Namib-Naukluft National Park
As one of the largest parks in Africa, the Namib-Naukluft is a remarkable sight. The rocky escarpment of the Naukluft Mountains, leads to the breathtaking ocean of red sand dunes of the Sossuvlei. This vast red ocean is one of nature’s most extraordinary creations. Namib-Naukluft is generally visited for its spectacular landscape – not its wildlife viewing. While there are wildlife present in the park – such springbok, Oryx, Hartmann’s zebra, hyenas and smaller mammals – it is more suitable for birdwatching, with over 200 species of birds.
Best Time to Go
All year round. May-September (less hot)
Average Safari Cost
$150 – $800 pp/day
The endangered Hartmann’s zebra, and over 200 bird species. The Naukluft Mountains and the spectacular vast ocean of red dunes in Soussevlei.
Why Visit Namib-Naukluft National Park?
The spectacular red dunes at Sossuvlei attract adventurers from around the world. The dunes are constantly reshaping with the shifting sands, and can look different from one minute to the next, leaving you in awe of nature’s artistic hand. Even a change in light can cause the character of the red dunes to change irreversibly.
The Naukluft Mountains are rocky and populated with the rare Hartmann’s mountain zebra, along with spotted and brown hyenas – though the elusive creatures are difficult to spot. It does, however, make for a good birdwatching destination, as the park is accessible during the breeding and migratory season from November until April. Birdwatchers can expect to see, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Spike-heeled Lark, Pale-winged Starling, and even the endangered White-backed Vulture.
Pros And Cons
- Exquisite desert landscape with red dunes and saltpans at Sossuvlei
- Desert-adapted wildlife is very special in this beautiful setting
- The park can be visited all year-round
- There are good walking options for the Naukluft Mountains
- Good variety of birds for birdwatching
- Hot and dry climate
Best Time To Visit
Namib-Naukluft can be visited at any time of the year, as those who visit the park are there for the scenery and not the wildlife. The park is hot and dry, with very little rain, which is often welcome. The park is, however, most enjoyable during the winter months from May until September, when the weather is cooler.
Birdwatching would be best from November until April, as this is the migratory season, and the birds will be nesting in the park.
For more information on when to visit Namibia see when to visit Namibia.
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Wildlife And Birds
The Namib-Naukluft cannot really be considered as a wildlife viewing destination, as the animals are few and not easily spotted. The Naukluft Mountains are least visited section of the park. It is home to the endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebra, both the spotted and the brown hyena, and other small mammals such the Cape ground squirrel, meerkat and yellow mongoose.
Among the most commonly seen big mammals, there are Oryx and springbok, as they are desert-adapted animals and can live in the driest of conditions. Other desert-adapted animals include Ground pangolin, cheetah, leopard, aardwolf, the bat-eared fox and the Cape fox – although these animals are skittish and rarely seen. If you move closer to the river, however, you may be able to spot klipspringer, steenbok and troops of baboons near the river.
- Hartmann’s zebra
- Spotted Hyena
- Brown Hyena
- Cape fox
- Bat-eared fox
- Ground pangolin
Birdwatchers will love Namib-Naukluft, as it has over 200 bird species. There are some notable birds in Sossusvlei, including Dune lark, Rueppell’s bustard, Monteiro’s hornbill and Kopje warbler. However, this red desert is dry and birds will not be easy to spot.
The rocky Naukluft Mountains is a great birdwatching area. There are many more species available than at Sossusvlei and spotting them is much easier. From November until April, you can spot migrant birds here. Since the park rarely experiences precipitation, birderwatchers will be able to view the birds without any problems (although rain may be welcomed to ease the dry heat). Notable birds that can be seen at Naukluft Mountains include Pale-winged starling, Rosy-faced lovebird, Spike-heeled lark, and Orange River white-eye.
- Lappet-faced Vulture
- White-back Vulture
- Martial Eagle
- Black Harrier
- Ludwig’s Bustard
- Rueppel’s Bustard
- Mnteiro’s Hornbill
- Dune Lark
- Kopje Warbler
- Orange River White-eye
Getting There And Safety
Located roughly 40km (25 miles) east of Windhoek, Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) is the main entrance point into Namibia. Safari trip usually starts with a drive in a 4x4. Namib-Naukluft National Park can be explored independently or as part of a tour group.
The park contains different sections, each with its own entry points. A 4x4 and permits are required for minor roads, while normal 2WD cars can be used on the main routes to the park, as well as those within it. The red dunes of Sossusvlei – main attraction of the park – can be accessed through the Sesriem entry point, and is located 360km (223 miles) from Windhoek.
For more on flights and visas see our Namibia Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Namibia is dry and hot country. The Namib-Naukluft is even drier, as there is hardly any Wet season in this region. Sunscreen and a sunhat are essential. If you are visiting during their winter months, May until October, it is worth noting that the nights and early mornings will be cold, especially in the desert and higher areas. Adding a few article of warm clothing is a good idea. Ensure that you have comfortable, sturdy shoes, especially if you are visiting the Naukluft Mountains. Remember to always carry a bottle of water with you.
For more details about what to take with you on a safari see our Safari Packing List.
Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Namibia. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.
Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.