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The [un]Real Landscapes of Namibia

  
  

At first, it’s hard to know what you’re looking at. Is it a painting? Elaborate graphics? Your imagination? No. It is 100% genuine Namibian landscape. Captured through the lens of Paul van Schalkwyk – the first Namibian to be nominated as a finalist for the prestigious 2014 Hasselblad Masters Awards. 

Paul has been photographing Namibia from the land and the skies for over 40 years, showcasing the magnificence of our land. It is his ability to capture the unusual, the unseen, the [un]real, that has earned Paul a place as one of only 120 international photographers to be nominated as a Hasselblad Masters finalist in 2014.

Six of Pauls’ photographs of the spectacular Etosha National Park have been nominated: three in the Landscapes Category and three in the Fine Arts Category.

"Etosha", which means "place of dry water", is known for its 114 mammal species and its vast stretches of salt and clay desert that span some 5,000-square-km. The Etosha Pan is a 120km-long dry lake bed, the only geological feature on earths surface visible from space.

Take a look at the mind-bending photographs below, vote for your favourites (as many as you like) and let’s get Namibia into the Hasselblad Master books!

 

NAMIBIA IN THE HASSELBLAD LANDSCAPE CATEGORY     

Photos Namibia, Africa photography, Namibia photograph, Hassleblad masters, Hassleblad awards, Namibia photography, Namibia photographers

Vote for this image on 2014 Hasselblad Masters  

 

Photos Namibia, Africa photography, Namibia photograph, Hassleblad masters, Hassleblad awards, Namibia photography, Namibia photographers

Vote for this image on 2014 Hasselblad Masters    

 

Photos Namibia, Africa photography, Namibia photograph, Hassleblad masters, Hassleblad awards, Namibia photography, Namibia photographers

Vote for this image on 2014 Hasselblad Masters

 

NAMIBIA IN THE HASSELBLAD FINE ART CATEGORY    

Photos Namibia, Africa photography, Namibia photograph, Hassleblad masters, Hassleblad awards, Namibia photography, Namibia photographers

Vote for this image on 2014 Hasselblad Masters

 

Photos Namibia, Africa photography, Namibia photograph, Hassleblad masters, Hassleblad awards, Namibia photography, Namibia photographers

Vote for this image on 2014 Hasselblad Masters    

 

Photos Namibia, Africa photography, Namibia photograph, Hassleblad masters, Hassleblad awards, Namibia photography, Namibia photographers

Vote for this image in 2014 Hasselblad Masters    

 

 

About The Hasselblad Masters Award

The Hasselblad Masters Award is one of the most prestigious awards in the industry, each year celebrating the best in both established and rising photographic talent. Masters Awards are given in recognition of a photographer's contribution to the art of photography and are judged on overall photographic ability, encompassing creativity, composition, conceptual strength, and technical skill. Past Masters include both renowned artists of international standing as well as promising newcomers in a wide range of fields and disciplines.

http://www.hasselblad.com/masters

 

About Paul van Schalkwyk

Paul is a photographic artist from Namibia who has won more than 50 awards, both locally and internationally, for his work as photographer, cinematographer, director and writer.

"Timing is key. Miles above the earth, travelling at 120 miles per hour, art can only be produced on intuition, an intuition that is formed and fine-tuned only through years of experience. Years spent filming a pride of lions in Namibia’s Etosha National Game Reserve. Years spent documenting the political transformation that preceded Namibian independence. Years of breathing, seeing, living though the lens…"

http://paulvans.com/

Fast Facts: Namibia Conservation

  
  

On 21 March 1990, Namibia gained Independence from South Africa. Since then, visionary conservationists have enacted policy changes that have put Namibia on the forefront of conservation management and led to a number of remarkable wildlife success stories. This turnaround has led some to call Namibia’s conservation efforts “The greatest African wildlife recovery story over told”... 

TOP CONSERVATION FACTS

  • Namibia is the first African country to enshrine the protection of the environment into her constitution

  • Over 42% of Namibia’s surface area is under some form of conservation management - more than any other country in the world. 

  • Namibia has the world’s largest populations of cheetah and of black rhinos living outside of protected areas

     

  • Namibia won the coveted Markhor award in 2012, for outstanding conservation performance recognized by the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation

 

   

CONSERVATION OF WILDLIFE

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  • Namibia has the largest free-roaming cheetah population in  the world – there are an estimated 2,500-3,000 cheetahs in Namibia.

  • Namibia’s elephant population more than doubled between 1995 and 2008 from 7,500 to over 16,000 individuals. The population of desert-adapted elephant in the Kunene region has grown from around 150 to about 750 between 1982 and 2012.

  • Namibia is the only country with an expanding population of free-roaming lions - the number of free-roaming desert lions has increased five-fold in less than two decades.

  • Namibia has the world's largest population of black rhino that has survived on communal land - without conservation status - and therefore without fences.

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The black rhino is one of the world's most endangered species. Between 1960 and 1995, numbers dropped by a horrifying 96.7%, mainly as a result of poaching for their horns. There have only been two confirmed rhino poaching incidents in Namibia in the last two years, thanks to the co-operation of the local people and a continued respect for wildlife. Read about how the last poacher turned himself over to authorities in this article by Travel News Namibia.
Photo by Mikael Castro

  • The population of Hartmann's mountain zebra in the north-west has grown from around 1 000 in 1982 to around 27 000 today.

  • In Namibia’s arid north-west springbok numbers have grown from less than 1 000 in 1982, to over 25 000 in 1999.

