Outdoor Sports in Namibia
Outdoor sports and activities in Namibia is varied and readily available, incorporating the country’s unique geology and world class standards in equipment and techniques. Here are some of the more popular outdoor activities but do not hesitate to inquire when you practice some unique outdoor sport and would like to find a place or operator that caters for it.
1. 4x4 Safaris
Although the country and its regions are easily accessible, some of these regions lend itself to some serious "off-roading" challenging the driver to the edge, however off-roading does not mean to literally chase all over the place ruining the pristine environment and the experience of those to follow. These 4x4 experiences are offered as guided-self drive and self-drive, some off the best driving experiences are found in the sand sea of the Namib Desert and specialized operators offer guided -self drive tours all the way from Luderitz to Walvisbay, exploring the isolated sandy coast. Some dedicated 4x4 routes are available to the novice and some off the best can be found around Henties Bay. Self-drive guides focus on minimizing stress on the vehicles while showcasing the beautiful countryside if it be camping in rugged wild places or touring the popular attractions.
2. Canoeing, Kayaking and Rafting
Though Namibia is mostly an arid region, the country have plenty of reservoirs and rivers to be kayaked not to mention the estuary at Walvis Bay exploring the lagoon and the popular birdlife of up to 1500 00 birds in summer, the lagoon is registered as a wetland of international importance. Canoeing is also offered on the Kunene and Okavango rivers as an additional activity by lodges located on the banks of these rivers. Rafting and Canoeing on the rivers, the Kunene experience combines the adrenaline of the sport with the stark contrast of river and desert and has plenty of sightseeing, cultural and wildlife surprises. Rafting on the Orange River otherwise known as the Gariep River on the southern border of Namibia is quite unique as the Orange River is an older slower flowing river than the Kunene and is perfect for families with young ones as it has no dangerous game.
Of the more than 120 caves registered in Namibia the longest and most interesting would be the Arnhem Caves. With over 4800m of passage length to explore the caves are beautiful and vast. Famed for its guano in the years before independence, the cave system is embedded in a rocky outcrop that looks out over a stunning landscape. As Namibia’s only tourist cave, it has also been the center of conservation efforts with regards to unique invertebrate species living in its dark chambers. Camping facilities are also offered at the foot of the hills. Most of Namibia’s cave systems are located on privately owned land so be sure to obtain permission before visiting them, trespassing is illegal in Namibia. A few cave systems have been proclaimed national monuments and one would need a permit from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in order to visit them
Due to the vastness of Namibia many guests opt for a fly-in safari in order to save on long driving distances. Scenic flights along Namibia’s coastline are also very popular, viewing shipwrecks such as the Edward Bohlen from above captures the true essence of the forlorn and harsh landscape. The flight centre at Bitterwasser delves deeper into the different types of flying and offers soaring, gliding, micro-light flights as well as ballooning over the endless Kalahari Desert. With a 3km diameter salt pan used as a runway, Bitterwasser offers great experiences for those wishing to view the beauty of Namibia from above. Ballooning is also offered further south near Sossusvlei which is a truly magical experience.
5. Hunting Namibia
With a well set up tourism sector, policies on conservation and the wild beauty of the landscapes, Namibia is one of the best countries in Africa to plan your hunting safari. With 46 trophy species to choose from and the warm cordiality of the local operators and people, the country exhibits all the fineries and requirements of a fantastic holiday. When its comes to using hunting income for conservation purposes, Namibia is second only to Tanzania. Species available in Namibia include, but are not limited, to Oryx, Kudu, Hartmann’s & Burchell’s Zebra, Springbok, Red & Cape Hartebeest, Eland, Common Impala, Blue & Black Wildebeest, Warthog, Blesbuck and Damara Dik-Dik. Some operators do offer predators such as leopard and cheetah, but these are strictly with regards to conservation laws and permits. Many international hunters return year after year to a country of possibility and relaxation.
The picturesque town of Swakopmund hugging the cold Atlantic coastline offers Namibia’s best skydiving experiences. Boasting two registered skydiving clubs, the town offers highly trained and qualified instructors. Scheduled jumps can be arranged for professionals whilst ample training and tutor time for novices are also available. Two different types of jumps are offered for beginners, a static line jump involves jumping from the airplane with a chord attached to your chute which releases automatically. A tandem jump means you are strapped to a highly qualified instructor who will take care of all the elements involving shoot opening, gliding and landing. This provides you with the opportunity of enjoying the complete freedom as well as the incredible panoramic views from above.
