Head to southwest Africa’s most otherworldly terrain, where the sand dunes touch the sky and the desert meets the sea. By Haley Beham

1. Take a Horse Safari through Damaraland

Spend eight full days riding west from Twyfelfontein to the Skeleton Coast through the rugged Damaraland. Enjoy breakfast around a campfire, ride up to five hours before stopping for lunch and a siesta, and then continue to the next campsite. There is the possibility of coming upon desert-adapted wildlife like elephants, cheetah, and lions. Riders should have advanced riding skills.

2. Visit with the Himba

Isolation has left this singular culture mostly unaffected by Westernization. Connect to the Himba and learn the history of the semi-nomadic people who have been living in Namibia since the early 16th century.

3. Explore the Skeleton Coast

The infamous Skeleton Coast is known for its scattered remains of shipwrecks and thousands of Cape fur seals. Accessible only by light aircraft, Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp may be one of the most exclusive desert camps in the world. Explore unspoiled beaches, Cape fur seal colonies, and shipwrecks along the coast on a full-day flight excursion. In the evening, return to eight chic tents with floor-to-ceiling windows that are so well insulated you might forget you’re in the desert.

Twelve miles from the coast, on an island in the dry Khumib riverbed, the Skeleton Coast Camp provides a luxurious refuge in Meru-style en-suite tents. Ride through the beautifully desolate region in a 4×4 vehicle, darting in and out of the windswept plains, towering canyons, and wide saltpans. 

4. See Desert-Adapted Wildlife

Etosha National Park is a rare sight of large saltpans and slight depressions carved by the powerful winds. Considered Namibia’s premier wildlife destination, the harsh yet captivating landscape is one of Africa’s largest game reserves. Its outlying springs and waterholes attract adapted elephant, wildebeest, springbok, and gemsbok—along with 340 bird species. This is one of the few places in Africa where visitors can also see black rhino and white rhino living together in the same region. Stay within Etosha’s confines at the exclusive Little Ongava, a retreat with only three suites (each with its own private deck and plunge pool).

5. Glimpse the First Light of Day from a Hot Air Balloon

 View the vast Namib Desert from a hot air balloon as light breaks. During that first hour of sunlight, find a rich contrast in the colors of the sand dunes, plains, and surrounding mountain ranges … it all makes for incredible photos.

6. Stargazing in the Sossusvlei

The Namib Desert in Namibia is one of the darkest accessible places on the earth. While you don’t really need a telescope to make out the Milky Way, Sossusvlei Desert Lodge’s telescope is state of the art. The resident astronomer also assists in pinpointing constellations only seen in the southern hemisphere. 


Sleep out under the stars in your own private “kulala” at Kulala Desert Lodge—just climb up to the rooftop bed, wrap up in luxury bedding, and look up to the sky.