One of the most underrated places on the planet is the southern African country of Namibia. If you love adventure, nature, and culture you’ve come to the right place – There are plenty of things to do in Namibia. Home to the oldest desert in the world, the tallest sand dunes, the game filled National Parks, and many unique cultures waiting for you in Namibia.
1. Deadvlei & Sossusvlei
One of Namibia’s most iconic sights is the unique dead trees surrounded by red sand dunes. The shifting of these massive sand dunes turned what was once a fertile marsh into a dry barren pan. Slowly over time the winds move the massive dunes and have cut off water to a series of “deadvleis” which translated means dead marsh. The ground dried into a cracked and crusty salty-clay and the only thing left is the skeletons of twisted Acacia trees. The trees are thought to be around 1,000 years old, they are not petrified, but they have not decomposed because the air is so dry here. A visit to one of the few Deadveli’s is a must-see attraction in Namibia.
- Recommended Tour: Deadvlei and Sossusvlei Tour by ATV 3 hours & 37 miles driven
2. Dune 45
Namibia’s most famous dune is none other than Dune 45. While it is not the tallest in the Namib desert it is the most popular because you are allowed to climb this perfectly shaped sweeping sand dune. Every morning a handful of adventure ready visitors make the trek up to the top of this 80 meter (262 feet) tall dune. While it may look like an easy trek while looking up from the base, climbing Dune 45 at sunrise is no easy task, but worth every step. Look closely at the picture and you can see a few people at the top that look like little specks. We’ve personally climbed Dune 45 twice both while on an overland safari with Acacia Africa, click here to see all safaris traveling to Namibia.
3. Fish River Canyon
One of the largest canyons in the world and the biggest in Africa sits in the very south of Namibia and is a sight to see. The Fish River has carved out a massive canyon that winds its way through southern Namibia. Fish River Canyon is a great place to hike or just take in a sunset at the rim.
4. Meet the Himba People
One of the most fascinating groups of people that call Namibia home is the red clay covered tribes of Himba people. They are most well known for their unusually red pigment that comes from spreading red clay on to their face and hair. This tradition dates back hundreds of years and is still practiced today. The clay is used as protection from the sun and pests and each application can stay on for weeks. The women of the Himba people also do not wear any clothing on the top of their bodies only the red clay.
Known locally as the Matterhorn of the south, Spitzkoppe is a 120 million-year-old chunk of granite that springs out of the desert floor. Spitzkoppe is a 1784 meter tall rock formation is surrounded by nothing but miles and miles of flat desert. Although it comes up a little short compared to the real Matterhorn, Spitzkoppe is a sight to see in Namibia. If you make a visit staying the night is a must, the stars in the dry desert air will amaze you. You can stay in one of the chalets at Spitzkoppen Lodge. Or we suggest camping in Spitzkoppe, it’s one of our favorite campsites in Africa.
- Recommended Tour: Day trip to Spitzkoppe from Swakopmund.
6. Moon Landscapes
A short drive outside of Swakopmund will take you to what looks like another world. The Moon Landscapes of Namibia look as their name suggests like the surface of the moon. The dusty barren hills full of craggy holes and stones looks like something a lunar lander would encounter. The moon landscapes stretch on for miles and miles in central Namibia.
- Recommended Tour: Moon Landscape and Welwitschia Day Tour from Walvis Bay
7. Cheetah rescue
Namibia is home to the largest population of wild cheetahs in the world. More than 20% of what’s left of the world’s wild cheetahs can be found here. Unfortunately, cheetahs can sometimes prey on domestic animals like cattle and when that happens they are usually shot or trapped. An effort to save the cheetahs a few groups have started rescue efforts to relocate and rescue cheetahs instead of killing them. While in Namibia you can visit one of these rescues to see the cheetahs and here you can even interact with them. More on the Namibia Cheetah Farm here.
