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Namibia’s beauty is wonderfully surreal and alluring. Wide-open spaces and endless scenery – A place of rumoured beauty, pristine landscapes. Find moments of solitude, and the opportunity to see wildlife in its natural habitat.
Sossusvlei means the gathering place of water, though seldom will you find water here. Instead you’re find the highest sand dunes in the world and perhaps Namibia’s most outstanding scenic attraction.
These dunes, part of the Namib Desert, have developed over a period of many millions of years. The result of material flowing from the Orange River dumped into the Atlantic Ocean, carried northward and then returned again to land by the surf. Here the wind continuously shifts the sand further and further inland, reshaping patters in warm tints that contrast vividly with the dazzling white surface of the large deflationary clay pans at their bases. Climbing up one of these dunes provides breathtaking views of the whole area, including Deadvlei, a large ghostly expanse of dried white clay punctuated by skeletons of ancient camelthorn trees, carbon dated between 500-600 years old. The best time to view Sossusvlei is close to sunrise and sunset when the dunes refract spectacular colors, ranging from burnt orange, red and deep mauve.
Swakopmund is Namibia’s playground, a holiday destination for tourists and locals alike looking to escape the heat of the interior and to have a little adventure.
The city itself resembles a small German town and manages to create a feeling of timelessness with its palm-lined streets, seaside promenades, restaurants, cafes, art galleries and museums. And while there’s plenty to do within city limits, the real action happens in the desert surrounding Swakopmund. Quad-biking, sand-boarding, sand-skiing, parasailing and dozens of other guided adrenaline inducing activities are available by reservation from many of the adventure companies operating in the area. At Walvis Bay, visitors can join a dolphin cruise or explore the lagoon on a kayak tour.
Today’s Etosha National Park was claimed as Namibia’s first conservation area in 1907.
During the dry season, tens of thousands of animals converge to drink at the waterholes are elephant, giraffe, rhino and lion, possibly leopard, cheetah and much more. Luckily, the park was designed to make viewing such game easy. Good roads, signposts and plenty of lookouts make Etosha perfect for self-drive tours, and the three rest camps of Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni offer many choices when it comes to lodging. You will also find restaurants, stores and other services in the vicinity.
Damaraland and Kaokoveld demand a certain level of respect. Beautiful, but arid and unforgiving, attractions near this area have names like Burnt Mountain, the Petrified Forest, the Skeleton Coast all aptly named and an indication of the drama found here.
The Himba, a tall, slender and statuesque people, rub their bodies with red ochre and fat to protect their skins against the climate. Desert adapted elephants have special behavioral characteristics, large annual and seasonal ranges and a social structure and daily activities to cope with the environment. Thankfully for visitors, there are many great desert accommodation options, which means you don’t have to rough it in Damaraland and Kaokoveld in the slightest.
Caprivi is a narrow strip of land in the far northeast of Namibia. About 400 km long, it protrudes from the rest of the country like a finger, owns a very unique history and shares borders with 4 other countries Angola, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
This habitat sustains a large variety of animal and bird species. Spectacular herds of elephant, buffalo, red lechwe and reedbuck are among the highlights of any game viewing experience. But be careful, the waters are also home to five-meter long crocodiles and families of hippopotamus, which venture onto the floodplains at night to feed. Other attractions include Popa Falls, which are more rapids than waterfall, but nonetheless impressive as they rage through a four-meter high rocky riverbed intrusion amongst beautiful scenery.
The Fish River Canyon is the second largest natural gorge in the world and the largest in Africa. Set in a harsh, stony plain dotted with drought resistant succulents, such as the distinctive quiver tree or Kokerboom, the canyon is a spectacular natural phenomenon.
Formed over 500 million years ago, Fish River Canyon was created not only by water erosion, but through the collapse of the valley bottom due to movements in the earth’’ s crust. It drops vertically by half a kilometre without any warning. And as with most rivers in Namibia, the Fish River is generally dry except in the raining season, from January to April.
The world’s largest continuous stretch of sand, the Kalahari Desert isn’t technically desert at all.
Thanks to a modest measure of rainfall the landscape is well vegetated with a variety of trees, shrubs, camelthorn, red ebony and other acacias. In springtime the plains are covered in blankets of flowers and grass while the summer rains bring a fair share of greenery. This physical beauty only enhances the real, true allure of the Kalahari’s liberating silence and solitude found in so much open space. Visitors describe their visit as an almost spiritual experience and emotionally enriching.
Lüderitz is located along the coast in southern Namibia and is probably the most unique town in Namibia.
Originally named *Angra Pequena* (small bay) by the famous Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias in 1488, it was re-named Lüderitz in 1884. Lüderitz is located directly on the shores of Lüderitz Bay facing the Atlantic Ocean and forms a barrier between the towering coastal dunes of the Namib Desert to the north, and the unforgiving rocky coastline to the south.
Once upon a time the entire coastline of Namibia was called The Skeleton Coast.
Today, the moniker mostly refers to the Skeleton National Park, which stretches the northern one-third of Namibia’s shore. The landscape in the park ranges from wind swept dunes to rugged canyons with walls of richly colored volcanic rock and extensive mountain ranges. The park’s ominous name is well earned given the scores of shipwrecks littering the beaches, the work of the Benguela Current, dense fog and rough surf. Bleached whale and seal bones also are visible back from days when the whaling industry was still active. But despite its appearance, the Skeleton National Park houses a great variety of species with its borders of big cats, desert-adapted elephant, black rhino and many more. You’re best to fly-in to see everything, especially the vast display of shipwrecks, but you can also enter between the Ugab and Hoanib rivers and enjoy the coast’s superb fishing area.
To the west of Khorixas is Twyfelfontein, a massive open-air art gallery carved into red rock by ancient Bushmen overlooking an expansive valley below.
The engravings, some estimated to be 6,000 years old, record the wildlife seen in area - giraffe, rhinoceros, elephants, ostrich, even a lion depicted with a 90 degree kink in its tail. It is believed by many that the creators incised their engravings as a means of entering the supernatural world and recording their shamanic experience among the spirits. Whatever the meaning, the site was awarded world heritage status in 2008. As the mid-day heat makes it difficult to photograph the etchings, the best time to visit Twyfelfontein is in the morning. Second place goes to late afternoon or early evening with the promise of an excellent sunset.