Mini Travel Guide: Namibia

Looking for a travel guide to Namibia? Click through for Namibia travel tips from a local - what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply!
Looking for a travel guide to Namibia? You’re in the right place! I brought in a local to share her very best Namibia travel tips!

Hi! I’m Ellie. My dad is an anthropologist whose life work has been studying and living among the Himba in Namibia. My family has lived in Namibia on and off since I was a young child and I recently returned from a two month trip there this summer.
Namibia is a former German colony that only gained its independence from South Africa during apartheid in 1990. My sister was actually the first American born in Namibia after it became its own country!
Namibia is the second least densely populated country in the world after Mongolia. It offers a really varied landscape with everything from grassy savannahs to desert mountain ranges to gorgeous beaches. Although urban life has expanded a lot in Namibia during the past twenty years, a small part of the population is still indigenously living.
Must do in Namibia

Must Go in Namibia

Etosha National Park

This national park is a game reserve for Namibian wildlife and houses a wide variety of African of animals that roam freely within the almost 2,000 square miles of the park. Visitors are allowed to drive wherever they wish and take pictures. You are not, however, allowed to get out of your car except at designated settlements. Giraffes, zebra, elephants, springbok, and kudu are among the commonly spotted wildlife.
If you have luck on your side during your visit, you might see lions and rhinos, or even an extremely rare leopard or cheetah!


The third largest city in Namibia, and the most charming in my opinion, is the beachside town of Swakopmund. It is filled with gorgeous old buildings and houses and has some of the most beautifully curated curio shops Namibia has to offer.
Nearby is a camel riding farm owned by a lovely German lady. In the next town over (Walvis Bay) you can book a kayaking trip in a secluded lagoon that is home to thousands of seals and flamingos.
An antique shop owner in South Africa told me she had visited Swakopmund in the 1950s and the streets of the town used to be lined with rose quartz.

Epupa Falls

This stunning waterfall is located on the northern border between Namibia and Angola. There is a resort hotel here, but anyone who wants to is welcome to go swimming in the pools at the top of the falls. Swim with caution because even if you survive a trip down the waterfalls, there are plenty of crocodiles lying in wait at the bottom.
The drive up to Epupa Falls is through Kaokoland where the Himba, Hawkavona, and some Herero live so you’ll get a chance to see a few of their villages and homesteads.

Duwisib Castle

It’s been in various states of disrepair in the times I’ve visited, but this is a giant, castle-like house that is literally in the middle of nowhere but definitely worth a visit. It was originally built by a German soldier for the wealthy American heiress he married, but he was tragically killed during WWI and his wife never had the desire to return to Namibia without him.
The castle was abandoned for many years and the horses from their stable were set free and now make up the wild horse population of Namibia.
Must see in Namibia

Must Do in Namibia

Climb the sand dunes at Sossusvlei

These are some of the tallest sand dunes in the world and definitely worth the exhausting climb to the top. You can see for miles in every direction and even do some sand boarding if you’re feeling adventurous.

Visit the mining ghost town of Kolmanskop

There was a huge diamond mining boom in Namibia during the early 20th century and the remaining buildings in this ghost town are partially filled with sand that makes them both haunting and fascinating.

Wood carvers market in Okahandja

This is a huge open air market filled with African/Namibian curios of every kind. The wood carvers there are famous for their beautiful work and it’s definitely a fun experience to barter with the vendors as they hawk their wares.

Peter’s Antiques

This shop is located in Swakopmund and is as good as any natural history museum in Namibia. It is filled with fascinating treasures that include voodoo dolls (they have a witch doctor come in regularly to perform a protection spell for the shop against any bad voodoo in their collection), a wide variety of masks, ancient weapons and tools, and hundreds of other items of interest.
Must eat in Namibia

Must Eat in Namibia

Namibians love meat so their cuisine includes a lot of the animals that are native to the country. If you are a fellow meat lover, you can have the opportunity to try ostrich, kudu, springbok, gemsbok, zebra, and maybe crocodile tail (if you’re really brave!). If you are a vegetarian (like me) there are plenty of options at almost every restaurant.
Cultural tips for travel in Namibia

Cultural Tips for travel in Namibia

Most Namibians speak English and are very friendly and helpful, but learning a few greetings in Afrikaans and/or some of the native dialects will endear you to locals.
Many of the vendors at street markets will charge a lot more for goods than they would cost at a curio shop, so be careful when bartering and keep your options open. Namibia is a safe country on the whole, but do take extra care with your personal belongings and don’t leave luggage in a car unattended.
cheap travel in Namibia

Cheap travel tips for Namibia

Renting a vehicle is a necessity for travel in Namibia because distances between cities and settlements is great. You can rent a bakkie (small truck with a covered truck bed) or a kombi (small van) and take advantage of the camping that is available at many Namibian accommodations.
There are places to purchase inexpensive blankets and pillows and most of the street vendors are happy to trade their goods for bedding, so it’s easy to get rid of at the end of your trip. If you don’t mind sleeping in your car, this can be an easy and less expensive way to see Namibia.
Airbnb is pretty much always cheaper than a hotel and nicer than a hostel. Here’s a historic beach house for $67 a night and here’s a three-bedroom beach apartment for $78. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!
Thanks so much for sharing, Ellie! Are there any Namibian readers out there? Any Namibian travel tips to share?
photos by: Damien du Toit // Christiaan Triebert // David Siu // DIVA007 // Damien du Toit // Arne Smith on Unsplash

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  1. kristin | W [H] A T C H

    seeing the whale bones in the desert in namibia has been at the top of my travel list for quite some time!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      I'd never even considered going there till I Ellie sent me this post and now I can't stop thinking about it!

  2. Anna

    Love this! My best friend was in the Peace Corps in Namibia and you don't hear as much about it as you do other countries in southern Africa, so I'm always happy when I see it pop up.

  3. Trevor Huxham

    Someone who worked at the international office at my college was from Namibia and he spoke English, Afrikaans, and either German or Dutch, can’t remember which. Oh, to grow up trilingual like that!!

    I’ve always wondered where those fascinating photographs of sand dunes, now I know. Great guide!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Thanks! Ellie did a great job, didn't she?

  4. Jill

    This is a neat coincidence – I just got back from Namibia about a week ago (we also visited South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, but we spent the most time in Namibia at almost two weeks)! I kind of wish I had seen this before we left (though that would have been impossible as we left early February) as there are a couple of things on this list we didn't know about.

    I really loved Namibia, and visiting Etosha (we saw nearly 20 lions – but no leopards, sadly) and climbing Dune 45 at sunrise were two of my most favourite things we did while there. We also enjoyed hiking at Fish River Canyon and walking through Sesriem Canyon. Swakopmund was probably one of the weirdest places I have ever been (but yes – charming! we liked it!). Maybe it was the time of year we were there, but the whole town felt very empty – there were lots of houses, but we didn't see any people out walking or doing anything. We felt a bit like we were in the Truman Show! We actually walked by Peter's Antiques but we weren't able to go in (everything closes early on Saturdays and most things aren't open Sundays at all).

    Namibia was incredibly beautiful to drive through, the landscape was always changing. We also heard driving up the Skeleton Coast is really interesting.

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