Namibia, in Southern Africa, is a land of contrasts. It has the world’s greatest cheetah population, the highest sand dunes, and the world’s oldest desert. It is one of the world’s least heavily populated areas, with conservation management covering more than half of the country.

A safari in Namibia has so many fantastic things to do that it is considered one of Africa’s most adventurous places.

Aerial view of the Namib desert

Aerial view with Namib Sky hot air balloons | Photo Credits: Lara Lusse

In truth, there are far more activities in Namibia than one normally learns about while planning a Namibian vacation.

This article, written by a Namibian native, will give you a true insider’s journal of the best 10 things to do in Namibia in 2021.

1. Go for camel rides in the Namib desert

Swakopmund Camel Farm began as a traditional farm with cows, chickens, geese, and donkeys, as well as a camel caravan, 30 years ago.

The farm welcomes guests to hop on a camel for rides ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours to promote their traditional way of life.

Two tourists riding camels in the Namib desert

Camel riding in the Namib desert | Photo credits: Nicoleen Fouche

Despite the fact that camels are generally irritable, the handlers successfully keep their herd peaceful. Camels, which stand over 2 meters tall, can be intimidating, yet the ride is similar to that of a boat after they lurch to their feet.

While camels are well-suited to the desert, one will need to protect themselves from the blistering heat with a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a drink.

2.  Eat the enormous Omajova mushrooms

To supplement their food and income, Namibian locals pick termite-hill mushrooms known as Omajova mushrooms.

They’re a lot stronger than store-bought strains and can weigh up to a kilo each. Like their more conservative cousins, they’re best fried in butter and mildly seasoned.

Omajova mushrooms on a termite hill

Omajova mushrooms on a termite hill | Photo credits: Travel News Namibia

The Omajova, like the Kalahari truffle and mopane worm, is a Namibian delicacy and most definitely belongs on the list of top things to do in Namibia in 2021.

To attract passing cars during the rainy season, Omajova merchants line the roadside or hold them up like huge fungal flags.

Outside Wilhelmstal, on the way to Karibib and Tsumeb, they are commonly seen. The mushrooms are a delicacy from the African savannah, best consumed during the abundant summer months.

3. Go on a mola mola cruise in Walvis Bay

For almost two decades, Mola Mola has been bringing thousands of people up close and personal with seals, dolphins, pelicans, and whales, as well as sharing Namibia’s friendly hospitality.

Three dolphins emerging from the ocean in Namibia

Dolphin spotting on a Mola Mola boat cruise | Photo Credits: Mola Mola

Mola Mola is roughly a 30-minute drive from Swakopmund, in Walvis Bay. Mola Mola is an essential element of any trip to Namibia and should not be missed.

Whether it’s a morning boat trip with cocktails, lunch, and some of Namibia’s best oysters, or a full Marine experience, they have got you covered.

4. Hot air balloon over Sesriem Canyon

At sunrise, in the world’s oldest desert, witness a spectacular hot air balloon inflation with Namib Sky Balloon Safaris, and set out on the flight of a lifetime on your Namibia safari adventure.

From the best platform, in the most romantic way, soar with the winds for an hour, over the oceans of sand and mountains, endless vistas of shadows and lights.

What is the final destination? The splendour of the desert, or the dunes of Sossusvlei.

Hot air balloon safari over Sesriem Canyon, Namibia

Hot air balloon ride over Sesriem Canyon | Photo credits: booknamibia.com

One returns to earth with an Out of Africa-style champagne breakfast set up in the middle of nowhere when you land. Before taking a leisurely nature drive back to the pick-up site, your pilot will award you with a flight certificate.

It’s an experience unlike any other, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and most definitely one of the top 10 things to do on a Namibian safari.

5. Experience the desert in bloom: Sandhof’s Lilies

After a long drought in Namibia, the year 2021 brought plenty of rain and a stunning lily bloom on the Sandhoff Farm, about 40 kilometres outside of Maltahöhe in southern Namibia.

The funnel-shaped flowers (Crinum paludosum), also known as bushveld vlei lilies, bloom for only six or seven days before turning pink and withering in swampy conditions.

Two kids enjoying the Sandhoff lilies in full bloom

Sandhoff lilies in full bloom | Photo credits: Gillian Hermanus

According to Mark Morgan, the farm’s owner, the profusion of blooms depicted above began blooming in a clay pan on Sandhoff farm in early 2021, attracting about 2,000 people.

It’s the first time they’ve bloomed since the drought began. Only when there has been enough rain, roughly 30 cm of water on the clay pan, do the bulbs blossom.

6. Self-drive 4×4 trips through the world’s oldest desert

The Namib desert, estimated to be 80 million years old, is the world’s oldest desert and the ultimate off-road adventure location.

