Namibia

The hauntingly beautiful landscapes of Namibia are utterly unique, more akin to a far-off planet than a foreign land. The rich red dunes, skeletal trees, fascinating tribal inhabitants and unforgiving Skeleton Coast add to the spectacularly bewitching Namibian wilderness.

However many times you have visited the African continent and wherever you may have been, you will never have had experiences quite like those on offer in Namibia.

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activities & experiences

Native animals and flora maintain a tentative grasp on subsistence, many of them nomadic and only residing on Namibia’s plains for certain periods of the year. A photographer’s paradise, the stark Namibian scenery offers the perfect backdrop for wildlife photography. The majestic dunes present an excellent opportunity for a short hike and panoramic views.In drastic contrast to the interior, the coastline provides nature-watching opportunities of its own, the cold Atlantic home to Cape fur seals and numerous seabirds.

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From sand dunes to sea, Namibia has a stunning collection of activities and experiences for every kind of guest. The serenity is all-encompassing and the incredible surroundings provide inspiration for those of a creative bent. Artists, photographers and writers will thrive in this desert environment.

That is not to suggest that Namibia might be underwhelming for the more adventurous visitor. There is plenty to explore and numerous activities to keep even the most ardent thrill seeker entertained, as well as historical artefacts, fascinating locals and a wonderful coastline to explore.

  • Rise at dawn to capture a sunrise unlike anywhere else in the world
  • Scale the imaginatively-titled Dune 45 – the largest of the Namib, at over 260 feet (80 meters)
  • …and sandboard back down again!
  • Watch iconic African animals, including elephant and giraffe, wander the beach alongside large Cape fur seals
  • Enjoy a quad bike game drive 
  • Take in the incredible ancient cave art, dating back some 6,000 years
  • Hike through a portion of the world’s second largest canyon at Fish River
  • Meet the Himba, the indigenous people of Namibia, with their ochre-tinted otjize body paste
Cape Fur Seal, Skeleton Coast, Namibia
Kolmanskop, Namibia

destinations

The Skeleton Coast harbors the skeletal remains of several thousand shipwrecks dating back as far as 1747. While the salt corrodes the metal, these rusted vessels are nevertheless well preserved by the dry Namibian air. There is far more to Namibia the dunes and wrecks, and reaching further afield will open up many destinations of interest.

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  • The Hoanib Valley. The Himba of North-Eastern Namibia reside in the arid Hoanib Valley and this is the ideal location from which to visit their traditional villages. Familiar with visiting travelers, the hospitable Himba will welcome you into their humble homes and share with you their handicraft skills and their distinctive otjize, a traditional paste made from butter, animal fat and ochre, with which the women of the tribe adorn their skin and hair.
  • Fish River Canyon. Namibia is full of surprises, one of which is Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon of the entire African continent and second globally only to the Grand Canyon. Just like its American counterpart, Fish River Canyon – at the far-south of Namibia – is a sight to behold. Simply peering into its 1,640-foot (500-meter) depths is awe-inspiring, but hikers will also love the challenge of exploring its 100 miles of winding ravines. The southernmost end of the canyon is also home to Ai-Ais hot spring, a wonderful place to soak aching limbs after a long hike, or to simply relax and unwind.
  • The Skeleton Coast. The many shipwrecks and rugged coastline are only the beginning of Skeleton Coast appeal. Often shrouded in fog due to the cold Atlantic breeze meeting the hot air of the desert, the ghostly figures of ship hulls and even an occasional whale skeleton present an eerie sight. This national park accounts for the topmost third of Namibia’s coastline and exploring it by kayak presents a unique perspective of the region. Moving inland, the park is also home to elephant, giraffe, lion, gemsbok ostrich and many more wonderful creatures. From here, Etosha National Park is another highly worthwhile destination for nature spotting.
  • Spitzkoppe. ‘The Matterhorn of Namibia’ rises from the plains, a surreal monolith in an otherwise flat landscape. The lofty peak can be scaled and its foothills offer wonderful explorations for even the most lethargic of hikers. Spitzkoppe is also home to ancient artworks and a spectacular stone arch. This staggering natural wonder topped with monumental boulders is a photographer’s dream, and sunrise and sunset present wonderful opportunities for the shot of a lifetime
  • Kolmanskop. In 1908, diamonds were discovered in northern Namibia. Within four years, the town of Kolmanskop had appeared out of the desert. The town featured its own butcher, post office and even an ice factory and the abundance of glistening diamonds made it a wealthy oasis in the dunes. Such was its attraction to prospectors that, by 1956, the region had been so intensively mined that it had no treasures left and the town was abandoned as swiftly as it had been established.Since that time, the desert has consumed the township, Namibia’s lack of humidity maintaining paint, electrical fittings and even vibrant wallpaper in incredible condition. The surreal experience of wandering this old mining town is well worth the visit and Kolmanskop is seeing a fresh boon, with the site becoming a favorite destination for photographers and Instagrammers.

