Geographical extremes have provided Namibia with one of Africa’s most unusual yet beautiful landscapes. Golden deserts meet the crashing ocean for the ultimate off-roading adventure, while world-class safari opportunities and the incomparable skeleton coast are slowly starting to creep onto the discerning tourist’s radar. What’s most striking about this vast country however, is how seriously it takes conservation and sustainability. Currently, over 40% of the landscape is currently under active conservation management. What’s more, Namibia was the first African country to legislate environmental protection into its constitution, hardly surprising considering the wealth of different wildlife abound. With sustainable safari and a host of other-worldly landscapes on offer, Namibia is our editor’s hot pick for tourism growth over the next few years. If you want to get ahead of the crowd (or swerve it altogether in this case), keep reading for our pick of the best lodges, drives and experiences in one of the least crowded destinations on the planet.
You can’t mention Namibia without talking about Safari. Perhaps not as well-known as neighbouring South Africa and Botswana or neighbours on the west coast of the continent, but what Namibia lacks in hype, it makes up for in diversity. Since regaining its independence in the 90s, Namibia’s government made the bold move to redistribute the land and animals back to people who have lived there for generations, entrusting them to preserve and protect the wildlife. This approach has been extremely successful in helping Namibia to become one of the leading nations in biodiversity and wildlife conservation. On a typical safari, expect to see cheetah’s roaming free and a distinct lack of fences and other boundaries we’ve become accustomed to in protected wildlife reserves.
Set up shack in the Desert Rhino Camp to get up and personal with Africa’s fourth largest land mammal, but don’t expect an easy ride - 4.30am starts and bumpy jeeps are par for the course. The camp is run in conjunction with Save The Rhinos foundation, so know that your tourist dollars are being invested back into protecting the amazing Black Rhino. For a little luxury and a lot of headspace, Wolwedans’ Boulders Safari Camp is the perfect choice. Cast far away from the nearest semblance of civilisation, this collection of five idyllic tents boast panoramic views over the rocky landscape and provides an excellent spot for some romantic stargazing. For a chance to see the majestic desert elephant, head to the Nambwa Tented Camp for a taste of luxury on stilts. In order to protect their migratory routes, this camp is perched among the treetops, offering you an unbeatable view of the gentle giants wandering between the plains below. In the Zambezi region of Namibia, you’ll find the award-winning Jackalberry lodge, completely run on solar energy, you’ll be able to tick off everything from jackals to hippos with a clear conscience.
After letting your inner David Attenborough roam free, it’s time to slow the pace down a little and take some time for yourself. There’s no better place to indulge in a little bit of soul searching than the Damaraland, an arid, barren yet truly authentic wildlife destination. Home to the Himba people, this great plain is the place to head for pure detachment from the world with a little culture thrown in. Check into the Damaraland Camp for a truly wild stay - eco-friendly and conservation minded, this luxury camp will help to keep your carbon footprint low while giving you sweeping views of the vistas all day long. The Grootberg Lodge is also a must (the infinity pool overlooking the terracotta-hued vallery is surely one of the best in the world), where you can get accustomed to the culture and traditions of the local people during the day and enjoy all the comforts of home at night.
Time for a road trip. With a 4x4 vehicle loaded up, spend some time driving along the alien landscape that is the Skeleton Coast, a barren stretch of coast where the desert meets the sea. Namibia is home to the oldest desert in the world, The Namib, where you can find the world’s highest sand dunes - say sorry to your Jeep and make a beeline for that sand surf. The Elegant Desert Lodge Eco Camp can put your up for the night in the heart of the red seas of sand for a night of fire pits, endless stars and the sound of silence - waking up in the desert is something everyone should do at least once. Once you’ve tired yourself out on the road and are pining for some rest and relaxation, spend some time soaking up the culture in Serra Cafema, a remote camp in the heart of the Kaokoland where you can learn more about the Himba people and potentially spot Crocodiles lurking in the nearby Kunene river before your adventure comes to an end.