Damaraland: This UNESCO World Heritage Site has thousands of engravings and some early paintings. Only here do desert-adapted elephant and rhino exist. Damaraland was a name given to the north central part of Namibia, inhabited by the Damara people. Damaraland, like other homelands in South West Africa, was abolished in May 1989 at the start of the transition to independence. The region’s the caves and ravines hold many prehistoric rock paintings.
Etosha National Park: The famous park was established in 1907, when Namibia was a German colony known as South West Africa. It is only a quarter of its original size. It is situated in the Kunene Region of northwestern Namibia. A vast saltpan spreads over its heart that is surrounded by grass and thorn savanna, mopane bush in the west, and dry forest in the northeast. The hyper-saline conditions of the pan limit the species that can permanently inhabit the pan itself. Usually dry, it fills with water briefly in the summer,when it attracts pelicans and flamingos in particular. Perennial springs attract a variety of animals and birds throughout the year, including the endangered black rhinoceros and the endemic black-faced Impala. In the dry season, winds blowing across the salt pan pick up saline dust and carry it across the country and out over the southern Atlantic.
Fish River Canyon: In the south of Namibia, Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in Africa. It features sharply towering rock faces and deep ravines that were formed by water erosion and the collapse of the valley due to movements in the earth’s crust over 500 million years ago. Fish River is the longest interior river in Namibia. It cuts deep into a dry, stony and sparsely covered plateau. The river flows intermittently, usually flooding in late summer. Most of the remainder of the year, the river becomes a chain of long narrow pools with rocky beds. The Fish River Canyon hiking trail draws hikers from around the world and is one of the most popular hiking trails in Southern Africa due to its immense scale and rugged terrain.
Serra Cafema: Set amid the stark landscapes of the Namib Desert, Serra Cafema is one of the most remote destinations in Africa. In the extreme northwest of Namibia, it is reached only by air, and overlooks the Kunene River, with just eight canvas-andthatch chalets. The river is the only permanent source of water. This is one of the driest desert environments in the world, with broad mountain expanses and is home to Oryx, springbok, ostrich and Kunene crocodiles. The Ovahimba families in the region are some of the last semi-nomadic peoples in Africa.
Skeleton Coast: Near the Angola border, the San Bushmen named this “The Land God Made in Anger.” Skeleton Coast National Park is one of the most inhospitable but hauntingly beautiful places found anywhere. Its fantastic terrain ranges from towering canyons and mountainous dunes, to windswept plains and saltpans. Freshwater springs percolate down through barren sands creating pockets that sustain wildlife such as gemsbok, desert elephant and brown hyena. The Benguela current brings cold water and air from Antarctica that bumps into hot desert air along the coast, generating a cool mist with life-sustaining moisture. This is the homeland of the Himba people. Charter flights are recommended to explore this area.
Sossusvlei Dunes: The Namib Desert stretches from the Orange River in the south into Angola in the north. Tsauchab River is a dry riverbed that only comes to life in years of exceptionally heavy rainfall, and provides just enough water to support the specially-adapted animals such as oryx, jackal, springbok, ostrich, spotted hyena and
several species of plants. During the flood season, several migratory bird species appear along the marshes and rivers. Much of the Sossusvlei and Namib fauna is endemic and highly adapted to the specific features of this desert landscape. The desert’s soaring red sand dunes are the highest in the world, many above 200 meters/656 feet. The highest is some 380 meters/1,247 feet tall.
Best Time to Go
The desert is very dry yet pleasant throughout the year. April and May become increasingly dry, and largely free of dust. In June and August, Namibia cools off and dries out. Animals in the north migrate south for water. By September and October, it warms up; and game viewing is good in most areas, although there is often much dust. Summer runs November through February.
Day 1: Johannesburg, South Africa / Windhoek, Namibia
Windhoek is Namibia’s capital and largest city.
Day 2: Windhoek / Namib Desert / Sossusvlei Dunes
These soaring red sand dunes are among the highest in the world.
Day 3: Sossusvlei Dunes
While some animals and birds thrive here, the dunes are renowned for graceful physical beauty rather than game viewing.
Day 4: Sossusvlei Dunes / Swakopmund / Damaraland
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Damaraland has thousands of engravings and some
early prehistoric rock paintings.
Day 5: Damaraland
Damaraland is home to rare desert-adapted elephant and rhino.
Day 6: Damaraland / Etosha National Park
Etosha is a significant wildlife sanctuary of almost 220,148 square kilometers/85,000
Day 7: Etosha National Park
Scattered life-sustaining waterholes support some of Africa’s large animals including
lion, rhino, giraffe, zebra, elephant and large herds of springbok.
Day 8: Etosha National Park / Windhoek / Johannesburg / Depart
Fish River Canyon (3 days)
This popular hiking area features a massive ravine about 160 kilometers/100 miles long, up to 27 kilometers/17 miles wide and in places almost 550 meters/1,806 feet deep.
Serra Cafema (3 days)
In the extreme northwest of Namibia, Serra Cafema Camp is one of the most remote
camps in all of Southern Africa.
Skeleton Coast (4 days)
On the bare fringes of the Atlantic Ocean, the Skeleton Coast gained its daunting name
for bleached whale and seal bones as well as for the remains of more than 1,000
shipwrecks. Charter flights are recommended to explore this area.
$750-$3000 per person, per day. Land only, double occupancy.