Winter in Namibia is a great time of year to explore our vast and diverse country. The weather is more moderate than in other months of the year and our country is a great option if you want to avoid the huge crowds of the northern hemisphere's summer months. Read on for a few more reasons why we think you should visit Namibia in the winter months.
Winter is a great time to explore Namibia- find out why below.
The Manageable Weather
As you probably know already, Namibia is a place associated with hot, dry and sunny weather. The cloudless skies and blazing sun can, at times, become overwhelming in the warmer months (particularly over December, January and February). Winter is a slightly different story in the Land of the Brave. Daytime temperatures for the season stay manageable and rarely climb above the 25 degrees Celsius.
Another cloudless and temperate winter's day in Namibia.
(Image via Deal's Holidays)
Namibia gets its rain in the summer months so the winter daytime skies are also incredibly clear and cloudless. It is not uncommon to go for days without seeing a cloud in the perfect blue sky and this allows photographers ample opportunity to take some incredible high contrast pictures against a deep blue background.
The blue of the sky contrasts excellently with the whites and browns of Namibia's landscapes.
And while we are talking about awesome photo opportunities, you should know that toward the end of winter you will be treated to some incredible sunsets. Toward the end of winter the winter months the desert winds begin to start blowing. These winds pick up dust into the air, which then spectacularly refracts the light of the setting sun.
A giraffe at sunset in Etosha National Park.
At night the temperatures can get quite nippy, but it never gets quite as cold as the frigid winters of northern Europe or northern America. The temperatures in Namibia are cool enough to justify lighting a warming fire and nothing makes winter more enjoyable than sitting around a roaring fire and sharing some stories with your friends and family.
A large camp fire keeps the night, and the cold, at bay.
(Image via Wofford)
Note: In the southern and central regions of Namibia it can occasionally get to freezing. These temperatures are exceptional though and you can expect it to not get much colder than 5 degrees Celsius.
Winter is the perfect time to be physically active in Namibia. The lack of humidity and the relatively moderate daytime temperatures make doing physical activity far easier in the winter than in the summer months. Rock climbing, cycling, trail running and several other adventure sports are all best done in the winter. The sun is at a less steep angle and the cooling winter breeze make any physical exercise much easier to deal with.
Winter walking in the dunes near Swakopmund.
Hiking is another great activity to take part in when visiting Namibia in the winter. Some hikes, like the Fish River Canyon Hike are not offered to guests in the summer months as the temperatures are too high and the heat makes the hike too strenuous. Check out our blog on this particular hike here.
Getting ready to set out from the floor of the Fish River Canyon.
While not exactly physically demanding, going on safari is also very worthwhile during winter. The animals become easier to spot because the vegetation dries out in the rainless months giving the wildlife less cover. This is coupled with the fact that the animals are drawn out to the remaining waterholes in search of water and means that your chances of catching a glimpse of some of Namibia’s awesome wildlife are greatly increased during winter.
The wildlife, no matter how big or small, is easier to spot in winter.
Note: Even though the sun is less harsh in the winter in Namibia you still need to make sure you are protected from it. Always use sunscreen and wear a hat and sunglasses.
Hit the beach
The Namibian coast is spectacular during winter.
The winter months are arguably the best time of the year to head to the beach in Namibia. All along the famously rugged coastline temperatures remain warm and the fog stays away. These favourable weather conditions are as a result of the foehn winds (berg winds) that travel down the great escarpment and into the ocean.
Swakopmund is Namibia's most popular seaside town.
(Image via FotoD)
The warm winds ensure that the coast stays dry and the frequent evening fog that descends over towns like Swakopmund, Luderitz, Walvis Bay and Henties Bay is kept at bay by the dry warm winds. The fine weather, coupled with the winds, make this time of year ideal for anyone who wants to take part in water sports like kiteboarding, windsurfing, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and body boarding.
Get your heart racing on the Atlantic Ocean!
(Image courtesy of Geesche Neuberg)
It should be clear now that the winds are a key feature of this season on the coast and at times they can get quite strong. When they pick up enough, usually as the sun is setting, sand from the Namib Desert can become suspended in the air in a dramatic fashion. With the right amount of skill, timing, and photographer’s luck you can capture these surreal moments and leave the coast with some unforgettable photographs.
The winds sweeping over Dune 45 near Sossusvlei.
(Image by Adomas Svirskas via Photography Blogger)
A sandstorm blows across a national road.
