An otherwordly allure
A beautiful unspoilt country of extremes yet filled with a true sense of freedom, Namibia can be divided into about five major different landscapes each with its own characteristics and attractions. For those in search of wilderness and wildlife, the Big-Five are well represented at Etosha National Park, if you are steeped into culture the North-West region including the historically rich Damaraland is just the right place for you and if you adore adventure and landscape, the vast open spaces and clear starry skies of Kalahari Desert and the Apple Pie in the Namib Desert - Sossusvlei are a true find.
Down South, the great Fish River Canyon and the tropical Riverine Paradise up North-East of the country - the Caprivi Strip awaits to be explored. This thirst-land wilderness with plenty of sunshine, beautiful sights and unforgettable experience has everything to offer, whether your interest is in wildlife, landscape, adventure, coastal relaxation, culture; Namibia has it all.
Beautifully bordered by the Eros Mountains in the north and the Auas mountains in the south, Namibia's capital of Windhoek is the biggest city in the country. This location makes it the ideal place to start and plan any Namibian travel. The attractive city which can be explored by foot has a cosmopolitan flare and combines the modern city architectural style with that of the German colonial era. Worth a visit are the "Tintenpalast" ("Ink Palace"), which houses Namibia's parliament, the Christuskirche (Christ Church) of the Lutheran parish from the year 1896, the "Reiterdenkmal" from 1912 and the "Alte Feste" (Old Fort); former headquarters of the Schutztruppe and today, Namibia's National Museum. Since 1997, the historical buildings of Windhoek are overshadowed by the monumental Supreme Court building.
The Kalahari Region in Namibia forms part of the large 2.5 million sqm Kalahari Basin and is best known for its inhabitants: the San Bushmen. They only number a few thousand and refer to the Kalahari Desert as the “Soul of the World”, an emotive description for this area! Kalahari has high a vegetation and an average rainfall (100 – 150 mm in the south east and 600-650 mm in the north-east) to qualify as a real desert. However, despite the rainfall, it cannot retain surface water due to its porous sandy soils.
Temperatures are extreme in this region and can vary from as high as 45oC during the day and 0oC during the night. Nevertheless, the true lure of the Kalahari Desert lies in its eerie silence and solitude, both in the sparsely grassed plains and open spaces. Large quantity of flora and fauna have adapted and thrive in these conditions and the temporary rivers and fossil watercourses, account for water-holes scattered throughout the area forming the basis of life for countless game that are present in the Kalahari Desert be it a cheetah, a springbok, a giraffes, a zebra, or Namibia's most remarkable mammals - the gemsbok.
Fish River Canyon
The Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon worldwide after the Grand Canyon in the USA and forms part of the state-run Ais-Ais Richtersveld Transfontier Park. The Canyon which commences at Seeheim is 161 km long, 27 km wide up to 550m deep and ends at Ai Ais from where the river then flows into the Orange River, the border to South Africa. Highlights of the region include: Aus, Fish River Canyon, Fish River Hiking Trail, Gondwana Canyon Park, Keetmanshoop, Quivertree Forest and the Wild horses of the Namib. During the summer month the Canyon hike is closed due to the heat. The Fish River Hiking Trail can be conducted during the months April – September and can be completed within 4 to 5 days, depending on fitness. At the Gondwana Canyon Park, visitors can enjoy watching giraffes, mountain zebras, oryx antelopes, kudus, springbuck, ostriches, some predators like leopard and many other local species all adapted to the harsh climate.
Aus is a small desert town which derived its name from the local Khoi-Khoi word which means the 'snake fountain' and means “out” in German. The town is tucked between the folds of several hills and was the last reliable fountain before the start of the 120 km wide waterless Namib. Aus attracts many visitors due to its rich pre-independence history and its strategic and favourable location between Lüderitz and the inland. In winter Aus is known to be one of the coldest towns in Namibia! One of the major attractions of the area around Aus is the Namib Feral Horses. They are the world's only wild desert-dwelling horses and theories as to their origin are many. They can be seen on most Namibian safaris which visit the area while grazing on the either side of the road on the way to Luderitz or alternatively you can stop at the Garup Pan waterhole fed by an artificial bore hole.
Often referred to as the world's oldest desert, the Namib Desert has been in existence for some 43 million years, remaining unchanged in its present form for the last 2 million years. It’s an immense expanse of relentlessly moving gravel plains and dunes of all shapes and sizes that stretch along the entire coastline. With some of the highest sand dunes on Earth stand towering over the white desert plains and a gateway to Sesriem Canyon and Sossusvlei, experience the first rays of sunrise that paints the Namib Desert mountains of sand into a variety of apricot, red and orange, contrasted against a crisp blue skyline, letting the scenery enrapture your senses, and provide an opportunity to capture this awesome landscape. Walk up one of the dunes to admire the desert landscape and thereafter visit the Sesriem Canyon, a life sustaining natural phenomenon in the heart of the Namib Desert. One of the major highlights that can still be seen today are the many rock paintings with the most famous rock paintings seen at Brandberg and Twyfelfontein.
Palm-lined streets, seaside promenades, fine accommodation, a pleasant summer climate and decent beaches, Swakopmund is the perfect location for walking tours, shopping, relaxing at a quaint coffee shop or taking a stroll along the sandy beaches. Being Namibia’s playground, a wide variety of activities are on offer, ranging from sandboarding, quad biking, dune carting, parachuting, hot air ballooning, shark fishing, deep sea fishing to beach angling to name but a few.