2014 Travel Photographer of the Year, Gary Arndt has visited all seven continents and over 140 countries and territories around the world. He recently spent some time in Namibia and we managed to get him to sit still long enough to give us his top tips for capturing Namibia on film.
Tell us about your most unforgettable moment while shooting in Namibia.
I wasn't actually shooting at the time, but it was when we drove down the Long Wall. 100m straight down a giant dune with the ocean at the bottom! I had my hands firmly on the dashboard holding on for dear life. As I later learned, no matter how large the dune, they have pretty much the same degree of steepness. Driving down a large dune isn't that much different than driving down a smaller one.
Every destination has its challenges and rewards; how does Namibia compare to other places you’ve photographed?
I have always found deserts to be fascinating places and some of my favorite to photograph. The incredible dunes in the Namib are unlike anything I've seen anywhere else in the world. They are big and dramatic regardless if you view them from the ground or in the air. The challenge of shooting in the desert is the sand. It gets everywhere and it can cause problems with electronics, especially with sensors in digital cameras.
Which 3 photos shot in Namibia are you most proud of and why?
It is very hard to pick just 3. But I'll go with the following:
1) A solitary tree at sunset.
During our first night camping along the Kuiseb River, our campground was marked by the only tree we saw above the river bottom during our entire trip. I managed to get this shot of the tree just minutes before sunset.
2) Damara boy smiling.
For our two days of adventure, I joined the trip going to Twyfelfontein in Damaraland. During one of our stops we visited a Damara village and I took this photo of a young man who was in a very good mood.
3) Aerial view of sand dunes.
During the conference I took a short break to fly over the dunes on a two hour flight from Swakopmund. It was an incredible experience and something I recommend that everyone do if you can.
When going on a Namibian photographic expedition, what is your equipment of choice? And what do you never leave home without?
Unlike most photographers, I don't have a home. I am traveling continuously and I have to carry my gear with me wherever I go. For that reason, I have to pack extremely light.
My primary camera body is a Nikon D300s. I carry 3 lenses with me: an 18-20mm VR, a 12-24mm wide angle and a 50mm f/1.4. I usually will use the 18-200 as it is very versatile and will cover a wide range of shooting circumstances.
A photographer friend is desperate to capture the best of Namibia. What top 3 tips would you give them?
1) Be aware of the sand. Try to avoid swapping lenses while you are in the desert if you can. This is one region where you are better off bringing a separate body so you don't have switch lenses.
2) Seek out the people. I found Namibia to be a much more diverse place than I expected. I had the pleasure of meeting some people in Damaraland and some people in the German speaking community. I would love to return and meet some of the Himba people as well people from the other tribal groups in the country.
3) It is big country. I really only scratched the surface of Namibia. I was there for a conference, so I didn't get to explore as much of the country as I would have liked. Be prepared to drive long distances. If possible, take a flight over the dunes as it gives you very different perspective of the landscape.
More Photographer Tips
This part of a series of blog post interviews with professional photographers on how to Capture Namibia. Every week we'll be posting tips, tricks and amazing photographs from these impressive photographers.
Follow us to get the latest in the Capture Namibia series:
Hiking in the Fish River Canyon
Words and pictures by Roderick MacLeod
I woke up after spending a night in the Fish River Lodge knowing that my day would be a busy one. I had signed up for a full day hike into the second largest canyon in the world: the Fish River canyon. The hike would be a ten-hour affair; five hours into the canyon and five hours to get out of the canyon before dark settled on the land.
As you can expect the day started early. Breakfast was served at 5:30am and despite the hour everyone was in high spirits.
Dube, one of the guides at the lodge.
The night before the hike I had had a chance to chat to some of the Fish River Lodge’s staff about the hike and what I should expect. The response was always along the same lines: It is a tough hike and should not be attempted by the frail or lazy. A good pair of shoes is an absolute must and a healthy pair of lungs will, of course, help. The Fish River Lodge, as part of the full-day hike package you can purchase, provided me with water and food for the duration of the hike.
