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Things to See in Namibia – The Deadvlei

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Along with Etosha National Park, Deadvlei is one of Namibia’s most popular attractions and for good reason.

The Deadvlei offers astonishing photographic opportunities during a visit to Sossusvlei. The images of stark black acacia trees twisting up into the clear skies of Namibia captured here are famous all over the world.

You’ll find these desolate scenes close to the Sossusvlei salt pan in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, about 65km from the Sesriem Gate.

What’s in a Name?

The Deadvlei is a long-expired marshland. It was once a floodplain supporting an abundance of life during the heydays of the Tsauchab River. At one time, camel thorn trees flourished here, only to be left high and dry when the river dried up.

Thanks to the unusually arid climate of their new surroundings, the trees never decayed. They simply dehydrated, rooted as a melancholy reminder of a once abundant past. Many of the trees are between 900 and 1 000 years old.

Visiting the Deadvlei

You can take a tour of the Deadvlei on guided trips from the Namib Naukluft National Park’s rustic accommodation or from one of the luxury lodges on the perimeter.

Self-drive tours are also an option in Sossusvlei.

During your visit to the area, keep your eyes peeled for signs of the unique desert-adapted fauna and flora which also call this place home.

You may see living examples of camel thorn trees along buried watercourses and hardy, deep-rooted Nara melons flourishing where it seems impossible. If you’re lucky, you could spot a Toktokkie beetle, Namib Dune Ants or a rare Namib Dune Gecko along with ostrich, gemsbok and springbok.

If you arrive early or leave late, you might spot one of the nocturnal species like bat-eared foxes, black-backed jackals and porcupines, on their way to or from slumber.

Birdlife is surprisingly abundant with Monteiro’s Hornbill, Rueppell’s Bustard, Kopje Warbler, Dune Lark, Black-eared Sparrow-Lark, and Karoo Thrush making the list.

Making your way to the Deadvlei

As with all Namibian adventures, it is vital to carry a supply of water and slather yourself in sun protection during your trip to Deadvlei. Whatever you do, make sure your camera is to hand and ready for action.

You can travel to the Sesriem Gate from Windhoek along the B1 and D854 or take the C14 from Swakopmund. There is a tar road leading to all the main sites of Sossusvlei and you will reach the short walking trail to Deadvlei just beyond the Dune 45 Lookout Point.

Don’t miss the chance to visit Deadvlei during your travels to Namibia.

Explore the Spectacular Sossusvlei

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Along with Etosha National Park, the Sossusvlei is one of Namibia’s best-known attractions. The sweeping dunes and stark scenes are a favourite among photographers and adventure enthusiasts alike.

This scenic and geographically fascinating area is part of the Namib Naukluft National Park and located about 5 hours from Windhoek. As such, it is not suitable for a day trip but makes for a wonderful detour in your journey between the capital and Swakopmund, which is 402km further along.

Plan to spend a few days absorbing the beauty of this place and taking part in the activities available here.

Things to do in Sossusvlei

You can explore the Sossusvlei on foot, on a quad bike or in a hot-air balloon from a range of lodges on the perimeter of this incredible destination.

Some of the must-see sights found here include:

  • Sesriem Canyon
  • Dune 45
  • Big Daddy
  • Sossusvlei – a large salt and clay pan overlooked by huge red star-shaped dunes
  • Deadvlei
  • Hiddenvlei
  • Petrified Dunes

During your explorations, you may be lucky enough to encounter some of the incredible animals, birds and plants that call the Sossusvlei home.

These living things have adapted to the sparse rainfall and dense coastal fogs in the area. Camel thorn trees and Nara melons reach deep into the earth for moisture, and die-hard welwitschia plants can be seen in the northern areas.

Cartwheeling spiders and toktokkie beetles speed across the landscape to avoid prolonged contact with the scorching earth, the latter standing on their heads to collect drinking water from the fog.

Most of the animals here have become nocturnal to avoid the glare of the day-time sun but you may come across gemsbok, ostrich and springbok. Cape and bat-eared foxes, porcupines and black-backed jackals are a rarity.

Bird lovers will delight in the chance to spot Karoo Thrush, Rueppell’s Bustard, Monteiro’s Hornbill, Black-Eared Sparrow-Lark, Kopje Warblers and Dune Larks.

