Africa,  Namibia

The 40 Best Things To Do in Namibia

Namibia is a country of superlatives. Featuring some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world, it is a paradise for travelers and road trip lovers. Namibia has it all: endless roads, wide, open landscapes, valleys, mountains, deserts, canyons, a roaring coastline, and a huge wildlife diversity. All of these, make Namibia a must-see bucket list destination. In this post, you will find the 40 Best Things to do in Namibia – both on- and off- the beaten path.

The two most famous travel destinations in Namibia are Sossusvlei in the heart of the Namib Desert and Etosha National Park – one of the largest wildlife conservancies in Africa. Although these are usually on top of any Namibia-visitor’s bucket list, there are many equally stunning places to explore and things to do that you should not miss out on.

For some inspiration, check out my list below for the 40 Best Things to do in Namibia. Enjoy!

1. Stand on the “Edge of Eternity”

…and look into Fish River Canyon. This 500 million-year-old canyon – the 2nd largest in the world – makes you feel very small and serves as a little reminder of how small and insignificant we are. From Fish River Lodge you can do a Rim Walk and explore the different views over this natural wonder.


2. Go on a Canyon Drive in Fish River Canyon

At Fish River Lodge you can book a Canyon Drive. They are the only ones operating drives into the canyon and have their private roads leading inside. It is a real adventure: the drive itself (in parts super bumpy – we were glad we had an experienced guide) as well as the changing landscape, various, colorful layers of rock, minerals, and sand & experiencing the canyon from inside. Highly recommended!

3. Take a dip in natural rock pools

Inside the Fish River Canyon, you will find natural rock pools. These can be visited as part of a Canyon Drive or Hike (in the Namibian winter). There are few things more refreshing than taking a dip and swimming in the clear water, after a long, hot day in the canyon, where it can easily reach 45°C.

4. Check out Quiver Tree Forest

Quiver Trees aren’t actual trees, but rather a type of Aloe plant: Aloe dichotoma. They grow only in southern Africa and can be found in southern Namibia. They got their name from the indigenous San people’s practice of hollowing out branches to make quivers for their arrows.

You can see these trees here and there while on the road – but a whole “forest”? This you can find near Ketmanshoop at Quiver Tree Forest Rest Camp. Sign it at Reception, get your Nature Pass and head out to the forest on their property. It’s fascinating as the trees come in all shapes and sizes and are up to 300 years old. Some of the trees are home to rosy-faced lovebirds who build large nests in the branches.

For photography aficionados: you can even get a special pass for visiting the forest at night and take dramatic pictures of the starry sky with quiver trees.

namibia road trip

5. Watch a Cheetah-feeding

While in the area and after having seen Quiver Tree Forest, make sure you head back to the Quiver Tree Forest Rest Camp by 5 pm, so that you can experience a cheetah-feeding up-and-close.

6. Pet a meerkat

The Camp houses a whole plethora of different animals, amongst these was a rather tame meerkat, which even let us pet it. This was one of the animal-highlights of the trip and really gave me that “Lion King” feeling with Timon.

7. Be amazed by the most epic, clear night sky

On several occasions in Namibia, we were able to experience the most beautiful, starry night sky. Namibia is the second least densely populated country on Earth. And this can be felt in the darkness and lack of light pollution in the sky.

Check out my Beginner’s Guide to Astrophotography (coming soon), to have a shot at capturing the thousands of stars, nebulas, and Milky Way.


8. Be an “early-bird” and catch the sunrise at Deadvlei

Deadvlei is one of the Must-sees when in Namibia. Catching the sunrise here is extra special, as you will be almost alone (at least in the Namibian summer). There is something magical about the sun slowly rising behind the Big Daddy Dune and throwing first sun rays over the dunes. The interplay of light and shade is a photographer’s dream.

To get to Deadvlei at sunrise, you need to be an “early-bird”. This means getting up at 4:30 am and hitting the road by 5 am at the latest (sunrise times in summer). In order to see sunrise inside the National Park, you need to stay in one of two accommodation options inside the Park Gates: Sesriem Campsite or Sossus Dune Lodge.

For more tips & information on how to make the most out of your stay in Sossusvlei, check out my post here.

9. Climb a dune in Sossusvlei

There are many dunes in the Sossusvlei part of the Namib desert, but not all of them can be climbed. Climbing a dune is a must-try. It’s lots of fun and also pretty challenging, as your feet sink into the sand.

Personally, we climbed the dune in closed shoes. In some other blogs, I saw recommendations of climbing barefoot, but personally, I feel like you have a good grip and you don’t have to worry about stepping on insects or other creatures living in the sand. Moreover, if you are climbing during the day, the sand will be scorching.