(Image by Asco via Photography Blogger)
Note: A great place for water sports like those mentioned above is Luderitz and within the small town there are a few operators who can take you out on to the ocean. Find out more by reading about the town here.
There is loads to do in Namibia throughout all of its seasons, but if you are looking for moderate temperatures and adventure filled activities then winter could be the ideal time for you to visit the Land of the Brave. Also, during the Namibian winter the northern hemissphere's tourist hotspots are traditionally over-crowded with holiday makers soaking up the sunshine. So why not give the summer crowds a skip and come and spend some time around a warm fire in Namibia?
Here are two more of our blogs to help you plan your trip to Namibia:
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Want to know more about National Parks in Namibia?
Check our our posts on Etosha and the Waterberg below.
It’s that time of year in the Southern Hemisphere where summer begins to leave and winter starts knocking at the door. In Namibia, autumn (or fall) is a particularly beautiful time of year. The weather is mild and there a whole host of activities and events for you to keep you entertained.
Sossusvlei in autumn.
Autumn in Namibia
In autumn the colours of Namibia come out in full force. Puffy white clouds, crystal clear skies and the deep red of the desert sands combine spectacularly to provide any photographer with enough backdrops to fill a thousand photo albums.
The land meets the sky in spectacular fashion during this season.
(Image via Tok Tokkie Trails)
Late rains sweep through the usually arid countryside and provide photographers with a unique chance to get shots of the Land of the brave as these powerful, but brief, storms sweep through it.
Lightning at night near Gobabis.
The temperatures during these months are mild with daytime temperatures rarely exceeding 30 degrees Celsius and nighttime temperatures seldom dropping so low as to cause discomfort. The wind dies down on the coast, while the southern regions cool off, and in the central parts of the country seasonal rains often refresh the landscape that has been baking in the summer heat. Autumn then is truly a ‘goldilocks’ season in Namibia.
Not too hot, not too cold… Everything is just right in Namibia during autumn!
With all these factors in mind, let’s take a look at some activities that we recommend you try do while visiting Namibia in autumn.
Walking in the desert
Deserts are, as you all know, very hot during the day and extremely cold at night, but the mild autumn temperatures mean that explorers have the perfect opportunity to go out into Namibia’s deserts without having to deal with blisteringly hot days and freezing cold nights. Below are a few operators that offer some of the best guided desert walks in Namibia.
Explore the desert by foot.
(Image via Tok Tokkie Trails)
Tommy has been running tours of the Namib just outside Swakopmund since the 90’s. On Tommy’s Living Desert Tour he takes guests on a journey through the seemingly empty dunes near the bustling coastal town. Focussing on the smallest creatures this tour will highlight the amazing variety of desert-adapted animals that call the Namib home.
Tommy with one of the little critters that live in the harsh desert.
(Image by Wendy Kaveney)
Tommy not only focuses on the animals that live in the red sands of the dunes but also on the plant life and the landscape itself. His Welwitchia/Moon Land Scape Tour is definitely worth checking out if you have the time to spend the full day trekking around the dunes.
Based in Swakopmund Chris Nel’s Living Desert Adventures also takes guests on a tour of the dune belt near Swakopmund. Chris’ focus is on the so-called “Little Five” which includes the Palmato Gecko, the Cartwheeling Spider, and the Shovel-Snouted Lizard, the Sidewinder Snake and the Namaqua Chameleon. If you’re lucky then you may catch a glimpse of all five!
The Palmato Gecko, probably the cutest of the Little Five.
(Image via Living Desert Adventures)
This is a locally run company that gives guided tours in and around Sossusvlei and the NamibRand Nature Reserve since 1991. Tok Tokkie specialises in putting visitors in touch with the fragile ecosystems of the Namib Desert at once giving guests the opportunity to take in the beautiful surrounds and learn about the need for conservation in these fragile environments.
Check out their itineraries here for a detailed description of the different tours they offer and you can choose which one best suits you.
Get in touch with the Namib and its contrasting surrounds.
(Image via Tok Tokkie Trails)
The favourable weather conditions in autumn make for excellent angling opportunities on the coast line of the Land of the Brave. Fishing in Namibia is very highly rated and there is an avid community of fishermen within the country.
The Skeleton Coast in particular is one of the most talked about fishing spots in Southern Africa and people come from all over the world to try catch a few of the ocean’s finest there. The 200km stretch of coastline that is Dorob National Park is completely open to anglers, as long as you have a valid fishing permit.
Coastal fishing on the Skeleton Coast.
