Welcome to my photo gallery of Namibia where I have curated 30 photos of Namibia from the sky and also a few of them taken with my feet firmly on the ground.
Namibia was a country that had been on my dream list for a long time. It had gone past the wish list and the bucket list into a very special list I reserve for the most coveted of places. The magical images of Namibia and its incredible landscapes always drew me to the country. Little did I know that, despite the very high expectations and the trip being years in the making, the country would still blow me away and have me glued to the light aircraft window on the 10 flights that I took criss-crossing the country. I can’t deny I took hundreds of normal and aerial photos of Namibia.
Namibia is a land of contrasts and of geological wonders. It is a young country, only independent from South Africa since 1990, but its unique landscapes have been there for millions of years. The challenging environment has given Namibia the second lowest population density in the world, after Mongolia.
The existence of the Namib Desert, arguably the oldest desert in the world, covering a large part of the territory, makes it a hard country to inhabit. Conditions are arid, desolate even, but incredibly beautiful. In Namibia, the journey is the destination.
Here you can find 25 photos of Namibia to inspire wanderlust. I bet these images of Namibia are also going straight into your travel wish list.
1. Dried riverbeds
Most of Namibia receives less than 3cm of rainfall a year. The rivers appear dried out on the surface but they are alive underground, sometimes as much as 30m below the surface. The existence of these subterranean rivers is obvious by the seeming vegetation growth along the dry riverbeds
2. Dirt and gravel roads
In the southern part of the country roads are more common as the country is more developed. On the way to Sossusvlei, there are a few roads crossing the vast desert dunes. The desert wind and dust often erases them. As a result, no two images of Namibia taken at the same spot in the desert are the same.
3. Namibia’s tallest mountain
The Brandberg is Namibia’s tallest mountain and its name comes from the German, Afrikaans and Dutch for fire mountain as it is said to glow in the setting sun. It is almost 3,000 meters high.
4. Images of the Skeleton Coast
Receiving its name from the large amount of ship and whale bones scattered along the shore, the Skeleton Coast park extends from the Swakop River to the Kunene River, on the border with Angola. The area is engulfed in fog 340 days of the year and the waters are colder ashore than they are further away from the beach.
The strong Benguela current and the limited visibility are believed to be the cause for the many shipwrecks. The bushmen call Skeleton Coast “The Land that God made in Anger”. How lucky was I to visit during one of the 25 days a year when there was no fog? I snapped this photo of Namibia’s most iconic beach from our light aircraft excursion to the Skeleton Coast from Hoanib Desert Camp.
5. Aerial shots of Namibia’s salt works
North of Swakopmund you can find this colorful salt farming lands that provide the perfect feeding ground for thousands of flamingos. The salt is transferred from the ocean into flat plains where the water evaporates and creates these incredible aerial image of Namibia. Once the water evaporates, the salt is then packed and sold.
6. Cracking soil
Along the dry river beds, the occasional existence of flash rains bring floods that cover arid and deeply dry sand with moisture. As soon as the water sips and evaporates, the soil cracks making these beautiful patterns. The area is so dry that, often times, the rain drops don’t reach the ground.
7. Powerful Ana trees
Ana trees are a source of food and water for the many desert-adapted animals of Namibia. Ana trees are a thorny tree with deep roots that can penetrate far below the surface to reach for water. They can live with as little as 2,5cm of rainfall a year and are widely spread in Namibia as they are one of very few trees able to survive droughts.
8. Sprouting bushes
In the north, as soon as the few rains arrive, vegetation can sprout straightaway covering otherwise brown and desert plains with bright neon green plants. This image of Namibia is rare as rains are scarce and last only a few days. The harsh weather also makes the water evaporate quickly so the green carpet of grass is a short-lived sight.
9. Sesriem canyon
Located about 5km from the entrance to the Namib-Naukluft National Park Sesriem Canyon is an easy and pretty place for a stroll. The Tsauchab River has shaped the Canyon over millions of years. As if a canyon wasn’t interesting enough sight, there is even a small pond with catfish.
Our guide said the pond is connected with larger subterranean waters. The canyon was named after the Afrikaans for six (“ses”) and leather straps (“riem”) because they needed them to create a rope long enough to lower buckets into the canyon and fetch water.
The borders of Namibia with its neighbours follow age old rivers for the most part. The Orange River marks the border with South Africa and the Kunene River, to the North, the separation with Angola. Up in the mountains above Serra Cafema Camp, we could see Angola across the river. Its landscapes were similar in that part of Africa.
