Namibia is a country of endless horizons, from the golden dunes that stretch across the coastline to the towering red sands of the ancient Namib Desert. You can drive for miles with nothing but ever-changing landscapes to keep you captivated. It’s the fourth-largest country on the African continent, but with only 2.2 million inhabitants Namibia is seemingly empty and virtually untouched. Those who call it home are a diverse multi-cultural cross-section of 13 ethnic groups that speak 29 languages among them. The locals all live in harmony under the safety of a long-time democratic government.
This is a country blessed with 300 days of sunshine a year, the skies are always blue, and the untamed natural beauty is enough to overwhelm you. Everyone from the soul searcher to the adventure seeker will find what they’re looking for in this special part of Africa.
Just a short two-hour flight from OR Tambo International Airport will get you to the capital city of Windhoek - this is the ideal point from which to begin your journey through the country. The city of Windhoek is quite literally locked in by 360 degrees of natural beauty. Although the city beats with luxury hotels, museums, galleries, breweries, shops, restaurants and friendly faces, its modern architecture is framed by surrounding mountains and open plains. It’s not uncommon to spot wildlife as you make your way in, but with so much to see and do you don’t want to stay in the city for too long.
“Everyone from the soul searcher to the adventure seeker will find what they’re looking for...”
The quaint little seaside town of Swakopmund, also known as ‘the adventure capital of Africa’, is where the ocean meets the desert. This tourist hot spot is characterized by its golden mountains of sand that offer adrenalin-junkies their shot at sand-boarding, quad biking, and 4x4 adventure driving. Simply running down the side of a dune is enough to feel the free abandon of childish pleasure as you play in God’s great sand-pit. The small village is neat, pretty, and cocooned by a sleepy seaside air that immediately inspires you to unwind. It offers an unusual timelessness with an interesting combination of historic architecture that resembles the German colony it once was. The strong German influences, felt throughout, make beer and bratwurst the order of the day, although a fresh seafood platter or large plate of prawns are just as easily enjoyed.
Walvis Bay is a short 20-minute drive away where a harbour cruise is the perfect introduction to the ocean life that roams the area. Enjoy fresh Namibian oysters and champagne provided on board as you watch the Dolphins play in the bay. Venture north to the pungent colony of seals where you’ll see thousands of them basking on the beaches next to pink flamingos and white pelicans. Namibia is well known as a birdwatchers paradise, boasting 620 species of bird.
You cannot leave Swakopmund without meeting Tommy of Tommy’s Living Desert Tours. Born and bred in Namibia, the man is a proud conservationist and a legend amongst the locals. The desert comes alive with Tommy’s enthusiasm of the habitat. With the endless dunes spread out before you, he proceeds to tie his shoes to the bumper of his old military vehicle and welcome you to his ‘office’. It’s an eye-opening experience, as Tommy introduces you to the hidden life of this apparently barren landscape. His large stories about little things are not only entertaining but full of insight.
Famous as the only pit-stop on the way to Sossusvlei, mystic Solitaire greets you with rusty old vintage cars and antique memorabilia that make you feel like you’re stuck in a time warp. This quirky oasis offers the comforts of any good pit-stop, where you can fill up and fix up. Whatever you do, don’t dare leave without tucking into Solitaire’s legendary baked apple pie!
Namibia's Atlantic coastline stretches on for miles, with several sprawling government-protected inland wilderness reserves. The long road to Sossusvlei will eventually get you to the Namib-Nauklaft Park, officially the entrance to the highest dunes in the world! Exploring this harsh paradise is well worth the challenge. Climb the famous soaring Dune 7 and view the red stony terrain of Sossusvlei from the top – it looks exactly like the surface of mars. The natural wonders you find in this part of the country will be etched in your memory like tales from a long forgotten time. Make sure you experience the thrill of the Fish River Canyon and the lost land of Dead Vlei.
Sossusvlei will also invite you to enjoy the most spectacular sunsets and night skies so dark, they seem to hold the stars like sticky Velcro. Here, there is nothing more to do but turn your cell phone off and absorb the timeless energy.
To really enjoy Namibia to its fullest, you need lots of time. Although, if you’re lucky enough to get just a little taste of the country’s stark contrasts, one thing is guaranteed - you can leave Namibia, but it will never leave you.