Below are the most popular dunes that can be climbed:

  • Elim Dune (near the Sossusvlei Gates)
  • Dune 45 (about mid-way into Sossusvlei, at km 45 ;-))
  • Big Daddy Dune (near Deadvlei)
  • Big Momma Dune (near Sossusvlei)

Pro tip for dune climbing: if possible, walk in existing steps as this makes the climb easier.

10. Watch the sunset from Dune 45

As our car rental policy explicitly mentioned we are not allowed to drive in the dark, watching the sunset from Dune 45 was a very good option to stay in the desert as late as possible and still reaching our accommodation (Sossus Dune Lodge) at the fall of dark.

From the dune, you have a spectacular view into the valley, which almost looks like a moonscape. When driving into the park, make sure you leave by 5 pm to leave you enough time to drive the 45km into the park (about 30-45 min – ~60km/h speed limit), climb the dune (about 20-30 min) and enjoy the fantastic view.

11. Experience the unique vibes of 900-year-old dead trees in Deadvlei

When traveling to Sossusvlei, make sure you stop by Deadvlei to check out the 900-year-old dead Acacia trees. Deadvlei (Afrikaans for dead lake or marsh) is a white clay pan located near the more famous salt pan of Sossusvlei, which the whole area is named after.

The clay pan was formed after heavy rainfalls when the Tsauchab river flooded and provided enough water for acacia camel thorn trees to grow. Due to climate change, the area became more sandy and gradually enclosed completely by dunes, cutting off the access to the Atlantic ocean. The trees died, as there was no longer enough water.

The trees are now dispersed over the Deadvlei area, not able to decompose because of the dryness. The black color comes from the intense scorching by the sun. The site of the white pan, orange & red sand dunes, and black trees silhouetted against the bright blue sky is a beautiful picture to behold and every photographer’s dream.

Deadvlei lies about 1,1 km from the 4×4 parking spot.

namibia road trip

12. Rollercoaster ride of a lifetime on a 4×4 off-road safari in the Namib

Probably the coolest rollercoaster I have ever been on sitting in the back of a 4×4 Jeep and speeding up and down sand dunes – going up steeply, inching our way down, cruising along the sides & marveling at the magic of modern engineering and how cars can do that. So much fun! We did a 4×4 Sandwich Harbour Tour with Mola-Mola and can recommend them very much.

13. Go Quad-biking in the Namib

There are several providers in Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, enabling you to do a self-drive quad biking tour in the desert. Lots of fun & definitely a must-try experience!

14. Experience the wildlife hiding in the dunes on a “Living Desert Tour”

If you love animals, you should consider going on a “Living Desert Tour” starting from Walvis Bay & Swakopmund. A guide will take you into the desert and show you the world that lies beneath the dunes and tell you about the desert’s “Big 5”.

15. Have apple pie & coffee in the middle of the desert

There are two places in Namibia that claim to have “the best apple pie in Namibia”: Hotel Helmeringhausen & Solitaire. We’ve tried both and cannot decide 😉 But what we can say: you have to try at least one. There is nothing better than stopping after a long drive, sitting down in the shade, and having some coffee & hot apple pie. And if you think about it: it is the last thing you’d expect to find in the desert, but that makes it all the more special.

16. Take a picture at the Tropic of Capricorn sign

There were two places we found the sign: on the way down from Windhoek to Mariental (less visited) and on the way from Sossusvlei to Walvis Bay. Make sure you stop quickly and snap a picture for your memories.


17. Walk through the colorful streets of Swakopmund

Swakopmund lies on the coast of Namibia is has a very different vibe to it than the rest of Namibia. Named the “adventure capital” of Namibia, it boasts many activities – adventurous, adrenaline, nature & wildlife – that you can embark on.

After your day’s activity, don’t forget to soak in the vibes of this unique and chilled beach-city (literally chilled: it is always around 10°C refreshingly cooler than in the rest of Namibia). Stroll through the colorful streets, browse around the stores and stop at Cordes & Co. for some good coffee and breakfast.

18. Get up-and-close with Pelicans on a catamaran-cruise

Starting in Walvis Bay take a cruise and get-up-and close with pelicans. Departing between 8 and 9 am are several different boats and companies offering half-day cruises for dolphin-spotting, whale-watching, and getting up close to the seal colony of Pelican Point.

We went on a cruise with Mola Mola including drinks, finger food, and fresh oysters, and can really recommend them (and our guide Max).

19. See hundreds of pink flamingos in Walvis Bay

While in- or around Walvis Bay, make sure to check out the flamingo colonies. Due to the favorable climate, about 50,000 flamingos live here all year round, providing a great spectacle. You will be able to see both greater and lesser flamingos as well as many more different sea bird species in this important breeding area.