accommodations

Reflecting so much of this incredible country, accommodations across Namibia are as diverse as they are utterly unique. Whether you wish to gaze out across the Atlantic Ocean, be surrounded by grasslands and nature or be enveloped by the rolling red dunes of the desert, there is an abundance of choice.

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The national park of the Skeleton Coast from shoreline to hinterland is well worth taking the time to explore and a single day trip simply will not do this rugged landscape justice. While there are venues that offer more conventional, western-style luxury accommodation, nowhere quite equals Shipwreck Lodge. Romantic, intimate and truly exceptional, these exquisitely-designed cabins evoke the skeletal remains of the hundreds of ships that scatter the coastline.

For some, Namibian locations would offer two weeks of tranquil, undisturbed bliss, and for those wishing for a complete escape from the trappings of western culture few places are its equal. However, what may appeal to some might be somewhat challenging for others, especially with young ones. The serene Hoanib Valley allows you to live life on your time, taking each day as it comes, wandering the plains and dunes, tracking the incredible animals of the area or simply taking absolute delight in doing nothing at all. The region also has a wonderful array of activities to keep more active minds entertained for a long weekend, from game drives and hikes to balloon rides and quad biking.

If you are searching for a more conventional African safari experience, Etosha is the region most akin to the more renowned national parks of Africa; the Mara, Serengeti, Kruger et al. From reclusive camps to larger established lodges, Etosha has a superb range of accommodations for any size of group, singles, couples or larger. Etosha is the most game-rich region of Namibia, so if animal watching is high on your vacation agenda, this is where you will want to be.

Much of Namibia’s attraction lies in the northern half of the country. However, venturing south is also highly recommended. The Fish River Canyon is absolutely spectacular and a desirable, though shorter, chapter of your Namibian adventure. Several lodges take full advantage of the imposing views of this monumental natural wonder, perched atop the canyon’s 1,800-foot (550-meter) banks, taking in the expansive views across the 17-mile (27-kilometer) breadth.

Shipwreck Lodge, Namibia

NAMIBIA ESSENTIALS

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BEST TIME: Jul – Oct are cooler & highly advisable for desert regions, though nights do get cold

003 Thermometer 01

CLIMATE: LOW: 45-70ºF (7-21ºC) Jun – Jul / HIGH: 63-90ºF (17-32ºC)Oct – Mar

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SEASONS: DRY: May – Oct / WET: Nov & Apr

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BEST FOR: Adventurers, artists, photographers, families (for shorter visits)

Namibia is truly a unique destination and this should always be considered when planning your vacation. The wide range of attractions requires significant research or existing knowledge, so your Travel Designer will be invaluable in achieving the very best of your experience.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

HOW LONG SHOULD I SPEND IN NAMIBIA?

Namibia provides more than enough incredible locations and experiences to fill several weeks. Indeed, to see all this country has to offer will require a more extended trip. However, each region has its own somewhat specific appeal that may require only a day or two to encapsulate. Because of this, it is best to coordinate a complete itinerary comprising numerous destinations or select key aspects that you wish to experience as a weekend element of an Africa-wide vacation.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT?

A southern hemisphere destination, Namibia’s winter falls in the middle of the year, the more favorable temperate temperatures coinciding with a rise in wildlife populations, making nature watching both abundant and more pleasant than in the stifling summer months.

Likewise, May to October are also far drier, though the cold nights will require a warm winter jacket, and light gloves may even be advisable for early morning walks or photo opportunities.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM ACCOMMODATION IN NAMIBIA?