(Image via Planet Sea Fishing)
Here is a great guide to fishing in Namibia if you are interested in planning a dedicated fishing trip. While here is a list of fishing safaris ranging from day excursions to multiple night adventures that one can embark upon.
Getting on a bicycle and touring around Namibia is a great compromise between driving and walking through the country. You get to cover greater distances than by foot, while still being close to the natural surroundings. There are several companies that run guided cycle tours through out Namibia and cycling pretty much anywhere in Namibia in these mild months is sure to be a worthwhile experience.
||Mountain Bike Namibia
This is a local company that offers shorter six day tours as well as a massive 4-6 week tour that includes the must see locations of Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Damaraland, Kaokoland and the Etosha National Park.
Cycle Namibia specialises in tailor made tours to suit all skill levels and tastes. Have a Look at their website to find out more.
||Bike Tours Direct
This internationally run company offers a 17-day cycling safari that is not to be missed.
You should know by now that the weather is your friend during autumn in Namibia. This means it is an excellent time to strap your backpack on and head up some mountain trails. We have chosen two hikes that would be spectacular to do during this time of the year.
Hikers setting off on an adventure.
Fish River Canyon
In the south of Namibia one can go on the epic Fish River Canyon hike. There are various options ranging from day hikes to a mammoth five-day camping hike. You can read more about these hikes here. Note that you are not allowed to hike into the canyon unaccompanied by an official guide as it has been deemed to risky to explore the canyon without an expert.
If you’re into hiking, don’t miss the opportunity to see this canyon.
The Waterberg in the central northern region provides visitors with somewhat more leisurely hiking options. As opposed to the Fish River Canyon hike explorers can walk around at their own leisure in the Waterberg Plateau Park.
You do not need a guide with you and you can pick up a map of the various trails at the NWR reception at the entrance to the park. Read more about the walking/hiking trails you can explore in the park here.
The trails are clearly marked and easy to follow.
Be advised though, it is never, ever, a good idea to go hiking on your own and you should always take someone with you no matter how simple a trail seems or how well you know the route.
There it is! Several reasons why you should spend some time in Namibia during autumn. If you don't have plans to come to Namibia already, but want to, then know that if you plan your adventure for this time of year you are sure to have an amazing time.
The autumn sun setting behind a lone windmill.
Choosing where to stay for a few nights can be a daunting task for any traveller. So we have decided to do the hard work for you. We had a look at some of the most highly rated places to stay in Swakopmund and collected them all into one article.
The iconic Swakopmund jetty.
We have separated them according to four different kinds of accommodation: Self-catering, Bed & Breakfasts, Backpackers and Hotels… So take a look at what we have collected and decide what kind of a place you wwould want to stay at while exploring the famous seaside town and its surrounds.
Self-catering Accommodation in Swakopmund
Image via The Beach Lodge
The Beach Lodge is unique in Swakopmund in that it is the only pension that is located directly on the seafront. As a result of its location guests at the Beach Lodge are treated to spectacular views of the setting sun over the Atlantic. Each unit in the complex has a massive window so that you can better enjoy the setting sun from the comfort of your unit.
There are four twin rooms and six family rooms with self-catering facilities. There is also a “Luxury Family Room” which offers guests sweeping ocean views from every room in the unit. Making this particular unit ideal for a romantic getaway.
To book, click here.
Image via Cornerstone Guesthouse
This apartment is the ideal choice for people travelling in a group of six or less. This single, large apartment is less than 50 metres from the coast and commands impressive views of the Atlantic Ocean.
All three rooms of the apartment are luxuriously appointed and guests will have access to WiFi, a range of satellite television channels and their own private balcony. The main room in the apartment has an en-suite bathroom.
There is also has a tumbledryer, fully equipped kitchen, and a double garage making it the ideal place for you and the family, or a group of friends, to stay for an extended period of time.
To book, click here.
Image via Hotels.com
A short walk away from the beach the Sea Horse Guesthouse is located in an upmarket neighbourhood of Swakopmund. Its eight units are all self-catering but breakfast can be arranged if you contact the reception the day before you wish to have breakfast prepared for you.
There is only one family unit at the guesthouse so be sure to phone ahead if your party is larger than three. Each unit in the guesthouse has its own unique drawcard, some have sea views, others have balconies while the ground floor units have patios.
So call ahead, find out what is available and decide which unit best suits your tastes and needs.
To book, click here.
Bed and Breakfasts in Swakopmund
Image via Brigadoon.
This charming little B&B offers guests the opportunity to relax in style on the edge of Namibia’s most vibrant town. They offer a selection of double rooms all with private bathrooms and kitchen facilities. There is also a family room for those travellers who are journeying across Namibia in a large group.