  • Namibia is the only country in the world where large numbers of rare and endangered wildlife are translocated FROM national parks to open communal land.

  • Namibia boasts one of the largest seal colonies in the worldIn Namibia, the Cape Fur seal population is listed by global authority IUCN as a species of “least concern”. These seals appear on CITES Appendix II because they look similar to a threatened species, not because they are threatened themselves.

     

CONSERVATION OF WILDPLACES 

 

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"The fate of the wilderness of Africa will not be decided by the hands of the clock, heralding in a new century and a new millennium. It is up to mankind to make it a turning point in the natural history of the continent.” 

- Albi Brückner, creator of the Namib-Rand Nature Reserve

Photo by Bill Gozansky
  • The Protected Landscapes Conservation Areas Initiative (NAMPLACE) has already succeeded in bringing in an additional 15,550 ha of land under Protected Area collaborative management arrangements designed to conserve biodiversity. 

  • Private landholders in Namibia have played a significant role in the conservation of wildlife, converting commercial farm land into private nature reserves for us all to admire nature in its original state, as animals and plants are back where they belong.

  • The largest private nature reserve is the NamibRand Nature Reserve, a vast area of over 180 000 ha situated south of Sesriem, made up of 13 former commercial farms.

  • The Khomas Hochland/Gamsberg area west of Windhoek has the third-clearest, least light-polluted sky in the world. Read more about the world’s darkest skies here

  • There are currently 79 communal conservancies in Namibia, covering almost 19% of the country. 

 
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The Namibian government has reinforced conservation by giving communities the opportunity and right to manage their wildlife through communal conservancies. Namibia’s national Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Programme was initiated at Independence to enhance the quality of life of rural Namibians while improving biodiversity in long-neglected areas. A sense of ownership over wildlife and other resources is encouraging people to use their resources sustainably. Wildlife is now embraced as a complimentary land use method to agriculture and livestock herding. People are living with wildlife, including predators and large mammals, and are managing their natural resources wisely. In 2002 the community of Purros decided not to kill a lioness that had killed livestock, testament to increased tolerance in the communities. 
Photo by Mikael Castro

 

CONSERVATION ECONOMICS

  • Total benefits to communal conservancies between 1998 and 2010 totaled N$179.3 million 

  • In 2009, community-based natural resource management generated over N$ 42 million in income to rural Namibians.

  • The sustainable use of wildlife has produced the majority of cash incomes to conservancies - N$48.9 million.

  • Joint venture agreements with lodges brought in around N$30 million of cash to conservancies.

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Is conservation management a viable solution for Africa? Chris Brown, aka Namibia’s Dr. Green, gives his thoughts on commercial farming vs. wildlife value in Africa. Read it here

 

More information on Conservation in Namibia 
  • Get your copy of Namibia’s latest Conservation Magazine from Travel News Namibia or read the stories here

  • Namibia is becoming a country of environmental stewards and one of the best examples globally of Nature Needs Half - read more here

  • EIS is a free, online information resource for public environmental information in Namibia.

  • Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Programme is a joint initiative of the Namibian Government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations (CBOs) and rural area residents, with technical and financial support from international donors and conservation agencies.

  • Community Conservation Namibia provides more information about the different types of communal conservancies and where to find them

  • The NamibRand Conservation Foundation (NRCF) is an independent non-profit-making organisation, established during 1997 under the patronage of the Namibia Nature Foundation. The aim of the NRCF is the promotion of conservation and facilitation of research projects in the NamibRand Nature Reserve and the south-western Namib region

  • Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) is a non-governmental organisation that strives towards enhancing capacity for sustainable development on all levels of society. 

  • The Namibia Nature Foundation is a non-governmental organisation, not-for-profit and a key player in Namibia's natural-resource management.

  • Protected Landscapes Conservation Areas Initiative (NAMPLACE) is a five year project established by The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) that aims to lift barriers for the establishment of a large scale network of protected landscapes and in so doing address the threats to habitat and species loss on a landscape level approach. 

  • The Republic of Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism addresses specific environmental and wildlife management issues, rural development, tourism development and poverty reduction through policies, legislation, smart partnerships and innovative action.

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Wheels, Wings and Walking Shoes: Getting Around Namibia

  
  

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.

 

On Foot

Trek across the desert. Photo: Venture Publications/NTB

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 Bike

Quad biking in the Namib Desert

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.

 

Private Vehicle

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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.

 

Horse

Horseriding in Namibia

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!

 

Charter Plane

Namibia Flying Safari

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

Mountain Biking in Namibia

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.

  • Click here to view operators who offer kayak, canoeing and rafting tours.

 

Boat

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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.

Fast Facts: The Himba of Namibia

  
  

Tall and slender, the proud yet friendly Himba are noted for their unusual sculptural beauty, enhanced by intricate hairstyles and decorations. Their skins rubbed with red ochre, they seem to be forgotten by the rest of the world, but this is only as a result of their extreme isolation and conservative way of life. Find out more about this ancient tribe.

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Photo by Mikael Castro

Fast facts

  • The Himba (singular: Omuhimba, plura: Ovahimba) are an ancient tribe in Namibia, closely related to the Herero (read more about the Herero here)

  • Language: Otjihimba, a dialect of the Herero language

  • Population: about 20,000 to 50,000 people

  • They are a semi-nomadic, pastoral people who breed cattle and goats.

