| The dry landscape doesn't support large numbers of animals. Other countries in southern
and eastern africa offer much better wildlife. What Namibia has is a harsh beauty; the
main attraction of this country is its landscape.
The south of Namibia has an utterly dry landscape and few inhabitants outside the towns
and cities, where the streets are strangely quiet and clean. Sandy deserts line the
Atlantic coast. The roads crossing the countryside are good, and the infrastructure
This is replaced by the more typical Africa in the very north of the country. Villages
and small towns are untidy and dusty, the people swarming and poultry dashing across
the roads. The landscape is lush and cultivated or forested.
Namibia has 300 days of sunshine (or more, depending on the part of the country) per
year, but it is no good destination for beach holidays because of cold currents along
the coast. The wildlife isn't very good, either, except for in a few areas, of which
Etosha National Park is the best.
The safari destination Namibia
Namibia is not the best choice if you want to go to Africa to see wildlife. There are
some good parks,
but the country doesn't measure with for example Kenya or
Etosha National Park in the north is the best wildlife area. Travelling
there from the southern parts of Namibia brings you through landscapes so barren and
so godforsaken that they seem like brought there from another planet. The views are
plentiful, and beautiful. Ocean, semi-deserts, sand deserts with enormous dunes, rock
deserts, barren mountains. But in the far north, there are also rivers, forests, wetlands
and lush vegetation.
The Big Five
Five can be seen in Namibia. And, like in the other countries in southern
Africa, there are mammal species that you won't see when going to East Africa (Kenya,
Tanzania and Uganda). These
are mainly herbivores,
such as red lechwe, tsessebe, springbuck and gemsbok. You may see rhino (both white
and black). Two of the camps in Etosha offer waterhole game viewing at night that is
good enough to look forward to. There is good bird watching in many areas, although
the endemic species are few. Many interesting reptiles may be found in the dry areas.
There are probably some packaged tours to Namibia from your home country. You may also
book with a local tour
operator in Namibia. Some tours visit Namibia only, while others combine Namibia
and other countries in southern Africa, for example Botswana
or South Africa. Just make sure that Etosha is included
in the itinerary, as it's the best place for safaris in Namibia.
Parks in Namibia
There are a number of national parks and different types of reserves in the country.
Some of them are good wildlife areas, while others offer the wild and barren nature
for main attraction.
Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is situated in northern Namibia and is the best park in the country.
It is large, covering 22,275km2/8,600 sq mi. The park is flat and mainly consists of
grasslands, scrubs, and acacia and mopane woodlands. Roughly one quarter of the park
is a dried-out saltpan during most of the year, but is filled and becomes a lake during
rainy seasons, and then attracts wildlife and many birds.
Etosha has a rich wildlife, despite being very dry. Some 100 mammal species, 350 bird
species and 100 reptile species have been recorded. It has been estimated that the park
has 3,000 elephants, 300 black rhinos, 27,000 wildebeest and 7,000 zebras. There are
lions, leopards and cheetahs, and herbivores such as a black-faced impala subspecies,
kudu, roan, giraffe, springbuck, eland, red hartebeest and gemsbok. Natural and artificial
waterholes around the park are generally the best places for game viewing.
Flamingos and drongos
The bird life is fine. When Lake Etosha is filled, it attracts thousands of flamingos.
There are a number of different hornbills, many birds of prey, and we have seen exceptional
numbers of drongos in the park.
Thanks to a network of good dirt roads, most parts of Etosha can be visited in a two-wheel
drive vehicle. Smaller roads may become poor or even inaccessible during rains, though.
Accommodation is available in three camp areas within the park (and in many camps and
outside it): Namutoni, Halali and Okaukuejo. These offer camping
and hotel rooms, restaurants, shops, fuel stations and swimming pools. All three have
floodlit waterholes, where especially Halali and Okaukuejo offer good game viewing at
night. You may see for example herds of elephants and rhinos coming to drink.
The best time to visit Etosha is May to September, when the weather is cool and the
game viewing is at its best. The best season for bird watching is during the rainy season
from November to March. January to March receive the most rain.