Each room has a patio that overlooks the private garden, and it is on this patio that your custom made breakfast will be served to you every morning.
The Brigadoon B&B was awarded a certificate of excellence by Trip Advisor in 2013 so you can trust that your stay here will be enjoyable.
To book, click here.
Image via Desert Villa Guesthouse
The Desert Villa is a unique guesthouse in that it has eight different rooms all decorated in different ways. Each room’s décor is inspired by some of the most famous deserts in the world, an homage to the Namib Desert, which surrounds Swakopmund.
This guesthouse is also unique in that it encourages guests to go out and explore the parts of the town that are not on the seafront. The guesthouse is very close to the Swakop river as well as the dunes just outside the town. So if you are not excited by a beach bound stay in Swakopmund this could be the perfect place for you. Having said that, the guesthouse is still within walking distance of the beach.
Breakfasts are served to all guests every morning, and dinners are available on request.
To book, click here.
Image via Namib Guesthouse
The Namib is a high-end establishment that offers guests the chance to unwind from a busy day’s activities in their serene surroundings. There are single suites, double suites and a two bedroom family suite on offer. There are also luxury suites with a opulent bathtubs and large showers for those guests who desire a little more pampering.
Each room has free and speedy WiFi, as well as a safe to deposit your precious laptop into, so if you need to do a bit of work on the go then you won’t be inconvenienced. Breakfast is included every morning for all guests.
To book, click here.
Backpackers in Swakopmund
Image via Booking.com.
Occupying a building that is over 100 years old, this lodge is within walking distance of several restaurants and the beach and is a great place for any backpacker who is looking for accomodation that has a touch of old world history.
Villa Wiese does offer breakfasts on request and the friendly owners will be more than willing to point you in the right direction for finding some local grub in the town for lunch and dinner.
While this backpackers does mainly cater for people looking for single bed dorms, it does also have a few single, double and triple rooms. They also have a sister establishment, the Dunedin Star that specialises in low cost family accommodation.
To book, click here.
Image via Tourist Link
This backpackers is a highly rated establishment largely thanks to the friendliness and helpfulness of its staff, in particular its owner Lena. It also helps that it is centrally located in the town and is a short walk from the beach.
There are single bed dorms one can stay in, as well as double rooms. The double rooms include breakfast, but travellers staying in the dorms are welcome to order breakfast as well.
There are also barbecue facilities if you wish to have a cook out under the stars as well as a garden in which guests can relax. There is a communal kitchen, so if you want to self-cater then you can make use of the facilities in the hostel.
***NOTE: You will have to pay for your rooms in cash as the Skeleton Beach backpackers do not have card facilities.***
To book, click here.
Image via Desert Sky Backpackers
Just 200 metres from the centre of town this backpackers is ideal for travellers looking to stay close to the hustle and bustle of Namibia’s adventure capital. The focus at the Desert Sky Backpackers is on doing your own thing. It is fully self-catering and there is a large communal garden and two communal kitchens fully equipped with everything you need to cook up a storm.
There are single bed dorms on offer, with eight beds in each room. But where this backpackers distinguishes itself from others is that it also offer a wide range of family-sized and smaller private rooms. Check out their various options here.
To book, click here.
Hotels in Swakopmund
Image via Seaside Hotel and Spa.
This hotel is literally on the beachfront and it offers guests a chance to relax in the lap of luxury. Not only are the rooms excellently appointed, but guests can also book into the hotel’s famous spa for some added R&R.
There are over 30 sea-facing rooms but these will be snapped up quickly, particularly over the busy period, so be sure to book well in advance if you want to ensure you get an ocean view. There are also six luxury suites available for those of you looking to really treat themselves.
All guests at the hotel have access to the spa’s steam room, Jacuzzi and sauna… All the more reason to extend your stay in Swakopmund!
To book, click here.
Image via Hansa Hotel.
Placed right in the middle of town, and just three blocks from the beach the Hansa Hotel is the second accommodation option in this article that has loads of old world charm. The hotel has been in operation since 1905 and as such the entire establishment seems to be full of stories.
The façade of the building, and the décor within, are absolutely colonial and stepping into the Hansa Hotel is almost like stepping back in time. But the quality of the service, and the kitchen in particular, are very up to the highest modern standards.
The hotel has five family units, 49 double bed rooms and four suites. The suites are the jewels in the crown of the establishment and offer guests who stay in them an array of additional luxuries.
