Southern Namibia includes several diverse attractions: the Kalahari Desert with the chance to interact with local people, the massive Fish River Canyon, the quirky fishing town of Luderitz and Kolmansklop ghost village…
Southern Namibia offers diverse attractions. Yet it is often overlooked by visitors who don’t have quite enough time to spend in Namibia. But if you do have the time, the Kalahari Desert, Fish River Canyon and Luderitz are just some of the unique memories.
The breathtaking Kalahari Desert is not actually a desert at all. But 100 metres of deep red sand has created a vast area of waterless ground. Indeed the Kalahari is one of Africa’s last wildlife sanctuaries. Many nomadic herds of antelope such as gemsbok, kudu, eland, blue wildebeest and springbok find their home here. Predators are also well represented in the Kalahari Desert – especially after the summer rains when the Kalahari has nutritious new grasses. This include lion, leopard, cheetah, hyenas and black-backed jackals. Two other prominent features of the Kalahari Desert are the vast communal nests of the Sociable weaver birds and, of course, the endearing colonies of meerkats.
Fish River Canyon
In the far south, the spectacular Fish River Canyon, over 300 million years old, is an awe-inspiring site. It’s one of the largest river-formed canyons in the world but with a minute fraction of the tourist hordes which descend on the Grand Canyon. Unlike its famous big brother, you will not have to share the experience with millions of others. Its remote location means it’s little visited.
The canyon meanders for 160km through the barren landscape of southern Namibia. It reaches a depth of 550m and a width of 27km. We suggest an early start to appreciate the majesty of the canyon before the strong light washes the colour of the rocks away. There are several viewpoints which give magnificent vistas of the canyon. Hiking, nature drives and horse-riding are all on offer near to the Fish River Canyon.
The road to Luderitz on the Atlantic coast takes you past herds of wild desert horses and the eerie ghost town of Kolmanskop. Your destination is a quaint little Germanic fishing town.
The isolation of the fishing and seaside town of Luderitz, and the way in which its German colonial buildings cling to the rocks overlooking the bay, give the town a curious, other worldly, allure. It is almost surreal to see the distinctly German colonial architecture in this seemingly forgotten part of Africa.
It’s this other worldly quality which is the main appeal of Luderitz. Given travelling time to get there, we recommend a 2 nights stay.
The ghost town of Kolmanskop a few kilometres from Luderitz, dates back to the diamond rush. The shifting dunes, fierce winds and salt-laden mist have reduced Kolmanskop to ruins.
- Visit the world renowned AfriCat Foundation
- Search for desert adapted elephant in ephemeral river systems
- Track for the endangered black rhino in conjunction with Save the Rhino Trust
- Explore the private Namib Tsaris Conservancy on exploratory nature drives and guided walks
- Climb some of the world’s highest free-standing sand dunes at Sossusvlei
Why you may love it
- Enjoy game-viewing at a Kalahari game lodge
- Walk along the edge of the Fish River Canyon
- Horse-riding at the canyon’s edge
- Visit the Quiver tree forest at Keetmanshoop
- Explore the ghost town of Kolmanskop
- Walk around the quirky town of Luderitz enjoying its somewhat surreal architecture
- See the feral horses of Aus
- You can also take a scenic drive in Luderitz to the peninsula where Barthomleus Diaz landed, or enjoy a 2 hour boat cruise to see the African penguin colonies on Halifax Island
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My family holiday to Namibia
My 12 day trip to Namibia in January was an unbelievable experience for all my family. We drove all the way through the country from the south (Fish River Canyon) to the north (Etosha National Park) with my two boys in our double cab 4x4. This is the ideal vehicle for travelling with children – especially because of the distances.
The following are some highlights.
We visited the Fish River Canyon at 9:00am in the morning and were the only people at the second largest canyon in the world - unbelievable!! Here we stayed at Canon Lodge with rooms built into the boulders.
The towering dunes of Sossusvlei and climbing “Big Daddy” were also an experience that we will never forget. The children charge ahead whilst the adults puffed along behind! Sossusvlei is a paradise for the keen photographer as I took hundreds of photos of the towering dunes. Our stay at the Wilderness Safaris properties (Kulala Desert Lodge & Little Kulala) was exceptional and to be recommended.
Swakopmund was the next highlight and definitely the children’s favourite town as we all did the quad biking in the dunes, tried our hand at sandboarding and even went fishing at Henties Bay (about one hour north of Swakopmund). We stayed at the Hansa Hotel which is centrally located and near all the sites to visit.
Next we headed to Etosha National Park and had a fantastic stay at Ongava Lodge, situated just outside the southern boundary of Etosha, and at Onguma Bush Lodge on the eastern side. They have an active floodlit waterhole where we saw lion, giraffe, zebra, springbok and various other antelope. Etosha National Park itself was the best overall game experience I have ever had in a national park as there was such a variety of wildlife at every waterhole – just as those classic Etosha pictures would suggest!
We drove from Etosha to Windhoek for the last days of our trip and stayed at The Windhoek Country Club Resort which was also very popular with the kids. This is the most resort-like place on our stay as they have an outdoor water play area, an 18 hole golf course (which allows children to play) and lots of space to run around.
Experiences in Southern Namibia
- LocationThe desert expands over Namibia, Botswana & South Africa
- NameFrom the Tswana word Kgala, meaning "the great thirst"