11. The changing colors of Namibia
Despite being one of the driest places on Earth, the mountains and deserts of Namibia are an ever changing pantone of colors with various types of minerals, rocks, sand and vegetation covering anything from yellow to red, through orange, green, grey and brown. This is why a lot of aerial photos of Namibia are able to provide such an incredible perspective you can only get from the sky. No two images are the same as the vegetation, and with it the colors of the country, is constantly changing.
12. The Kunene River
One of the very few perennial rivers in Namibia, The Kunene river starts in the mountains of Angola and ends in the Atlantic Ocean. Along its course, there are several waterfalls and even water sports available. After days in the driest of deserts, images of water flowing and crocodiles were a welcoming sight and a change of scenery. Pictures of Namibia featuring rivers are rare.
13. Famous images of Namibia: The Eduard Bohlen shipwreck
One of the most photographed and photogenic of the shipwrecks of Namibia is the Eduard Bohlen, a ship that is half buried over 300m inland from the shore where it ran aground as a result of the wind and shifting sands (remember the Benguela current?). This is perhaps Namibia’s most famous photo together with those of Sossusvlei Desert.
14. Remote and inaccessible camps
Most of the Northwestern part of Namibia is only accessible to fly-in safaris. That is, camps that are not accessible by road but only flights landing at their own air strip. These camps are often not permanent and created by safari companies with temporary concessions for the area.
These lodges and camps are not fenced and try to minimize impact on the landscape by visually blending in. The Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is a good example. This is the only camp with the right of access to the Skeleton Coast’s Northern part by car. Giraffes were roaming the vegetation in search of food at breakfast and elephants were often seen.
15. A desert oasis
Desert oasis are not a mirage, and the following photo of Namibia’s desert should prove that. At least not in the stretch of land between Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp and the Skeleton Coast. On our return trip from the shore to the camp we flew over two real oasis in the middle of the desert. Animals can walk for hours to these oasis in search of water.
In the salt works north of Swakopmund, the salt attracts flamingos to feed on the algae that grows. From the sky, they are tiny pink dots on the ever changing salt plains and create these beautiful images of Namibia. I bet you agree this photo could have been taken elsewhere and not so close to a desert?
17. Swakopumnd’s German past
Namibia’s second largest city has one of the best preserved Bavarian houses in the world. As the country became under German rule from the end of the 19th century until the end of WWI, a thriving port was built in Swakompund, attracting many businesses. The city’s name come from the Nama for “excrement opening”, because the Swakop river used to carry all sorts of things down the river, including dead animals.
18. Skeleton Coast birds
Despite the dry land that lies beyond the shore, the sea attracts and feeds a large amount of birds to the long stretch coast. In this image of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, hundreds of birds pose in a heart-shaped formation on a sandbank.
19. Lone trees
Despite the apparently uninhabitable terrain, some endemic and drought-resistant trees find a way to penetrated deep down to the water sources. From the sky, you can occasionally see lone trees surrounded by the nothingness of the desert. The paths drawn by animals in search of shade may be the cause for these lines on the sand.
20. Hot air balloon over the Namib Desert and Sossusvlei
One of the most breathtaking images of Namibia I still have vivid in my mind is the one of floating above the Namib Desert and Sossusvlei at sunrise. On that day, and very exceptionally, rain threatened so we were worried we may not take off. But we finally did and had an incredible light show above the desert.
The hot air balloon company, Namib Sky Balloon Safaris, is also committed to the local community and runs a school, Little Bugs, for the children of the staff and the nearby lodges as there is nothing else around for them to go to school and the nearest town is miles away.
21. A sea of sand dunes
Sossusvlei is a large, white, salt and clay pan. The dunes in this area are some of the highest in the world, reaching almost 400 meters. Sossusvlei translates to “dead-end marsh”, as it is the place where the dunes stop the Tsauchab River from flowing any further, some 60km east of the Atlantic Ocean.
The dunes expand for over 50km in a landscape resembling a sea of pink dunes and creating one of the most incredible images of Namibia. These dunes were formed over millions of years. The sand came from the deposits of the Orange River, on the border with South Africa, which carried the sand into the sea for the Benguella Current to re-deposit it on land. The wind carried the red particles.
The dunes change shape constantly and, even if most of the popular dunes are climbed every day, by the time the sun rises the next day, their shape and top is sharp again. I was the first to walk on them one morning and they looked as if nobody had ever stepped on them before.