To book, click here.
Image via Deutches Haus Hotel.
This is a good honest hotel that is consistently praised for its friendly service and good value. It also has a lively bar and a good restaurant that helps lend a jovial and congenial atmosphere to the establishment.
The Deutches Haus Hotel offers guests all the usual amenities that one would expect from a hotel. There are single rooms, double rooms, family rooms as well as luxury single and luxury double rooms.
The hotel also works closely with two tour operators: Desert Explorers and Ocean Adventures. This gives the guests of the hotel an easy to fit a little bit more Swakopmund adventure into their itineraries. Click here for more info.
To book, click here.
Swakopmund has long been known as an adventure holiday hotspot around the world. There is a range of activities that thrill seekers can indulge themselves in and today we will be focussing on three activities that put you high in the sky over the historic coastal town.
There’s a lot of adventure in the skies above Swakopmund.
(Image via Swakopmund Diving Club)
Hot Air Ballooning
We start with the most sedate option for would-be sky explorers: The hot air balloon. Hot air balloons have traditionally been one of the best and most relaxing ways to take in a country’s beauty and there are few better ways to appreciate the vast beauty of Swakopmund and its surrounds than from the basket of one of these balloons.
Don’t forget to pack your camera… There will be photo opportunities galore!
(Image via Wanderlustress)
African Adventure Balloons have been operating balloon rides in Swakopmund for many years now. Your flight will begin early in the morning behind the dunes, and as the sun comes up and touches the vast landscape the uniqueness of the Spitzkoppe Mountains, the mystery of the famous Moon Landscape and the beauty of the Naukluft Range will be revealed.
A balloon being prepped for flight.
(Image via Cardboard Box)
There are three different kinds of balloons that are used and all flights have an experienced and knowledgeable staff member that will train and guide all guests on what to expect during their flight over the coastline.
After your flight is complete your pilot will take you for a champagne breakfast where you can relax and let all the sights and sounds of your recent adventure sink in.
Floating above the dunesyou can get a new perspective on the oldest desert in the world.
(Image via Cardboard Box)
If you want to book a flight with African Adventure Balloons, or if you want to know anything more about their operation, then simply click here for their booking form and contact details.
If you want to get your heart pumping a little faster on your airborne adventure over Swakopmund then maybe you should consider trying your hand at paragliding. Currently there are two companies that are running paragliding operations in Swakopmund and they are Element Riders, and Namib Gliding.
Element Riders currently offer a basic introductory course and training flights to guests. The company is in the process of registering with the civil aviation authority and until this process is complete they cannot offer a full paragliding course to visitors looking to become fully accredited pilots.
Paragliding is both serene and exhilarating.
(Picture courtesy of Element Riders)
For those adventurers who want to learn how to paraglide Element Riders is a good choice. Their course on offer will teach you about the equipment you will use, the weather and terrain of the region and basic safety procedures. The course also includes initial introductory flights on the dunes where you can put into practice all that you have learned.
A video showcasing the Element Riders team in action.
(Video via Element Riders)
If you need more information on their paragliding courses, click here for their contact details.
Namib Gliding is the most established gliding company in Swakopmund and their chief instructor, Mario Oprandi has over 18 years paragliding experience. They offer half and full day flights around Swakopmund and also provide training courses; no previous experience in paragliding is required and all are welcome to sign up for a course.
A paraglider coming in hot over the dunes.
(Image via Namib Gliders)
One of the great things about this company is that they offer gliders the opportunity to go on paragliding safaris to destinations such as Sandwich Harbour, Sossusvlei, Dune 7, Henties Bay and Damaraland.
Paragliding may be the best way to get you where no cars go.
(Image via Namib Gliders)
So if you want to have a scenic flight over Swakopmund, or some of the other amazing parts of Namibia, be sure to contact Namib Gliders here.
A paraglider circles above Swakopmund.
(Image via Namib Gliders)
Few activities can match the adrenaline filled rush that skydiving brings, and the skydiving near Swakopmund is no exception. The area is considered by some to be one of the best ‘drop zones’ in the world and thousands of seasoned and beginner divers flock to the small town every year to get the chance to free fall toward the ancient Namib desert.
There really is no rush quite like skydiving.
(Image via Namibia Tour Guide)
One of the most popular companies taking people up into the skies over Swakopmund is Ground Rush Adventures. It is an extremely well run and professional skydiving organisation with an experienced team of master divers. No chances are taken with your safety and their safety record in there nearly 20 years of existence is impeccable.
