From elephants roaming freely in the desert to abandoned towns and petrified trees, these are some of the most unique and unusual places to visit in Namibia
Namibia is not like most countries in southern Africa. It is home to the oldest desert in the world, the Namib desert. It has the largest population of wild cheetahs and also has also the biggest gravesite for ships and whales. It is a land of contrast – a place where unique experiences in bizarre places are common and no matter if you go for a game drive, a cultural tour, or simply to drive around, the country will simply leave you amazed.
This is the place where you don’t expect to find lions on a game drive, but end up crossing a pride of thirty, the country where sunsets will make you wish the day is not over yet, and where day trips easily turn into adventures.
These are the most unique and beautiful places to visit in Namibia.
Damaraland offers a different kind of safari. Forget the green savannas, Lion King sceneries and sausage trees, Damaraland is dry, rocky, desertic and raw. However, this harsh conditions have not stopped life to exist, as the region is full of fauna and flora that adapted centuries ago.
This is one of the few places in the world where desert lions survive, or where herds of desert elephants roam are seen climbing rocks and roaming freely next to sand dunes.
Damaraland is a place for survivors. In this part of Namibia you can learn more about the San Bushmen, also known as the first race on the planet, as well spend some time with the Damara people, one of the many African communities at the edge of disappearing.
The best way to visit Damaraland is also exploring independently. Rent your own vehicle, get on the dirt road and explore the corners of the region, while staying overnight at the many campsites offered for tourist. Nervous of not finding what you are looking for? Don’t worry. Campsites offer the best tips on how to plan an elephant desert safari or suggest you where to go on the next day.
Probably being the most popular spot in Namibia, Sossusvlei is a must-visit when traveling to this country. With its untouched landscapes and gigantic dunes it is one of the most beautiful and unique places on earth. Sossusvlei is also home to some of the highest dunes in the world, with some of them reaching almost 400 m.
Driving through the main road and observing these gigantic dunes is already a highlight when visiting Sossusvlei. However, if you wake up early and feel fit for the task, you can also climb the famous dune 45, big mama, or big daddy (the highest dune in the Namib-Naukluft National Park).
Expect to spend at least 1 hour climbing up, as they are not only look shorter than they are, but the terrain and temperature conditions make them extremely difficult to hike at a fast pace. Still, the view from the top is priceless.
Once you enjoy the marvelous view and take a rest after this long hike, trust yourself and roll down – its fun!
However, before you leave Sossusvlei, don’t forget to pass by deadvlei, a white clay pan located next to big daddy and big mama. Here, trees that died 600-700 years ago got stuck in a limbo between death and petrification. This is one of the most bizarre places I’ve ever visited and an experience to never forget.
FUN FACT: Dune 45 got its name due to its location. It is situated 45 km away from the main gate to Sossusvlei.
Read more: What are the best things to do in Windhoek
Skeleton Coast National Park
If you ever wondered what pure desolation looks like, a visit to the Skeleton Coast National Park can get you pretty close to that. Stretching along 500 km of Namibia’s northwestern coast, Skeleton Coast is not your traditional national park.
This is not exactly the place to spot outstanding wildlife or incredible vegetation. Skeleton coast is flat, inhabited and basically empty. It is a endless field of sand and mud on the right, the ocean on the left, and a single road to drive throughout.
However, this desolation is also what makes Skeleton Coast an unreal experience. Expect to see numerous wrecks along the coast that have gotten stranded due to the thick fog and the sea conditions. Furthermore, locals say Skeleton Coast is the place where whales and seals come to die, as it is very common to also encounter remains of gigantic whales or seals in decomposing while walking along the shore.
If you want to visit Skeleton Coast on a road trip, don’t forget to pass by Cape Cross Seal Reservoir. It is one of the largest seal colonies in Africa and the best spot in the region to see thousands of deals giving birth just meters away from you.
Kolmanskop Ghost Town
Located 10 km east of Lüderitz, a coastal town in southwestern Namibia, Kolmanskop’s dark and complex history seems to be the perfect introduction for this bizarre and spooky place. What today are abandoned buildings covered in sands and debris of mansions and villas, were over a century ago the effects of the German colonizer’s wealth during the mining boom.
Things were different at that time. German settlers displaced the Herero tribes living in the Namib desert and found one of the largest deposits of diamonds on earth. There were so many diamonds at some point, that according to documentation, it was possible to find them while digging in the sand with the bare hands.
However, what comes fast, goes fast. By mid-20th century, diamonds drop significantly in price and larger deposits were found in southern Namibia. Kolmanskop was completely abandoned in a matter of months and the town was left to die.
This is one of the most unique places to visit in Namibia, as most structures feel in some way intact and you can easily explore independently. Sossusvlei is also on the way to Kolmanskop Ghost Town, which makes it a perfect extension if you are already traveling to this region.
INSIDER TIP: Make a quick stop at Solitaire, a small settlement on your way to the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Here you can spot abandoned vehicles from different decades in the 20th century, take a quick rest to recharge energy or tank your car before you enter into the national park.
Read more: Visiting the bushmen tribes in Botswana
Pink Salt Lake in Walvis Bay
Pink lakes are nothing new for an experienced traveler. From the well-known pink lake at the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to the pink lakes in Australia, after you have seen one of them, the rest might look the same.
On the other hand, if you never visited a pink lake before and you are planning a road trip around Namibia, they can be a cool place to add in your itinerary.
Just like most pink lakes around the world, the pink salt lake in Walvis Bay appeared from the combination of salt, the green algae “dunaliella salina” and the climate of the region. And while there is not much to do in the lakes per se (you can’t take a swim or get a boat and sail around), this is one of the favorite spots for a unique picture in a unique place.
But don’t worry, driving 400 km to Walvis Bay for just one photo won’t be the case, as the region offers fun outdoor activities for those who enjoy wildlife and adventure. Either you visit one of the many flamingo colonies in the area, do a catamaran tour to the seal colony or explore some dunes with a quad, I can assure you Walvis Bay won’t bore you.
Read more: How to plan a road trip in Namibia
Planning a trip to Namibia independently is fun. However, if you want to arrange everything with tour operators beforehand from the comfort of your home. SafariBookings is the best platform for it.
They have the largest database of tour operators in Africa and you can simply send a request and negotiate a tour and a price directly with the operator. You don’t have to pay any additional fees.
These are some of the most popular tours in Namibia at SafariBookings