Top picks in Namibia
Namibia is a country of stark beauty and enormous diversity in terms of its peoples, its wildlife, and its geography. My ideal trip would start in the capital, Windhoek, from where I would take a light aircraft south to the towering dunes of Sossusvlei – this is quintessential Namibia, where the oldest desert in the world stretches out as far as the eye can see. Two nights is a reasonable amount of time to spend here, although I could be persuaded to stay for a third night and treat myself to a morning of sailing over the dunes in a hot air balloon!
From Sossusvlei I’d move on to Damaraland, maybe splitting my stay with time in the south to see the huge herds of desert-adapted elephant that roam here and to take a look at the rock art at Twyfelfontein, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After that, I’d venture to the north of the region in search of rhino, as this area is home to the largest number of free-roaming black rhino left on Earth.
For travellers looking to explore the remotest corners of the country, Damaraland makes a great stopping point on the way up to the Skeleton Coast. At the latter destination, you find a wild coastline littered with whale and seal bones, punctuated by ghostly shipwrecks in varying stages of decay. Move inland and this desolate landscape reveals some well-kept secrets, for it is home to a surprising amount of desert-adapted wildlife – lion, elephant, and giraffe, to name a few. I would definitely spend three nights here, as there is a lot to explore.
My next stop would be even farther north, up towards the Angola border to the Kunene river – this is the only permanent source of water in the entire region. This area is truly unique, comprising a riverine oasis in the middle of the desert. It is also home to the Himba people of Namibia, and you can visit their homesteads and learn about their culture. Personally I found this a very authentic and culturally sensitive experience.
After my stay in the Kunene region, I would then head back to Windhoek and get ready for the Botswana portion of my journey. I realise that, at this point, many of you might be asking, ‘What about Etosha?’ Well, when combining Namibia and Botswana it is just not possible to visit every part of each country, at least not without several weeks’ holiday and an exhaustive budget! While Etosha National Park is one of my favourite destinations – I’ve visited over seventy times! – it just can’t compare with the wildlife experiences that Botswana, and in particular the Okavango Delta, have to offer.