Trusting your partner is important when jumping out of a plane.
(Image via Cardboard Box)
Ground Rush Adventures offer tandem dives, accelerated free-falls and static line jumps. Check out this link for a full description of the various options they offer. The company operates every single day of the year and will be happy to take you up as long as the weather permits. There are also several courses, and these are perfect for the novice or beginner skydiver.
If you have any other questions or queries about skydiving in Swakopmund then feel free to contact the team here.
Take the plunge over the dunes of the Namib!
(Image via Swakopmund Diving Club)
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...?
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
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.
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!
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!
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!
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: email@example.com
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!
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!
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
Swakopmund is known as Namibia's adventure tourism capital - but in between surfing down sand dunes, kayaking with seals and quad biking across the coastal desert, it's worth taking a day to explore some of the town's more urban pleasures. Here's five of our favourite:
1. National Marine Aquarium of Namibia
Main tank at the aquarium, where sharks swim above your head
The newly-renovated attraction showcases the marine species that thrive in the South Atlantic's chilly Benguela Current. The centrepiece is a large aquarium filled with fish and sharks, and the walk-through tunnel that allows visitors to get scarily close to these fearsome creatures.
Colourful panels give information about Namibia's fishing industry and local species such as Cape fur seals. There is a tank containing rays, and at 3pm each day the fish are fed. Try and visit on a Tuesday, Saturday or Sunday - and you'll see divers in the large aquarium feeding the sharks by hand!
Open: Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 4pm
Closed: Mondays, Christmas day and New Year's day
Feeding: Daily at 3pm
Feeding by divers: Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays
2. Living Desert Snake Park
Though feared by many, snakes are actually surprisingly hard to spot in Namibia. So it'll be a relief for serpent fans to know that many of Namibia's native species can be seen - and photographed - in Swakopmund, at the Living Desert Snake Park. This compact reptile house has aquariums containing numerous venomous and non-venomous snakes, as well as geckos, scorpions, and even a couple of huge monitor lizards. Stuart Hebbard, who founded the Snake Park almost two decades ago, is happy to chat about the various species he cares for, and visitors can see the snakes being fed each Saturday.
Hebbard hopes to move the Snake Park to a new, larger location this year, including a walk-in cage allowing guests to get up close to the safer species! Watch this space for more information.
Western diamond-backed rattlesnake at Swakopmund's Living Desert Snake Park
3. Swakopmund Museum
This museum, founded in 1951, has some of the most in-depth exhibits about Namibia's flora, fauna, geology, archaeology culture and modern history - all under one roof. The wildlife room exhibits stuffed specied which are almost impossible to see on safari - such as the aardvark and golden mole. Fossils and meteorites are on show in the geology department,and Namibia's many diverse ecosystems are explained in the botanical department.
Ancient culture is explored in the archaeology room, with well-preserved pots and centuries-old jewellery. Contrast this with the exhibits exploring Namibia's contemporary culture - with body decorations, weaving and clothing from the Himba, San and other communities.
Himba cosmetic boxes on display at Swakopmund Museum
Open: Daily from 10am-5pm
Entry: Adults: N$ 25, Students N$20, Children (aged 6-15) N$10
4. Karakulia Weavers
Take a trip to this workshop on the outskirts of town to see the wool of the karakul sheep being spun, dyed and woven into intricately patterned wall hangings and rugs. The talent of the weavers is astounding - as they create patterned abstracts resembling Namibia's dunes, African rock art designs or wildlife scenes on the huge hand-operated looms.
The workshop was founded in 1979, and it has now developed an international reputation. The craftspeople can make custom designs to order, and if you don't have space in your suitcase for a full-sezed rug, they will reliably ship your purchase safely to your home.
Karakulia's staff benefit from training, employment and adult education sessions.
A skilled weaver works on a rug design at Karakulia
5. Kristall Galerie
A unique way to spend your time in Namibia - at a crystal gallery. With exhibits to please the young and not-so young, Kristall Galerie houses the world's largest crystal cluster, estimated to be 520 million years old! Standing 3 metres tall, it took five years to excavate from the Namibian earth. The gallery also has a scratch pit - where you can sift for semi precious stones - and a replica of a mine.
Those looking for souvenirs will love the Gem Shop - selling rough gemstones as well as unique jewellery and carved artworks. Visit the Craft Area to see these pieces being created.
The replica cave. Image from Kristall Galerie's Flickr page.
Find the perfect place to stay in Swakopmund with our accommodations guide.
