Off the Beaten Path: Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia

July 18, 2022  By: Gretchen

Namibia’s remote Namib-Nakluft National Park is one of the largest parks in Africa covering more than 19,000 square miles. Namib-Nakluft encompasses desert and semi-desert terrain and is home to some of the most impressive sand dunes in the world, forming a crimson-hued ‘sand sea.’ Its incredible, ever-changing desert scenery and unique wildlife are fascinating, while its vastness and deep quiet are soul-restoring.

hiking Big Daddy

Sossusvlei is an extremely photogenic and popular pan (natural depression) in the park. It is situated in the area with Namibia’s most impressive dunes, including the famous Big Daddy dune. Climbing the park’s dunes isn’t for the faint of heart but rewards the hearty with stunning views and a fun run down the soft sands.

deadvlei

Below Big Daddy you will find Deadvlei, another tremendously photogenic spot. In this old pan you can see the ancient skeletons of dead trees coming from the cracked khaki ground with the crimson dunes as a dramatic backdrop. The park is a paradise for photographers and those who love and admire natural beauty.

rainbow over dunes

Very early mornings in Namib-Nakluft are best for beautiful color and photography, and a hot air balloon ride is one of the most memorable ways to experience this beautiful slice of the oldest desert in the world. We love a Champagne brunch to cap off our morning explorations of the park.

scenic view of dunes

We can recommend a lodge or camp in or near the park that works best for your customized safari. Travelers that choose to stay in the park have the advantage of a head start for sunrise photography, as well as the chance to experience sunset over the dunes. If you wish to stay inside the park boundaries, be sure to book early as there are only two lodges inside the park. Those saying in nearby accommodations need an early start to be at the gate by opening time (seasonal) for the best experience.

Dune Camp room

After a visit to Namib-Nakluft, we love to retreat to the Nearby NamibRand Nature Reserve for a few days in the desert wilderness with a stay at Wolwedans Dunes Camp.

Wolwedans Dune Camp

Located in the 543,000-acre NamibRand Nature Reserve, Wolwedans Dune Camp is positioned on the edge of a high dune and boasts exceptional views over the reserve. The six spacious, comfortable tents sit on wooden platforms and include king-sized beds as well as indoor and outdoor bathrooms. A generous deck with a private ‘Wolwedans Chiller” (a small water-filled silo for the hotter months) and a sleep-out for a night under the stars are lovely extra touches. The canvas sides can be opened, capturing the cool breeze in the hot summer months and keeping you warm in winter when rolled down.

sundowners

Dune Camp has a wonderful charm which appeals to a traveler looking for a down to earth but still luxurious experience. The red dunes, endless plains, impressive mountain ranges and fascinating eco-systems of the NamibRand, an International Dark Sky Reserve, are totally unique. It is a place of ancient energy that restores the modern soul.

woman horseback riding

Activities include scenic drives to explore the desert landscape, incredible desert sundowners, village tours, star safaris, ebiking, bushman walks (subject to availability) as well as optional activities such as horseback riding, hot air ballooning, scenic flights, massages and more.

staff in vehicle

Recognized as a Global Ecosphere Retreat, stays at Wolwedans Dune Camp contribute to the conservation of the reserve, their local Hospitality Training School (and other skills development projects) and the AridEden Project which works to build more sustainable, resilient and inclusive tourism conservation economies.

Interested in planning a trip to visit Namib-Nakluft National Park and the NamibRand Nature Reserve?