Sandwiched between the cold Atlantic Ocean to the west and the rugged Great Escarpment to the east, southwest Namibia is a land of mountainous dunes, gravel plains and inselbergs. And the weather is just as varied as the landscapes; it’s hard to believe, in the scorching midsummer desert heat, that the town of Aus, on the eastern fringes of the Namib, receives occasional winter snowfall. Much of southwest Namibia is inaccessible, but those reachable sights are among the most iconic in the country. The ever-changing Sossusvlei dunes deservedly hog their fair share of the limelight, but the anachronistic mining town of Oranjemund and the ghost mining towns of the Sperrgebiet simmer with intrigue. Lüderitz is also well worth a visit for a colourful glimpse into Namibia’s German colonial past.

Much of the Namib, one of the world’s oldest deserts, is protected within the boundaries of the largely inaccessible Namib-Naukluft National Park, which includes the magical, richly coloured dunes round Sossusvlei – one of the country’s most visited attractions – and the impressive Naukluft Mountains, home to the rare Hartmann’s mountain zebra, and a popular hiking destination. Tucked away on the coast at the southwestern limit of the park sits the anachronistic German port town of Lüderitz, now an emerging tourist centre and the only point of access to the former diamond mining area that is now the Tsau ||Khaeb (Sperrgebiet) National Park.

Down in the far southwest corner of Namibia, right on the South African border, the Orange River empties into an avian-rich estuary at the high-security diamond-mining town of Oranjemund, a little-visited, rather off-beat destination. Not far up the road from here, the booming mining settlement of Rosh Pinah sparkles with its pristine streets and shopping centre.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Namibia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Namibia from above: the world's most extreme landscape

Namibia from above: the world's most extreme landscape

The Namib desert is one of the world’s most extreme environments. Covering 81,000 square kilometres, its vastness can only truly be appreciated from above. He…

17 Jul 2017 • Lottie Gross local_activity Special feature
In pictures: the otherworldly landscapes of Namibia

In pictures: the otherworldly landscapes of Namibia

From the spectacular dunes of the Namib Desert to the serpentine chasm of the Fish River Canyon, the rugged mountains of the Great Escarpment to the acacia-stud…

05 Jul 2017 • Sara Humphreys camera_alt Gallery
27 awe-inspiring pictures of Namibia

27 awe-inspiring pictures of Namibia

Namibia has some of the world's most astonishing landscapes. It's home to the world's oldest desert, a long and undeveloped coastline and national parks that te…

31 May 2016 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month