8. Skeleton Coast
The harsh Atlantic Coast of northern Namibia has been dubbed the skeleton coast that is littered with shipwrecks. The coastline quickly rises to a wall of sand hundreds of feet high. The Skeleton Coast is a sight you have to see for yourself. An epic way to experience this piece of Nambia is by helicopter or small plane to get a one of a kind ariel view.
9. ATV over the sand dunes
Hop on an ATV to combine the natural beauty of Namibia with adrenaline. Cruise on the expansive dune field up and down the tall dunes. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Namibia. If you ask us it’s one of the best ways to explore the dunes, we loved every minute of our ATV tour.
- Recommended Tour: Quad Bike Tour of the Namib Desert – Only $99
10. Kolmanskop sand covered houses
Made famous over the past few years by photographers this small once prosperous mining village is now overtaken by sand.
11. Etosha National Park
Namibia’s premier game park is located in the northern part of the country and is full of wildlife and adventure. Inside the park, you can see everything from elephants to lions, even giraffes, and rhino. Due to the arid climate, the animals you’ll find here will be uniquely adapted to life in the desert. The best part of this park is how everything revolves around the watering holes bringinf all animals close together to drink. Etosha also has an amazing campground also with hotel rooms to book. We stayed at the Okaukuejo Camp which has an amazing waterhole that we spent hours watching the animals come and go throughout the night, there are camping and luxury chalets overlooking the waterhole.
- Recommended Tour: 3-Hour Etosha National Park Game Drive
12. Sandboarding down the world’s largest sand dunes
If it’s adventure you are after then strap on a Namibian style snowboard and hit the sandy slopes. The only downside is there is no lift between runs making this sport quite the workout.
- Recommended Tour: 3-Hour Quad Biking and Sand-Boarding Combo from Swakopmund For Only $86
13. Stone Arch at Spitzkoppe
Another amazing sight near Spitzkoppe is the giant stone arch. An impossible looking arch topped with large rocks is a photographers dream. The picture opportunities with the stone arch are endless and it’s a must visit in Namibia.
14. See Ancient Cave Paintings
Namibia was home to ancient cultures and there are many sites where cave paintings can be found. If you are visiting Spitzkoppe there is a site called Bushman’s Paradise where you can find drawings of animals dating back thousands of years. Some of the best cave paintings can be found in Namibia’s UNESCO World Heritage site of Twyfelfontein. Here you will find more than 2,500 rock carvings and historical rock art in this 6,000-year-old site.
15. Stargaze in the desert
The dry cool desert air at night is perfect for gazing up into the night sky. Without moisture in the air, the night sky is crystal clear and stars are very visible. If you want to stargaze in Namibia plan your time during a new moon and the less light in the sky will make the stars shine even brighter.
16. Learn a Few Words of a Click Language
Another unique thing about Namibia is the many languages spoken in the country. None of which are more fascinating to visitors than a few remaining click languages. Speakers use a clicking or popping sound generated by the cheeks and tongue to accentuate their language. Sit down with a local and learn a few of their sounds and get a deeper look into the culture. A great tour to do this is on the Swakopmund tour.
- Recommended Tour: Township Tour of Swakopmund
17. Check out the classic cars left in the desert
Another trippy thing to do in Namibia is going on a classic car tour. Scattered all around the country are old cars left in the desert. The dry air keeps them in good shape and they are quite a sight to see among the dry barren landscapes of Namibia. A few places like the Canyon Roadhouse have a small collection of classic and antique cars parked forever in the desert. The roadhouse also makes a great place to spend the night whether you are camping or looking for a hotel room with a restaurant and bar.
18. Eat zebra and other game meats at Joe’s in Windhoek
A must stop on any Namibia itinerary is Joe’s Beer House in the capital city of Windhoek. On the menu, you find a very exotic set of animals. Joe’s specializes in Namibian game meats including oryx, kudu, Crocodile, ostrich, and even zebra. We each had an Oryx filet it was the best meal we had in Africa and one of the best steaks of our lives. They have a sampler platter so you can try a little bit of everything.