  • Women tend to perform more labor-intensive work than men do, such as carrying water to the village, building homes and milking cows. Men handle the political tasks and legal trials.

  • Their homes are simple, cone-shaped structures of saplings, bound together with palm leaves, mud and dung

  • In the Himba culture a sign of wealth is not the beauty or quality of a tombstone, but rather the cattle you had owned during your lifetime, represented by the horns on your grave.

  • The Himba have been plagued by severe droughts, guerrilla warfare (during Namibian independence and the Angolan civil war) and the German forces that decimated other groups in Namibia. Despite Himba life nearly coming to a close in the 1980s, they have persevered and their people, culture and tradition remain

  • The women are famous for rubbing their bodies with otjize, a mixture of butter fat and ochre, believed to protect their skins against the harsh climate. The red mixture is said to symbolize earth's rich red color and the blood that symbolizes life.

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Photo by Mikael Castro

Religion and beliefs

  • The Himba worship their ancestors and the god Mukuru. Often, because Mukuru is busy in a distant realm, the ancestors act as Mukuru's representatives.

  • Their homes surround an okuruwo (ancestral fire) and their livestock, both closely tied to their belief in ancestor worship. The fire represents ancestral protection and the livestock allows for proper relations between human and ancestor.

  • Each family has its own ancestral fire, which is kept by the fire-keeper, who attends to the ancestral fire every seven to eight days in order to communicate with Mukuru and the ancestors on behalf of the family.

Hairstyles of the Himba

  • Hairstyles indicate age and social status.

  • A young girl typically has two plaits (ozondato) of braided hair, the form being determined by the oruzo membership (patrilineal descent group).

  • Just before puberty, the girls wear long plaitlets worn loose around the head – it can take on various forms and sometimes wigs are worn over it.

  • When the girls have completed their puberty ceremony, the so-called ekori festival takes place and she receives the ekori headdress made from tanned sheep’s or goatskin with three leaf-shaped points, often decorated with iron beads.

  • Girls belonging to some groups have their hair shaved off except for a small bush on top of the head. The shaved-off hair is then used to make plaits, which are woven into the remaining hair and hang down over the face.

  • When she has been married for about a year or has had a child, the ekori head-dress is replaced by the erembe headdress made from the skin of a goat’s head and fastened under the hair at the back of the head by two thongs. From then on the ekori is worn only during ceremonial occasions.

  • Himba males also wear different hairstyles, such as the single plait, the ondato, worn by young boys down the back of the head, two plaits, ozondato, worn by Himba men of marriageable age and the ombwiya headdress, a scarf made from fabric covering the hair and decorated with an ornamental band.

     

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Photo by Mikael Castro

Traditional Jewelry

  • The Himba still adorn themselves with traditional jewelry according to ancient customs.

  • Both men and women wear large numbers of necklaces, arm bracelets, sometimes almost like sleeves, made from ostrich eggshell beads, grass, cloth and copper and weighing as much as 40 kg, as well as bracelets around the legs. Iron oxide powder with its shiny effect is worn as a cosmetic like western glitter.

  • Adult women wear beaded anklets, aparently to protect their legs from venomous animal bites

  • The large white shell worn on the breast by Himba (as well as Owambo and Herero women) is called the ohumba.

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Photo by Mikael Castro

 

Some other useful links and information  

  • Read about the tradition and development of a Himba funeral here on Travel News Namibia

  • Tired of being filmed by the cameras of the world, and often being misrepresented, twenty OvaHimba people of Namibia decided to step behind and in front of the camera to make a film about themselves: The Himbas are Shooting!  Read more about it here. Watch the trailor on Facebook here.

  • If you want to visit the Himba find out where they are and how to organise a visit here

 

Text has been sourced from Namibia TourismWikipedia and Travel News Namibia  

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In search of the Himba in Namibia

  
  

The Himba are an ancient tribe, living in the north-west region of Namibia. The north-west is a remote corner of the country that few tourists visit, leaving it relatively unexplored and perfect for the adventurous traveller. However, this remoteness and the large distances involved make it quite tricky to get to. We've put together some information and some operators to can help you organise the ultimate cultural encounter with the Himba people...

Sussan Mourad from World Nomads had the privilege of meeting the Himba - watch the video for more on her story. Want to see more of Sussan's experience with the Himba tribe in Namibia? Check out her beautiful photo essay on Fotopedia. Note: Being invited into a Himba village and being dressed like a Himba woman is not a common occurance in Namibia and certainly is not a tourist attraction.

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Where to find the Himba  

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The Himba inhabit the Kunene Region (also known as Kaokoland) in the north-west of Namibia - a region that has a population density of only one person to every two square kilometers!

Namibia’s northwestern region extends from the Kunene River on the Angola border down to the Ugab River, the southern border of the Skeleton Coast Park. The park is a massive wilderness reserve known for its untouched and diverse landscape, much of which is inaccessible, saved for fly-in safaris. Damaraland and Kaokoveld demand a certain level of respect. Occupying a huge, harsh stretch of landscape to the northwest of the country, even the people and wildlife have adapted accordingly.  

Other attractions in this region include the desert-adapted elephants of Kaokoland, Epupa Falls, the rock engravings of Twyfelfontein, the Petrified Forest, Brandberg (Burnt Mountain) and much more. 

The entire region is vastly scenic, a huge, untamed, ruggedly beautiful country that offers a more adventurous challenge.

