Jiraffee at Desert Game Drives ,  Namibia, Namibia

Desert Game Drives

Namibia is not as well-known for its wildlife viewing as nearby countries South Africa and Botswana, but the animals that it does have are fascinating results of evolution and are exciting to seek out and study. Game drives will typically lead guests to see desert-adapted elephants (who are smaller than their relatives elsewhere in the continent), giraffes, baboons, ostrich, springbok, oryx, hyenas, jackals and the enigmatic and highly endangered desert-adapted lions. Namibia, too, is home to 25% of the world’s population of free cheetahs.

Accommodating Lodge: Hoanib Skeleton Camp

Editors' Picks
Sea View - Kunene River Cruise ,  Namibia, Namibia -Courtsey Dana Allen

Kunene River Cruise

The Kunene River, one of only three fresh water sources in all of Namibia, runs along the Namibia/Angola border in the north of the country. Because of the water it provides, the narrow river is flanked on both sides by lush vegetation for about 100 feet, before the desert takes over again and everything is dry and sandy. Flat-bottomed boats are the best way to see the river and surrounding banks, which are home to crocodiles (some of whom can grow to up to 11 feet long), a large number of interesting birds and stunning views of river and orange-red sand dunes. The morning, when malakani palms sway in the light breeze, is the best time to visit, before temperatures get too high and the afternoon winds come in.

Accommodating Lodge: Serra Cafema

Editors' Picks

Namib Desert Hot-Air Ballooning

A spectacular way to see the Namib Desert, and the Namib Sand Sea in particular, is by hot air balloon. Tours are available through Indagare’s favorite operator and should be booked in advance. The trip leaves around sunrise and runs for about one hour, finishing with a Champagne breakfast.

Accommodating Lodge: Little Kulala

Quad BIking at Quad-Biking in Sand Dunes , Namibia, Namibia - Courtesy Dana Allen

Quad-Biking in Sand Dunes

An exhilarating activity offered at Serra Cafema is a quad-biking excursion in the area surrounding the lodge. Small groups, led by a lodge staffer, go up, down and along sand dunes, past Himba villages and through remote, arid desert. Trips leave from and return to the lodge and the length of adventure can be dictated by the guests. Those who do not have experience or the desire to drive themselves can sit on the back of a bike driven by a guide. Everyone is outfitted with helmets, safety goggles and gloves.

Accommodating Lodge: Serra Cafema

Editors' Picks
Rocks at Sesriem Canyon, Sesriem Canyon - Courtesy Hansueli Krapf

Sesriem Canyon

Just outside the village of Sesriem, the Sesriem Canyon is a 100-foot deep, half-mile long gorge that was created eons ago by the Tsauchab River. On rare occasion, the canyon fills with water, and can be a lovely place to swim, but more often it is dry and empty, and can be climbed down. Views from the top down are not nearly as impressive as those up from the canyon floor, so it is worth the hike, but should be done with a guide.

Accommodating Lodge: Little Kulala

Coast at Skeleton Coast , Namibia, Namibia - Courtesy A. Nagoria

Skeleton Coast

The iconic Skeleton Coast, in fact, refers to Namibia's southern Atlantic coastline as well as quite a bit of land towards the interior, and consists of different bands of landscape—each more stunning than the last. The most dramatic way to view the area is to drive from Hoanib Skeleton Camp, the best accommodations in the area. A guide in a four-wheel safari jeep with specially gauged tires will first drive you along the dried-up Hoanib River bed, and you will most likely see oryx, springbok and possibly giraffes along the way. After approximately 90 minutes of driving on sand, dirt and gravel roads, the real fun begins, when you reach the sand dunes. A good driver will make you feel as if you are skimming the surface of the sand, navigating different dunes and hardly following any tracks. Be sure to schedule additional time to climb a dune and sit atop its peak to admire the surrounding landscape—it is without a doubt one of the world’s most intensely beautiful experiences.

Another hour’s drive will lead you to the Atlantic coastline, where intense fog (from the cold ocean air hitting that of the hot and dry Namib Desert), coupled with strong currents, has caused dozens of shipwrecks. Remnants of the ships, ranging in age from the 18th to the 21st century, sit on the sand banks still, and sand from the dunes has moved in. The coast is named for the skeletons of stranded sailors, explorers and fishermen, as well as the whale bones from unfortunate beached whales who, too, fell victim to the coastline’s currents. There are seal colonies and clusters of flamingos in the area, as well as a small but charming museum, which displays assorted flotsam from shipwrecks and detritus that has just washed ashore over the centuries. Guests of Hoanib Skeleton Camp are flown back to the camp’s airstrip with a 20-minute scenic flight.

Accommodating Lodge: Hoanib Skeleton Camp

Editors' Picks
Unknown image

Sossusvlei Dunes

Pronounced soh-soos-vlay, this valley-like area of the southern Namib Desert is famous for having the world’s biggest sand dunes. In fact, many of the mountainous beasts are individually named, numbered and studied. A paved road (a rarity for this region of the country) begins at the tiny town of Sesriem and travels due west for 37 miles, alongside the underground Tsauchab River, which is noticeable only by the strip of vegetation it supports. About 15 miles outside of Sesriem, dramatic sand dunes start to become visible and the valley seems to narrow. Dune 45, one of the most famous, is on the left, and can be climbed up (and slid down).

Unlike other dunes, these are relatively stationary, and have maintained their structure and placement for centuries. The dunes are poetic in their silent power and beauty. Gracefully undulating, they peak with sharp crests that define their curves and it seems somewhat incredible that they are, in fact, only made of piles of very fine sand.

After the paved road ends, the sand path can be accessed only by certain approved trucks. (Those not staying at a Wilderness Camp or similar must buy a ticket on the public shuttle truck that departs from the road’s terminal parking lot.) A few miles further sits Big Daddy, another famed dune that can be climbed. In its shadow is the famous and oft-photographed Deadvlei, a dried-up pan that is home to dozens of acacia tree skeletons estimated to be as ancient as 700 years old.

As Sossusvlei is relatively accessible (and certainly the most easily reached part of the Namib Desert for those not on safari), it can get crowded. We recommend arranging for an early morning visit, when the temperature is still bearable, crowds are not yet very thick and the sun hits the dunes in acute angles, creating gorgeous and dramatic colors.

Accommodating Lodge: Little Kulala

Editors' Picks

All Results


Indagare employees walking up stiars

Enjoy 30 Days On Us!

Start your Self Planner
membership trial today.

Unlock access to 2,000+ first-hand hotel reviews, 300+ Destination Guides and the most up-to-date travel news and inspiration.

Already a member?

Welcome back,
log in to Indagare

Not a member?

Forgot Password

Enter your email and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.

Type the first 3 letters to begin