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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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 at 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. Luxury small group vacations benefit from the use of private vehicles. 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 Desert 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.
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. The end of 2012 saw a sudden escalation in the rhino poaching crisis, however, so since that time, income from wildlife tourism has been even more vital to ensure round the clock patrols and the arrest of would be poachers. This income is also reinvested into local communities, which encourages them to protect their neighbouring wildlife and habitats. Namibia vacations also include visits to sanctuaries such as AfriCat, which shelters endangered cheetahs and leopards. Alternatively, you can 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
Photo credits: [Topbox: Monica Guy] [Getting around: Matthias Mueller] [Sleeping in style: Tjeerd Wiersma] [SG or TM: NH53] [Temp chart: David Siu]
Namibia self drive safari
An iconic self-drive safari through north and south Namibia
From £2250 14 Days ex flights
Namibia safari and vacation
A fabulous small group guided trip in Nambia
From £3585 12 Days ex flights
Privately guided Namibia vacation
Experience Namibia at your pace, with your own private guide
From £5395 12 Days ex flights
Luxury Namibia safari, tailor made
Explore Namibia in the lap of luxury, on our luxury safari
From £3950 11 Days ex flights
Namibia flying safari
Sand dunes, whale-watching, remote safaris & desert magic
From £9950 9 Days ex flights
Classic Namibia tailor made tour
14 day Safari designed to show you spectacular Namibia
From £3795 14 Days ex flights
Namibia small group vacation, sand dunes & safari
A hidden gem of contrasting landscapes and amazing wildlife
From £1799 8 Days ex flights
Namibia luxury self drive vacation
Windhoek via Caprivi to Botswana and Victoria Falls
From £3950 15 Days ex flights
Classic Namibia safaris, tailor made
Private guided tour across Namibia
From £7415 11 Days ex flights