 

How to get there  

Himba, Namibia

The most cost-effective way to visit the Himba is to do a self-drive trip to Kaokoland – you could include the Epupa and Ruacana Falls on the Kunene River, and stay well clear of the main tourist routes. Although, you will need to be prepared to do a lot of driving!  

The other option is to take a chartered flight up north from Swakopmund - a scenic and very beautiful flight. These fly-In safaris are an option for travellers with a flexible budget and limited time in Namibia. Small private charter flights can be arranged to all points within the country, including many of the smaller lodges and guest farms.  

The companies below offer personalised fly-in safaris. Click on the links to visit their website and find out more about their trips to the Himba:

For more information on getting to and around Namibia, read here

 

Himba tours in Namibia  

Visiting the Himba is possible through a number of tours, but this should be undertaken with sensitivity and respect for their traditions and lifestyle. Below are a list of some tour operators and lodges that offer cultural encounters with the Himba.

Community Conservation Sites in Puros  

Namibia was the first country in the world to specifically address habitat conservation and the protection of natural resources in its constitution. This led to the Government of Namibia giving its communities the opportunity and rights to establish communal conservancies, manage their wildlife and other natural resources, and share the related benefits. Namibia’s Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) Programme is a globally recognized model for achieving community benefit at scale while supporting rural development and environmental conservation at the same time.

Some 29 joint-venture lodges and campsites operate in partnership with more than 30 Communal Conservancies. They provide travelers with a range of options—from luxurious eco-lodges to more rustic tent camps. This in turn provides adjacent communities with more than 1000 jobs and a secure source of revenue. Here are some of the Community Conservation initiatives from the Puros region that afford travellers the chance to encounter the Himba community:

  • Kunene CS

  • Okahirongo Elephant Lodge

  • Skeleton Coast Camp

  • Puros Camp

  • Puros Campsite

  • Puros Bush Lodge

  • Puros Traditional Village

Find out more about these sites and their Himba tours here        

Serra Cafema

Serra Cafema is located on the banks of the Kunene River in the Hartmann Valley. Undoubtedly amongst the most remote camps in Southern Africa, Serra Cafema is only reachable by a three hour light aircraft trip from Windhoek. The land on which Serra Cafema is constructed is leased from the 300 000-hectare Marienfluss Conservancy which is comprised primarily of the Himba people. During your stay at this stunning property, you can visit a working Himba village, should the nomadic people be in the area.

MOWPAN  

A specialist in cultural exchanges and immersion into the wild with minimum environmental impact, MOWPAN supports the communal Conservancies system. MOWPAN offer an 11 day itinerary ‘Wildlife in Himba Country’ where you will not only meet local Himba communities, but also track black rhino on foot, visit the Marienfluss valley and Kunene river, safari along the Namib desert of the Skeleton Coast, look for desert elephants and lions along the Huab river and visit thousand year old San rock engravings.

For more information email MOWPAN on this address.

Opuwo Country Lodge  

Opuwo Country Hotel offer a 3 hour guided excursion to traditional Ovahimba villages to experience their culture and traditions. There is also the option of a sefl-drive excursion to Uukwaluudhi Reserve, an Epupa Falls Excursion to Chief Kapika's Village, or a fly-in charter. Their Himba guides escort guests on a tour and translate any comments or questions the Himbas and visitors might have for each other. The Opuwo Country Hotel is situated on a hilltop facing northwest with breath-taking views overlooking a valley with magnificent sunsets and 360° view of the surrounding area.  

Find out more information here

Epupa Camp  

With its waving palms, spectacular sunsets and perennially flowing waters, the Epupa area offers much to see, experience and do. Apart from visiting the Himba, there are several hiking trails that provide wonderful photographic opportunities of the spectacular views from the Epupa Falls and Kunene River. Birdlife in this riverine paradise is rich and varied with some endemic species to the Kunene River environs. Epupa Camp consists of nine luxury safari-style tents, all with en-suite bathrooms. Daily tariffs include accommodation, three excellent meals and a guided visit to a Himba village. Epupa Camp also offers rafting trips on the Kunene River.  

Find out more information here  

Okahirongo River Camp  

Okahirongo River Camp is an eco-friendly lodge built on a sweeping ridge and opening up to breathtaking views of the Kunene River, in the Marienfluss valley.  The central area, constructed above the rapids, comprises two lounges, a library and dining room, decked out in African elegance. The turquoise waters of the swimming pool spell out refreshment from the desert heat and the spacious sundeck invites sunbathing or simply delighting in the exotic grandeur of the natural surroundings. Cleverly built into the rocky terrain, the four luxurious double tents, one twin tent and one family suite are constructed with wood and canvas and each have a magnificent view of their own.   

Find out more information here  

Ondjamba Safaris Namibia

Ondjama offers tailormade safaris to remote parts of Kaokoland & Damaraland. Combine your visit to the Himba with guided self-drives, and search for the Desert Four: Elephant, Lion, Rhino & Giraffe.  

Find out more information here  

Charly's Desert Tours  

Charly’s Desert Tours offers round trips, guided and self drive tours in Namibia and the neighbor countries. Classical tours or tailor made – jut let us know what you prefer. We take our guests to the Himba and Bushmen, to the great Namib Desert with the highest dunes, and the Etosha National Park, to the moon landscape and the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Around Swakopmund and Walvis Bay we organize lots of activities such as kayaking, dolphin cruise, fishing, paragliding, scenic flights, sand boarding and quod biking. Our half and full day tours include living desert and Welwitschia drives as well as mineral excursions, trips to Cape Cross, Spitzkoppe and Brandberg. Traveling with Charly’s Desert Tours means taking unforgettable impressions home.

