Southern Namibia

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 in Namibia. But if you do have the time (such as 2½ to 3 weeks), then do include a visit to the South. The Kalahari Desert, Fish River Canyon, Kolmanskop and Luderitz are just some of the unique memories. (Ideally allow 4-5 nights for the south.)

Kalahari Desert

The breath-taking 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 ubiquitous 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.

We love Bagatelle Ranch and the new Red Hills Lodge.

Kokerboom in the Southern Kalahari

Fish River Canyon

In the far south, the spectacular Fish River Canyon, over 300 million years old, is another 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.

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.

Hikers in Fish River Canyon, Southern Namibia

Fish River Hiking or Mountain Biking

In the winter months, you can even add on a 2 or 3 night slack-packing hiking trail (or mountain biking trail) from Fish River Lodge. Ideally you need to be pretty fit as you are descending and climbing back out of the Canyon on the hiking route. The biking route travels along the rim of the crater.


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.

Luderitz in Southern Namibia

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 here or at Aus.

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. You can also take a detour to see the Feral horses of Aus.

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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

When to visit Southern Namibia

Dec to March

Summer Heat

The summers are hot, hot and more hot. You may get a sprinkling of cooling rain but it’s not like the northern part of Namibia. How hot depends on where you are. Inland, around the Fish River Canyon and the Kalahari, daytime temperatures will be in the 30s (90-110F). But the desert nights cool down to a pleasant 18C. However Luderitz, on the coast, shares the much cooler coastal climate of Swakopmund so a cool 20-22C during the day is more common.
MAX TEMP 34 ℃ / 86 ℉
MIN TEMP 16 ℃ / 64 ℉

April to May

Great time to visit

This is a wonderful time to visit as there are fewer visitors than in the peak winter season, plus nights are not as cold. We recommend April to June in particular. Inland day-time temperatures are very pleasant (25-28C on average) whilst the coastal temperature remains mild and cool.
MAX TEMP 27 ℃ / 81 ℉
MIN TEMP 12 ℃ / 54 ℉

June to August

Cold winter nights

Traditionally this is a popular time to visit as the dry season continues. However, in the desert, the night-time temperatures are very cold getting down to a chilly 5-6C by the end of June/July. Though the coast is much milder. However it’s a great daytime temperature for hiking in the Fish River Canyon.
MAX TEMP 22 ℃ / 71 ℉
MIN TEMP 5.5 ℃ / 42 ℉

Sept to Nov

Warming Up

But temperatures start heating up In September. We particularly recommend September & October as it’s slightly less busy, the nights are warmer and the days not yet scorching.
MAX TEMP 29 ℃ / 84 ℉
MIN TEMP 12 ℃ / 54 ℉

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Natasha Jantjies

Africa Travel Specialist

Hi I'm Natasha, I'm here to help you plan your ideal holiday experience
Did you know
  • LocationThe desert expands over Namibia, Botswana & South Africa
  • NameFrom the Tswana word Kgala, meaning "the great thirst"