Like the entire country, something truly unique. From luxury lodges inspired by the elaborate nests of weaver birds to cabins resembling marooned timber sailboats, every venue evokes the wow factor. The unconventional tented camps of the Namib hug the desert floor, their sweeping canvas canopies perfectly juxtaposed with the graceful arcs of the encompassing dunes, while to the south, luxurious hotels poised on the brink of Fish River Canyon offer every modern convenience you could wish for.

OTHER DETAILS:

Visas are required for most visitors, and inoculations may be recommended. We suggest you contact your travel designer or a travel medicine specialist for advice.

International flights will usually alight at Cape Town or Johannesburg, with direct flights limited. Internal charter flights will bring you conveniently to your destination, though booking in advance is essential.

Namibia has numerous languages. Though English is the official language, it is spoken fluently by just seven percent of the population. Afrikaans and German are also spoken, but it is best to ensure your guide is multilingual rather than relying upon English for all of your interactions.

Many locations are desert, but they are cold. Especially in the winter season, it is essential to pack warm clothing.Food and service, both in accommodation staff and guides, are excellent though occasionally cuisine can be a little limited. Advise your Travel Designer as early as possible about your dietary requirements.

As with any cultural interaction, respect is paramount, but with Namibia’s wonderful Himba people humility is also strongly encouraged. These simple people have a highly minimalist way of life, so it is advisable to be subtle and humble when interacting, especially if you wish to take photos. They are, however, beautifully gentle and hospitable, so with politeness and courtesy, you will doubtlessly enjoy an incredible interaction.

Lastly, Namibia is not a conventional African safari experience, despite being an incredible destination filled with wonderful sights. As explained above, the rolling grassy plains so typical of safaris are very minimal. While Namibia does have plenty of wildlife, if that is your sole purpose for visiting you may feel a little unfulfilled. It is highly advisable to discuss your vacation ambitions with your Travel Designer to assess whether Namibia will meet your specific expectations.

NAMIBIA SAFARIS


WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

Wow, wow, wow!! We are back in LA now, recovering from jet lag and still in shock and awe regarding our experience. From the moment we landed in South Africa to the moment we touched down in LA, our experience was seamless and amazing. 

- Amy Lundberg

We were thrilled with the trip. It was as good as or better than described at every turn. The prep, attention to detail, willingness to make changes and ensure we were ready and prepared was outstanding. Our Travel Designer was awesome! 

- Betsy Robertson

Choosing a safari expert is never easy given the choice and lists upon lists of "top suppliers"....but we made the BEST choice for us....why....because above all, Rothschild listened ....really listened to what we wanted to experience.

- Dawn Jacobs

It was a well organized trip. It was easy to get around since we were guided through all of our itinerary. Everyone was pleasant and very helpful. This is an excellent way to travel. Rothschild Safari did very well and brought a fantastic African experience to us.

- George Kowalski

My trip was beyond AMAZING! I truly enjoyed every moment. The itinerary allowed me to experience a variety of different activities all of which I enjoyed! When I originally thought of going to Africa I was just thinking of safaris. This trip opened my eyes (and my family/friend's) to so much more Africa has to offer.

- Jackie Smith

Trip was PERFECT!! Every single detail was planned out and the accommodations and people were wonderful. This trip exceeded all of our wildest expectations. Every place we stayed was just lovely and each each camp had a different vibe, which was really neat. Everyone we worked with was outstanding. 

Jamie Scarlett

On behalf of the Moravec’s and the Stone’s……thank you for arranging a trip of a lifetime. Every detail was accounted for and all the recommendations were perfect. It honestly could not have gone any better.

Joe Moravec

Meggan Woody and Kim Killick were extraordinary at crafting THE PERFECT safari for our family of 8. They both listened (actually 'read' my email) to EXACTLY what we wanted, within the budget that we needed, and miraculously pulled off miracles in obtaining the properties that we wanted! 

Kim Mather

Every aspect of my trip went according to plan and the plan Rothschild's help me to orchestrate was magnificent! I loved every lodge that I was blessed to be in! They were all very different yet all high end and very accommodating.

Lisa Anderson

It was the most exciting, scenic, inspiring trip we've ever taken. To say it was a trip of a lifetime doesn't begin to capture our experience. Pam Langhoff and the Rothschild team did an outstanding job of helping us plan this trip.

Mary & Rob Johannigman (& family)