By Jonathan Sloth-Nielsen, Jenman African Safaris
Windhoek - Namibia is a country like no other. A land of contrasts. It's rough and arid and dry; a fascinating place filled with seemingly endless high-rising dunes.
The majority of Namibia remains untouched by humankind and looks like it did hundreds of years ago. As a destination it's a must-see for any traveller looking for a unique experience in Southern Africa.
When planning your Namibian adventure, these are our 10 favourite activities to do while travelling through this breathtaking country.
1. Climb the world's highest sand dune
A major highlight for any tourist to Namibia is the chance to witness the largest sand dunes in the world, which are situated in Sossusvlei. These dunes are an astounding 300 metres high, and have been estimated to oldest of their kind in the world. If you're up for a challenge, why not climb up the charmingly-named 325 meters high Big Daddy. Once on top of the world, you can run or roll down after the exhausting but rewarding climb.
2. See the dunes by air
Seeing the Namibia landscape from up high - from an aerial view - is completely thrilling. Imagine the holiday snaps you'll get! Tourists can choose between a scenic aeroplane and a hot air balloon trip.
3. Grab a selfie at the Spitzkoppe rocks
Not only does Namibia have some of the most exceptional dunes in the world, but also some of the most unique mountains! Spitzkoppe, situated between Usakos and Swakopmund, means “pointed dome” in German and is 1728-meters tall. Their peaks look even odder in the absolutely flat landscape. Located only 500 km from the Sossusvlei dunes, the dramatic scenery is the perfect backdrop for your next selfie. And it offers a beautiful scramble to explore the crags and boulders. Be careful: while Spitzkoppe looks like an easy mountain to climb, you need adequate equipment to do so.
4. Learn about creepy creatures on a Desert Day Tour
At a glance Namibia's desert looks barren and lifeless. However, this is not the case at all! The coastal dune belt is home to some of the strangest animals that - in order to survive - have simply adapted to desert life. The best way to get up close to the critters is on a day tour with Living Desert Tours (which departs daily from Swakopmund). For example, you can meet the Dancing White Lady Spider that cartwheels 44 turns per second down a dune to escape its enemy. You will be amazed at how much life the deserts of Namibia contain.
5. Sleep under the stars
Thanks to being one of the least densely populated countries in the world, Namibia is home to some of the best star-gazing in the world. What better way to watch the entire night's sky light up with the beauty of the Milky Way than on your very own sleep-out deck. At Kulala Desert Lodge, situated close to Sossusvlei, each chalet comes with a second open air bedroom on the roof of the chalet. Lie back, relax, and let the night sky unfold before your eyes.
6. Hike the Fish River Canyon
Situated in the South of Namibia is the continent's largest canyon. Fish River Canyon is a gigantic and rough and striking ravine. It's about 160km long, about 550m deep, and up to 27km wide. It's popular with hikers and trail runners; but if you're adverse to the idea of exercising on your Namibian holiday we still recommend a visit to witness the canyon's spectacular views.
7. Dolphin, Seal & Whale Cruise
While Namibia is often thought of a desert country, its coastline stands in quite a stark contrast. Travellers who chose to visit the Skeleton Coast can see the largest fur seal colony in the world, or take a whale and dolphin cruise. You could also be lucky enough to see one of the strangest looking fish known to man. The “mola” fish, which are also known as Sunfish or Moonfish, are common in these waters where they feed of jellyfish.
8. Visit the eery deserted city Kolmanskop
Namibia is famous for its ghost town, featuring in Vogue's fashion shoots and as the subject of many documentaries. Kolmanskop was a diamond mining town that flourished at the turn of the last century. During the 1920's, as diamond prices dropped due to World War 2 and richer deposits were found in the north of the country, the towns citizens slowly left the city. By 1954 the town was completely abandoned due to the harsh elements of the surrounding desert. Today, you can still visit the remnants of the town on a daily tour.
9. Say hi to the Himba tribe
Part of any great holiday is to immerse yourself into the country's culture and learn about the customs. Situated in the north, the Himba are one of the last tribes in Africa living within their tradition. In Namibia, one of the most culturally interesting activities to do is to participate in a guided tour of a Himba Village. Do not miss out on the chance to learn and meet the Himba tribe people.
10. Sandboarding in Namibia
If you are looking for an adrenaline rush, then the chance to sandboard the famous Namibian dunes needs to me a must-do on your holiday itinerary. It's like snowboarding but on sand. Super fast and exhilarating! Tours leave daily from Swakopmund and clients can choose to use lie-down or stand-up boards. With dunes topping 100 metres, this is a sure way to get your adrenaline pumping and your heart racing.
Adapted from a press release for IOL