Some of the Sossusvlei dunes can be easily climbed. Some have the perfect shape, built over years of sand shifted by the wind. The most popular dunes in Namibia are Dune 45, Big Daddy and Big Mamma. One of the least visited and most beautiful I saw was Hiddenvlei. Loved its undulating perfection.
The dunes in Sossusvlei have a high percentage of quartz which gives them this pink hue when the sun reflects on them and creates these ever-changing photos. The Sossusvlei dunes are the most popular landmark in the country and the most photographed. No visitor leaves Namibia without a photo of these dunes.
23. Fly-in safaris in Namibia
As most of the country is isolated and extremely hard to reach, the best way to travel is to take a fly-in safari where guests are taken between camps on a light aircraft. The bird’s eye view from the plane and the photos of Namibia you can snap are otherworldly. Best of all? You can sit next to the pilot.
24. Fairy circles
A strange phenomenon can be seen across the country: Circles of plants devoid of any life in the middle creating these fascinating aerial photos of Namibia referred to by everyone as fairy circles. No Namibia photo gallery is complete without a picture of the fairy circles.
Nobody knows their origin but theories abound. I especially like the alien justification. For a more plausible and science-backed alternative explanation there are termites or radiation as the culprits of such strange sighting. They make for some very unique aerial images.
25. Rainbows in the desert
Everyone expects the desert to be dry. And it is, for the most part of the year that is. The Namib Naukluft Desert receives less than 3cm of rainfall a year but, when it rains, in flash showers that last only a few minutes, the light reflects to create the most vivid of rainbows. Who would have said I could see a rainbow in the desert? Definitively one of the most stunning photos of Namibia you could expect.
These were my top 25 aerial photos of Namibia. But I did not just explore the country from the air, I actually spent most of the time on the ground, as you would expect. So here are some additional images of Namibia for the photo gallery.
26. The Cape Fur seal colony
Referred to as the stinkiest place on Earth, the few Cape fur seal colonies in the Skeleton Coast are both cute, disgusting and fascinating at the same time. The colonies can amount several thousands and the little fur seals often die of starvation as their parents, who need to go out at sea to hunt for fish to bring back, can’t find their pups. Their deaths and subsequent rotting in the sun causes the vomit-inducing stench of death and excrements that filled my lungs. I could not stand it constantly having to walk away before being able to come back.
Visiting the Cape Fur seal colony is a must not only because they are one of the most famous images of Namibia but because they highlight nature’s struggle for survival. You will be able to spot the adults swimming and fishing in the strong currents and high waves, the pups screaming and calling for their parents and the many fights between the adults who stay on land. I visited the one at Mowe Bay which has 30,000 seals.
27. The pool at &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge
In the middle of the desert, luxury lodges provide much respite from the blazing sun with their air conditioned luxury accommodations and their dipping pools. Wild animals often congregate around the pools to drink, using them as waterholes, like at this one at &Beyond’s Sossusvlei Desert Lodge.
28. The Himba tribes
The Himba people still live in the desert following their ancestral traditions and ways of life. Half naked and covered in red ochre, the Himba women stay back with the children in their nomadic settlement while the men, who are pastoralist, go out to take the goats to graze. They casn be gone for weeks. I spent two afternoons with them while staying at Serra Cafema Lodge in the north of Namibia on the border with Angola and it was a most fascinating and entertaining encounter.
29. Desert adapted elephants in Namibia
With arid conditions and mostly desert landscapes you probably did not expect a photo gallery of Namibia to include wildlife such as elephants, lions and giraffes. Yet the country is home to hundreds of species, many of which have adapted to the harsh desert conditions with incredible skill and evolutionary hindsight.
Animals who have adapted to the desert conditions or who are able to survive them by default are easy to spot in the empty desert. There are barely any trees or vegetation to hide from and they are usually spotted in the vast landscapes. In the cases of desert-adapted species like elephants or lions, their bodies have evolved to be able to survive several days without water, but they still spend most of their time in search of it.
30. Halo sunsets in Namibia
Sunsets in Namibia are absolutely spectacular. In fact, sunsets in Africa are always incredible. In Namibia, we also saw these halo sunsets almost every day. Although they are usually found in winter and cold places where they are created by ice particles floating in the air (I saw plenty of them in Tibet), something which was definitively not the case in Namibia’s summer, they were used to predict weather before forecasting was available and usually indicate rain will fall in the next 24h. This halo was correct in predicting the rain we had the next day at Sossusvlei.
Did these photos of Namibia inspire you to visit? Have you been and would like your photos to be included in this Namibia photo gallery? Reach out to me via the contact form. read this post for more Namibia highlights.