Best Sights in Namibia
The sandy savannah gem of Namibia is arguably one of the most easily accessible countries for a trip to Africa. With high levels of safety and well-developed infrastructure, journeys to and through Namibia are relatively care-free. What’s more, citizens of many western countries can enter Namibia for a maximum of 90 days with a visa.
This country is located in the south of Africa and is famous for its expansive deserts and vast sand dunes. Immense red rocks and towering savannah mountains also contribute to the country’s fantastic landscape. Namibia is truly every nature lover’s dream.
In this article, we’ll take you on a tour of some of the must-see destinations Namibia has to offer.
Windhoek – Capital of Namibia
The capital city of Namibia is often the starting point for many travellers coming here to see the sights. Windhoek is modern and uncluttered. In addition, there are still historic sights which date back to former times, when Namibia was a German colony.
Although it’s the biggest city in Namibia with just over 350,000 residents, Windhoek is easy to navigate. We recommend exploring the city by foot. Not only is this a great way to get your bearings, but it will also allow you to appreciate the mix of architectural styles as you walk between neo-baroque churches and modern skyscrapers.
The historic Christ Church is not to be missed on a trip to Windhoek. The stained-glass windows and art nouveau architecture make this Lutheran church one of the city’s most popular attractions. You can even explore the inside of the church with a guided tour.
A landmark of the city is the Alte Feste, an old German fortress. It’s the oldest building in the city and housed the first contingent of colonial troops in the country’s imperial days. Today it serves as a museum, though it is currently closed due to planned restoration work.
Windhoek is also home to numerous parks where you can take a moment to relax. In particular, the Parliament Gardens and the various nature reserves directly outside the city offer plenty of space to recover after a tiring sightseeing tour. If you want to enjoy an amazing view over the city, you should definitely head to the popular “Three Circles” lookout. Towards the end of the day, as dusk falls over the city, the view is guaranteed to leave you awe-struck.
Namibia National Parks
Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is the largest and best-known national park of Namibia – a landmark you cannot afford to miss out on your trip. Serving as a designated wildlife reserve for more than a century already, the park is home to a variety of indigenous animals, as well as amazing dry salt flats and vast valleys.
Every effort is taken to protect wildlife in this area. You will find elephants and zebras at watering holes, many of which are man-made, since natural springs dry out during the dry season. With a little luck, you will also be able to spot rhinos, a protected species in the area, too.
The Skeleton Coast
The name might set alarm bells ringing – but don’t panic, you won’t be greeted by beaches full of spooky skeletons. You’re more likely to see elephants and hyenas instead. The name does still suit the area well, however, as you will see on the drive through Skeleton Coast. The rusty remains of old shipwrecked boats lie up and down the shore. There’s good reason this area is known as the most dangerous stretch of coast in the world; the conditions off the Atlantic coast are extremely dangerous due to unpredictable currents, which have led to many sailors being shipwrecked. Even today, the heavy surf makes it a treacherous place for even skilled sailors.
The coast, with its seemingly endless sand dunes, stretches from Kunene in the north to Swakopmund, midway along the country’s coastline. Further south you will find the Dorab National Park, particularly beloved by avid anglers.
The Namib-Naukluft National Park
The Namib-Naukluft National Park, located in north-western Namibia, just north of the Skeleton Coast, offers countless spectacular sights. In particular, the Naukluft Mountains and the Sesriem Canyon are rightfully popular stops for southern African road trips. The same wind that creates the fog enshrouding the Skeleton Coast has formed the area’s giant sand dunes. Their distinctive orange colour comes from the oxidation of iron in the sand. The orange colour of the dunes is due to the oxidation of iron found in the sand. The older the dune is, the lighter it becomes. In some areas, the dunes rise up over 300 metres above the ground, earning them the title of the highest dunes in the world.
The dunes Big Daddy, Dune 45 and Dune 7 near the Sossusvlei salt flat are especially popular. The numbers in the names reflect how far away each dune is from the coast; Dune 45, for example, is the 45th dune you’d pass heading inland from the Atlantic.
In the heart of the dusty northern region of Kunene, you can step back in time in Twylfelfontein. Recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007, this area is home to many examples of ancient rock art.
Here, over 2,500 images are displayed on around 200 stone slabs. In addition to classic cave drawings with colourful paints, you will also see engravings, created by scratching away the top layer of rock.
According to archaeologists, the art in Twyfelfontein can be traced back to six different periods of human history. The oldest of the rock art could be as much as 10,000 years old, and the most recent works were created in around 1,000 AD. The two engravings Tanzender Kudu (Dancing Kudu) and the Löwenplatte (Lion’s Slab), which shows a big cat with an angled tail, are especially popular.
This is the city where you will most notice the traces of Namibia’s German colonial past. You will find plenty of timbered houses and beer halls serving high-quality beer. It might even be somewhat difficult to remember that you’re in Africa, not Europe.
The city’s most famous landmark is the Swakopmund lighthouse, built in 1902 by German colonists. The lighthouse is found at the Swakopmünder Mole, or sea wall. Other sights, such as the Marine Memorial and the old prison, also make Swakopmund an interesting travel destination.
The strategically placed “Ritterburg” is an important building, named after the German businessman Theodor Ritter. It was built on a high dune near the jetties, where you get an excellent view of the expansive Atlantic coast. The National Maritime Aquarium and the Living Desert Snake Park are also located here.
The Spitzkoppe is around 120 kilometres to the east of Swakopmünde. With its nickname the “Matterhorn of Namibia”, it is one of the most popular picture spots in the south of Africa. The mountain consists mainly of granite and towers over the desert at a height of more than 1,700 metres.
A rather uncanny sight to be experienced on a trip through Namibia is the ghost town of Kolmannskuppe. The town has been abandoned since the mid-20th century, and the buildings are in various states of disrepair. Today, the town is a rather eerie place, perfectly suited for photographers interested in abandoned locations.
Over a hundred years ago, this was one of the richest towns in the country – the discovery of diamonds in the area had led to a significant economic growth. Nowadays, you’ll find just the empty shells of abandoned buildings, visited only by a handful of tourists each year.
The name says it all! Despite the island being far away from the Antarctic ice shelf, it’s home to many African penguins. In addition, you’ll encounter plenty of other birds and sea creatures that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find in Namibia. The island also features beautiful headlands and cliffs.
Namibia is a country full of breathtaking sights guaranteed to amaze you. The capital city of Windhoek is a fantastic destination in itself, while also serving as the perfect home base for your travels around the country. With the city as your starting point, you can easily reach many of the country’s national parks. The Etosha National Park is located directly at the gates of the city. This is the best location to spot rhinos in their natural habitat, as well as plenty of other animals at the man-made watering holes. Or travel up north to the expansive sand dunes of Naukluft National Park or the scattered shipwrecks on the Skeleton Coast.
Namibia offers awesome natural sights – there’s no possible way to be bored in a country as varied as this!