20. Have fresh oysters on the Atlantic coast

At many restaurants along the coasts (e.g. in Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, or Hentie’s Bay) you will be able to try very fresh (and affordable!) oysters straight from the ocean. If you’ve never had them before (like me), make sure you try them. They almost can’t be fresher.

We were recommended by locals to try them at the restaurant “Anchors @ The Jetty”, e.g. right after a marine cruise. We were too stuffed from our daily programme, but it was quite full – which is always a good sign.

21. Watch some of the tallest sand dunes in the world plunge into the ocean at Sandwich Harbor

For a very unique landscape, take a trip to Sandwich Harbor and be amazed at large sand dunes crashing into the ocean. A wonderful sight to behold, the place seems almost unreal. One can only imagine ships washing up on the dunes during a storm (one reason this coastline is named “Skeleton Coast”).

namibia road trip

22. Have a honeymoon-worth picnic on the beach

You can only get to Sandwich Harbor with a 4×4 “Safari”. So you might as well take one which offers sparkling wine & finger food by the beach in Sandwich Harbor. We almost felt like we were on our honeymoon, as our Guide Max from Mola Mola pampered us with a super romantic picnic by the ocean. It was a beautiful experience!

23. Have the most intense olfactory experience of your life at Cape Cross Seal Reserve

I include this in the list because it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is because most people do not return a second time. Although the 200,000 seals in the colony are very cute, this place exudes an almost unbearable stench. It is bound to be one of the most intense olfactory sensations of your life. Therefore it is worth it, but make sure you bring a scarf to cover your mouth & nose and do not bring anything with you that you would mind smelling like excrements & dead seals for the next days to come.

24. Check out the shipwrecks on Skeleton Coast

Skeleton Coast is speckled with several Shipwrecks along the shoreline. Many of these washed up on the coast during storms out at sea or got stuck in the shallow waters.

The most accessible Shipwreck is the Zeila, near Hentie’s Bay. Most Shipwrecks (some more, some less accessible) are in Skeleton Coast Park, which you can enter through Ugab Gate.

25. Camp at one of best most beautiful campsites in the world – Spitzkoppe

This point easily makes the Top 5 List of Things to Do in Namibia. Described by many as one of the most beautiful campsites in the world, the Spitzkoppe with leave you speechless.

All campsites are situated remotely against the mountain, near a cave, or protected near a tree and almost give you the feeling of being alone in nature. The beautiful sunsets, star-speckled night sky, and dramatic rock formations make this experience one-of-a-kind.

Planning to visit Spitzkoppe? Check out my full Guide on planning your ultimate camping adventure here (coming soon).

namibia road trip

26. Climb the famous Arch at Spitzkoppe Nature Reserve

This natural Rock Arch situated slightly south of the Spitzkoppe, but still within the nature reserve is worth the climb, as from it you have a beautiful view of the mountain as well as the sunrise and sunset. Watch for the many dassies relaxing on the surrounding rocks.

27. Hike up to Spitzkoppe for a magnificent view of the valley

This is especially beautiful for sunrise. The hike is steep, but the climb is easier due to the roughness of the rock which gives you enough grip to climb safely. And the reward is the magnificent view over the whole area just in time for sunrise.

28. Look for elephants in Damaraland

There is a herd of free-roaming elephants in the Damaraland area, that can be found around the Ugab River bed. Oftentimes this herd can be seen near the Brandberg (e.g. at the White Lady Lodge). When this is not the case, take a guided Elephant-tracking Safari to increase your chances of seeing some!

29. Check-out 5000-year-old rock paintings

Namibia has many sites where ancient rock paintings were discovered. Two of these are Spitzkoppe and the Brandberg.

Spitzkoppe hosts several sites, among these the most famous “Bushman’s Paradise”, a series of about 4000-year-old rock paintings on the eastern side of the reserve. In order to stop vandalism, you need to hike up with a guide.

The Brandberg used to be a volcano and contains Namibia’s hightest peak – the Koenigstein at 2570m. In addition, the area boasts 44,000 rock paintings, the most famous of which is the Brandberg White Lady in the Tsisab Ravine.

The White Lady Painting can be seen on an overhang in Maack’s Shelter, Maack being the surveyor who discovered it and other paintings in the Tsisab Valley in 1917. The painting however only caught international attention in 1955 after French archaeologist Henri Breuil copied and described it. Since then there has been a lot of controversy over its meaning. The latest studies seem to prove that the figure is neither white nor female, but rather a shaman or medicine man wearing white body paint. Surrounding the white lady are well-preserved pictures of animals and more human figures.

As at Spitzkoppe, the Painting can only be visited with a local guide, which can be hired directly from the parking spot. Make sure you bring enough water, sunscreen and try arriving in the morning or late afternoon. Tours run until 4:30 pm (last departure).


