful landscape along the South African border. Not only are there no rapids to negotiate, there is also no nasty wildlife lurking beneath the surface, so you splash around to cool off as often as you like.

 

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AIR

Skydiving

Surely on every true adventurer's bucket list, Skydiving is available for experienced and first-time jumpers just outside of Swakopmund, Namibia's adventure capital. 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.

Chickened out? Try a more relaxing hot air balloon flight instead, and float over the dunes of Sossusvlei at dawn with a champagne breakfast. That's more like it!

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 from October to March, and is regulated by local flying schools to avoid overcrowding. Depending on your experience, choose from a half day introductory course, a full day flight, a pilot's licence course or a tandem flight.

Chickened out? Does the thought of dangling under a parachute make you feel a bit queasy? Try a flying safari instead in a light aircraft - enjoy the views along the skeleton coast, the harbours and the Namib desert, without having to learn how to fly first!

 

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LAND

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 in tough! Bring your own bike or hire one of Madnam's BMWs for the ultimate off-roading adventure.

Chickened out? If you don't have motorbike experience and a week on a bike seems a little too extreme, try an afternoon eco quad-biking. Accompanied by experienced guides who will instruct you how to drive your vehicle, your tour begins gently on a flat trail through the Namib, before heading up into the dunes to take advantage of your 4x4. Pause for pictures and to admire the view!

Rock climbing

Namibia's two main climbing sites are the jagged, 1,728m bulk of Greater Spitzkoppe, and the Brandberg Massif, which at 2,573m is Namibia's higest 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 which keeps away all but the most intrepid. 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 or email: nacobta@iafrica.com.na

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 lowes and the rains have produced enough water for the river to flow - as this is the only source of water for hikers. Book your tour well in advance with Namibia Wildlife Resorts.

Chickened out? The hot springs at /Ai-/Ais mark the end of the punishing Fisk River Canyon hike - but you don't have to trek the canyon to be able to enjoy them! The /Ai-/Ais Hot Springs Spa has indoor and outdoor thermal pools and chalets looking over the canyon - you don't have to spend five days hiking to enjoy a foot massage here!

 

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SAND

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!

Chickened out? If you don't fancy the steep slopes and high speeds, you can still enjoy an introductory sandboarding session on the dunes. Equipment - including a helmet - is provided, and even the tiniest participants can join in - riding down the dunes on the instructor's back!

 

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UNDERGROUND

Cave diving

With an extreme combination of altitude, deepwater diving, abseiling, rock climbing and pitch darkness, we vote 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! 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.

Chickened out? For those without the qualifications, experience or courage to try cave diving, you can still spend time underwater without the need for oxygen masks or wetsuits - in Swakopmund's National Marine Aquarium. The newly refurbished site has a walk-through tunnel which brings you up close to marine life including sharks and rays, a much safer underwater adventure that the whole family can take part in!

 

Information about these activities was taken from Namibia Holiday & Travel - the official Namibian tourism directory. Photo credits: Travel News Namibia

 

 

For more inspiration download your copy of the Namibia Adventure Planning Guide

 

 

 

 

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