National Parks

Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is perhaps one of Africa’s most famous wildlife destinations. Found in North-western Namibia, this park is absolutely astounding at over 22,000 square kilometres. It is named after the incredible Etosha Pan, which covers a vast 4,760 square kilometres and attracts some of the continent’s highest populations of wildlife.

Although the landscape can look barren and unforgiving, it is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species and 16 reptiles and amphibians – which makes it a veritable paradise for visitors that are interested in more that just The Big 5.

The Etosha pan is transformed once a year from a salty mud flat, into a wide spread lagoon, which attracts thousands of flamingos and pelicans. The surrounding plains and bush provide shelter for the hundreds of other species found in the park – and the sheer numbers of wildlife will astound even the most experienced wildlife watcher.

Etosha is a unique park in that you can get the wildlife to come to you by simply sitting patiently by one of the much-used waterholes. Sit in your vehicle, have a cold drink and simply wait while hundreds of animals such as elephants, rhino, lion and oryx come down to drink.

This truly is one of Africa’s most magical parks and its wide open spaces, gloriously starry nights and unbelievable animal numbers make this an experience that guests will never forget.

 

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Skeleton Coast National Park

Namibia’s entire coastline is known as the Skeleton Coast, named for the bones left over after whaling expeditions, seal hunts and also for the remaining ribs of the many ships that have found themselves crushed on the shore.

The Skeleton Coast National Park is found between the borders of the Uqab River in the south and the Kunene River, which rises in the Northern Angolan Highlands. The park protects around 500 km of the country’s most remote and inaccessible coastline, and 16 400km² of prime Namibian wilderness.

Although the desert can be harsh and unforgiving, it is also one of the most fertile deserts in the world. The cold waters of the Benguela current run through the Atlantic, creating freezing land-bound winds, which meet the desert heat – creating an incredible clash of cold, misty air that moves through the desert – depositing moisture on the way.

This has created a desert region that is home to a staggering 247 species of bird and hundreds of reptiles and insects. Around the park’s two perennial rivers and the many seasonal streams, visitors can find desert-adapted elephant, lion, black rhino, cheetah, leopard, brown hyena and antelope species like kudu and Oryx.

The Atlantic Ocean is rich with life and orcas, humpback whales, Cape Fur Seals, turtles and amazing populations of game fish are all found off the park’s shores.

Geographic features like gemstone beaches, salt flats and pans and colossal dunes in the northern regions of the park, make the Skeleton Coast National Park one of the most diverse and unique parks in Southern Africa.

No trip to Namibia is complete without a visit here.

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Waterberg Plateau National Park

The iconic red-sided cliffs of the Waterberg Plateau gaze out over the 41 000 hectares of incredible Namibian landscape, which was declared a nature reserve in 1971. The plateau itself attracts hiking enthusiasts from all over the world to take part in the dozens of breath-taking trails. There are self-guided walking trails, short hikes and longer guided hikes that take visitors to some of the most remote corners of the park.

The virtually inaccessible plateau top was the ideal place to release Namibia’s rare and endangered species, which were fighting off extinction. The reintroduction program was incredibly successful, and the park now has stocks that are used to repopulate other parks in the country too.

There are over 200 species of bird found in the Waterberg Plateau National Park, which includes 33 birds of prey species. The country’s rarest bird the Cape Vulture has its only Namibian breeding place within the national park and it is a popular spot for bird lovers to try and get a glimpse of these endangered animals.

Black and white rhino, giraffe, kudu, Cape buffalo, warthog and sable make up some of the more common mammals spotted in the park. Leopard, cheetah, jackal, caracal and even lion and African wild dog are also spotted on the rare occasion within the park.

The park truly is one of the most visually striking parks in the country, and the combination between incredible wildlife, unbelievable geography and untouched Namibian frontier make this one of Southern Africa’s most beautiful parks.

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Naukluft National Park

This national park encompasses the Namib Desert and the Naukluft mountain range in its vast 49,768km² boundary, which makes it the largest game reserve in Africa. The park covers an area bigger than Switzerland and is home to some of Namibia’s most beautiful landscapes.

The undulating red dunes of Sossusvleis are the main attraction in the park, and the burnt orange colossal dunes are some of the highest in the world rising 300 m in some places. Rocky outcrops (also known as kopjes) and other wind formed geological features dot the landscape and break the seemingly endless sea of copper sand.

This desert is arid and harsh like many others, but the mists brought in off the Atlantic Ocean provide it with much needed moisture. And while you won’t find the majority of African mammals here, visitors can see hyena, gemsbok and jackals fairly frequently, but it’s the bird, reptile and insect species that are most notable here.

The Sossusvleis dunes taper off close to the Atlantic, and are replaced by lagoons, mudflats and wetlands that are home to hundreds of thousands of birds. The park has over 200 species of bird in total, as well as numerous snake species and tons of weird and wonderful insects.

With blood red sands, towering dunes, iconic kopjes and unique creatures, Africa’s largest park is simply one of the must-dos of any trip to Namibia.

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Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

In August 2003 the governments of South Africa and Namibia signed a document that resulted in one of the most beautiful and remote transfrontier parks in Africa. This vast park covers nearly 6000 km² of utterly untouched desert wilderness.

On arrival, visitors can be forgiven for thinking that they have landed on another planet. Millions of years of wind erosion and heat have sculpted some of the most unusual and unique desert landscapes. Accessibly only by 4 x 4 vehicle, the park is truly one of Africa’s last wild frontiers, and the seemingly endless desert-scape is both utterly eerie and breath-taking at the same time.