Nature enthusiasts will be enchanted by the geographical diversity throughout the locations, and the experiences will undoubtedly calm the mind and body while energizing the spirits.

Join the Faces of the Namib team as they tour the many parts of this magnificent location while displaying their dune driving talents on the world’s tallest dunes.

Three four wheel drives at sunset, Namib desert

Dune riding tour in the Namib | Photo credits: Cara Kirchner

The Faces of the Namib desert tour spans 550 kilometres of the pristine desert landscape from the savannah-like interior section to the sparse Atlantic coast.

The tour is self-drive, which means one has to bring their own vehicle. For those travelling from abroad, or who do not have their own, 4×4 vehicle rentals to travel around Namibia can be arranged on request.

7. Go sand boarding on the perfect dune

Chris Jason and Beth Sarro founded Alter-Action CC in 1996, the first professional sandboarding enterprise on the Namibian coast. Alter-Action created the safest and most effective method of sliding on the dunes over time and expertise.

A star dune with six different sides and a towering height of 100 meters was picked as the “ideal” sandboarding dune. This dune is around 11 kilometres from Swakopmund.

Sandboarding in the dunes, Namibia

Dune boarding in Namibia | Photo credits: Reddit

There are two options when choosing how to sandboard on a Namibia safari :

Lie Down Boarding: No experience necessary. The sand border lies on their stomach shooting headfirst down the dune. This method is most definitely the one that ensures sand will get stuck all over one’s body!

Stand Up Boarding: No experience necessary either, but previous boarding experience and a sense of balance is certainly a bonus as it can be seen as the “trickier” method. The boards that are used for this are snowboards with soft boots and bindings.

For more experienced boarders they have snowboards with Formica bases. The experienced snowboarder must bear in mind, however, that snowboarding and sandboarding are two entirely different sports, so they will need to adjust their stance and technique from snow to sand. But after a ride or two, it feels just like boarding in very thick powder.

8. Indulge in an Eisbein with a boot of beer in Swakopmund

Whether it’s a creamy mushroom schnitzel, a gorgeous oryx steak, or fresh oysters direct from the Atlantic, Namibia features some of the world’s most delightful dishes.

The food in Namibia never disappoints on a trip. Namibia not only boasts a thriving food scene, but it also has some of the best beers on the market at amazingly low costs. In fact, one can get a 2-litre boot of beer for less than a hundred rand in Swakopmund!

Eisbein dish from Alstadt, Swakopmund

Eisbein from Alstadt in Swakopmund | Photo credits: Alstadt

Brauhaus, Alstadt, and Brewers and Butchers are certainly the best places to drink a boot of beer. Pair the boot of beer with some crackling Pork Knuckle (“Eisbein”) or a thick Goulash soup with German noodles (“Spaetzle”) for a truly German experience.

9. Ongongo Waterfalls camping

This oasis is located in a narrow canyon in Namibia’s northwestern region, where water escapes the mountains. The Ongongo Waterfalls, located near Warmquelle, are a must-see for locals and now tourists as well.

Swimming is possible all year round because the water is so warm it can basically be considered a hot spring. Warmquelle is 6 kilometres away from this campsite.

Ongongo Waterfalls in Warmquelle, Namibia

Ongongo Waterfalls in Warmquelle | Photo credits: Lara Lusse

Ongongo is a Herero word that means “magical.” It’s a very magical, if not fantastic, place to camp and is definitely one of the best things to do in Namibia in 2021.

Ten luxury campsites are available at Ongongo Campsite. Each campsite includes its own private ablution, hot shower, and shaded space in addition to lighting. Staying at this campground is a must-do experience for any traveller.

10. Enjoy some local music at Soundgarden

One of the newer hotspots in Swakopmund is known as “Soundgarden”. The reason they call it Soundgarden is that they always have live performances for their audiences.

The music, cuisine, people, and beverages are all fantastic. Customers may order their meat and see it being flame-grilled while listening to some of Swakopmund’s top artists at Soundgarden’s permanent “braai”.

Girl singing at Soundgarden, Namibia

Artist singing at Soundgarden | Photo Credits: Monique Maritz

There’s a pizzeria right next to Soundgarden called Gabriele’s pizzeria and it has the absolute best pizza anyone has ever tasted. Soundgarden even serves this pizza on their menu too.

Soundgarden also has super laid back backpackers above it called the Swakopmund Backpackers that gives off a relaxing atmosphere as soon as one steps in.

The artwork surrounding the backpackers is bound to give any tourist a unique experience to remember. Now that you’ve finished reading the list of the top ten things to do in Namibia in 2021, I hope you’re ready to book your Namibia safari now.