19. Get lost on the Pan
Inside of Etosha National Park, there is a giant salt flat the stretches for many miles. Salt flats make for great photo opportunities. You can play with perspective here making your subjects bigger or small by positioning them on the endless horizon of the salt flat of the pan.
20. Hangout at the Etosha watering hole at sunset
Another top thing to do in Etosha National Park is to hang out by the watering hole located just on the other side of the fences to the park’s campground. At dusk, you’ll find all kinds of species of animals making their way to the waterhole for a drink. The wildlife activity goes on all night with elephants, giraffes, rhinos, and even lions if you are lucky.
21. See Prehistoric Petrified Footprints
The unique climate of Namibia has frozen time in a few places around the country. A unique process and petrified footprints of animals and even dinosaurs for millions of years. One of the easiest places to see one of these sites is on a day trip from Swakopmund on ATV. Here you can find evidence of rhinos and other species that have long left the area frozen in clay and mud turned to stone. Here you’ll also see footprints of people as well, more on the tour here. If you want to see dinosaur footprints you’ll need to make the trip up to Otjihaenamaparero Farm in northern Namibia. Here there are several examples of dinosaur prints (a ceratosaurus to be specific) frozen forever in 200-million-year-old sandstone. If you make the trip you can also stay at the farm campsite.
- Recommended Tour: Living Dunes Experience from Swakopmund
22. The Tropic of Capricorn Crossing
One of most photographed spots in all of Namibia is the big white sign precisely placed at the 23°26′13.0″ South Latitude line along the dirt highway in Namibia. The sign is located along route C14 about an hour outside of Solitaire, Namibia.
23. Enjoy the seaside city of Swakopmund
Namibia is the 2nd least populated country in the world, but this seaside city of 44,000 people is a must visit while in the country. The town has a low key atmosphere with lots of local eateries and specialty shops. Swakopmund is a great place to get gear and take a break during an adventurous trip to Namibia. Swakopmund is also a great place to base yourself in Namibia with lots of top attractions nearby. See a list of tours from Swakopmund here.
- Suggest Swakopmund Hotels: Luxury – The Strand Hotel right on the beach. Budget – Amanpuri Travellers Lodge (we stayed here)
24. Skydive over the Namib desert
Get a face full of dry desert air while falling at over 100 mph toward the Namib desert when you take the leap while skydiving in Namibia. Probably the most adventurous thing you can do in Namibia is jumping out of a plane. Skydiving here will give you some epic views of the desert and sand dunes along with an adrenaline rush. Most tours go from Swakopmund and come highly recommended get more info on skydiving here.
25. See the wild horses of Aus, Namibia
Near the southern city of Aus, there is a herd of wild horses known as the Namib Desert Horse. They are thought to be some of the last remaining herd of wild horses left in Africa. If you want to see the wild horses a great place to spend the night and get more info on the horses is at Klein-Aus Vista Desert Horse Campsite.
See it all with an overland safari in Namibia
You can see all of the highlights of Namibia on an overland tour. This is the way we saw Namibia and it’s one of the best ways to do it. We have traveled with Acacia Africa for a total of 100 days and we can’t recommend a trip with them enough. This type of trip is perfect if you are traveling solo or as a small group. You can experience Namibia with a fun group of other travelers and see everything Namibia has to offer over an 11 day trip through the country. They also offer trips all across Africa too. Learn more about Namibia Overland tours here.
Places to stay in Namibia
Whether you want to stay in a luxury tented camp, a mid-range hotel or you want to camp on a budget Namibia has it all. When we go back to Namibia we’ve got our eyes on the following hotels & location.
- Windhoek: Windhoek Game Camp Check Rates
- Swakopmund: The Stiltz Book Now
- Etosha National Park: Etosha Aoba Lodge, Etosha National Park – Check Rates Now
- Kalahari Desert: Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch Resort Book Now
- Sossusvlei: Desert Quiver Camp Check Rates Now
Airbnb also has a bunch of tented camps, hotels, and gorgeous homes for rent. Click here for $40 off your stay with Airbnb.
Have you been to Namibia? What are some of your favorite things to do in Namibia?
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