The park is particularly beautiful during the wildflower season, when annual rains turn the desert into a kaleidoscope of colours – a change so drastic that it can be hard to believe. The Namibian side of the park is home to the Fish River Canyon, Africa’s biggest, and the mighty Orange River runs through – making it the perfect place to start a white water rafting experience.

The park is home to around 212 species of bird, unique insects and many different species of reptiles like tortoises, snakes and lizards. While there isn’t currently a big wildlife population, the South African side of the park started a reintroduction project in 2007, and springbok, gemsbok, red hartebeest and zebra are now repopulating the region after over a century of absence.

The combination of incredible desert scenery, adventure activities like mountain biking and kayaking, beautiful wildlife and relative inaccessibility make this remote park one of the most exciting parks in Africa – and visitors will be left absolutely spellbound at its exquisite beauty.

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Bwabwata National Park

Bwabwata National Park has only recently been named a national park and used to be known as the Caprivi Game Park. This stunning area is located in north eastern Namibia, between Angola and Botswana. It used to be a wildlife utopia, however poaching levels and habitat loss depleted these numbers to almost nothing. Wildlife numbers started to pick up again after the 2002 Angolan war ceasefire and they have not stopped growing ever since.

At 6274 square kilometres, this vast tract of land was set apart to start the rehabilitation of some of Namibia’s local species. While there is still a long way to go, Bwabwata National Park is a beacon of hope in Africa’s conservation efforts.

This remote park is an untouched part of the country and is split into five main zones: Divundu area, West Caprivi Triangle, Mahango Game Reserve, Popa Falls and West Caprivi Game reserve.

The best time to visit the park is in October, which is the driest time of the year and when large wildlife numbers congregate around what remains of rivers and waterholes throughout the park.

Over 300 species of bird have been identified in the park, making it a haven for birders and wildlife such as elephant, roan antelope, kudu and buffalo (among many others) can be seen in the park.
While the wildlife numbers are not up to Etosha standards, Bwabwata National Park is one of the best parks to set off in for a remote and completely unique safari. It will only be a number of years before new infrastructure and animal populations start to attract tons of tourist – so if low tourist numbers are what you are looking for, then now is the time to visit.

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Nkasa Rupara National Park

This 320 km² national park (previously known as Mamili NP) is one of Namibia’s best kept secrets. This remote and seldom visited park is a veritable haven that is reminiscent of Botswana’s Okavango Delta – with no luxury camps and a whole lot less visitors.

Found in East Caprivi, this remote park is made up of river channels, bird laden wetlands and islands boasting large numbers of wildlife. It is the biggest wetland conservation area in Namibia, and its relative inaccessibility makes it a truly wild African frontier.

There are no luxury lodges in the park, and it is mostly navigated on self-drive safaris. 4 x 4 tracks make their way through Nkasa Rupara and intrepid travellers can take on the park with no guide, at their own risk of course.

There is an annual flood risk in the rainy season, and therefore camping is not advised, and visitors should handle the roads, rivers and other obstacles with caution. As there are hippo families and huge Nile crocodiles that lay await in the most of the park’s waterways.

The main islands of Nkasa and Lupala are found in the Kwando/Linyati River and during the dry months are accessible over land, however, the rainy season floods almost 80% of them making them largely inaccessible. This also provides a sanctuary for huge number of birds and other animals. This is the area which has the largest numbers of recorded bird species in the entire country, and during the dry season massive herds of elephant populate the islands.

The flora in the park is exquisite with vast floodplains, tall reeds, woodlands, marshes and savannah all found within the park. This variety of vegetation offers a home to many different species of wildlife including lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, spotted hyena, giraffe and the rare sitatunga (among many others).

Visitors are unlikely to see any other tourists in the park, with only thunderstorms as their ever-present companions. Fuel, water and food all need to be taken along and entry permits need to be obtained.

The Nkasa Rupara is certainly one of the wildest parks in the country and makes one of the most exciting self-drive destinations in Southern Africa.

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Mudumu National Park

Mudumu National Park is a 737 km² stretch of land found in the north-eastern Caprivi region in Namibia. It was declared a national park in 1990, and shares its borders with the western edge of Botswana.

While lush vegetation and huge waterways may not be synonymous with many images of Namibia – this park certainly goes against the grain. The broad Kwando River in the west provides a lifeline for the region and lagoons, small channels and beautiful forests characterise its banks and the rest of the park is covered in mopane woodland and savannah.

There is one campsite in the park, which is entirely unfenced and has basic sanitation and running river water, however visitors are in charge of bringing their own food, fuel and drinking water. The savannah and woodlands are home to plains game such as elusive sitatunga and red lechwe. Visitors are also bound to come across numbers of elephant, buffalo, kudu, sable and zebra, which are closely watched by predators like lion, leopard, hyena and rare African wild dog.

Bird life in the park is unbelievable and the 430 species found here make it a birder’s haven. Cranes, jacanas, and storks wade the waterways, while birds of prey soar in the skies. River channels are patrolled by hippos, crocodiles, otters and turtles and fishing for the ferocious tiger fish is highly advised.

The Mudumu National Park forms part of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, which provides safe game corridors between Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Angola. This allows large species like African elephant to follow their ancient migration routes without fences interfering.

The park is one of Namibia’s most unique spots and it provides on of the most remote wilderness experiences in the country.

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