Find out more information here

Kayaking on the Kunene  

Why not experience the peace of the Himba from the calm of the Kunene river? A10-day Felix Unite Rio Kunene Safari runs just once or twice a year. Experience the water and surrounding environment, combined with the excitement of river rafting.  

Find out more information here.  

Country Walkers  

The Country Walkers itinerary takes you west to the market town of Kamanjab before heading south into the heart of Damaraland. Extraordinary displays of natural color, magnificent tabletop mountains, rock formations and vizarre looking vegetation await. Formed by ages of wind, water and geological forces, the landscape fills the eye with rolling hills, dunes, gravel plains and ancient river terraces. The astounding variety, loneliness and visual splendor convey and authentic wilderness experience. En route to camp, your guide will track ancient pathways to bring you into a local Himba settlement. During your interactive visit, learn about the customs and beliefs that drive their way of life.  

Find more information here

 

Some other useful links and information  

  • Remember to show respect for local people when on a community tour. Request permission before taking photographs, and if photographing the Himba, it is appropriate to pay a small fee in exchange for the photo. Download our Photography Tips Travel Guide for more information.

  • Find out more about Himba culture and beliefs before you travel. Read about the Himba here

  • Still got a question? Ask a travel specialist

Travel with a cause: Volunteer in Namibia

  
  

Ever dream of getting away from it all and truly immersing yourself in another culture, a conservation effort or simply taking the time to give back?

Namibia offers a host of different volunteer programs focused on wildlife conservation, health care, the environment and teaching. Most volunteers commit to a longer time to really get the most out of it. But there are shorter programs available for those of you who are a little hard pressed for time.

Here are just some of the organizations that offer volunteering in Namibia.

 

The Cheetah Conservation Fund

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The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) offers programs to volunteers as working guests, interns and zookeepers. Volunteers cover the costs of training, accommodation and meals. Volunteers and student interns participate in a variety of general tasks and operations of the program, in addition to a focus area. Your focus area will depend on your background, areas of interest and length of stay at CCF. The best qualification for our program is a willingness to help out wherever needed.

For more information click here 

 

N/a’an ku sê

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Photo from naankuse.com

N/a’an ku sê offers wildlife conservation and medical volunteer programs. Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteers provide an important resource in caring for and feeding the animals at the sanctuary. Research Volunteers participate in activities such as tracking leopards and cheetahs, as well as assisting the estate with development. Volunteers will also provide hands on support at the Life Line Clinic providing health care for the San Bushmen community.

For more information click here 

 

Elonga Internships

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Photo from elonga-internship.com

Elonga puts you in touch with local NGO’s, international and (non)governmental organisations as well as to media and other private enterprises and education institutes. Depending on your interests and abilities you can work, for example, at local schools, kindergartens, orphanages, hospitals, clinics, media companies, universities, ngo’s, tourism organisations or take part in engineering and environment projects. To make such an internship or voluntary job possible we offer pleasant and comfortable accomodation in Windhoek, on walking distance from the city centre. Besides, we have 30 years of experience in Namibia, so we can provide you with advice on getting around in Namibia and give you an inside view on the beautiful culture and nature of Namibia; the land of the endless horizons!

For more information click here

 

Penduka Women Project

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Photo from www.penduka.com

Penduka is a non-governmental development organisation working with women in Namibia to improve their social status and help them support their families and improve their communities. Based in Katutura township in Windhoek, Penduka women make beautiful products - from crafting glass beads to embroidering fabric with the stories of their lives. Every year Penduka offers a limited amount of students a placement, either with product design or more general business skills. If you are interested, contact Kauna at Penduka.

For more information click here

 

The Elephant Human Relations Aid

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The Elephant Human Relations Aid (EHRA) runs an elephant conservation and volunteer project that aims to reduce elephant-human conflict in the southern Kunene region of Namibia. Volunteers construct protection walls around water points and join the EHRA trackers on weeklong elephant patrols. It's a chance to make a real difference to the conservation of Namibia's desert elephants and have an experience you will never forget.

For more information click here

 

Harnas

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Photo from harnas.com

Volunteers at Harnas participate in daily activities such as food preparation, feeding, caretaking, fence patrol, research on rehabilitating animals and animal walks. Harnas gives volunteers the opportunity to make a difference in the animals’ lives, ideally to live a life free of human disturbance. The programmes run for a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of three months. If you are older than 40 or just seeking a more luxurious and relaxed experience, you can join the Harnas Exclusive VolunTourist project which runs for two weeks at a time.

For more information click here

 

Biosphere Expeditions

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Photo courtesy of Travel News Namibia / Venture Publications

Biosphere Expeditions is an international non-profit wildlife volunteer organisation, founded in 1999, that runs conservation expeditions (conservation holidays) for environmental volunteers all across the globe. They offer a 2 week volunteer programme in Namibia, safeguarding big cats, elephants and other species of the African savannah. This expedition will take you to the beautiful Khomas Hochland (highlands) in central Namibia to conduct a survey of elephants and African cats (mainly leopard, but also cheetah and caracal) and their interrelationship with humans and prey animals (such as giraffe, eland, kudu, zebras, etc.).  