Making the Most of Your Stay

Early morning and late afternoon are the best times for photographers to make the most of Namibia’s perfect ‘light’. These hours are also the coolest, and more suitable for those heading out on foot to climb the dunes.

During the hottest times of the day, you can lie up at your choice of accommodation. Most offer swimming pools, children’s activities and restaurants.

Notable day trips in the area include a visit to Solitaire to try the world-famous apple pies or a trip to Hotel Helmeringhausen for lunch, curios and a visit to the onsite museum.

Making your Way to Sossusvlei

The Namib Naukluft National Park is accessible by 4×4 vehicle or on guided tours which offer fascinating insights into the history of the area and culture of the local people.

If you choose to self-drive, you can get there from your Windhoek accommodation along the B1 and D854 to Sesriem Gate.

There are also charter flights operating between Eros Airport in Windhoek and the lodges in the area. Should you choose this route, you can get around with the guided tours offered onsite.

Get in touch to book your accommodation in Windhoek or see here for excellent accommodation options during your stay in Sossusvlei.

Diving in Namibia

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Despite its long coastline of over 1 500 km, Namibia is more famous for activities such as adventure sports and game viewing in Etosha National park than it is for underwater activities.

Anglers will argue that this stretch of the Atlantic Ocean along the skeleton Coast is indeed a paradise for them with excellent catches recorded every year.

Ocean Diving

Only the most determined and experienced divers have ever attempted to venture beneath the surface of the tempestuous seas found here. Water temperatures average from 8 to 18C and there’s no telling what the currents will do.

These die-hards try their luck in the depths between Lüderitz and Spencer Bay. Even during the best diving months, December to May, visibility remains low at 3 to 10 meters, tops.

If you are set on getting your suit wet while visiting Namibia, chances are, you want to head inland to find your enjoyment in more accommodating water sources above sea level.

Caves and Lakes for Diving in Namibia

Here you can explore caves and sinkholes where it is much safer to strap on your goggles and oxygen mask for a few hours of subterranean exploration.

While these diving spots may be a lot safer than their offshore counterparts, it’s still a technical venture and not for beginners. Most of these Namibian inland dive sites are classified as Type III by the World Underwater Federation CMAS. This means that they are difficult and need to be undertaken with a qualified instructor in tow.

What’s more, many of these are located on private land, so you’ll have to get the owner’s permission first. It’s a good idea to get in touch with the Namibia Underwater Federation at least 3 months in advance to make the arrangements.

These are some of the best-known inland sites in Namibia:

  • Lake Otjikoto
  • Lake Guinas
  • Lake Harasib
  • Dragons Breath – the largest subterranean lake in the world.

In true Namibian style, diving here is not for the faint-hearted. For more adventure activities and to plan your tip to Namibia, check out the Namibia Travel Guide.

Take a Whirlwind Tour of Wonderful Windhoek, Namibia

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Once you have settled in to your Windhoek accommodation, you can prepare yourself to sample the smorgasbord of sightseeing to be enjoyed here. The busy capital city is filled with buildings, monuments and neighbourhoods bursting with historical interest and is well-suited to walking tours and casual touring. Don’t miss out on the following interesting sites:

Independence Avenue
Some of the famous Gibeon Meteorites which fell in Southern Namibia have been crafted into unusually beautiful art forms near the Sanlam building on Independence Avenue.

One of Windhoek’s favourite and most famous statues is the bronze kudu statue, a symbol of hope and passion for the wildlife of Namibia, which stands at the intersection of Independence Avenue and John Meinhert Street.

The Christus Kirche
Located on a traffic island in the centre of Robert Mugabe Drive, the Christus Kirche is a magnificent example of Neo Gothic and Art Nouveau and universally acknowledged as the face of Windhoek on postcards and brochures.

Katatura Township
For an interesting peek into the cultural and colonial history of Windhoek, take a tour to Katutura Township. Katutura means “the place where we do not want to settle” and was set aside as a black residential area during the apartheid era. Today it is a fascinating, vibrant and prosperous suburb and about 60% of Windhoek’s population live here.

Markets and Craft Centres
At Single Quarters you can sample some ‘kapana’ which is a combination of meat and fat grilled on a roadside barbeque and a favourite snack in Namibia.

