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Places of  Interest

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Skeleton Coast Sossusvlei Swakopmund
Spitzkoppe Fish River Canyon Etosha National Park
Namib Naukluft Park    
Skeleton Coast

The world legendary Skeleton Coast is an area of significant contrasts, and is named because of the skeletons of many ships that were wrecked along its coastline. This striking area with its interesting past is one of the main draw cards for tourists to Namibia. Dare to visualise a greater contrast than a desert alongside a roaring ocean. The unimaginable occurs at Namibia’s northern seaboard where the perimeter of the Namib Desert pushes headstrong into the cold waters of the South Atlantic.


Portuguese sailors referred to this wasteland of white sand ‘the coast of hell’. Later it became known as the Skeleton Coast, because of the miserable fate of castaways from ships that were ship wrecked here through the centuries, destined to endure scorching heat, clammy mists, total isolation and very little drinking water or shelter. The area includes the National West Coast Recreation Area north of Swakopmund and the Skeleton Coast Park from the Ugab River north to the Kunene.

Sossusvlei
One of Namibia's main attractions is the clay pans of Sossusvlei, in the Namib Desert, surrounded by magnificent ochre sand dunes. The sand dunes of Sossusvlei are often referred to as the highest dunes in the world. Various arguments are made in support of this claim, reaching more than 960ft (300m) they are an incredible sight of endless rolling shapes and sharp wind-sculpted crests. The dunes have been developed over a period of millions of years; their forms are continuously changing, rising and falling at the mercy of the relentless wind.

The best time to view Sossusvlei is at sunrise; the colours are strong and constantly changing, allowing for wonderful photographic opportunities. The midday heat is intense and best spent in the shade while sunset also offers excellent photo opportunities of shifting sand, stretching as far as the eye can see.

The most striking pan is Dead Vlei, an enormous concave depression of dry cracked mud scattered with ancient camel-thorn trees. The pans are only ever filled with water after the occasional heavy rainfall, which only occurs every few years. The solid clay layers hold the water for a long time, providing a habitat and sustenance for countless water birds and a drinking hole for animals.
Swakopmund
Swakopmund is a delightful little seaside town in the heart of the photographic Namib Desert. Frequently described as 'a slice of Germany on the edge of the desert', it has numerous fine German colonial buildings and a noticeably German character. Amid palm-lined streets, seaside promenades and fine accommodation for all budgets, Swakopmund is Namibia’s most popular holiday destination, and its pleasant summer climate and decent beaches attract surfers, anglers and beach lovers from around the globe.

Besides the region's food specialties of rock lobster, fish and Swakopmund oysters, customary German fare, including sausages and pastries, can be enjoyed. The stretch of coast linking Swakopmund to the Atlantic Ocean is particularly known for its angling, and the surrounding dunes of the desert provide many opportunities for sand boarding, quad biking and paragliding.
Spitzkoppe
The natural beauty of the Spitzkoppe is impressive; an island of bald granite peaks situated in an endless grassy plain that is visible for miles around. The Groot Spitzkop is often referred to as the 'Matterhorn of Africa' because of its resemblance in shape, and it is one of Namibia's most famous mountains. Rising to a altitude of about 1800 metres, the Spitzkoppe not the Namibia's highest mountain, nevertheless, due to its striking outlines, is regarded as the most well-known mountain in the country.

The massive granite rocks were formed hundreds of millions of years ago due to volcanic activity and successive erosion that has resulted in interesting rock formations and memorable outlines, which beckons to be explored. The area is also renowned for its spectacular sunrises that turn the rocks from pale orange to flaming gold. In close proximity are the Little Spitzkoppe and the Pontok Mountains. The area is a delight for climbers, although only experienced and well-prepared mountaineers with adequate equipment should attempt the Spitzkoppe itself.

Bushman paintings can be found in various places, many in the "Bushman Paradise" under an overhanging rock wall. Bird life is represented by several species one of these is the Herero Chat one of most beautiful birds in the area.

Fish River Canyon
The Fish River canyon, located along the lower reaches of the Fish River, is one of the most striking natural beauties in the southern part of Namibia. It formed primarily during the pluvial times - a rainy climatic era - millions of years ago.

The canyon originates near Seeheim and ends at Ai-Ais. The Canyon has a depth of up to 550 metres affording it the status of the second largest canyon in the world, before the Grand Canyon in America. The vast gorge meanders along a distance of approx. 160 kilometres through the fissured Koubis massif all the way down to Ai-Ais. It cuts deep into the plateau which is today dry, stony and sparsely covered with hardy drought resistant plants such as succulents. The river flows occasionally, usually coming down in flood in late summer, and when it ceases to flow it becomes a chain of long narrow pools on the sandy rock-strewn floor of the chasm. At the lower end of the Fish River Canyon, the hot springs resort of Ai-Ais provides a sanctuary in the deserted rocky wastes.

The canyon is the home of some small resilient mammals such as rock-hopping Klipspringer Antelope, little and Baboons. Other wildlife include Kudu, Leopard and Mountain Zebra, whose spoor you might come across, but are unlikely to see. The sights are mind-blowing a photographers dream.

Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is one of Southern Africa's finest and most important Game Reserves. Etosha Game park was declared a National Park in 1907 and covers an area of 22 270 square km, and is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and, one species of fish.
Etosha, "the place of dry water," is one of the great, and sparsely enjoyed, wildlife experiences remaining in Africa. The park is dominated by a massive mineral pan, which form part of the Kalahari Basin, the floor of which was formed around 1000 million years ago. Formerly a vast lake fed by the Kunene River, the pan dried up thousands of years ago when the river waters chose a new course leaving a huge depression of salt and dusty clay behind. When it rains the pan only holds water for a short time, attracting thousands of wading birds including impressive flocks of flamingos. The permanent springs along the edges of the Etosha Pan draw large concentrations of wildlife.


Etosha is big game country, elephants and giraffes travel the land, and the rare black rhinoceros puts in a frequent appearance. Both species of zebras graze the park outnumbered by antelope which include springboks, gemsboks, red hartebeests, blue wildebeests, elands, kudus and the elusive black-faced impala. More fortunate visitors will see leopard and cheetah.

Namib Naukluft Park
The Namib Naukluft Park is one of the largest national parks in Africa about 50.000 sqkms, covering much of the central Namib Desert and the Naukluft Mountains. Most parts of this vast area are not accessible to man. One can only visit a small stretch north of the Kuiseb river: the Naukluft Mountains and the Sossusvlei in the central dune fields. The Naukluft Mountains with their jagged rock massifs and deep riverbeds rise up to 1000 metres above the surrounding area, the highest peak reaches 1949 m, making it a hiker's paradise.
 

The park is home to some of the rarest and peculiar plant and animal species in the world, including the Welwitschia Mirabilis, large lichen fields and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra. The highlight of a visit to the Namib Naukluft Park is a trip to the Sossusvlei. It lies within the Central Dune Namib, which is, with an area of about 32 000 sqkms, the largest part of the park. The famous Sossusvlei sand dunes at 300m, are the highest in the world, towering over their nearest rivals in Arabia, and just begging to be climbed barefoot.
A few gravel roads cross the northern section and another leads into the middle dune area and Sesriem canyon. Apart from road travel the only way to appreciate the splendor of the park is by light aircraft on a scenic flight from Walvis Bay/Swakopmund.