mary_kaye_zanatta_170x170By Mary Kaye Zanatta
Senior Account Manager, On-Sites

Namibia had been on my bucket list for years, ever since relatives raved about their trip there. My week-long visit to this unique country exceeded my high expectations.

It was so different from other African destinations I’ve traveled to. Namibia’s combination of dramatic scenery, diverse wildlife and local culture makes it a unique up-and-coming destination.

Considering a trip to Africa? Here are 7 reasons to visit Namibia over more celebrated destinations.

visit namibia: Namib desert
The Namib Desert is a don’t-miss sight in Namibia

Namibia is still relatively unknown.

Travelers are increasingly looking for unspoiled, unique destinations. With globalization, it’s getting harder and harder to find those special places. In Namibia, you can take in pristine sights such as desert sand dunes and mountain sunsets.

To visit Namibia is to encounter local culture.

visit namibia: staff singing welcome song
Local staff at a lodge serenade guests in their native language

Today’s travelers crave the opportunity to discover local people and their culture. Namibia provides plenty of opportunities to meet locals who still live a traditional lifestyle.

One of the camps I stayed at is staffed 100% by locals. They demonstrate their pride in their land and culture by sharing it with visitors. One night, as we entered the dining area for dinner, staff exuberantly sang a tune in their language to welcome us.

You’ll enjoy a different kind of wildlife experience.

You’ll see plenty of animals in Namibia, but it’s not the same concentration you’d see in other destinations like South Africa or Kenya.

visit namibia: ostriches
More than 700 species of birds live in Namibia

What is truly exceptional is the sheer variety of bird species. Namibia is a birder’s heaven, with more than 700 kinds. Admittedly, viewing birds has never been on the top of my list of animals to see in Africa, but I was pleasantly surprised. I wound up really enjoying seeing so many different species.

Once a herd of ostriches suddenly crossed the road in front of our approaching vehicle. We had a great view of them as they passed just a couple of feet in front of us.

The diversity of the landscapes is stunning.

The three regions I visited were the Namib Desert, Damaraland and Etosha National Park. The difference between each was vast.

visit namibia: diverse wildlife
Namibia is home to diverse landscapes and diverse wildlife

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the desert, but it was absolutely gorgeous and different than anything I had ever seen in Africa before. The hills and mountains of Damaraland are extremely different from the desert but every bit as dramatic. And the vast arid space of Etosha serves as a backdrop for the plentiful wildlife that makes their home there.

You’re supporting a country engaged in sustainable travel.

The industry provides employment to locals; helps conserve wildlife and nature; and creates eco-friendly lodging and activities. As one example, when I arrived in Namibia, I received a water bottle. At every camp, I was able to refill and reuse that bottle at water stations.

Visit Namibia: common room at Little Kulala Camp
Little Kulala is a luxury camp in the middle of the Namib Desert

You can personalize your journey to your tastes.

I stayed at three very different and unique camps in three very unique and different locations:

  • Little Kulala, a Wilderness Safaris Premier Camp, is an oasis in the middle of the Namib Desert. My “tent” had an individual plunge pool, sitting area and private rooftop deck with a bed for relaxing outside or sleeping under the stars.
  • Damaraland Camp, a Wilderness Safaris Classic Camp, is owned and run by the local community. It offers 10 elevated adobe-style thatched units, and its communal area features a fireplace, bar, and swimming pool.
  • Ongava Tented Camp is in a private game reserve next to Etosha National Park. I saw a constant flow of animals – giraffes, zebras and wildebeests among others – visiting the salt lick and watering hole just outside my tent.
Visit Namibia: zebras
To visit Namibia is to experience the vast, untouched landscapes and biodiversity – it’s home to about 4,000 species of plants and 80 large mammal species

Namibia is perfect for people who have visited Africa at least once.

It’s not a traditional “first time to Africa destination” for people looking for the quintessential safari experience.

Instead people will enjoy the vast, untouched landscapes; unique cultures; and biodiversity. The country is home to about 4,000 species of plants and 80 large mammal species.

If Namibia sounds right for you but you don’t know how to start planning a trip there, a Virtuoso travel advisor can help. A Namibia specialist can work with you to sort out where to go and what to do in this fascinating country. Your trip here will create lifetime memories, as it did for me.