Into the Canyon
Once our guides for the day (Ben and Desmond) had introduced themselves to us we set out for the point at which we would begin our descent down into the canyon.
Our vehicle was left perched on the canyon's rim.
We would see it as a dot, many hours later, looking up from the canyon floor.
An hour after beginning our descent I noticed how spectacular the formations in this canyon are. The dried up river beds, the gullies, the outcrops of strangely sculpted cliffs are all a treat for anyone with an interest in natural beauty. It is incredibly interesting to witness the changes to your surroundings as you descend into the canyon for the first time.
Rain-sculpted and sand-blasted, a face emerges from the cliff...
A long dried-up river bed
A gully in the morning sun.
On account of the many different landscapes in and around the Fish River canyon there is a varied collection of wildlife. The chances of sighting a few of these creatures increases when you are on foot. The park is home to many mountain zebra, various antelope, eagles and even a few rhino. Unfortunately I did not see any of the rhinos. I did however find traces of their activities on the path we were using.
Rhino dung on the hiking trail.
Naturally created hiking trails
Many visitors at the lodge spoke of their encounters with the mountain zebras of the region. The reason why people have encountered so many of these animals is because the trails that I and everyone else hikes on are in fact the selfsame paths created and used by the animals. There is a distinct effort on the part of the park officials and lodge owners to keep the hike as natural as possible.
When hiking the Fish River Canyon you will literally walk on the paths the local animals use...
There has been no clearing of boulders or cutting of trails. This means that when scaling up or down the mountain you have to figure what the best route will be. Since the rocks in the canyon are frequently breaking off the cliff faces and rolling down the slopes no two hikes into the canyon are identical.
The Half-day hike viewpoint
After three or so hours of hiking we came to a type of plateau which was about half the way down into the canyon.
We had reached the halfway point of the half-day hike, which meant we were one quarter through the full-day hike. We could see the river and the canyon floor below us. We were then told by Ben (our guide) that we would be heading further down the canyon and further along the river toward our destination: A natural rock pool in which we could have a refreshing dip before turning around and heading back out of the canyon.
View from the half-day hike turnaround point.
Below to the left is the Fish River.
Between the half-day hike turnaround point and the rock pool was the part of the hike I found to be the most treacherous. The landscape suddenly flattened out and i found myself walking on cracked rock and around small thorny shrubs. Constant attention was needed to avoid spraining an ankle or twisting a knee.
Ben surveys the harsh beauty of the canyon surrounds.
Your prize for making it through these trials is an hour of relaxation at the rock pool. After 4-5 hours of non-stop hiking this rock pool becomes more than just a pool, it becomes an oasis. Water cooled rocks and shade from the surrounding cliffs will give you all the comfort you need after having spent hours in the arid heat.
The seemingly bottomless rock pool at the floor of the canyon.
Onward and Upward
After we had relaxed sufficiently at the rock pool we picked up our bags once more and headed back along the path we came down on.
My hiking companion preparing to leave the rock pool behind.
The hike was nothing short of glorious. I was constantly struck by the massive beauty of the canyon. From the moment I stood atop the canyon to when I was seated on its floor, to when I once again stood atop its cliffs I was filled with a sense of wanderlust and excitement. The hikes and hiking options offered by the Fish River Lodge make it easy to say this is the perfect spot for just about anyone who wants to go hiking in the Fish River canyon.
Even our guide, Ben, had to take a few breathers on the way up.
How to get there - Where to stay
The Fish River canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world and it can be found in Namibia’s Southern Karas region near the South African/Namibia border.
As with most places in the South of Namibia the best way to get there is via the small town of Luderitz. The drive from Luderitz to Fish River canyon is a lengthy, but relatively straight-forward drive. A car capable of dealing with rocky dirt roads is strongly advised.
Almost the entirety of the canyon is now a protected nature reserve and there are several lodges one can stay at around the canyon. It should be mentioned that the Fish River Lodge is the only lodge that is perched directly on the rim of the canyon, the other lodges are a little bit removed from the canyon.