Waterberg Plateau Park
Waterberg Plateau (400 km2/155 sq mi) is situated south-east of Etosha in the northern
part of Namibia, 300 km/185 mi north of Windhoek. It is a 200 m/650 ft high mountain
plateau rising above the acacia savanna, and can be seen from far away. The roughly
flat plateau is covered by subtropic dry woodland, tall trees and grassland. The sandstone
has tracks from dinosaurs.
The sheer cliffs of the plateau provides a good game protection to the park. It has
some 90 mammal species, including black and white rhino, African buffalo, gemsbok, giraffe,
sable, roan, black-backed jackal, caracal, cheetah, leopard and hyaena. The larger species,
including the rhinos, have been introduced or re-introduced in the park.
You may visit the plateau by joining guided game
drives or game walks. You may also do walks on your own in the areas surrounding
the plateau. There is accommodation, restaurants and a swimming pool.
Khaudom Game Reserve
Khaudom Game Reserve in north-eastern Namibia borders Botswana and is a 3,840 km2/1,483
sq mi park of dry woodland and savanna, sand dunes and dry riverbeds. The park is wild
and mainly undeveloped as to tourist facilities, and is considered a place to go for
true wildlife experiences. The sand roads and river crossings make accessibility poor
during the rainy season.
Khaudom has a good wildlife, and you may see lions, cheetahs, African wild dogs, hyaenas,
leopards, elephants, African buffalos, giraffes, gemsboks, sables, red hartebeest and
tsessebes. The bird life is fine.
The park has two camping sites, which also have basic bandas. There are no other facilities.
Visitors have to drive in groups of at least two vehicles, and have to be self-supplying
as to water, food and fuel. The park is considered a malaria area.
Caprivi Game Park
The Caprivi Strip is a narrow 180 km/110 mi strip of land along the Okavango River in
the north-eastern part of Namibia. The strip was originally given (in the Heligoland-Zanzibar
treaty of 1890) to the Germans, who then ruled German South-West Africa (today's Namibia).
The Germans' idea was to get access to the Zambezi River via the Caprivi strip, which
should give them a waterway shortcut through Africa to German East Africa (today's mainland
Tanzania). We don't know, though, whether the German treaty negotiators were aware of
the giant Victoria Falls between Caprivi and the East African coast.
The landscape of Caprivi is flat and mainly covered by woodland, with some areas of
forested sand dunes. Rivers in and around the region create wetlands and floodplains.
The whole park covers some 6,000 km2/2,300 sq mi. Mahango, Mamili
and Mudumu are other parks in the same region.
The wildlife includes lion, leopard, elephant, African buffalo, roan, kudu and other
antelopes. Crocodiles and hippos inhabit the rivers. Game viewing may be difficult,
though, as the only fair road is the main road cutting straight through the park. Off
the main road, four-wheel drive is necessary because of the sandy terrain.
There are a number of lodges in the area, and also more basic accommodation on camping
sites along the Okavango River. The lodges offer activities such as fishing, walks,
game viewing and boat tours. Caprivi is considered a malaria area.
Mahango Game Reserve
Mahango Game Reserve in north-eastern Namibia, bordering Botswana, is a beautiful but
fairly small park, covering 300 km2/115 sq mi. It is west of Caprivi Game Park, on the
other side of the Okavango River, and consists of floodplains, savanna with patches
of baobab trees, forests, and gallery forests along the river. Quite a few mammal species
are present, including lion, leopard, cheetah, African wild dog, elephant, African buffalo,
impala, hippo, kudu, roan, sable, tsessebe and waterbuck. Two rare antelope species
are of special interest: sitatunga and red lechwe. The river has crocodiles.
The best time to visit Mahango is during the dry season, when chances are very good
to see elephants along the Okavango River, which is also a good area for bird watching.
There is no accommodation within the park. There are some roads for game viewing, but
just one accessible for two-wheel drives. Caprivi is considered a malaria area, and
there may be bilharzia, or schistosomiasis, in the water.
Mamili National Park
Mamili National Park is situated in the eastern part of the Caprivi Strip, and has been
called the Okavango Delta of Namibia. (The Okavango
Delta is a huge inland delta in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, offering good game
viewing and bird watching.) It's a beautiful park of waterways, reeds and wetlands.