For more information click here

 

Some useful information and links

  • These are just some of the great opportunities to volunteer in Namibia. To find more, ask a travel specialist
  • Once you've decided that you're going to volunteer in Namibia, take a look at this handy travel planning check list to get you started
  • Want to find out more about Namibia before you make the decision? Read about our culture, wildlife and geography on our website.
  • Africa volunteer work is a once in a lifetime opportunity to help AND explore. Find out about what else you can do in Namibia by downloading one of our travel planning guides here 

Five Things to do in Downtown Swakopmund

  
  

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

National Aquarium of Namibia, Swakopmund

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.

Swakopmund Snake Park

Western diamond-backed rattlesnake at Swakopmund's Living Desert Snake Park

  • Open: Daily from 9am-5pm

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.

Cultural exhibit at Swakopmund Museum

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.

Karakulia Weavers, Swakopmund

A skilled weaver works on a rug design at Karakulia

  • Address: 2 Rakatoa St (nort-east of the town centre)

  • Email: info@karakulia.com.na

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.

Kristall Galerie, Swakopmund

The replica cave. Image from Kristall Galerie's Flickr page.

  • Open: Monday-Friday 8am-5pm, Saturday 8am-1pm

  • Address: Corner of Tobias Hainyeko and Theo-Ben Gurirab Avenue

     

More Information:

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.

[un]Homesick: Longing for Namibia

  
  

All photos and text by guest writer and intrepid traveller Megan Mow

Have you ever been homesick for somewhere you knew wasn't home? Wait, let me narrow that down a little bit more... not just somewhere you knew currently wasn't home, but that you knew couldn’t be for a long time? I've been dealing with that a lot lately.

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Recently I traveled to South Africa and Namibia, and I connected with Namibia in a way that I never thought I could with any place. I love to travel. If I could spend all my time seeing the world, I would. But while most trips end as fond memories and experiences to look back on, my trip to Namibia became something different entirely. I became not only interested in the country and what I experienced there, but enchanted by it.  

The kindness and openness of the people, the majesty of the landscape, the scope of experiences… all were overwhelming. Of the places I have visited, this is the one that I can say truly transformed me and returned home with me.

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When I wake on a particularly beautiful, clear morning and spend it along the edge of the cold Pacific Ocean, my mind skips instead to the South Atlantic and to the sand and shore in Swakopmund. Later, the afternoon starts to fade and the shadows lengthen as twilight descends. I inevitably find myself eagerly viewing the sunset in hopes that even for one evening it will rival the vibrant colours I saw each day at dusk in Southern Africa. When night has fallen fully and the stars above me stand out against the black blanket of sky, it is not San Diego on my mind, but Namibia.  

Namibia just felt like home in a way that Virginia or California never have. I've been to plenty of places in the United States, and South Africa was lovely, but Namibia was just different.  

Since my trip, not a day has passed when I have not longed to return. When the weather is just right, or a particular landscape catches my attention, my mind inevitably travels there in an instant. I may not be able to go back for a few months or even years, but I do know that if somewhere can leave such a deep impact upon me I will not miss an opportunity to spend more time there or to encourage my loved ones to see it for themselves. I have no doubt that for many others, Namibia will prove to be just as much a paradise and land of dreams as it was for me.

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Have you got a personal story to share? Tell us about it on Twitter or Facebook 

About the author
Megan Mow is a 22-year-old woman with an insatiable sense of adventure. Originally from Norfolk, Virginia, she currently resides in San Diego, California. When she is not busy with her day job as a housekeeper, Megan loves to explore the world around her looking for breathtaking views and building her photography and writing portfolios. She currently keeps a personal blog to highlight her adventures. Her goal is to one day become a full-time travel writer and photographer. Read her blog here.
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Drive through Africa Top Gear Style (without the stress!)

  
  

The crazy folks down at Top Gear have just aired the part one of their epic drive through Africa, calling it “one of the most fun trips we’ve ever undertaken”. Self-drives are one of the best ways to experience Africa. It can sound a little daunting at first, but with the right information and planning, you’re in for an adventure of a lifetime.  

Here in Namibia, we’ve got it all – the long open roads of easy-riding tar, grueling sand and rugged gravel surrounded by epic landscapes. But what makes it even more attractive is that Namibia is a safe and stable destination, so the closest you’re probably going to come to danger is encountering a wild animal or getting stuck in a ditch! We've put together some top travel tips and information to help you plan your next self drive in Namibia.

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Finding the right self drive route  

Namibia is a big place, so there are lots of options for an ultimate self drive. The Namibia Holiday & Travel has some great itineraries for self drives:

  • Classic itinerary: perfect for first timers, a 14 day circular route that takes you to the Namibian greats like Sossusvlei, Skeleton Coast, Twyfelfontein and Etosha National Park

  • North-western Itinerary: great for those with a cultural curiosity, this area is home to the Himba and Damara people, and this 10-14 day self drive will take you through expansive sand dunes, steep mountain ranges, ancient valleys, seasonal rivers, boulder strewn floodplains and peculiar rock formations.

  • Southern Itinerary: Namibia’s “deep south” is the least densely populated part of Namibia, perfect for those looking for peace and tranquility. Experience the world’s second largest canyon – the mighty Fish River Canyon, in this 8 day self drive.

  • Eastern Itinerary: Spend 4-5 days driving through the eastern farm lands of Namibia

  • Coastal itinerary: See the dunes disappear into the sea, on this 7 day self-drive to the heart of Namibia’s local holiday destination and adventure activity hub

  • Caprivi Itinerary: 7 days in the captivating wetland area that is sanctuary to over 400 bird species, abundant wildlife, herds of free-roaming elephants crossing the rivers between the neighbouring countries.

