Namibia Off The Beaten Path

Namibia is located in south-west Africa, along the Atlantic coast and is known as the gem of Africa. As a still fairly undiscovered tourist destination, Namibia possesses some of the most breath-taking landscapes in Africa.

In 2014 Namibia welcomed a mere 2 million tourists whilst the likes of France saw well over 80 million. So if you are looking for a destination that is not overrun with tourists and slightly off the beaten path – try Namibia.

namibian dessert

The country plays host to a multitude of landscapes and activities from African Safaris, sand boarding down the desert dunes, kayaking amongst the seals, or walking through the oldest desert in the world. All whilst being one of the safest African countries to travel around.

elephants

Many people think that to travel in Africa you need to be the rough and rugged type, the kind that went to boy/girl scouts, has watched every Indiana Jones movie and can light a fire in the wilderness with only their bare hands and a rock. Don’t get me wrong, you absolutely can experience Africa that way, but you don’t have to.

safari

Let me expel that notion right now, every African country has good lodges and resorts, especially in Namibia. Namibia is often referred to as Africa for beginners as its safe, easy to travel around, has excellent road infrastructure, low traffic density and is very tourist friendly. Whichever landscape you want to see, whatever you want to do in Namibia you can do it in style, there is no need to pack a backpack and carry your worldly possessions whilst you safari through Namibia.

You do need to be prepared for the fact that you are coming to Africa. Service is rarely on first world standards and things happen on Africa time, which means locals are not always in a hurry to get things sorted. #TIA

Top sights to see in Namibia

map of namibia

 

Swakopmund is a quaint coastal town on the edge of the Atlantic ocean, surrounded by the desert. The water is a tad cold to swim in, and a trip to the beach can be a rather windy affair. Swakop (as the locals call it) is better known for its fishing, as well as some excellent dolphin, seal and whale watching. The town has a very strong German influence which is very prevalent in the architecture and the local restaurants.

Sossusvlei forms part of the Namib Desert which is the oldest and largest desert in the world. Sossusvlei has the unique mountainous red sand dunes that have formed over millions of years. A quiet walk to the top of Big Daddy (one of the highest dunes in the world) allows you to survey the entire desert. A walk through the desert across the clay pans, over the red sand and among the hundred year old scorched Acacia tree skeletons leaves you speechless.

dune

Caprivi Strip, is a luscious green wetland that is quite different to the rest of an otherwise arid country. This tropical paradise strip of land at the northeast tip of the country supports a wide variety of water-loving game like hippos, crocodiles, sable, waterbuck and buffalo – game that is largely absent in the rest of Namibia.

The Caprivi Strip is ideally located as it links the world renowned Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park of Botswana, Zambia’s and Zimbabwe’s Lake Kariba and one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls. So from the strip you can easily arrange day trips to any one of the countries neighbouring sights.

Etosha National Park, is one of the largest game reserves in the world and the ultimate destination for an African Safari, offering great game viewing (especially during the dryer months when the bush is less dense and water is scarce – June to November). The park has over 114 mammal species, including several rare and endangered species such as the Black Rhino, Black-faced Impala, Tsessebe and Gemsbok. But one of the unique characteristics of Etosha is the large salt pan, it is so large it can be seen from space.

Fish River Canyon, is located in the very south of Namibia and has the largest canyon in Africa. For the very fit and adventurous you can hike through the canyon, it is a 88km long trail along the river in the canyon and takes about 5 days to complete (there are no amenities on the trail and hikers have to carry everything they need with them)

 canyon

Traditional Namibian Tribes, Namibia has plenty of unique cultural experiences to be had, from visiting the traditional Himba tribe in the Northwest to the humble San Bushmen. For the most part, the modern world hasn’t yet intruded on their way of life and they have held on to their traditions and adapted to surviving in the desert through the centuries.

Namibia is soulful, liberating and best known for its incredibly vast, unpopulated landscapes, compared to her African sister countries. The spell of the country captures every traveller and one cannot forget what was seen or experienced as you recall the feeling of the desert, the expanses of the country, the vibrant and adaptable cultures and the abundance of wildlife.

The down side to Namibia is the only direct flight in from Europe is from Frankfurt otherwise one needs to take a few connections via Johannesburg or Nairobi, which just increases ones already long travel time. If you only have a few days leave, getting to and around Namibia takes time as you need to road trip across the vast landscapes or charter a private plane (which works out very costly). But once you arrive in the slightly isolated country of Namibia you have access to all the amenities you would need and hiring a car (camping equipment and GPS if required) and driving around the country is simple.

Travelling through Namibia with babies and toddlers can be challenging at times as road tripping across the country requires long monotonous hours in the car and then many of the sights require a long walk from the parking lot into the protected areas, which is not always pram friendly. This doesn’t mean one is unable to travel to Namibia with children as almost all the hotels are equipped to accommodate children, it is just slightly more challenging and many of the naturally beautiful sights and the quiet and solitude feeling that they evoke will go unappreciated by small children.

green

We visit Europe to see the history and the beautiful architecture, whilst you escape to Namibia to see the vast open spaces, fresh air and wildlife. As the second least populated country in the World Namibia offers you the opportunity to reconnect with yourself and feel solitude.

If you have time and are looking for a place to leave traffic, Wi-Fi and cell reception behind so you can just relax, unwind and take the time to just sit and admire natures natural beauty, then consider adding Namibia to your bucketlist.

tracey
Author: Tracey from Journal of a city girl

Tracey is a wanderluster who is currently living with her husband in Namibia. She shares her experiences travelling the world and what it’s like to be a vegetarian living in a carnivorous country! You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Bloglovin.

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