A safari in Namibia offers a different experience to one in Kruger National Park or the Masai Mara for example. There are great opportunities to see Africa’s big wildlife, especially in Etosha National Park, however it is the out-of-this-world landscapes that truly capture the imagination and are the reason many travellers return time and again.
Namibia caters for a range of budgets, with some great value safari camps and adventure tours available, as well as more exclusive desert retreats and fly-in safaris.
National Parks in Namibia
The diversity of Namibia means a new adventure awaits each morning, be it traversing towering sand dunes, spotting rare desert elephants or catching the eye of a solitary long horned oryx tiptoeing across a salt pan.
Below are the top National Parks in Namibia, included in most safaris and tours. If there are others that you would like to visit, just speak with your Africa Specialist who can provide options.
Etosha National Park
Etosha translates to ‘Great White Place’, in reference to the vast salt pan of the same name that dominates a quarter of the National Park. The salt pan is the largest in Africa and together with the area’s arid climate creates an environment and safari experience like nowhere else on earth.
In Etosha National Park ‘dry season’ is an understatement. Rain is almost unheard of from May through to September, resulting in superb game viewing from July onwards, as water sources become particularly scarce and wildlife congregates around waterholes.
Etosha is famed for its elephants, which are some of the largest in Africa, but with small tusks due to mineral deficiencies in their diet. They often appear white in colour as they cover themselves in the dust and mud of the salt pan, presenting a great chance to take some quite unique photos, especially when they are surrounded by other herbivores at a waterhole.
Zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, gemsbok and springbok are also common in the Etosha National Park, and possible to spot during the wetter months of the year, grazing the fresh vegetation.
Etosha has lion, rhino, hyena and leopard, though in smaller populations than found in Botswana or South Africa’s parks and reserves. Dawn and dusk are often the best time to see such animals, or at night if you are staying a safari lodge with a floodlit waterhole, such as Okaukuejo Rest Camp, frequented by black rhino.
Namib-Naukluft National Park
Whilst wildlife is sparse in the desert environment of Namib-Naukluft National Park, the rolling red sand dunes and craggy mountains still make it an essential stop on any Namibia safari.
The most famous dune, known simply as Dune 45, can be found near Soussusvlei. It is 170 metres high, but easily climbed and particularly photographic at sunrise or sunset. Equally camera worthy is the salt pan at Deadvlei, punctured by eerie dead trees and backdropped by giant red dunes.
Desert adapted antelope species, including springbok and oryx can be spotted in the more arid parts of Namib-Naukluft, though you may come across a troop of baboons at a river’s edge. In Naukluft Mountains zebra and kudu are a relatively common sight, plus there is a good variety of birdlife.
Skeleton Coast National Park
Picture an ‘African National Park’ in your mind and it probably won’t look much like Namibia’s Skeleton Coast! Nevertheless, it is a highlight of many people’s Namibian itinerary.
The wilderness is mesmerising, harsh desert spilling into the sea, often layered in fog, where hot air meets cold. It is a truly spectacular landscape, that extends 500 km up Namibia’s northwest Atlantic coastline.
Cape-Fur Seal Colonies
Whilst classic safari wildlife is rare, colonies of cape-fur seals can be found along the coast. If you are coming from Swakopmund however, a great place to see them is the Cape Cross Seal Reserve, just south of the Skeleton Coast National Park proper. Here there are visitor facilities and boardwalks to viewing platforms overlooking a seal colony which can number 200,000 animals during the breeding season.
Whilst not officially a National Park, many Namibia safaris visit Damaraland. The main attraction is Twyfelfontein, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its ancient rock engravings, however there are also some unique wildlife viewing opportunities.
The Twyfelfontein rock art, some of which is thought to be 10,000 years old, depicts zebra, giraffe, antelope, elephant, rhino and lion, which suggests a change in climate as several of these species are sparse to the region.
Nowadays, a chance to see black rhino and the rare desert elephant is the biggest draw, with the May to October dry season the best opportunity, as they converge on dwindling water sources.
Now known as the Zambezi Region, the Caprivi Strip extends from the very northeast corner of Namibia around 450 km to the Zambezi River, which not too far further on tumbles down the mighty Victoria Falls.
There are three National Parks in the Caprivi Strip; Bwabwata, Mudumu and Nkasa. Bwabwata is the largest, incorporating the former Caprivi Game Park, and a great place to see elephant, hippo, kudu and other antelope species. Predator sightings are rare, but not unheard of.
A game drive in the Caprivi Strip, or a night at a lodge, is often included in a Botswana safari, due to its proximity to Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta.
Choosing Your Safari
All of the above National Parks feature in our Namibia safari tours, as well as our Namibian self drive holidays. Browse the itineraries above or give our Africa Experts a call and they can suggest a safari that matches your interests.
Likewise, if there is a National Park or Namibia game reserve you would like to visit that isn’t included in one of our safaris, just get in touch and we can source further options for you or create a tailor made itinerary.
Namibia Safari Lodges
If you a looking for a shorter wildlife experience, you could spend two or three nights at a Namibian safari lodge, which offer game drives and other activities.
The Okonjima Plains Camp, en route from Windhoek to Etosha, is known for its cheetah, brown hyena and leopard sightings. At the Mushara Outpost, a morning and afternoon game drive in Etosha National Park is included in your stay, as well as a nightly campfire under the Namibian starlit sky.
Flights, Transfers & More
A benefit of travelling with FREEDOM is that you can book your safari, flights to Namibia, hotels and any extras in one place, as an ATOL protected package. You will have a personal Travel Consultant to take care of everything for you, including airport transfers and other finer details.
For the ultimate African adventure, why not add a few nights at a Cape Town hotel before your Namibia safari or a few days at an Indian Ocean beach resort to relax after your tour? Whatever you would like to do our Africa Exerts can help. Just get in touch!
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