If you wish to hike in the canyon you will need a guide as private hikes are no longer allowed since numerous tragedies have befallen ill-prepared private non-sanctioned groups of hikers.
Most of the lodges offer guests a variety of activities to choose from. So if there are people unwilling or unable to hike, do not fear. Activities in the Fish River canyon range from scenic drives to horse back safaris so check each lodge out and decide what is best for you and your traveling companions.
Here is a list of some of the places you can stay at near the Fish River Canyon:
Damaraland demands a certain level of respect. Beautiful, but arid and unforgiving, attractions near this area have names like Burnt Mountain, the Petrified Forest, the Skeleton Coast – all aptly named and an indication of the drama found here.
||Occupying a huge, harsh stretch of landscape to the northwest of the country, even the people and wildlife have adapted accordingly.
Desert adapted elephants have special behavioral characteristics, large annual and seasonal ranges and a social structure and daily activities to cope with the environment. If you’re lucky, you could even find the elusive and magnificent desert adapted rhino and desert lions can also be found in the area.
But it is the contrast to the rest of Namibia that makes this landscape so magical; a real treat for the avid photographer, the wildlife lover and the traveller in search of some peace and quiet.
Perhaps the best description of Damaraland can be quoted from Dominique le Roux on TravelNewsNamibia.com:
“It was the nakedness, really, that surprised me: the sheer, decadent, unrestrained sensuousness. Why had nobody told me how beautiful this land was? Or had I really been so deaf to their description? The beauty lay all around us; the black rock basalts of 132 million years ago, the tantalising active sand dunes, the knowledge of petrified dunes beneath them, the thought of 55 million years of drought ... Other places are good for soul-searching, but Damaraland is a place for soul-finding”
The view from Grootberg Lodge
The drive to the Himba village
An aerial view of Damaraland on a flying safari
Giraffes pause for a photo opp in the afternoon sun
Springbok scattered across the rugged terrain
The majestic kudu
What to do in & around Damaraland
Take in the breathtaking views and endless landscapes (download our photography travel guide and look at our Capture Namibia blog series for tips on getting the best of Namibia)
Catch a glimpse of desert adapted elephant
Go tracking desert adapted rhino with Save the Rhino Trust
Visit Twyfelfontein, home to the world’s largest concentration of rock art
Climb the highest point in Namibia at 2,573 meters, The Brandberg (burnt mountain) also famous for The White Lady rock painting
Stop over at the artist’s town of Omaruru
Go in search of the Himba for an enlightening cultural experience
Ask your lodge about excursions to find the desert-adapted Elephants that roam Damaraland
Tracking the desert-adapted rhino is an unforgettable experience
Where to stay
Thankfully for visitors, there are many great desert accommodation options, which means you don't have to rough it in Damaraland in the slightest:
Damaraland Camp (recently voted one of the best ecolodges by National Geographic)
Doro Nawas Camp
Desert Rhino Camp
Mowani Mountain Camp
Etendeka Mountain Camp
Khorixas Rest Camp
Damara Mopane Lodge
Imagine floating around in this pool, Grootberg Lodge
Breakfast doesn't get better than this, Damaraland Camp
ATTA President in Damaraland
Read more about the Adventure Travel World Summit in Namibia October 2013
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?
Photos courtesy of Susan Nel Photography
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
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! Emanya, Little Ongava, Onguma 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
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
Photo source: Afrizim.com
#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
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!
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
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)
Photo courtesy of Snowball Studio Photography
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:
For more travel ideas and inspiration follow us!
The Skeleton Coast, or "The Land God Made in Anger" as the Bushmen called it, remains one of the world’s last great wildernesses: harsh, still not completely explored, definitely untamed and extraordinarily beautiful.
The sky casts a ghostly shadow over the land, creating the illusion of a sunken desert, photo by Paul van Schalkwyk
There is no denying the Skeleton Coast is an unforgiving and eerie landscape. The cold Beguela current produces a thick, heavy fog that clouds the coast for most of the year. The icy surf of the Atlantic Ocean pummels the shore. The desert winds from the east bring less than 10 millimeters of annual rainfall.
