20 Unmissable Attractions in Namibia

Sesriem, Namibia
Sesriem, Namibia | © rdebbo / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Gill Lange
29 January 2018

Desert abundance may sound like an oxymoron, but in Namibia the phrase rings true, with countless spectacular natural attractions spread across the dusty, arid landscape, unique in their beauty and stunning to behold. Here is a selection of Namibia’s most unmissable attractions.

Skeleton Coast

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Abandoned wooden building in the desert on the Skeleton Coast, Namibia, Africa.
Skeleton Coast, Namibia | © Gary Webber / Alamy Stock Photo
Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is a harsh and unyielding landscape where only the hardiest of desert-adapted animals survive. It is also notorious for its rough seas and thick fog that has claimed the lives of many sailors over the years. A coastline littered with shipwrecks attests to the treacherous conditions.

Desert-adapted wildlife

Namibia is home to spectacular and unusual wildlife, with many species having made physical adaptations in order to survive in the arid desert conditions. In many cases, the scarcity of water is overcome by drinking droplets of condensed fog from plant leaves.

The Namib Desert beetle fog basking, Namibia | © Martin Harvey / Alamy Stock Photo

Dead Vlei

Natural Feature
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Dead trees, sand dunes and blue sky. Dead Vlei, Sossusvlei, Namibia. Image shot 2004. Exact date unknown.
Dead Vlei, Sossusvlei, Namibia | © Gary Dublanko / Alamy Stock Photo
Some of the most iconic photographs of Namibia come from this area of the country. Dead Vlei is a clay pan characterised by dark, dead camel thorn trees that are believed to be over 900 years old, and stand in stark contrast against the white pan floor. Make sure to have you camera handy when visiting this exquisitely photographic site.

Etosha National Park, Namibia

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African elephants (Loxodonta africana) on the open plains of the Etosha National Park, Namibia
African elephants in Etosha National Park, Namibia | © NSP-RF / Alamy Stock Photo
This spectacular wildlife park is dominated by a massive mineral pan, part of the Kalahari Basin, the floor of which was formed over 1,000 million years ago and fills up only for a short period of time, when rains are heavy. For most of the year it is a shimmering mirage against which the long shadows of passing herds of game can be seen, providing a unique and stunningly stark landscape. Despite its aridness, the park is rich in wildlife and boasts the ‘big five’ and over 100 other mammal species, as well as thousands of birds that flock to the pan.

Welwitschia Drive

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Welwitschia Drive, Moon Landscape, Welwitschia Plains, Desert Adventure, Swakopmund, Namibia, Africa, by Monika Hrdinova/Dembinsky Photo Assoc
Welwitschia Drive | © Monika Hrdinova / Dembinsky Photo Associates / Alamy Stock Photo
This desert route is located in the northern corner of the Namib-Naukluft National Park and includes 13 numbered stone beacons at points of particular interest. The four-hour drive culminates at one of Namibia’s largest, and oldest, welwitschia plants, a strange and highly unique desert species.


Natural Feature
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Landscape Dry River, Hoanib, Kaokoland, Namibia
Kaokoland, Namibia | © Thorsten Milse / robertharding/Getty
This remote region in northern Namibia is often considered one of the last true wilderness areas in Africa, where desert-adapted elephants roam the dry riverbeds in search of spring-fed waterholes, and the proud Himba people remain unaffected by changes to the modern world. Outside the capital of Opuwo there are no amenities, only a network of dirt roads that lead into a vast and isolated wilderness. The attraction of the area lies in its solitary beauty; it’s a rugged mountainous landscape that is sparsely populated and looks very similar to the way it would have appeared over 100 years ago.

Namib Desert

Natural Feature
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The waves of the Atlantic Ocean advance toward the sand dunes of the Namib Desert Namibia Africa
Namib Desert meets the sea | © Roberto Moiola / Alamy Stock Photo
The Namib Desert claims the title of the oldest in the world and dishes up panoramic landscapes that are second to none. It is an immense expanse of relentlessly moving gravel plains and dunes that stretch along the entire Namibian coastline and holds evidence of human existence dating back to the Stone Age.


