Authored by Paula Martinelli
When you picture Namibia, what are the first images that come to mind?
Beautiful landscapes? Red dunes?
Diverse wildlife? Beautiful indigenous tribes?
Surprise! Namibia has all of this and much more.
If you haven’t yet visited Namibia, it’s time to feel inspired by these 10 photos that will make you want to jump on a plane!
The energy of this place, combined with the unparalleled abundant wildlife, the beautiful and friendly people and the silence of the desert will give you so many reasons to fall in love with Namibia!
10 Reasons to Visit Namibia
Vast and Isolated
The name of the country derives from Namib, which translates as “ vast place”. It is one of the least populated countries in the world with just over 2 million citizens: the equivalent to 3 inhabitants per square kilometer, with hundreds of kilometers empty of humans.
Among the many reasons to visit Namibia is being able to disconnect from all else and reconnect with yourself and your immediate environment. Imagine losing yourself in the vast and remote terrain, enjoying the beauty of the landscapes and nature while allowing your mind to find peace in the moment.
You can drive for hours without seeing another car along the gravel roads that criss-cross the country, and the only traffic jam you may have to deal with is a zebra or oryx that decides to cross in front of your car.
Namibia, besides having remote stretches, is accessible, safe and relatively easy to drive. Whether ghosts live on the solitude of Namibia I don’t know, but I do know that you can find ghost towns of Namibia’s past, and the most famous is Kolmanskop located near the Forbidden Zone.
What was once a very rich mining town, was abandoned in 1936 and today sand dunes fill the town and the houses. A town filled with fortune and dreams turned into an intriguing place to visit and also, a paradise for photographers.
I describe the landscape of Namibia as surreal.
Seeing photos of Namibia is amazing. But it is when you get the chance to stand in front of a 300-meter orange sand dune, walk around 900-year old petrified trees, or feel so small in the oldest desert on the planet is when you feel how dramatic the landscape is and it makes you wonder: is this place real?
The Namib Desert is the most ancient desert on the planet (80 million years old), and has the highest sand dunes with some around 380 meters high that can even be seen from space.
Covering a total area of 31,274 square miles (81,000 km squared), the Namib Desert is situated along the south-western coast of the African continent, making this whole area so remarkable and every angle is different.
Our Favorite Landscapes
One of the most fascinating landscapes in Namibia is Sandwich Bay, also knowing as the place where the desert meets the ocean. Getting there takes your breath away, as you drive a 4×4 on the narrow path between the ocean and giant dunes stretching for eternity.
The orange dunes in Sossusvlei perhaps are the most photographed landscape in Namibia, and if you search on the internet for Namibia, these are the first photos you will see.
The better spectacle happens during the sunrise and sunset when the sun helps to shape the dunes and transforms the colors of the tallest sand dunes in the Planet.
Deadvlei is also a post-card of Namibia and a photographers’ paradise. The white salt pan with the dead camel thorn trees contrasts against the orange dunes and the desert blue sky, creating an unreal landscape that is even more incredible in person.
The Rich and Diverse Wildlife
Namibia has diverse wildlife, including the big five and a very rich marine life. You can spot hundreds of animals in the National Parks, but they also roam freely outside the protected areas.
You will start to see some animals such as springboks and ostriches simply driving out of the airport. But one of the top tourist destinations and also one of the most significant safari destinations in Africa is Etosha National Park.
The wildlife here is simply fabulous and spotting animals is as easy as parking your car at one of the waterholes and waiting for large numbers of zebras, elephants, springbok, oryx, giraffe, and many other animals to arrive to drink water.
The park is home to more than 100 mammal species and 340 different species of birds. Spotting lions can require not only a good pair of eyes but also a lot of patience, as they sleep during a big part of the day and are active at night when the park is closed to visitors.
Consider yourself lucky if you see a lion moving around, and even better, at a very short distance. Yes, you can have this remarkable experience in Namibia!
You can also encounter wild horses, in the Garub area of the Namib Desert. These horses were bought into Namibia in the early 20th century by the Germans after WWI and they have adapted to living in the harsh, arid landscape.
Photos from Etosha National Park
Beautiful Indigenous Tribes
Namibia is home to 13 indigenous tribes and you can (and should) experience the diversity of these people and cultures.
The people I encountered were very friendly and open. They encourage you to engage with them and share a moment learning about each other.
The Himbas are semi-nomadic people recognized for their bare chest, a red ochre-paste covered skin and hair, and clothes made from cow skin.
You can have a very authentic experience visiting their villages and learning more about their amazing traditions, such as women cleaning their bodies (showering) with smoke. Language barriers magically disappear when you approach and start to communicate.
There is no need to be shy, you will find many Himba who are eager to meet you and share with you. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet and learn from the Himba.
Keep in mind, while the pictures are amazing, the experience is wonderous!
Have you watched the movie ‘The Gods Must be Crazy’? – This 1980 comedy is about a San hunter who comes in contact with the modern world when a Coke bottle falls to earth from a plane.
If you’ve seen this movie you are already familiar with the San people, also known as the Bushmen. They are the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa, having lived there for at least 20,000 years.
One of the most amazing things is their ability to survive in nature and in the harshest of climates, and they are renowned for their hunting and tracking skills. It is amazing to see the symbiotic relationship the San have with nature.
The environment is the source of survival and provides all that they need. Through generations, the bushmen have learned to “read” the environment as any of us would read a book, and any footstep tells them the whole story – kind of animal, age, sex, size, what time of the day and much more!
They do not just live in nature, they live in harmony with nature.
Reasons to Visit Namibia
Being able to enjoy beautiful landscapes, getting to know new cultures, embracing the silence of the desert, quietly observing the amazing wildlife, counting the stars at night and gazing across the vastness that extends to the horizon, are the ingredients for a trip of a lifetime.
And once you visit Namibia you cannot leave without taking it with you; it settles peacefully in your heart…and you will want to return!
Are you convinced to go to Namibia now?