Flying in to Namibia is a popular and convenient way to start your safari or business trip to this country and the aerial views of the country’s harsh landscapes are a scenic treat, with contrasting environments forming a picturesque patchwork when viewed from the air.
Extensive airstrips are found across the country, providing access to the city of Windhoek as well as outer-lying attractions such as Etosha National Park, making Namibia an attractive destination for recreational flyers as well as tourists. Pilots visiting the country have the option to hire aircraft on arrival or fly their own, and there are numerous suitable destinations to enjoy taking to the air throughout Namibia.
Before you head off into the atmosphere though, be advised that while soaring among the dunes is a doddle, inland flying can be tricky at times and it is advisable to employ a guide on your first trip, especially if you do not have a lot of airtime under your wings.
Most of the pilot-friendly adventures in Namibia are concentrated around Windhoek and Swakopmund, and the flying community is known for being extremely friendly and laid back. Get-togethers of enthusiasts are common, with barbeques and social evenings being the norm wherever they gather, and the Windhoek crowd often congregating at a site known as Spreetshoogte.
Bitterwasser is the most popular site at Swakopmund with a 3km wide salt pan for a runway and the option to take part in hot air ballooning, soaring, gliding and micro-light flights too. The views over the Sossusvlei and desolate Namibian coastline with its many shipwrecks are spectacular in this part of the world.
Namibia is also a popular destination for organised ‘fly-ins’. Pilots from South Africa and Namibia congregate at the Rostock Ritz on the Namib-Rand in June every year for a social gathering, exciting flight performances and competitions.
The Flight for the Plight of Vultures Air show is another spectacular event on the aeronautical calendar. Members of the Namibian Air Force, private flight operators and aircraft manufacturers, amongst others, band together at Otjiwarongo to entertain the crowds and raise money for REST (Rare and Endangered Species Trust) for their work in vulture conservation.
Hundreds of spectators attended last year’s event and were treated to a daring display by the Desert Skydivers, Air Force jets flying in formation, fly-in tour operators showing off their aerial skills and private pilots flying a range of aircraft, ultra-lights, radio controlled planes and helicopters.
Another worthwhile initiative hosted by LISAMA Swakopmund was the Save Some Rhino Initiative – a fun event to create awareness of and raise funds for anti-rhino poaching endeavours in the Brandberg. Flying, rallying, spot landings, great prizes and loads of food and drink were the main attractions at this weekend-long event held during May.
If you are a qualified pilot and interested in a fly-in holiday to Namibia, you have over 20 sites in the country to choose from ranging from dune soaring to exhilarating cross country. Get hold of NAPHA (Namibian Paragliding and Hang Gliding Association) on +44 (0)777 556 0967 or visit their website.