30. Learn some Nama Language (with clicks)

Speak to locals and they will gladly teach you a few click sounds and words in their language. On our visit to the Rock paintings at Spitzkoppe, our Guide told us about the 4 different click sounds in the Nama language & practiced these with us. And in return, we taught him some German words. It was a very nice experience!

31. See Namibia’s “Monument Valley” at Ugab Terraces & Vingerklip

Nestled in Damaraland you will find a striking landscape reminiscent of the US Monument Valley. You will find a series of rock formations, eroded over time, into table mountain form. The highlight is a free-standing rock “needle” named “Vingerklip” which is Namibia’s most famous rock.

Go hiking in the area, walk arout the Vingerklip, see if you can spot some wildlife or stay in one of the breathtaking lodges – e.g. Vingerklip Lodge or the Ugab Terrace Lodge.

32. Go on a self-drive Safari in Etosha National Park

I promise this will be one of the highlights of your Namibia-trip. Etosha National Park is one of the largest wildlife conservancies in Africa and is home to hundreds of bird and mammal species. The Etosha Salt Pan, from which the park derives its name can be seen from outer space.

Several operators and hotels offer guided Game Drives into Etosha. However, for maximum flexibility and enjoyment, I recommend doing this in self-drive. Why? It gives you the freedom to stop anywhere you want (on the roads), take as much time as you like watching animals and it’s fun & challenging finding wildlife in the wide, open landscape.

I still recommend doing one guided drive, ideally in the evening (see the next point).

For a detailed Guide on planning your perfect Self-Drive Safari in Etosha National Park check out this post.

33. Experience a guided night-drive for an epic sunset over Etosha

Although I generally recommend doing a Safari in Self-Drive mode, it is worth going on at least one guided Night Drive. For self-drivers, you have to be back out of the gates at sunset, which is actually one of the most beautiful times to be out in the park.

A night drive will give you the opportunity to stay inside the gates for longer, learn about the animals, and search for them in the dark. And some animals such as owls only come out at night.


34. Sleep in a roof-top tent

This is a must-try in Namibia. Many of the 4×4 rental cars come with the possibility to get it with camping equipment for just a little higher expense. Give it a shot! It is very fun to set up the tent and will be a very unique experience. Paired with Namibia’s magnificent landscape and waking up in the middle of the wilderness will surely be a memory of a lifetime.

35. Stay overnight in the backstage area of a real theater

Near Etosha National Park in Tsumeb is a little gem of a Guesthouse called TeaterHuis Guest House. This sweet, family-run boutique accommodation is located within a real theater! Two of the rooms are located backstage and give you the unique opportunity of having to walk through the seating rows and over the stage in order to reach your room. The rooms were decorated with love and attention to detail and the hosts were very kind and helpful.

36. Enjoy an ice-cold “Rock Shandy”

This became our “go-to” drink in Namibia for refreshment after a long day of exploring. Made of only 3 ingredients, this drink is available almost anywhere and provides a welcome alternative to your standard soft drinks. It is made of lemonade, soda & angostura bitter.

37. Soak in the endless open road panoramas

Driving in Namibia is a wonderful adventure. The journey itself is already worth it and the trip itself is already the destination. So take a moment to stop, be thankful for the beauty of nature, and cherish the beauty of the wide, open landscape. Don’t rush through Namibia from A to B, rather take your time and savor the moments on the road.

38. Enjoy a cold Namibian beer & hearty Game Steak at Joe’s Beerhouse in Windhoek

Joe’s is an institution in Windhoek. It has a very welcoming, pub-style atmosphere while providing lots of seating opportunities in the open and boasting a huge menu which almost leaves open no wishes.

You can find all kinds of Game Steaks on the Menu: from zebra & kudu to springbok and even crocodile! For an ultimate “degustation” try the Bushman’s sosatie with 5 different types of meat on a huge skewer.

But even if you are vegetarian, make sure to stop by for the really good Namibian beer. They have several on tap. I can recommend Windhoek Draft, Tafel Lager & Hansa.


39. Buy beautiful hand-crafted Souvenirs at the Namibian Crafts Center in Windhoek

In the city center, there is a Namibian Crafts Center with hand-crafted souvenirs of all kinds: pillow-cases, scarves, bowls, wooden sculptures, cutlery, cards, etc. Most of the souvenirs are made locally by small villages and tribes throughout Namibia and sales revenue goes directly to help support & sustain the community.

40. Have a cocktail & enjoy the view over Windhoek at the Skybar (Hilton Hotel)

On your last evening in Namibia, I recommend grabbing a cocktail, beer, or glass of wine (or a soft drink) at the Skybar at the Hilton Hotel in the city center. There is an infinity pool, lounge furniture, and a beautiful view over all of Windhoek and the surrounding hills. Watching the sunset over the city is the perfect finish to an unforgettable stay in this beautiful country.


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