Soweto Market bustles with seamstresses, vendors, hairdressers and bargains.

At the Penduka Centre you can purchase lovely hand-crafted souvenirs crafted by disadvantaged and disabled women.

Not for the faint-hearted, Eveline Street is the domain of shebeens and informal traders with humorous names and bad reputations.

Eating out in Windhoek
If you can’t develop a taste for kapana, Windhoek presents a wide range of dining options from traditional Mopani worms to the more usual European dishes.

Whether you decide to go it alone, take an organised tour or enlist a private guide, exploring Windhoek is a fascinating and enjoyable experience.

We can assist you in planning your trip to Namibia, from finding you accommodation in Windhoek to organizing your guided or self-drive tour of the capital city. Contact us for more information.

Overview of the Visa Requirements for Namibia

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Exporting yourself to a foreign country is an exciting and sometimes daunting exercise, even if it is just for a holiday or business conference.

Getting someone else to do the legwork for you is the most desirable option and you can hire an agency to arrange your visa on your behalf. Time is money though, and it will cost you almost three times as much if you go this route.

If you decide to go it alone, you need to know the following visa requirements for Namibia:

Tourist Visa

Namibia welcomes tourists, but unless you hail from South Africa, Australia, Britain, Germany, America, Canada or Japan, you will need a tourist visa to enter the country. Valid for three months, a tourist visa shouldn’t take longer than three days to process at the Namibian Consulate or Embassy in your country.

You will need the following documents to apply –

  • Your itinerary,
  • Bank statement,
  • Letter of employment,
  • Letter of invitation
  • Copy of a yellow fever vaccination certificate.

You may not perform any work, including volunteer work, on a tourist VISA.

Work and business Visa

Valid for both volunteer work and paid employment, these Visas can take up to five weeks to process and you will need a temporary residence permit as well.

Have the following documentation on hand when applying, according to the length of your stay:

1 to 3 months –

  • visa application form
  • passport
  • motivation letter as to what your function will be
  • proof of educational qualifications

4 to 12 months –

  • all of the above
  • a medical certificate
  • police clearance certificate
  • proof of your contract or tender

A business Visa is required when visiting for work purposes and you need to submit your:

  • passport
  • itinerary
  • yellow fever vaccination certificate
  • company letter outlining the purpose and duration of the visit
  • letter from the host company with all the details

Other visas include student Visas and Transit Visas. Enquire at your embassy for details regarding these.

Namibia Leads the way for Adventure Tourism in Africa

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The Adventure World Travel Summit will be held on African soil for the first time from 26 to 31 October 2013, when Windhoek and Swakopmund host this prestigious event. The summit will serve to confirm Namibia’s growing reputation as a top adventure destination and assure her of a place on the world map of tourism for the foreseeable future.

Namibia has an excellent infrastructure in place and puts a strong emphasis on tourism as a whole, so it came as no surprise when the proposal by the Minister for Environment and Tourism, Netumbo Nandi-Nditwah, to “bring the summit home” was accepted at the last AWTS, held in Mexico during 2011.

This year, the Adventure Travel World Summit is to take a different direction. Delegates will take part in field trips to experience these wonderful activities for themselves and networking and development programmes, education seminars and review opportunities will be made available to businesses and professionals in the adventure tourism sector. This will give Namibians a chance to ‘show them how it’s done’, with true African flair, and enhance Namibia’s reputation as a peaceful, exciting and breathtakingly beautiful destination.

Apart from great natural beauty, interesting and unusual attractions and fantastic weather, Namibia checks all the boxes when it comes to doing things right from a tourism perspective. Sustainable tourism and conservation are high on the agenda for Namibia while community involvement and upliftment by means of tourism are powerful motivational forces behind every tourism effort in Namibia.

While these aspects are important to the 600 delegates that will be attending the summit this October, they are not priorities for the thousands of tourists who flock here every year. They come to sand board in the Namib Desert, trek with the local Khoi people, skydive in Swakopmund, float in a hot air balloon at Sossusvlei, go on safari in Etosha, quad bike, ride horses and generally have the time of their lives.

On the eve of this extremely prestigious event, Namibians have every reason to hold their heads high for setting an outstanding example for the rest of Africa to follow.

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