While the current President of the United States has an impossible time pronouncing Namibia, travelers the world over say this stunning destination is actually the easiest and safest country in Africa to travel. With a population of about 2.6 million people, the Republic of Namibia is located on the western coast of southern Africa. Despite its coastal geography, it is the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa, largely owing to the Namib desert.
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As the second least populated country in the world, one might think there’d be a drought of things to do and see here. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Namibia could well be the most unique and spectacularly photographic country on earth. And we’ll prove it with 8 “Bucket List” Adventures.
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At least 40 million years old, the Namib Desert is one of the oldest deserts in the world and quite likely without peer when it comes to its stark scenic beauty. Exploring this vast arid region, like any place in Namibia, is best done by self-driving. That said, this is an unforgiving territory and one must plan routes precisely.
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The Namib boasts the world’s tallest sand dunes (325m), and its most popular mountain of sand is Dune 45 because you are allowed to climb it. It’s only 80m (262 feet) tall but climbers queue up every morning to make the trek. Even more impressive is the Sossusvlei, a dry clay pan surrounding by orange-red dunes. The best times to visit are at sunrise or sunset. Early rising climbers will need to stay overnight in the campsite, but this allows you to immediately visit another surreal landscape before the sun goes nuclear.
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Just 2km away is the eerie and stunning Deadvlei with its ghostly dead Acacia trees surrounded by cracked clay and red sand dunes. Many assume the trees are petrified but they owe their skeletal state due to the extremely dry air which prevents decomposition. Deadvlei is one place you need a backpack full of memory cards as it is truly unforgettable. One can only wonder if the end game of the climate change will leave us with the same fate as these Acacias?
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On a more cheerful note, the photographic solemnity of the Namib is easily transformed with some high-energy sand-boarding. Basically, you snowboard down a sand dune. Unfortunately, there are no lifts to return you to the top. You can catch a quick board tour out of Swakopmund, the coolest city in Namibia and the epicenter of its tourism. A beach town of 44,000 or so, Swakopmund is also the jumping off point to go sky-diving, paragliding, as well as ATV riding. With numerous accommodations, this tiny city is packed with hip eateries, shops and rainbow of colorful houses from its German colonial days. Not surprisingly, Swakopmund serves the best thirst-quenching German beer and authentic brats this side of Munich.
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We travel along the oceanfront for your next adventures, beginning with the Skeleton Coast, or as Portuguese maritimers dubbed it — “The Gates of Hell”. Before that bush men simply described it as “The Land God Made in Anger”. If this isn’t enough to get your adrenalin pumping, there’s an actual Skeleton Coast Gate complete with skull and crossbones. This truly is the wild, wild west as there are no services available so rent a 4×4 with more than sufficient gas mileage and pack extra food and water. The reward for this trouble, is a photographer’s dream — a panoramic coastline and wind-lashed sand dunes cascading directly into the Atlantic ocean. You also find the Cape Cross Seal Reserve, a breeding colony of approximately 100,000 seals energetically fattened by the abundant populations of fish just off the coast. Be forewarned however, because of that many seals are extremely pungent.
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Kaokoland is for the intrepid who find braving the rugged Skeleton Coast exciting. If you’re seeking five-star travel, go on a luxury safari up north, because this region of Namibia is home to Himba tribe who share the land with desert elephants, giraffe and lions. The Himba are a soulful and photogenic people that would make Dorothea Lange green with envy. Which would nicely compliment the Himba, who are famous for a sunscreen/bug repellant hack called otijize that gives their skin and hair a reddish ochre hue. Make sure you download your camera’s memory before visiting this iconic tribe.
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We could go on and on about things to do in Namibia, but our remaining word count has to be focused on what everyone comes to Africa for — safari. And in Namibia that means — Etosha — the country’s premier game park and the most affordable and convenient reserve in all of Africa to navigate on your own.
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Etosha’s star attractions are its elephants, lions, giraffes, and rhinos (black and white). Due to the dry climate, the epicenter of activity is the watering hole, many of which are lighted so you can view the animals getting a nightcap – “double water neat”.
For a human watering hole — grab a traditional gin & tonic, great eats and even live music at Down Corruption Bar considerately located inside Godwana’s Etosha Safari Camp.
Aside from the Etosha’s incredible animals, an awesome photographic opportunity awaits at its huge salt flat where you can manipulate perspective because of the infinite horizon.
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Our perspective is Namibia may well be our #1 travel destination this year. So, rest assured, we’ll provide an even wider-angle lens on this amazing country. In the meantime, Book your next holiday with ENTERTAINER getaways on your ENTERTAINER app! You’ll get to enjoy your vacation with up to 60% off your hotel stay!