Namibia luxury travel guide

Namibia luxury travel guide


2 minute summary

Even by African standards, Namibia is pretty wild. A vast, desert nation almost three times the size of the UK, yet with just 2.3 million inhabitants, is it largely empty and devoid of rainfall. Its rust-red dunes are amongst the highest in the world, and its coastline is no tropical beach getaway; this is the Skeleton Coast, dotted with the remains of wrecked ships and whale bones. The creatures that live here are some of the world’s hardiest: desert adapted elephants and rhinos, and the majestic oryx, which can go for weeks without drinking, subsisting instead on juicy roots.
Luxury vacations in Namibia don’t cocoon you away from the rawness of nature; they immerse you in it, with remote camps and exclusive lodges tucked between mountains and dunes. Open sided cabins, outdoor showers, skylights for stargazing at one of the world’s darkest skies – everything is designed to maximise your desert experience without compromising on comfort. Find out how in our Namibia luxury travel guide.

What does a luxury vacation in Namibia entail?


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Getting around


Namibia’s five star wildlife experiences are open to all travelers, regardless of budget, but there are a number of reasons why it’s worth splashing out on a luxury vacation here. Firstly, Namibia is massive, and paying a bit extra means you can swap entire days on the road for short internal flights, covering more ground in less time. These flights aren’t just a means of transport, either; the light aircraft fly low, giving you impressive views over the sea of dunes, the desert shipwrecks and the bleak landscape of Deadvlei, as well as helping you really understand the scale of the country. Flying also means you can reach further flung lodges and camps, as well as remote parts of the coast, such as the seal colony Cape Cross, which are tough to access overland.
You’ll still have plenty of time on the ground too, of course, with self drive options available for those who prefer more independence, and vehicles for group travel. These are likely to be smaller and comfier than some of the more budget overland trucks, with Land Rovers allowing you to off-road and open sided game drive vehicles giving you a front row view of the wildlife.

Sleeping in style


Luxury lodges and camps in Namibia aren’t all about chandeliers and thread counts. By choosing smaller and more exclusive accommodation, often in private reserves, you’ll feel as though you have the desert landscape all to yourself. Remote locations mean your cabin may be open on three sides, or have a glass front; a 50” TV has nothing on panoramic views of the Namib and its wildlife, jostling around a waterhole.
Given the remote nature of the camps, all meals are usually provided. They may be served in the open sided restaurants, lit by oil lamps; around an open fire pit; or perhaps in a specially constructed boma away from the main camp. The odd bush dinner or breakfast may be included, with varied and filling buffet-style packed lunches provided when you are out on the road. Expect superb three-course dinners, plenty of bushmeat (a sustainable option!) and full bodied South African wine. Do speak to your vacation company before departure if you are a vegetarian or have other dietary requirements; this can be catered for, but will need some planning as there is no supermarket just around the corner!
Vicki Brown, travel writer and editor at Responsible Travel: “Luxury lodges have got the perfect balance. You’ll get treated like royalty – but without any standing on ceremony. There are exquisite four or five course meals, but everyone’s sat around the table in walking boots with their hair full of dust. You’ll have a massive four-poster bed and the comfiest pillows you can imagine – but your cabin is open on three sides, and there are oryx walking in front of it. You’ll enjoy a delicious wine and chocolate pairing session, not with a suited sommelier, but with a guy in a khaki shirt who really knows his stuff, stood in a cool cellar beneath the desert.”

Small group or tailor made?


Small group luxury vacations in Namibia mean you can up the comfort levels while still keeping costs down, relatively speaking. And groups really are small – in some cases with a maximum of seven guests. You’ll have fixed departure dates and itineraries, a tour leader and driver throughout (usually Namibian), with local guides joining you along the way. Tailor made options are fully flexible in terms of dates, duration and itinerary; for even more freedom you can choose a self drive luxury vacation, with everything planned and booked for you by the vacation company, and local guides joining you at points of interest. For a truly indulgent trip, book a private flying safari, with a light aircraft to carry you from lodge to luxury lodge.

Responsible tourism


Luxury vacations in Namibia don’t just up the comfort stakes; they really push the boat out when it comes to responsible tourism, too. Tiny scale lodges blend in with the surrounding landscapes, with low guest numbers reducing the impact on the environment. Innovative techniques – such as building cabins on stilts so as not to disturb the flora and fauna of the dunes – all form part of the lodges’ stories. Just as importantly, local people are trained and employed by the lodges, which sometimes also donate to local schools or provide education for the staff’s children in remote areas. And guests are educated every step of the way about protecting these fragile ecosystems; from putting a bucket in the shower to catch water which can then be used to water plants or mop floors, to keeping to trails to avoid damaging lichen which takes decades to grow.
Activities, too, can have a hugely beneficial impact. Fees from tracking black rhinos are reinvested into protecting one of the world’s most threatened species; numbers here almost doubled from 2001-2012 thanks to super conservation efforts. You can also visit sanctuaries such as AfriCat, which shelters endangered cheetahs and leopards, or join researchers and conservationists to learn about their work protecting Namibia’s wildlife.

Best time to go on a luxury vacation to Namibia


What to see & when

Contrary to popular belief, it does rain in much of Namibia, with Dec-Feb virtually guaranteeing a soaking. The best time to visit Namibia is Jun-Aug when the rivers and waterholes have all but dried up, and game clusters in huge numbers around the remaining water sources. Scrubby vegetation also makes animals easier to spot. Apr-May are pretty, as the landscape is lusher after the rains and temps are cooler. Oct-Nov are scorching inland, although the coast around Swakopmund and Walvis Bay remains cool all year, with refreshingly damp air but no rainfall. Read more about the best time to go to Namibia.
Photo credits: [Topbox: Monica Guy] [Getting around: Matthias Mueller] [Sleeping in style: Tjeerd Wiersma] [SG or TM: NH53] [Temp chart: David Siu]
Written by Vicki Brown
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