There are elephants, African buffalos, lions, giraffes, sitatungas, hippos, pukus, red
lechwes, otters and crocodiles. More than 430 bird species have been recorded.
Mamili is fairly undeveloped for tourism, and the roads require four-wheel drive. It
is considered a malaria area.
Mudumu National Park
Mudumu National Park borders the Kwando River and Botswana, and is like the other parks
in the Caprivi area much more lush than parks in the rest of Namibia. There are riverine
forests, wetlands, savannas and mopane woodlands, and wildlife species such as African
buffalo, elephant, zebra, various antelopes (including rare ones such as sitatunga and
red lechwe), hippo and crocodile. 430 bird species have been recorded in the area.
There is a private lodge, Lianshulu Lodge, in the park. It offers walks, game viewing,
bird watching and boat tours. The park is considered a malaria area.
Damaraland Wilderness Reserve
Damaraland Wilderness Reserve is situated south-west of Etosha National
Park. It is a private reserve known for its barren and rocky desert landscape. It's
not a very good area for seeing wildlife, even though there are desert elephants, rhinos,
gemsboks, lions, springbucks, giraffes and zebras. The Petrified Forest has fossil tree
trunks believed to be 200 million years old.
The park has basic accommodation in tents, and offers game viewing from vehicles and
Skeleton Coast Park
The Skeleton Coast reaches 500 km/310 mi south from the Kunene River to the Ugab River.
It is one of the least accessible areas in Namibia, dominated by sand dunes and mountain
ranges. The park covers a 20,000 km2/7,700 sq mi strip along the Atlantic Ocean, and
has been named from the many ships wrecked along this coasts. Some wrecks can still
be seen, half covered by sand. Four-wheel drive is essential.
The landscape is barren and seemingly desolate. There are sandy beaches, high sand dunes,
salt lakes, rock plains, dry riverbeds, deltas, quicksand and the odd freshwater spring.
Many interesting reptiles inhabit the area, and there are even elephants adapted to
the harsh environment, even though they are few.
Namib-Naukluft National Park
Namib-Naukluft National Park covers almost 50,000 km2/19,300 sq mi and is situated along
the coast south of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. It is really two parks: Namib Desert Park
and Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park. It is often divided into four main areas: Sossusvlei
and Sessriem, Naukluft, Namib, and Sandwich Harbour.
The north has moist areas surrounding the Sandwich Harbour lagoon, which is a good area
for bird watching. The rest of the northern park is rocky plains and the Naukluft Mountains,
which offer good opportunities for trekking.
To the south are huge areas of sand dunes, including Sossusvlei, the highest (300 m/985
ft) sand dune in the world. The two southmost thirds of the park are covered by the
Namib Desert, which is a seemingly endless area of sand dunes.
Harsh and beautiful
The park isn't really a safari destination, as there are comparatively few animals.
Some species present in the park are gemsbok and springbuck, two antelopes that manage
well in dry areas. There are also hyaenas and jackals, and mountain zebras at higher
altitudes. It's a vast and barren landscape, of which parts are very beautiful.
The rainy season (although there is little rainfall) is from February to April, and
the hottest season from November to March, when day temperatures rarely drop below 35ºC/95ºF.
The night temperatures during the coolest season, from June to August, may drop to or
The welwitschia (Welwitschia mirabilis) is an interesting but modest plant found
mainly in the northern parts of the park (and in other parts of Namibia). It grows very
slowly, and is said to get as old as 1,500 years.
Daan Viljoen Game Park
Daan Viljoen Game Park is a small park 25 km/15 mi west of Windhoek in central Namibia.
The short distance from the capital makes it a popular destination for weekend outings.
The hilly park has quite a few animals, including baboons, wildebeest, elands, giraffes,
hartebeest, klipspringers, kudus, mountain zebras, gemsboks, springbucks and steinbucks.
200 bird species have been recorded in the park.
There is accommodation in bungalows and in a camping site. There is also a restaurant
and a swimming pool. As there are no large predators in the park, the trekking routes
Fish River Canyon National Park
Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world, 160 km/100 mi long and
up to 550 m/1,800 ft deep. It is situated in the Fish River Canyon National Park in
the eastern part of the Namib Desert in southern Namibia. A road offering brilliant
view follows the eastern side of the canyon. There isn't much wildlife.
