Wild, Wilder, Wildest – Namibia

December 20th 2019  |   Namibia  |  by   Richard Smith
wild Namibia

Wild – Sossusvlei

Safari in Namibia and you will come away raving about the landscapes, the colours and the changing hues. The most famous of all is, perhaps, the incredible landscape of Sossusvlei where the wind constantly sculpts and re-sculpts the majestic dunes, their other-worldly beauty standing vivid against the invariably clear blue of the Namibian sky.

Walking in the Sossusvlei dunes. Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

Walking in the Sossusvlei dunes. Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

The dunes are, in fact, just part of the magical scenery of the Namib Naukluft Desert and adjoining Namib Rand nature reserve, and the whole area is a real highlight on any Namibian holiday.   This is the country’s busiest area too, but choose wisely, perhaps staying somewhere like Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, and an early start and a quality guide will get you an exclusive experience away from the tourists.

Sossusvlei Dune Lodge in it's magnificent setting

Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in it’s magnificent setting

Wilder – Damaraland

While some will simply pass through Damaraland en-route to Etosha, those in the know understand this area offers experiences unique to Namibia.

Endless vistas in Damaraland. Damaraland Camp

Endless vistas in Damaraland. Damaraland Camp

The huge tracts of semi-desert land that make up Damaraland are hauntingly beautiful, especially as the light changes through the morning and late afternoon. Bare granite mountains loom over gravel plains, dotted with caves and overhangs painted with ancient bushman art. This reaches a peak at Twyfelfontein, where ancient images crowd together in one of Africa’s densest, and most affecting, open-air galleries.

Flora has adapted to survive in this dry environment, with two of the most obvious examples being the toxic euphorbia and long-lived welwitschia plants: the latter is thought to survive for over a thousand years, though it never looks very far from withering away completely. Wildlife includes desert adapted elephant and black rhino, as well as oryx, gemsbok and springbok, trailed by the occasional hungry cheetah or lion.

Desert elephant spotted on a game drive from Damaraland Camp

Desert elephant spotted on a game drive from Damaraland Camp

Damaraland Camp is community owned, completely run by local Namibians, and brilliant for desert elephant spotting, while Desert Rhino Camp is, as its name suggests, an excellent base for tracking free roaming black rhino on foot.

Tracking black rhino at Desert Rhino Camp

Tracking black rhino at Desert Rhino Camp

Wildest – Skeleton Coast

As my family and I bumped along the ‘Kunene Highway’ to Shipwreck Lodge – actually a track along the beach marked by poles – we giggled at the differences in the definition of a road between our home in the UK and one of the remotest parts of Namibia.

One of the wrecks scattered along Namibia's Skeleton Coast. Shipwreck Lodge

One of the wrecks scattered along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. Shipwreck Lodge

To get here, we’d driven for the best part of a day from Swakopmund, along the coast to Mowe Bay, a tiny collection of shacks, outbuilding and a workshop. We left our car here, and were shuttled a further hour along the beach by a driver and vehicle from the lodge.

The rooms at Shipwreck Lodge set along a coastal sand dune

The rooms at Shipwreck Lodge set along a coastal sand dune

This harsh section of coastline named after the ships washed onto unforgiving rocks in the fog that blights the shoreline. The morning fog means later starts to days spent here, but there’s still plenty to do and see, whether that’s quad biking on the dunes, visiting shipwrecks and hearing the stories of their demise, or driving along the bed of the ephemeral Hoarusib River to see oryx, springbok and a canyon formed of clay deposits.  It’s an extraordinary region and very well worth the time spent to reach it.

Quad biking in the dunes from Shipwreck Lodge

Quad biking in the dunes from Shipwreck Lodge

Any questions on holidays in wild Namibia?

If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have that we should have included, please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, whether to the Sossusvlei, Damaraland or the furthest reaches of Namibia. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of Namibian holiday from self drive, to guided, to fly-in. If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.

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