Get some ideas about more adventurous exploits in the region - download our Adventure Travel Planning Guide.
Discover other cities and towns in Namibia.
Life on safari can be chaotic - the 5am wake-up calls; being held up by an elephant plodding in front of your vehicle; travelling to the rhythm of wildlife and weather, rather than the hands of your watch. But there is one thing that remains constant: the welcome, refreshing cocktail every day at dusk. Have a drink as the sun goes down and celebrate all that you have achieved during your day in paradise.
The sundowner can take many forms: a poolside glass of Champagne, gin from a makeshift folding table bar in the middle of the desert, a cold Windhoek Lager popped from an ice chest on the dunes. All are memorable and magical. Here we share some of our favourite sundowner experiences across the country - six places we'd love to be at 6pm each day!
Feel like a Flintstone! Sit atop a huge rock and gaze across a boulder-strewn valley as the sun stains the stones a vivid red. Mowani Lodge, located conveniently close to the rock art of Twyfelfontein, offers one of Namibia's most dramatic spots for a sundowner. Lounge on the logs and floor cushions facing the valley, while staff from the boulder-top bar serve you your tipple of choice, and gaze out across the scarlet scenery as the sun sinks behind the distant mountains.
Etosha National Park
Wildlife congregates around Etosha's many waterholes as the sun dips and the temperature follows. As the animals quench their thirst after a hot day by the Etosha pan - so can you, from the comfort of your own private deck or lodge bar. Accommodations within the park overlook the waterholes for a truly immersive Africa experience - abundant in elephant, giraffe and various antelope species - but also rhino, lion and jackal. Sit back and watch the wildlife documentary play out in front of you in 3D!
Swakopmund sunset. Photo by coda
The sound of the sea is always soothing - and never more so than after a day spent in some of the world's driest dunes! Fortunately, Swakopmund offers various sea-view locations for your sundowner. Oyster fans will love the Jetty 1905 Restaurant at the end of the pier, or have a sunset dinner at 22 Degrees South, at the foot of the lighthouse. Tiger Reef Bar is right on the beach, and will appeal to party animals. Alternatively, just buy a couple of cold beers and sit yourself down on the sand. Blanket recommended!
Watching the Namib Desert at dusk is like stepping into the sunset itself. The sand glows red, the sun-singed grass a luminous blue, the sky is washed with pink and the fairy circles are golden as they catch the dying rays. Mountains loom purple as the moon rises. Sip Namibian wine or South African Amarula and soak up the silence of the rainbow-coloured desert. Once the sun has vanished, don't rush back to your cabin - as that the Namib is one of the best places in the world for stargazing!
Damaraland is one of Namibia's bleakest and most haunting regions. Trek out with your guide into the barren, rock-strewn desert, learning about the fauna and flora that miraculously survives in this vast wilderness. As the sun begins to sink, forms appear on the horizon - lodge staff, with chilled drinks and biltong to revive the happy hikers before the trek back to the lodge for dinner. This is one of Namibia's most isolated sundowner spots.
Hilton Skybar, Windhoek
Windhoek at sunset
All this talk of desert, rocks and emptiness may not appeal to everyone - so when in Windhoek, be sure to stop by its tallest building for a drink on the rooftop bar. The Windhoek Hilton is located downtown and served cocktails every day at dusk - surrounded by a lively crowd, swimming pool and views across Namibia's capital city.
More great sunset photos from our friends
Sunrise over the Zambezi, Katima Mulilo from Robert @Rob_JB
Sundowner view, Avis Dam, Windhoek from Swa Safaris
Chobe River sunset from Matt @Landlopers
Etosha skies from Vicki @LaNomadita
Have you got a great sunset photo? Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and share your best Namibian sunset!
Most visitors come to Namibia for its wide open spaces, its magnificent landscapes and its abundant wildlife. But on your way across this vast country, it's always worth spending a morning taking a tour of quite a different kind - in a township.
1. See the Real Namibia
Soweto Market, Katutura
Namibia's emptiness is breathtaking - but of course, the majority of Namibians are not found in the vast desert expanses. If you really want to discover what daily life is like, you need to spend some time in town. In both Windhoek and Swakopmund, more people inhabit the townships than the cities themselves, and they are growing much more rapidly. Though their dark past goes back to the apartheid era, the townships are now thriving communities with their own market places, nightlife, restaurants - and even malls - and a township tour is a safe and educational way to discover the culture here.