The Skeleton Coast got its name from the bones that once littered the shore, remnants of the whaling industry. Today, the skeletons that remain are those of the ships that fell victim to the hidden rocky outcrops and blinding fog. You can still see these strewn vessels along the coast - the Eduard Bohlen, the Otavi, the Dunedin Star and Tong Taw to name a few. Not surprising then, that the Portuguese sailors once referred to the coast as "The Gates of Hell".
The skeletons of old shipwrecks that line the Namibian coast, Photo by Vicki Brown
Whale bones that wash up onto the shore, Photo by Tala Images
The Skeleton Coast Park
The national park, which protects about one third of Namibia’s coastline, boasts dramatic landscapes of wind swept dunes, rugged canyons of richly colored volcanic rock and vast mountain ranges. See roaring and fossilised dunes, ancient lava flows, the Hoarusib castles of clay and the saltpans near the Agate Mountain.
Proclaimed in its present form in 1971, the park extends from the Ugab River in the south for 500 km (311 miles) to the Kunene River in the north, covering an area of 16,390 km2 (6,328 square miles).
There are plans to extend the park to include the entire Namibian coastline, which will make Namibia the only continental country in the world that has its entire coastline protected as a national park. The new park, provisionally called Namib-Skeleton Coast National Park (NSCNP), will be the eighth-largest protected area in the world, the sixth-largest terrestrial protected area globally and the largest park in Africa, covering an area of 107,540 km2 (roughly 41,521 square miles).
The wandering dunes that are shifted along the landscape by the winds, Photo by Paul van Schalkwyk
Signs of life
Despite being inhospitable, the Skeleton Coast is home to many animals. Gemsbok (oryx), springbok, jackal, ostrich and brown hyena roam the park while desert-adapted elephant and even black rhino, lion and giraffe travel up and down the dry river courses.
The Skeleton Coast Park is important for ancient wildlife migration routes east to the Etosha National Park. Many wildlife species rely upon the numerous west flowing rivers (known as ‘linear oases’) that thread through the park for survival. While rivers rarely flow, underground water and springs in the river beds nourish vegetation, riparian forest, and provide water, food, breeding grounds and shelter.
An Ostrich egg lies abandoned by its mother in the sand, Photo by Tala Images
Lonely jackal scours the coast, Photo by Paul van Schalkwyk
People also once lived in this harsh land. Remnants of the “Strandlopers” (beach walkers) can be found by the collection of old white mussels shells found along parts of the coast.
There are over 100 lichen species with more still to be discovered and their role is essential to the park ecology. The lichen grows on the plains and west-facing mountain slopes, changing color and becoming soft and leathery to the touch when the coastal fog pushes inland.
Above: Lichen colours the land; Below: just some of the hundreds of different types of lichen seen along the Skeleton Coast, Photos by Tala Images
Visiting the Skeleton Coast
The Skeleton Coast is a heavily protected conservation area. Certain areas (north of Mowe Bay) are off limits to any visitors, while the southern parts, entrances between the Ugab and Hoanib rivers, require permits.
Accommodation in the park is provided in a rest camp at Terrace Bay, previously a diamond-mining settlement, and at the Torra Bay camping site, open only from 1 December to 31 January. Overnight visitors must be in possession of a valid reservation for Terrace Bay or Torra Bay and arrive at the checkpoints at the Ugab Mouth and Springbokwasser gates not later than 15h00 and leave from these points not later than 17h00.
A day permit to drive directly through the southern region of the park is obtainable from the Ministry of Environment & Tourism Office in Swakopmund, as well as at the Ugab and Springbokwasser gates. Day visitors need to enter before 15h00 and leave by 17h00 and may not visit Terrace Bay or Torra Bay.
Entrance to the Skeleton Coast National Park, photo by Mikael Castro
Something for the explorer
Because of the highly sensitive environment and serious conservation efforts, not all of the Skeleton Coast is accessible to people. Take a flying safari over the national park to witness the vast display of shipwrecks and untouched landscapes from the sky!
