A land of stark contrasts, Namibia offers you sparse deserts to salt pans, coastlines, canyons and bushveld. The best way to explore this country is by hiring a Namibia tour guide. Here are a few options you can discuss with them to get you started:
Windhoek translates to “Wind Corner” is home to just over 300,000 people and retains its German charm with the language still spoken in the city. It's worth hiring a Windhoek tour guide to spend some time in and around the city.
If you like trying exotic food, try the local meats at a beerhouse called Joe's. Even crocodile meat which although might seem a little strange, tastes incredible. Other offerings include various antelope meats (Springbok biltong, a dried meat, is delicious), ostrich and zebra. Every one of them is unique, although I could not bring myself to taste the zebra. You can wash it down with a selection of beers, including some from Germany.
Windhoek is also home to some gorgeous examples of German colonial buildings. Visit the Old Fortress, or “Alte Feste” as it is known in the city which was the headquarters of the German colonial army during their time. This is a great place for history lovers.
“Christuskirche” which is over 100 years old is a Lutheran church found in the city as well. Its distinctive look is also an excellent example of architecture from colonial Germany. The capital houses a number of cultural museums including the Independence Memorial Museum, celebrating the independence of Namibia in 1990 and the National Museum which is found in the “Alte Feste.”
Namibia offers something for everyone, even the most seasoned of travellers. These locations, however, should form part of your trip:
A conservation area, the biggest to be found in the country, Sossusvlei is located in the Namib-Naukluft National Park. This area is a pan, made from clay and salt and is surrounded by red dunes of the desert. I was totally taken aback by the size of some of them!
Dune 45 will certainly be one of the locations your Sossusvlei tour guide takes you to. This dune, made up of red sand that is millions of years old, can be climbed. Although I found it to be fairly simple, it does get your heart racing a little, so take your time and when you get to the top, just take in the incredible beauty that surrounds you.
While in Sossusvlei, set time aside for a trip to Deadvlei or Dead Marshes Thought to have grown here at a time offlooding nearly 900 years ago, the camel thorn trees have died out now, but their stark beauty is worth looking at.
The eerie sounding Skeleton Coast was long feared by old world sailors. If something went wrong with a ship while navigating here, there was nothing to sustain it on the land.
The shipwrecks along this stretch of coastline helped this part of Namibia get its reputation with ancient seafarers.
Luckily, today, a 4x4 vehicle and your Skeleton Coast tour guide will ensure you don't become a lost soul along this unforgiven 500 kilometre stretch of coastline. Unbelievably, this national park is home to a colony of seals while elephants have been spotted in the area as well along with many other forms of wildlife.
An idea of a time long ago can be found in the ghost town of Kolmanskop, once a diamond mining town that quickly became deserted once the precious stones disappeared.
Hike the Fish River Canyon
The Fish River Canyon is one of the premier hiking routes in Southern Africa. The canyon, which is around 160 kilometres long is visited by thousands of tourists daily.
Should you wish to hike it, or a portion of it, it is best to book your Fish River Canyon tourist guide beforehand.
A huge rock formation, the “Spitzkoppe” are found in the desert, around 280 kilometres from Windhoek. These peaks are formed from granite and estimated to be over 700 million years old.
Although a day trip will suffice, I chose to camp in the area near the recommendation of my Spitzkoppe tour guide. This gives you a true idea of the extreme beauty of these peaks, at sunrise and sunset.
Let the adrenaline flow while sandboarding in Swakopmund
Swakopmund, a coastal town, should form part of your trip to the country for a ride on a sandboard on the local dunes of the Namib desert. Everything you need is provided, including a helmet and the sandboard.
A variety of dunes are on offer and I would suggest starting out on the smallest if you have never ridden a sandboard before.
This area near Swakopmund is called so because here the earth looks similar to those photographs and film footage we have seen from the moon. The low craggy rocks stretch for kilometres into the distance.
Meet a local tribe
Namibia is home to many varied African tribes including the Ovambo, Damara and Herero. Perhaps the most interesting, however, is the Himba tribe.
Found in the north of the country, this is one of the minor tribes in Namibia, consisting of around 50,000 individuals. These nomadic people are unique in the fact that they use a paste to cover their skins. Made from butterfat and a red colour pigment, the tribe cleanses their skin with this paste, especially when water is scarce and only used for drinking. Called Otjize paste, it also protects their skin from the harsh desert sun and insect bites and the Himba are instantly recognizable because of its use.
“Craig Taylor is a freelance writer and blogger. A lover of wildlife, he loves to travel and have as many new experiences as possible, particularly with food! His other passion is photography.”
Image details and licenses:
Alte Feste: https://images.app.goo.gl/M6B1qBJZMcFL2KMQ8 (Zairon, CC BY-SA 4.0), Skeleton Coast: https://flic.kr/p/s4vjnA (Dconvertini, CC BY-SA 2.0), Sandboarding in Swakopmund: https://flic.kr/p/xqXdVS (Luke Price, CC BY 2.0), Moon landscapes: https://images.app.goo.gl/bftMVoATyidLRSCRA (Olga Ernst, CC BY-SA 4.0)