Cape Cross Seal Reserve
Cape Cross Seal Reserve is situated on the Atlantic coast some 120 km/75 mi north of
Swakopmund. It has one of the largest colonies (up to 100,000 individuals) of Cape fur
seal in southern Africa. In the park, they can be seen (and smelled) at fairly short
The best times to visit the park are around the middle of October, when the large males
are establishing their territories, and the end of November, when the cubs are born.
There are no facilities in the park, but camping is available 20 km/12 mi to the south.
Other nature areas of interest
Kaokoland (or Kaokoveld) is the area between the Hoanib and Kunene Rivers in north-western
Namibia, east of the Skeleton Coast and the Atlantic Ocean. It's a huge wilderness area
of dry grass plains and mountain ranges. The area is probably best known for its desert
elephants. Other animals found in the area are black rhinos, giraffes, springbucks,
lions and ostriches.
Kaokoland may be visited during any time of the year. There are no facilities for visitors,
and the park would mainly be a choice for those looking for wilderness and adventure.
Four-wheel drive is necessary, and it is advisable to travel in groups of at least two
vehicles. You need to bring all equipment, food, water and fuel. Many visitors pitch
their tents along one of the dry riverbeds, and should then keep a lookout for lions.
Spitzkoppe is the highest peak in a group of mountains rising sharply out of the semi-desert
plains north-east of Swakopmund. It is Namibia's most famed mountain, created when a
gigantic volcano collapsed more than 100 million years ago. The wilderness, the vegetation,
the very harsh surroundings and the morning and evening light makes the experience of
Spitzkoppe much more than just 600 m/1,950 ft of granite in the plains. The bushmen
that left their rock paintings in the area probably thought so, too.
Cities and towns
Windhoek is the capital of Namibia, and is a clean and well-kept city on the inland
plateau roughly in the middle of the country. Some altitude means a pleasant climate
and a notable difference in temperatures from season to season. Windhoek also gets more
rain than the rest of the country.
Namibia's international airport, Hosea Kutako International (WDH/FYWH), is found in
Walvis Bay is situated on the Atlantic coast in the west and has Namibia's only deep-water
harbour. The town and the harbour are dominated by the fishing industry. Just south
of Walvis Bay is Sandwich Harbour, which is a natural lagoon and the most important
wetland area in the country.
Swakopmund is the second largest city in Namibia. It is situated just north of Walvis
Bay on the coast, and is a mix of old and new, and of different cultures. The result
is a slightly charming, surprising and un-African city, reminding more of a Tyrol town
or Duckburg than of Africa. Swakopmund is squeezed in between the ocean and the desert,
and has a relaxed atmosphere with palm trees, well-kept parks and incredibly clean streets.
Lüderitz was the first German settlement in Namibia and is today a port in the
southern part of the country, situated between the Atlantic in the west and the sand
dunes of the Namib Desert in the east. The colonial style of houses has been retained.
Namibia is very sparsely populated. The population, of which most lives in the northern
and least dry parts of the country, originates from a number of different tribes. Some
75 % of the Namibians are Christian. The country is a former colony, German South-West
Africa, but was occupied and later annexed by South Africa. Namibia became formally
independent in 1990. German influences can still be seen, especially in the architecture.
| The main tribes/ethnic groups of Namibia:
| · Ovambo
|| 50 % of the population
| · Kavango
|| 10 %
Namibia has 300 days of sunshine every year, but the temperatures and the rainfall vary
much between seasons and different areas. The coast has a cool climate with little rain,
due to the Benguela Current in the Atlantic Ocean. The inland receives most rain during
the summer from November to April, and has temperatures around 2530ºC/7786ºF.
Higher temperatures are normal in for example Namib-Naukluft and Etosha, where they
may reach 40ºC/104ºF during summers.
The conditions for game viewing don't change very much with season, but the temperatures
are pleasant and the weather dry during April to May and October to November, so these
are good months to visit Namibia.
This web page on Namibia is a stand-alone introduction page that comes outside the main
scope Safari in Kenya and Tanzania of Safari Patrol. Information found
elsewhere on this site might not be fully applicable to Namibia or safaris in Namibia.