Soar above the wild coastline of Namibia to get the best views, Photo by Vicki Brown
Something for the brave
Take on the pounding surf off the Skeleton Coast to experience some of the longest tube rides the planet has to offer.
Brazilian-born surfer Kiron Jabour takes on the Skeleton Coast - a Surfing video by surfeurope
This month, our theme is Landscapes - but we're well aware that there's more than one way to view Namibia's "endless horizons". There are some sights you need to get that little bit closer to - and others that can only truly be appreciated from the air.
Here's a roundup of different ways you can get around Namibia - for those who are fit and fearless, and those who seek calm and comfort.
Namibia's harsh terrain means that to really immerse yourself in the landscapes, there is often no option but to go on foot. Whether summiting the dunes at Sossusvlei, scaling the cliffs of Spitzkoppe and Waterberg, or following the course of the Fish River through the world's second largest canyon, a good pair of hiking boots will get you closer to the flora, fauna and geology of this diverse country.
Quad biking in the NamibRand Nature Reserve. Photo: Zachary-Cy Vanasse, TravelHOT News
The soft sands of the desert are a dangerous obstacle for even the most experienced 4x4 drivers. In contrast, they are simply a playground for anyone on a quad bike! First-time bikers can get to grips with their vehicle on the flat sand before ascending into the dunes around Swakopmund or the Namib Desert, and get a kick out of cruising past oryx, fairy circles and even the ocean. Namibia promotes eco-quad biking with set routes through the dunes, to minimise the damage on the surrounding environment and avoid disturbing wildlife.
Self-drive through the dunes
While much of Africa is only open to tour groups, Namibia welcomes private vehicles. Its excellent road network and numerous car hire options mean that a self-drive holiday is a fun, simple way to soak up Namibia's varies landscapes at your own pace. Stop when you like for a picnic or photo shoot, and even camp under the stars to have the scenery all to yourself as far as the eye can see.
Horseback riding takes place across Namibia - taking in landscapes such as the Orange River and Fish River Canyon in the south, the Atlantic Ocean and seasonal Swakop River, the wilds of Damaralans, and the dunes of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, among others. Some tours are thrilling safaris - taking riders past elephants, giraffes, rhinos and even wild horses. Tours can be epic, multi-day adventures, or relaxed half-day treks, depending on your preference and experience. Whatever you choose, it's sure to be memorable!
Boarding a light aircraft. Photo: Zachary-Cy Vanasse, TravelHOT News
Travelling by light aircraft is not just an efficient way to get from A to B in such a vast land, it's also an enjoyable activity in its own right. A flying safari is the only way to really comprehend the endlessness of the Namib Desert, and to dicover the wrecks and abandoned mines along the Skeleton Coast. Gliding as low as 130 metres above Namibia's coastline, passengers can see flocks of flamingoes, giant colonies of Cape fur seals and watch the waves crash right into the dunes.
Cycling through the Namib, Photo: Namibia Individual Travel
The cycle bug has bitten in Namibia - locals love going on long rides into the wilderness, and cyclists from around the world make their way to the Namib for the gruelling and ever-growing Desert Dash competition. You can battle out the harsh terrain and punishing climate on a mountain biking tour of the land. Or take a two-wheel stroll through the lively streets of Katutura. Most cyclists prefer to bring their own equipment (it's pretty easy to arrange this with your airline) but you can rent a bike if you prefer.
Check out CycleTech in Windhoek for cycling supplies and news
Mountain Bike Namibia offers cycling safaris around Namibia
Katatura tours offers guided cycle tours through the culturally and historically rich township just outside Windhoek
Canoe and Kayak
Sea kayaking is possible in the lagoons around Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, allowing you to paddle away from the coast and take in the landscape at your own pace. Alternatively, canoe down the Orange River between Namibia and South Africa, or the Kunene River between Namibia and Angola. The exceptionally brave can raft here, near the gorgeous panorama of Epupa Falls.