For the full itinerary detailsdownload the Namibia Holiday & Travel iPhone and iPad app for free. To read more about the regions of Namibia, click here, and use the drop down menu to make your selection. 

self drive namibia 4

Tips for driving in Namibia  

Before you head off on your self drive, it’ s good to acquaint yourself with the local scene. The laws might be different to your country – here in Namibia, we drive on the left hand side of the road and all passengers and drivers have to wear seatbelts at all times. Because the surroundings in Namibia are so different you’ll need to be more aware of things like your tyre pressure and watching out for wild animals on the road. Here is a handy list tips for driving in Namibia. And you can find a place car rental company here.  

Driving in the dunes namibia

Driving in the dunes in Namibia  

Probably the most thrilling and challenging part of your self drive will be the dunes. The experts will tell you sand driving is all about momentum and tyre pressure. Momentum and speed stop the vehicle from becoming mired in the sand, while dropping your tyre pressure creates a bigger tyre ‘footprint”, spreading the vehicle’s weight over a larger area and giving you more grip. So drop your pressures when you are driving in hot sand or on gravel (it will give you a more comfortable ride), but remember that fast cornering on soft tyres is highly dangerous (you can roll the tyre off the rim), and don’t forget to re-inflate when you are back on hard ground! Discover more do’s and don’ts of dune riding in this article from African Adventure.

 

More on Top Gear’s Africa Special  

 

Download our new Self-drive Travel Planning Guide for more information on self drives in Namibia.

The Sundowner: Six Top Spots to Toast the Sunset

  
  

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!

Mowani Lodge

Mowani Lodge Sundowner

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.

  • Find out more about Mowani Lodge here.

Etosha National Park

Etosha sunset

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

Swakopmund Sunset

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!

Namib Desert

Namib Desert sunset

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

Daamraland Sundowner

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

Hilton 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

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Sunrise over the Zambezi, Katima Mulilo from Robert @Rob_JB

 

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Sundowner view, Avis Dam, Windhoek from Swa Safaris

 

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Chobe River sunset from Matt @Landlopers

 

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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!

Our Top Namibia Videos Online

  
  

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.

 

Deadvlei's Winter Dream from Amniótica on Vimeo

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.

     

Flying the Falls from Free to Adventure on Vimeo

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 AviationAfrican Bush Bird ToursScenic AirPleasure 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

     

The Beauty of the Irrational from The African Attachment on Vimeo

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:

 

Namibian Nights from Squiver on Vimeo

 

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:

 

 

 

 

Namib Desert Time Lapse, Namibia from Martin Harvey on Vimeo

 

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.

The Great Family Escape: Adventure in Namibia

  
  

Looking for a getaway destination for you and the kids, that doesn't involve jam-packed fairgrounds, 24hour Xbox relays or shopping malls and cinemas? When children come into the mix, it can really leave you stumped for holiday ideas. Somehow "the desert" doesn't come to mind. But it should.

There's a reason why National Geographic ranked the Namib Desert as the best family trip in the world. Cast your family out into the middle of nowhere, and life as you know it comes to a standstill. Just you, your family and the great outdoors.

 

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Namib Desert, Photo courtesy of Namib Rand Family Hideout

Go climb a mountain. Play in the dirt. Let a beetle crawl on your hand. Surf down a dune. Smell the seals. Let cloud shapes tickle your imagination. Discover dinosaur footprints. See a rhino in the flesh. Fall asleep on the backseat of the car. Find the creatures of the living desert. Pitch a tent. Camp under the African sky. Sit around a fire. Listen to stories. Tell stories. Hear the hyenas laughing at the moon. Count the stars in the Milky Way. Catch the sunrise. And start all over again. 

Being the second least densely populated country in the world, it sometimes feels like you are the only people on earth. But never fear - help is always close at hand should you need it.

Namibia is one big adventure for everyone in the family, no matter what age. Bring your kids out to Namibia, and Namibia just might bring the kid out in you.

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Namib Rand, Photo courtesy of Tok Tokkie Trails

Just some of the family friendly places and activities in Namibia:

  • NamibRand Family Hideout has all the flexibility of self-catering accommodation surrounded by one massive sand pit... the desert! Older kids can go sandboarding or try a 4x4 self-drive trail for themselves. Why not invite more families to join you? Or if you'd like something a little more private, there's a one-party campsite, which is always fun.

  • Take the time to explore all the life in the desert, big and small. Tok Tokkie Trails offers a 2 night/3 day guided, leisurely walking safari, with "desert luxuries" for nature lovers who would rather not be roughing it. The trail is conducted in small and personal groups from 2-8 people - perfect for a family.

  • Organise a tour with Mabaruli African Safaris with anything from game drives, quad bike rides and dolphin boat cruises to visiting the Himba and San for an unforgettable cultural encounter.

  • Camping is a family adventure in itself! Pitching the tent, cooking together and sleeping outside with Namibia as your back garden. Some good family campsites are Brandberg White Lady and Epupa Camp. Or have a look at some of these campsites in Namibia

  • For older and more adventurous children, there is sandboarding, quad biking, camel riding and a host of other adventure activities available. To find out more, download our Adventure Travel Planning Guide here.

  • Onguma Game Reserve offers the option of accommodation in a separate fenced-off camp for families that would rather not have wildlife roaming freely around their rooms

  • Andersson's Camp, Wilderness Safaris is a self-acclaimed "family camp", situated just outside Etosha, with a waterhole of its own, and has two family units tents connected by a raised boardwalk.

