In our experience, Namibia is truly a one-of-a-kind country. It’s unspoiled, untamed, and relatively untouched by development.
It’s the type of place where the sand dunes are way taller than the buildings, and where going on a roadtrip means you probably won’t see another soul the entire day.
There are just two million inhabitants in a territory that exceeds 300,000 square miles. It’s one of the world’s least populated countries and as you wander around the country, you’ll start to see why.
There’s the Namib, after which the country takes its name, which runs the entire length of the country’s coastline. And there’s the world-renowned Kalahari, which covers the Eastern half of the country and extends into Botswana.
People come to Namibia for its vast space, extensive wildlife, and dramatic scenery. There are the ghost trees of the Deadvlei, the vast Fish River Canyon, and the incredible animals roaming the Etosha Pan.
With 12 national parks in Namibia, as well as numerous other nature reserves and protected areas, there’s plenty of natural beauty to explore in the Southern African nation.
Read on to learn more about our favorite Namibia National Parks, include info on each park’s size, history, main attractions, and the wondrous wildlife you can expect to see there!
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Best National Parks in Namibia Guide
- Ai|Ais/Richtervelds Transfrontier Park
- Bwabwata National Park
- Cape Cross Seal Reserve
- Etosha National Park
- Khaudum National Park
- Namib-Naukluft National Park
- Skeleton Coast National Park
1. Ai|Ais/Richtervelds Transfrontier Park
This Namibian national park was created in 2003 by combining Ai|Ais, a national park in Southern Namibia, and Richtervelds, a park across the border in South Africa.
The most notable feature in the park is the Fish River Canyon. This is Africa’s largest canyon at about 100 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and over 1500 feet deep.
Hiking the Fish River Canyon is one of Namibia’s great adventures. But it’s also one that shouldn’t be undertaken lightly: There is literally nothing in the canyon, and the hike normally takes four to five days.
If you choose to tackle it, please plan accordingly and make sure you have all the necessary hiking essentials.
2. Bwabwata National Park
One of the few places in Namibia where the landscape is not dominated by desert, the Caprivi Strip is a narrow strip of land heading eastwards towards Zambia and Zimbabwe from “mainland” Namibia.
This region is far wetter and more fertile compared to what you’ll see further south, thanks largely to the proximity of the Okavango Delta and the Kwando River.
This national park forms part of the migration route of Elephants moving between Zambia, Botswana, and Angola.
And the Mahango Reserve, which is found within the park, is widely regarded as one of the best places to see birds in all of Namibia.
3. Cape Cross Seal Reserve
Cape Cross, a small headland not far from the coastal city of Swakopmund, is best known for its historic and naturalistic significance.
In terms of history, this was the place where Portuguese explorer Diogo Cao first landed during his 1486 expedition attempting to discover a passage to the East. He erected a small stone cross there, a replica of which stands to this day.
The park is also home to one of the largest Cape Fur Seal colonies in the world, with a population that can exceed 500,000 at some times.
The shores of Cape Cross are literally littered with seals lounging, sleeping, mating, dying, fishing, eating… there are seals as far as the eye can see!
4. Etosha National Park
If Namib-Naukluft is all about the scenic landscapes, Etosha is the best place to go in Namibia to see Africa’s “Big 5” safari animals. Well, it’s actually the Big 4, as Cape Buffaloes are not found in the park.
Etosha National Park takes its name from the gigantic salt pan that covers a quarter of the park. It’s so large that it can actually be seen from space.
The name means “Great White Place” in Ovambo– the language of the largest indigenous Namibian tribe– in clear reference to the pan.
It’s fairly easy to spot wildlife in Etosha because the park only has sparse shrubs and no vegetation at all in and around the pan.
Plus, the scarcity of water means that the animals often gather around the watering holes to drink.
READ MORE: The 10 Best Places for African Safari Tours
5. Khaudum National Park
Warden Dries Alberts described this park as follows:
“Khaudum National Park was established with conservation in mind, not for cash generation. This simple guiding characteristic gave birth to the true wilderness feel that embraces one’s soul when visiting the park. It is wild, and we want to keep it like that.”
This is Namibia’s most remote national park and its true “forgotten wilderness.” It attracts less than 3000 yearly visitors, due to its remote location and relative lack of tourist facilities.
Getting there is half the fun, with some poorly maintained tracks that should only be tackled by confident drivers.
But when you finally make it there, the park is a great place to see wildlife, including Lions, Cheetahs, Hyenas, Roan antelope and huge Elephant herds.
6. Namib-Naukluft National Park
At almost 20,000 square miles, this is Namibia’s largest national park, and one of the largest national parks in the world.
Many of Namibia’s most iconic sites are located within the boundaries of Namib-Naukluft National Park.
These include the striking red dunes of Sossusvlei, (such as Big Daddy, the highest dune in the national park at about 1000 ft high); the Deadvlei, with its skeleton trees set against the huge red dunes; and the famous Dune 45, a stunning place to watch the sunrise over the desert.
Make sure you also visit the Sesriem Canyon, a 98-foot deep canyon that’s overlooked by most tourists.
Every 10 years or so, the ephemeral Tsauchab River starts flowing, flooding parts of the Deadvlei and Sossusvlei area. If you can catch it, don’t miss the giant mirrors this creates, which reflect the stellar dunes.
7. Skeleton Coast National Park
Namibia is probably the only country in the world with a coastline that is entirely protected. The Northern Namibian coast forms part of the Skeleton Coast National Park, taking its name from the shipwrecks that litter its shores.
This is one of Africa’s most treacherous coasts, with unpredictable currents and a dense sea mist coming in from the ocean.
This has caused many an experienced captain to lose their bearings and run their ships aground there.
The Skeleton Coast remains one of the most inaccessible places in the world, with no 4×4 sturdy enough to negotiate sandy tracks.
BIO: Margherita is a freelance writer from Milan, Italy. She is passionate about wildlife, ecotourism, and outdoor adventure activities. She runs the popular nature and adventure travel blog The Crowded Planet with her husband Nick Burns, an Australian travel and wildlife photographer.