Dolphins off the coast of Namibia, Photo: Pack Safaris
If trekking, kayaking and driving seem too much like hard work on your holiday, kick back on a boat tour and see the landscape change as you sip a glass of sparkling wine and enjoy a plate of oysters. Tours take place near Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Luderitz, allowing you to take in the marine landscape complete with dolphins and pelicans, as well as viewing the dunes, sand spits and lighthouses from a new perspective.
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!
Namibia has some truly magnificent landscapes. In fact, it’s hard to take a bad photo in this place! But some people manage to capture something truly special when documenting the natural beauty of Namibia. We’ve been rummaging through all the great videos posted on Vimeo over the years to bring you five of the best from all corners of our land. Sit back and enjoy.
A hauntingly good video through the barren winter landscapes of Namibia. The dry months accentuate the desperation and desolation of the land. Catch a glimpse of the animals searching out what little food and water they can, trying to make it through to spring.
More about the Deadvlei and winter in Namibia:
Deadvlei is littered with the skeletons of 900 year old camelthorn trees that were left to the mercy of the sun after the Tsauchab river flood waters retreated. Find out more about “Why the Deadvlei is Dead”
Deadvlei is a photographers paradise – just a quick browse of Deadvlei photos on Flickr is enough to get those lenses excited...
Winter is our dry season, and in Namibia it coincides with summer in the northern hemisphere. So, when is a good time to visit? Every local will give you a different answer. Truth is, Namibia is a treat any time of year. Read here to find out more about weather in Namibia.
Rain isn’t usually what you wish for on a holiday. But our rain is very different! Find out why Namibians love the rainy season.
Think about Namibia and the desert almost immediately comes to mind. But there is a part of Namibia that is home to a wet wonderland where scores of wildlife meet around the mighty rivers. This video flies you in a microlight over the vast open plains of the Etosha pan, up to the Caprivi strip to finally dangle precariously over the raging Victoria Falls... Adventure at its finest.
More about flying through Namibia:
Hungry for more great aerial shots of Namibia? Watch these crazy paragliders from dizzying heights over the Spitzkoppe, Sandwich Harbour and Sossusvlei. Take a look at this video shot from a hot air balloon as it sails across the vast land. Or a look at a work of art from this flying safari photo series.
Why not try the skies for yourself with a fly-in safari, a helicopter safari, or a scenic flight tour. Here are some operators roaming the Namibia skies Bataleur Aviation, African Bush Bird Tours, Scenic Air, Pleasure Flights Safaris
Namibia is a country geared towards aviation. Not only does it have top-class flight schools and aviation engineers, almost every guest farm and lodge in the country has its own landing strip. There are more than 300 known airfields in Namibia. Read more about flying and gliding in Namibia here
Formed over 500 million years ago, The Fish River Canyon is the second largest natural gorge in the world, and the largest in Africa. Set in a harsh, stony plain dotted with drought resistant succulents, such as the distinctive quiver tree or kokerboom, the canyon is a spectacular natural phenomenon. Watch as Ultra-Runner Ryan Sandes returns to the Fish River Canyon to run the 5 day, 84km, Fish River Canyon Hiking Trail in the fastest time possible. Be moved by both the scenery and the story.
More about the Fish River Canyon and extreme sports in Namibia:
You may have seen this before, but it is one of our all time favourites, so we had to post it! It is a timelapse video of “the fairytale-like quivertrees and the eery, dead camelthorn trees” of the Deadvlei. Each second contains 30 photographs from a total of 16,000 images shot by Marsel van Oosten over a two year period – and it was worth it! The video won First Prize in the 2012 Travel Photographer Of The Year Awards, top Vimeo staff pick, and a special place in our hearts.
More about how to experience Namibian nights for yourself:
Hit play and be transported through the deserts, grasslands and skies of Namibia. Watch as the sun dances across the land and turns the clouds into a technicolour spectacular...
More about the deserts and landscapes of Namibia:
Do these videos get you itching to book your next trip to Namibia? Take a browse through our website for more info or download one of our handy Travel Guides.