Building, Natural Feature
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Car decoration at the Solitaire fuel and food stop - Southern Namibia.. Image shot 10/2009. Exact date unknown.
Solitaire fuel stop, Southern Namibia | © Charles Tomalin / Alamy Stock Photo
Amidst a mass a sandy dunes and dry desert landscape is a quirky little pit stop named Solitaire. It is mostly used as a refueling station and a place to stock up on refreshments, and holds a unique charm all of its own. It is also a favourite location for photographers due to the large number of old cars buried in the sand.

Rock art

There are numerous important rock art sites scattered across Namibia, the best-known being the Brandberg Massif in Damaraland that showcases San hunter-gatherer rock art that is over 2,000 years old. Also in Damaraland is Twyfelfontein, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important rock engraving sites in southern Africa.

Sesriem Canyon

Natural Feature
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wanderer in the Sesriem canyon, Namibia, Namib Naukluft National Park
Wanderer in the Sesriem canyon, Namibia | © blickwinkel / Alamy Stock Photo
This natural canyon was carved by the Tsauchab River and is a popular attraction in the Sossusvlei area. Its name means ‘six belts’ and was given by settlers who had to attach together six belts in order to reach buckets down into the canyon to scoop up water. The canyon is still an important water source for wildlife today.


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SWAKOPMUND/NAMIBIA - MARCH 25 2018: Pretty young girls in beautiful pink costumes perform song and dance routine outside local school
Girls perform song and dance routine outside local school in Swakopmund | © Rosaline Napier / Alamy Stock Photo
Pretty as a picture, the scenic seaside town of Swakopmund breathes fresh salty air into the dry desert landscape. It is a popular stopover for visitors to Namibia and the quaint and pretty town offers plenty in terms of sights, places to eat and things to do.

Caprivi Strip

Natural Feature
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Hippo in a river in the Caprivi Strip, Namibia
Hippo in a river in the Caprivi Strip, Namibia | © Cathy Withers-Clarke / Alamy Stock Photo
Unlike the rest of Namibia, the Caprivi Strip is blessed with lush vegetation and abundant water. There are five protected areas within the Caprivi where big game can be found. The Popa Falls are popular for day trips and it’s a great area to do some bird spotting.

Sand dunes

Namibia sports some of the most spectacular sand dunes in the world, that shift and change shape with the wind, transforming themselves into new visions of beauty every day. Climb them, sand board down them or simply admire them from a distance.

Sandwich Harbour

Natural Feature
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Flamingos, Sandwich Harbour, Namibia, Africa.. Image shot 01/2014. Exact date unknown.
Flamingos, Sandwich Harbour, Namibia | © ams images / Alamy Stock Photo
Lying south of Walvis Bay, this amazing protected natural site was once used as a port by whalers. It consists of a freshwater lagoon that laps the huge dunes of the Namib Desert and is home to a massive variety of marine birds and unique archaeological sites showcasing ancient animal tracks and old graves. It forms part of the Namib Sea Sand, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the biggest sand fields in the world. Entry to this area is only possible with a 4×4 vehicle, and visitors should be accompanied by a guide.

Sossusvlei sunset

Natural Feature
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Sossusvlei sand dune, Naukluft National Park, Namibia, Africa
Sossusvlei, Namibia | © John Dambik / Alamy Stock Photo
Here, mighty sand dunes dominate the terrain, dotted occasionally by unusual plants that survive despite the harsh and unyielding desert-like conditions. Tree skeletons stand out starkly against the red-hued landscape, renowned for some of the tallest and most beautiful sand dunes in the world, while the variation of the desert ecosystem continually amazes visitors with its unexpected sights. Soak up the picturesque dunes and the basalt mountains against the desert sunset, an astoundingly dramatically and glorious panorama.

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