The cold waters of the Namibian coast are highly fertile due to the influx of algae and plankton from the Benguela Current. Angling is a major sport and recreational activity amongst Namibians with species including Kabeljou, Steenbras, Galjoen and Blacktail. All coastal towns have numerous fine shops selling all you would need for an angling adventure outfit and many a seasoned fisherman will offer advise as to the best spots, technique and bait to use. The sport has a lot of flair attached to it and this even reflects on the names given to popular angling spots; Popeye, Bakleigat (Fighting Hole), Sarah se Gat (Sarah’s Hole), Predikantsgat (Preacher’s Hole) and Blare (Leaves) are just a few of the more colorful ones. Fishing along the coasts of Namibia is an extraordinary experience with the wild coast and crashing waves on one side and the vastness of the Namib Desert in all its splendor on the other. Shark angling is also becoming a sure highlight with the prize being the Copper Shark or Bronzy (Carcharhrinus brachyurus). If opting for such an adventure please make sure that you book through a reputable company as Namibia has a strict catch and release policy for sharks due to its conservation views on the species. The Ministry employs strict measures in terms of conserving fishing populations as well so make sure that you have the correct bait and fishing permits handy as regular inspections are done along the coast.
Ballooning is probably one of Namibia’s most grandest and luxurious activities in the south, a true experience of a life time. Floating above the canvas of the Namib Desert in the early morning hours your soul engages with breathtaking views and the true realization of endless horizons. The sleepy desert puts on its best display in the rays of the sun as it ambles up the skyline with shades of red, gold and yellow. The ride continues for 2 hours with a champagne breakfast awaiting at the landing site to add that little extra touch of wonderment. An open 4x4 vehicle takes you back across the beautiful desert scenery to your lodging. Ballooning is also done at the coast with extraordinary views of the coastline, inland dune belts as well as the deep blue of the ocean.
The splendors of the Namibian coastline surprises yet again with a catamaran cruise across the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Pelicans and seals keep time with the boat as its skims across the surface and with dainty snacks, including locally cultivated oysters, and champagne on order, this is a truly luxurious and most enjoyable experience. Views from the comfort of the boats include shipwrecks, lighthouses, abounding bird species as well as oyster platforms. Marine life often lends thrilling surprises such as Southern Right Whales and Humpback Whales with rare views of Killer Whales being the ultimate. The bay is frequented by three dolphin species and seals regularly extend a welcoming flipper, literally. With sunfish and leatherback turtles to add an extra element of wonderment, catamaran cruises are truly spectacular.
10. Dune & Sand-boarding
Traversing some of the highest dunes in the world undoubtedly provides for some of the most serious adrenaline rushes ever. Just outside of Swakopmund lies the hub of dune and sand boarding activities. Dune crests offer thrilling opportunities to either sand board in lay-down position or to do it like the snow boarders do. Some enthusiasts have measured speeds of up to 80kph, a truly awesome experience! Well trained guides and companies cater for seasoned thrill seekers as well as beginners with ample instruction and high quality equipment at hand. Take a walk on the wild side and gain a different perspective of the desert as you race down its shifting sands.
Swakopmund has been described as an adrenaline junkie’s paradise and the sport of paragliding is no exception. Highly trained guides and companies offer the chance of soaring high above the crests of the world’s oldest desert while at the same time taking in the incredible sites of the ocean rolling out on the beach. Some pilots have described Namibia as offering some of the smoothest flying experiences ever, coupled with breathtaking views it makes for a dream come true. International pilots are welcome, provided that they pass and adhere to regulations and clearance from the local training school. Best flying times are between September and March.
12. Quad Biking
Quad biking offers guests the chance of getting closer to nature and the surrounding environments. It is fast becoming one of the most popular adventure activities in Namibia as well as a relaxing way of exploring without the constraints of a vehicle. Riding rollercoaster with a quad bike on the dunes of the Namib is both thrilling and rewarding. One develops respect for their height and beauty amidst the adventure as the wind whistles past your ear. Make sure that you book quad biking with a reputable company as the activity can be dangerous, one also has to traverse the delicate desert ambience with care and respect with regards to the natural environment. Many lodges also offer quad biking through their surrounding milieus as an extra activity, routes often going where 4x4 vehicles cannot.