2. Sample Traditional Food
Xwama Cultural Village Restaurant, Katutura
Braais, biltong and game steaks are delicious, and you are sure to have your fill in Namibia's restaurants and lodges. But for a more traditional taste of Namibia, you need to step outside the tourist hotspots. Township tours often include a some taster dishes - including mahangu (millet) porride, bean soup, and ekaka - a delicious wild spinach. The brave can try the Smiley Head (a whole goat head!) or the infamous mopane worms - spicy, fried and surprisingly tasty. Don't miss out on a glass of homebrew omalovu beer!
3. Find out What is Inside a Herero Lady's Hat!
Tour of Mondesa, near Swakopmund
A visit to a Herero home is an opportunity for a fascinating cultural exchange. The Herero follow two religions - Christianity and they traditional "Holy Fire", and they are also polygamous, although the first wife is allowed to choose subsequent wives so they are all friends (or even sisters!). During your chat, be sure to inquire about the Herero's unusual clothes - military uniform for men, and striking, colorful Victorian-style dresses for women. More importantly, be sure to ask what the strange, horned hats represent - and what is inside them!
4. Get a Crash Course in Clicks
Language lesson in a Nama household, Mondesa
The Damara and Nama people speak using clicks, and before entering their homes you will be taught how to greet them in the local language, so get ready to click away! As if remembering a new word wasn't difficult enough, there are four types of click, and using the wrong one can change the meaning of the word entirely!
5. Give Something Back
Community project in the Democratic Resettlement Community (DRC), Swakopmund
Tour companies operating in the townships support the people who live there, and part of each tour fee is invested in community projects such as kindergartens; paying the local families involved in the tour; and supporting local initiatives, such as handcraft workshops with womens groups.
On the edge of the townships there are "informal settlements" originally intended as temporary shelters for those arriving from rural areas, but many have become more permanent settlers in these areas which lack basic facilities such as electricity, and are dependent on shared water sources. These areas in particular are supported by the tour operators, who may be funding community centres, education and health initiatives for Namibia's poorest residents. Your guide will be able to tell you more about how your chosen tour company is involved.
The two tour operators below are highly recommended:
Katu Tours - Bike tours of Katutura township, outside Windhoek
Tours departs at 8:30am Tuesday to Sunday (3-12 people), clients must arrive 30 minutes earlier.
Starting/ending point: Penduka Project at Goreangab Dam, Katutura (See Map below)
- The tour takes 3.5 hours and covers a total distance of around 7km at a relaxed pace.
Hata Angu Cultural Tours - tours of Mondesa township, outside Swakopmund
The tour incorporates visits to the houses of Nama, Damara and Herero people, a shebeen and a restaurant serving Owamb food, for a complete cultural experience.
Daytime and evening tours are available.
You will be collected from your accommodation in Swakopmund and driven to Mondesa.
For anyone with hard-to-please relatives, in search of last-minute stocking fillers, or simply trying to shop in a more ethical way this Chrismas, a little shop in Swakopmund may just have the answer.
Kubatsirana Arts and Crafts shop sells a range of unique products, including natural creams and salt scrubs made from locally-sourced !nara seeds (used by indigenous people to soothe thhe skin for generations); !nara seed cooking oil; hand-stitched dolls; unusual Chrismas decorations; cushions; silkscreened t-shirts; jewellery; and beautiful lino prints.
But as well as being able to pick up something truly original for friends and family, shoppers at Kubatsirana are also supporting a variety of social projects based near Windhoek and Swakopmund. Kubatsirana means "helping each other", and every dollar spent here contributes to inproving the lives of the craftspeople who made these gorgeous items. Here are some of the projects supported by Kubatsirana:
- Over 4000 people live in the Democratic Resettlement Community (DRC) outside Swakopmund. This residents of this informal settlement have few work opportunities, but women from DRC are taught to make crafts from recycled materials such as newspaper and bottle tops. These are then sold to provide a small income. A soup kitchen now also feeds 120 children nutritious meals twice a week.
- Oasa Taradi means "busy women", and this group of needlework experts provide beautiful, hand-stiched and embroidered items to Kubatsira. Many are single mothers or the main income providers for their family.
- Katutura is the large township in Windhoek. Kubatsira supports various community projects here, including the Opongande Centre for disabled children; Dolam Children's Home for kids with AIDS and tuberculosis; and 40 creches which care for over 2000 children.
- Address: Libertina Amathila St and Brucken St, Swakopmund
- Telephone: +264 64 404806
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Monday-Friday: 9am-1pm, and 3pm-6pm
- Saturday: 9am-1pm
- Sunday: 4pm-6pm