Namibia’s largest national park at a whopping 49,000km sq, the Namib Naukluft is made up of mountains, sand seas, moonscapes oasis, and riverbeds.
The portion of the park in the Namib Desert provides sanctuary to large Namibian wildlife such as the black rhino and herds of gemsbok, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, springbok, ostrich and giraffe, and to predators such as spotted and brown hyena, leopard, and cheetah. In short, the Namib Naukluft offers the ultimate in desert safaris and is one of the best places in Africa to sport desert animals.
Namib is one of the most intensely studied – and oldest – deserts on earth. Coastal fog regulates the climatic extremes. Desert rainfall is sporadic and unpredictable, though the fog provides a reliable source of life-giving moisture for the local fauna and flora. As such the Namib Desert has an interesting array of bizarre plant and animal adaptations, surviving in sand dunes of all shapes and sizes, and vast gravel plains stretching as far as the eye can see.
Most of the park is uninhabited, but there as been a human presence since early Stone Age man passed through, leaving behind stone hand axes, and these days the park provides very occasional hunting grounds for the San tribe, and a permanent base for the 300 or so Topnaar people in 13 small villages along the lower Kuideb River.
each morning and evening the sun paints the never-ending dunes around Sossusvlei in dramatic hues and shadows – a sight not to be missed.
Desert game drive
The Namib Naukluft National Park offers a desert safari opportunity with surprisingly high-quality wildlife viewing. The landscape is largely flat and gravely with grass dispersed unevenly throughout. shifting into large dunes in places.
Namibia generally, and the Namib Naukluft in particular, are special in that virtually the whole range of African wildlife can be found, adapted to desert conditions. Expect to see plenty of oryx, jackals, and ostrich, and if you’re lucky some of Namibia’s famous desert-adapted cheetah, leopard, elephants or giraffe.
Sunrise dune hikes
The 400 meter high dunes around Sossusvlei are bright red and orange, and shift both shape and colour as the day progresses. Dawn hikes to the peaks are the order of the day here, to take in the majesty of the surroundings as the sun rises over the Namib Desert – in a word, epic.
Close to the dune 45 is Deadvlei – offering legendary scenery and a paradise for photographers. Here the contrast between the pitch-black dead trees and bleached-white pans ringed by rust-coloured dunes and blue sky is at its most intense.
The daily entrance fee for Sesriem and Naukluft is $1.50 a vehicle, plus $11 per person. If you’re just transiting the park you can buy a tourist transit permit for $5 per person, plus $1.50 per car.
Activities at Namib Naukluft National Park
- Hiking the Naukluft mountain massive
- Take on the two-day, 73km Naukluft 4X4 trail
- Sunrise at Sossusvlei
- Hot air balloon tours
- Angling in Sandwich Harbour
Getting to Namib Naukluft National Park
Although there are a number of towns near park entrances (Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Solitaire & Sesriem are all), public transport is not an option. You’ll need your own 2WD for entrance and getting around, and a 4WD to get to the more isolated areas within the park.
Staying at Namib Naukluft National Park
The only accommodation in the Namib Nakluft comes in the form of several campsites in the north of this park, but all with virtually non-existent facilities. If you want to camp in the park you need to be 100% self-sufficient, with firewood, water, and food. There are plenty of accommodation options around the fringes, particularly Sesriem, which is the best base for trips to Sossusvlei.