14 Life-Changing Experiences You Can Only Have in Namibia

Sand dunes of Namibia
Sand dunes of Namibia | © Ryan Cheng / Unsplash
Shifting sand dunes, desert adapted wildlife, desolate coastlines and barren deserts all add to Namibia’s distinct uniqueness with the landscape of the country lending itself to deep and thought provoking ponder. A visit to this strikingly beautiful country could change your outlook on life forever. Here are 14 reasons why.

Giant's Playground

Natural Feature
Giant’s Playground
Giant’s Playground | © Joachim Huber/Flickr

This surreal landscape of scattered stone and odd rock piles is located near Keetmanshoop and literally looks as if a few giants got together for a stone throwing party. The weird rock structures are in fact a result of natural forces and weathering over millions of years but do make for great photos. For those that want to get lost its rather easy to loose your bearings in between the imposing rocks. Take a moment while you are here to reflect on nature and its magnificent abilities.

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An old bath in Kolmanskop
An old bath in Kolmanskop | © Tee La Rosa/Flickr

While this may sound quite normal at first the reality is in fact far from it. Kolmanskop is a ghost town in the Namib Desert, not far from Lüderitz that was once a thriving diamond mining hive. After the gems dried up the occupants made a hasty retreat leaving behind an eerie, deserted town. While many of the buildings still remain, some have been damaged by the sands of time, with bits and pieces of former households strewn across the desert. Take a walk through its abandoned beauty and try out a bath for size.

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Ai-Ais Hot Springs

Ai-Ais Namibia
Ai-Ais, Namibia | Ai-Ais, Namibia

After a hot dusty day exploring the desert nothing beats relaxing in the Ai-Ais therapeutic hot springs. Their name means burning water and their thermal properties, said to be excellent for rheumatism, are particularly sought after in the winter months. It’s a rather awesome feeling sitting in the springs while you allow nature to treat you to some healing and feast your eyes on the scenic wonderland around you. The resort also offers outdoor and indoor pools of varying temperature.

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Old car in Solitaire
Old car in Solitaire | Old car in Solitaire

Although not necessarily life-changing, it is nevertheless intriguing to discover the large number of old vintage cars that lie broken and neglected in the middle of the desert. These odd wrecks add an element of the twilight zone to the dusty desert landscape and one can spend hours guessing as to how they got there and why they stayed. Some sport bullet holes which makes the mystery even more interesting and thought provoking. Although scattered throughout the desert, Solitaire is one of the best places to ponder these old cars.

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Dune 7

Natural Feature
Namibian dunes
Stunning Namibian dunes | Stunning Namibian dunes

Dune 7 is not just awesomely inspiring to look at but also rates as the highest sand dune in the world. It is taller than The Shard in London and features attractive hues that range from sandy brown to shades of yellow and orange, depending on the position of the sun. Taking a hike up to its peaks is a mind blowing experience and truly unique. If you get to the top reward yourself with a moment to catch your breathe as you take in the epic beauty of mother nature.

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Desert Express

Train Station
Windhoek railway station
Windhoek railway station | Windhoek railway station

This luxurious train takes visitors on the trip of a lifetime as it ensconces them in ultra-modern surrounds and plush upholstery while travelling through Namibia’s central highlands towards Swakopmund on the Atlantic coast. It makes for a fabulous and unique weekend getaway while those looking for a longer trip can take the seven day option that includes game drives in the Etosha National Park. Rates include accommodation in the coaches, meals and selected excursions.

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Fish River Canyon

Natural Feature
Sunset in the Fish River Canyon
Sunset in the Fish River Canyon | Sunset in the Fish River Canyon

Located in the far south of Namibia, the deep ravine that makes up the Fish River Canyon is the second largest in the world. A fabulously magnificent sight at any time of the day, the canyon takes on a special atmosphere come sunset when the rocks glow orange and shimmer against an increasingly darkening sky. Various lookout points offer breath-taking views of this natural spectacle that must rate as one of the most inspiring on the planet. Take some drinks and snacks and settle down to watch the show.

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Living Museum of the San

San in Namibia
San in Namibia | San in Namibia

The San, or Bushmen, are one of the oldest tribes in Africa and the original inhabitants of Namibia. They are revered for their excellent survival skills and are master bow hunters with a deep knowledge of the land on which they live. The Living Museum provides the rare and unique opportunity to learn from and interact with this amazing tribe by joining them on a traditional hunt or by fashioning bows and arrows and discovering more about the medicinal uses of plants. Take a break from modern times for a while as you return to basics and the true meaning of life. The museum is open 365 days of the year from sunrise to sunset. Bookings are not necessary.

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Skeleton Coast

Part of a shipwreck on the Skeleton Coast
Part of a shipwreck on the Skeleton Coast | Part of a shipwreck on the Skeleton Coast

Often swathed in thick layers of fog, the eerie Skeleton Coast is littered with the misfortune of bygone sailors who met with a watery death when running their ships onto rocks. If you stop for a while to stare out over the foggy ocean it’s easy to image how an old sailing boat would have run aground in such bad visibility, while the misty light adds to the haunting feel. Even if they got to shore most sailors died, with no water to sustain them and no shelter from the harsh sun. The area still echoes with a slight despair and the whispers of a treacherous past and will absorb you with its dangerous beauty.

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Snuggle under the Milky Way

Natural Feature
Milky Way
The Milky Way from Namibia | The Milky Way from Namibia

Vast open spaces over much of the country makes Namibia one of the best stargazing locations in the world. Take a throw and a bottle of wine and share this awesome moment with your significant other as you snuggle under a blanket of twinkling stars. Life changing events happen during moments such as these, so this would be an excellent time to pop the question and give her a diamond that rivals the shimmer of the stars.

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Run with wild horses

Natural Feature
Namib Desert horse
Namib Desert horse | Namib Desert horse

Officially referred to as the Namib Desert horse, this rare, feral breed is the only one of its kind in Africa with an origin that is shrouded in history. They roam the sparsely vegetated plains of the Namib Desert near the town of Aus and have adapted superbly to their dry, arid surrounds. The horses are a fascinating and beautiful sight to behold and their untamed spirit reminds one that anything is possible despite difficult circumstances.

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Natural Feature
The surreal beauty of Deadvlei
The surreal beauty of Deadvlei | The surreal beauty of Deadvlei

Deadvlei is a strikingly white clay pan, surrounded by rich red sand dunes that is home to a forest of black and dead acacia trees. Due to its unusual beauty it is one of the most photographed locations in the world and its empty solitude evokes a highly emotive atmosphere. A visit to Namibia simply isn’t complete without a stop at this surreal location that is bound to change your outlook on the world, if only for one still and solitary moment

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Skydive in Swakopmund

Natural Feature
Tandem skydive over the Namib
Tandem skydive over the Namib | Tandem skydive over the Namib

Few can argue that swooping through the sky doesn’t rate as a life changing experience and in Namibia it’s even more awesome, as your bird’s eye view allows you to comprehend just how immense the Namib Desert is. No previous experience is necessary and tandem skydives are available. Enjoy a scenic flight from Swakopmund before you jump out the plane and float through the sky for approximately 5-8 minutes.

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Kayak at Pelican Point

Natural Feature
Kayaking at Pelican Point
Kayaking at Pelican Point | Kayaking at Pelican Point
Few can say they have visited one of the largest dune fields in the world where the desert meets the ocean in dramatic beauty. Marvel at the stunning scenery and power of nature as you take a tour to the remote and pretty Pelican Point Peninsula where Cape fur seals, flamingos, pelicans and dolphins wait to be discovered. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and visiting it is a once in a lifetime experience.
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