  • Namib Grens guest farm lies en route to Solitaire, built into the natural boulders, with dedicated family accommodation at Bushman's Rest - a completely private thatched house ideal for a large family or group of friends.

  • For a totally relaxed atmosphere, Farm Okomitundu has a bungalow playhouse right by the pool so the little ones can play to their hearts content while you sip a little something by the water.

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Etosha pan

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Small and fascinating creatures of the Namib Desert,  Photo courtesy of Tok Tokkie Trails

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Around the campfire near Etosha, Photo courtesy of Andersson's Camp, Wilderness Safaris

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Pally, the Ultimate Sandboarding instructor, just outside Swakopmund

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Time together in Deadvlei; Photo courtesy of Mabaruli African Safaris

Tips for travelling in Namibia with the kids

  • Break up the long drives: Namibia is a vast land, and you'll be tempted to try and squeeze it all in. The scenery along the way definitely makes the long distances worth your while, but small kids might not be as enthusiastic about it as you are! If you’re driving for a long time, try stop every couple of hours and take in the sights along the way. If driving long distances is not ideal for your family, there are also internal flight options.

  • Pack a few distractions: Make sure you pack something for them to do in the car if they start getting restless on the long drives - some games, an ipad or books, but be careful of car sickness.

  • Take extra snacks and refreshments: It can get mighty hot in the car, and the next pit stop can take a while in a country as empty and expansive as Namibia. So be sure to pack some water and cool drinks to keep the family going on the road.

  • Make them part of it: Sometimes, game watching can be a test of patience. Make the search part of their experience, and see who can spot what first. Hand them the camera every now and then so they can start documenting the sights and sounds for themselves, and really get into it.

  • Don’t be too demanding: There will be many early mornings and long drives which can take its toll on the younger ones, so don’t expect them to be attentive all the time. Let them sleep when they want to and just wake them up when something more interesting happens. Try not pack in too many drives, and make sure you have some time to relax back at the lodge.

  • Save the best for last: Instead of rushing through to the big five straight away, get them excited about even the smallest of discoveries along the way – from beetles in the sand to baboons along the road.

  • Watch the small kids: Most lodges in Namibia have swimming pools, which you'll want to dip in and out of on a hot day. However, they are not covered with safety nets, so be vigilant if travelling with small children. And don’t forget that you are in the wild - respect that wild animals are wild!

  • Ask about child policies: Most lodges will do their best to help you and your family, giving early dinners to small children, helping clean baby bottles and even sometimes even baby-sitting. But it’s best to check before booking, whether or not the lodge can accommodate your needs.

  • Let the little ones read up about Namibian wildlife in National Geographic for kids. 

To get started on your Namibian family adventure, read our Travel Planning Checklist and download our Namibia Travel Planning Guide.

Camping in Namibia - Waking up in Wild Landscapes

  
  


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The serenity of camping.
(Photo source: African Exlporations)

 

Aaah, the great outdoors! There aren’t many things that beat the feeling of unzipping your tent at the first cry of a guinea fowl and stepping out to the sight of pink-tinged skies and trees full of twittering birds. Of course, dozing off next to the camp-fire while counting shooting stars comes pretty close.

For the eternal photographers and the adventurous at heart, Namibia is a camping paradise. The terrain varies from the harsh, barren, stony plains around the Fish River Canyon, past the vast red dunes of Sossusvlei; along the windswept shores of the cold Atlantic Ocean to the seemingly endless plains and rocky mountains of Damaraland; and to the humid forests on the banks of the Zambezi River in Caprivi. Each option holds a secret treasure of its own.

There’s a wide choice of sites all over Namibia for seasoned campers, as well as for nervous novices on their first camping holiday, from luxury campsites under shady trees and grassy lawns, to wild places under a camelthorn tree.

And what could be better than camping under the Milky Way? One of the spectacular features of the southern night sky, best viewed under some of the world's darkest skies in Namibia.

What to pack for your Africa camping adventure:

  • The usual gear – tents, sleeping bags, cooking utensils, food, emergency supplies and a first­aid kit

  • Binoculars - for tracking down those untamed creatures

  • Toilet paper – always handy, in allsorts of emergencies

  • Hand sanitizer - it can be difficult to find clean water or facilities in some places

  • Something for campsite fun – like balls, kites, frisbees etc. especially when travelling with kids

  • Insect repellent - for those buzzing and flying annoyances. Remember, in some parts of northern Namibia, malaria is endemic, so check before you go

  • Books and magazines - for when relaxing under a tree

  • Water, water, water – rather too much than too little. Remember, Namibia is a desert country

  • Rope – use it to pull your car out of a patch of thick sand or even as an emergency washing line

  • Sunscreen – with Namibia’s ample sunshine, it’s always a good move to cover up

  • Locks and protective covering for your valuables - holiday stories are just not the same when the camera disappears halfway down the line

  • Two spare tyres – you can never be too careful

  • A relaxed mood - The wild open spaces of Namibia are best enjoyed with by unwinding and allowing the awe-inspiring views to sink in properly

Remember to drive slowly and keep an eye out for the smaller treasures of the land – a beautiful desert succulent, a curious chameleon, or a colony of meerkats. There is invariably more than meets the eye.

Here are some useful links to get you happy campers going:

 

This text is an adaptation of an article originally posted in Namibia Holiday & Travel. Download the iPhone and iPad app for free. Or contact Travel News Namibia to purchase a hard copy. 

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