Namibia is an arid, rough land full of contrasts, but immensely inviting and easy to travel. As one of the most scarcely populated countries in the world, you will not be getting lost in the crowds. Namibia is a top destination for those who enjoy nature, grandiose landscapes, spectacular sand dunes and first-class wildlife viewing.
ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK
The Etosha National Park is centered around the vast Etosha salt pan. The pan itself is usually dry and only fills with water briefly in the summer, but is enough to stimulate the growth of a blue-green algae which lures thousands of flamingos. Most of the wildlife, including herds of zebra, wildebeest and antelope, can be seen around the waterholes that border the pan. Etosha is served by three well established rest camps and offers a great self-drive safari experience.
FISH RIVER CANYON
The Fish River Canyon in southern Namibia is second only in grandeur to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It is absolutely magnificent and breathtaking in its immensity. The canyon features a gigantic ravine, in total about 160km (100 miles) long, up to 27 km wide and in places almost 550 meters deep. Because the Fish River is being dammed it only contains a small amount of running water.
Located in the Namib Desert, Sossusvlei is a enormous clay pan surrounded by gigantic, red sand dunes. The Tsauchab River flows through the desert, and its rare flooding waters the vegetation that survives in the clay soil. During sunrise and sunset, the colors of the sand dunes are constantly changing and provide an opportunity for photographers. The fierce desert winds continually alter the shape and texture of the dunes, providing an ever-changing desert landscape.
Situated 120km north of Swakopmund, Cape Cross is home to one of the largest colonies of Cape Fur Seals in the world. The surrounding area was proclaimed a reserve in 1968 to protect the biggest and best known of the 23 colonies of Cape Fur Seals which breed along the coast of South Africa and Namibia. During the November / December breeding season as many as 150,000 seals gather at Cape Cross. The name refers to the large stone cross erected here by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century.
Swakopmund is Namibia’s biggest coastal town and a popular beach resort for Namibians on holiday. The city’s German origins are quite pronounced in beautiful old German Colonial buildings throughout the city, making a stark contrast with the Namib Desert at the edge of town. The nearby sand dunes provide several activities such as sandboarding, horse riding and quad biking while the beaches of Swakopmund provide plenty of surf and sand.
Nicknamed the “Matterhorn of Namibia”, The Spitzkoppe is a group of bald granite peaks in the Namib desert. The highest peak stand out about 700 meter (2,300 ft) above the flat desert floor. The granite massif, was created by the collapse of a gigantic volcano more than 100 million years ago and the subsequent erosion exposed the volcanic rock. Attractions include the many bizarre rock formations and several San (Bushman) paintings found in various places.
The Caprivi Strip is a narrow strip of land between Botswana on the south, Angola and Zambia to the north, and Namibia’s Okavango Region to the west. The Caprivi is the wettest region in Namibia with its high rainfall and a number of major rivers like the Okavango, Kwando and Zambezi. The abundance of water sustains a large variety of animals, including a large population of elephants. The wildlife is being protected in four reserves. There are no fences however, so the animals can roam freely across the borders of the neighboring countries.
The Skeleton Coast is the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia. Dense fogs, mighty storms and violent surf caused many ships in the past to run aground along the Skeleton Coast, and the desolate coastline has become known as the world’s biggest ship graveyard. Those who were shipwrecked and managed to swim through the heavy surf and reach the coast, still had to face the waterless, hostile coastal desert. The coast north of Terrace Bay, which is dominated by high sand dunes, is the most attractive stretch of the Skeleton Coast.
Located in north-western Namibia, Twyfelfontein contains one of the largest concentrations of rock engravings in Africa. Most of the carvings were created over 6,000 years ago by ancient Bushmen. The carvings were made by cutting through the hard surface layer of sandstone and represent animals such as rhinoceroses, elephants, ostriches and giraffes as well as depictions of human and animal footprints.
Kolmanskop is a ghost town in the Namib desert, a few kilometers inland from the port town of Lüderitz. Lots of German settled in this area after a diamond was found here in 1908. Driven by the enormous wealth of the first diamond miners, the residents built Kolmanskop in the architectural style of a German town, with amenities and institutions including a hospital, ballroom, school, casino as well as the first tram in Africa. The town declined when the diamond-field slowly exhausted and was ultimately abandoned in 1954. The forces of the desert mean that tourists now walk through houses knee-deep in sand.
Namibia is a mysterious, other worldly place with awe inspiring scenery. The starts are unbelievably bright, the air is clear and it’s unique wildness is never to be forgotten.