‘Namibia’ means ‘open plains’ in the ancient Hottentots language. It is a sought after tourist destination defined by endless sunshine, scenic beauty and unusual and contrasting topography. Namibia is sandwiched between two deserts – the Namib Desert, said to be the oldest in the world, on its western coastline and the Kalahari Desert in the eastern interior. Northern Namibia features the great Etosha National Park, with the countries largest concentration of game and in the south the majestic Fish River Canyon plunges 550 m and extends for 160 km.
Between these four highlights lies over 820 000 km2 (the size of France & Britain combined) of contrasting scenery. The world’s highest dunes are found in haunting scenery inspiring somber reflection. Pre-historic rock art, the ancient fossil plant, Welwitschia mirabilis andfossilized dinosaur footprints are preserved in the ancient, rocky mountain ranges. Many of the features of this country are of particular scientific interest and attract scientists from all over the world. Namibia is the first country in the world to include protection of the environment and sustainable utilization of wildlife in its constitution. About 15,5 % of the country has been set aside as national parks. In these areas, rare and endangered species of animals, birds and plant life are preserved and protected. They serve as a living reminder to us all, and to the generations of the future, of how it once was in Africa.
North of the main road of Swakopmund and South of Kaokoland extends Damaraland, one of the most beautiful regions in Namibia. Open plains, grasslands, and distant mountains as well as a petrified forest of 260 million year old trees create the landscape. Damaraland habits Namibia’s highest mountain, the Brandberg with its famous “white lady” painting and the most precious open-air rock art gallery in the world at Twyfelfontein. Game which can be found in this area are the desert elephant, black rhino, ostrich and springbok.
Consisting of over 22 000 km2 of saline desert, savannah and woodlands, the Etosha National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and one of the major sanctuaries for wildlife. Its definitive feature is the Etosha Pan, a vast shallow depression of about 5 000 km2. This great, white expanse locals call ‘great place of dry water’, often shimmers with mirages and herds of game can be seen within this eerie setting.
The Fish River Canyon in Namibia is (allegedly) the 2nd largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon. The immensity of this magnificent landscape is truly breathtaking. The towering rock faces and deep ravines were formed by water erosion and the collapse of the valley due to movements in the earth's crust over 500 million years ago. Today the canyon measures 160km long up to 27km wide and almost 550m at its deepest. It is fair to say that when you arrive at the canyon though, its exact location is a bit of a mystery as the 500m vertical drop from the flat dry plateau is completely out of view.
The visual spectacular in the Sossusvlei area is unsurpassed. Amongst the continuous towering dunes as far as the eye can see, is arguably the highlight of the Namib Desert, the Sossusvlei, an enormous clay-pan enclosed by dunes. After a heavy rainfall, rare in this area, the vlei fills with water and, as the clay layers are virtually impermeable to water, a turquoise lake remains for quite some time.
A true oasis and respite from the solemn desert and its monotonous heat. A seaside holiday resort full of old-world charm and modern amenities, from the quaint German colonial influences to funky Internet café’s. The tranquil setting includes promenades, palm trees and beautifully tended public gardens, the Swakopmund museum (covering natural history, mineralogy, botany, historical and ethnological aspects), the National Marine & Research Centre, an aquarium, a public library, an Olympic sized, heated indoor swimming pool and a grassed golf course in a desert setting.
The Waterberg Plateau Park can be found 280 km north of Windhoek and stands out from the thorn savannah with its lush vegetation at the lower slopes. This 20 km wide and 50 km long table mountain massif consists of porous sandstone which absorbs surface water which runs off on the southeast side of the plateau as springs, from which it got its name.
Windhoek is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Namibia. It is located in the Khomas Region, has a population of approx. 230,000 and is a major trade centre of sheep skin. It sits on a sloping plain on the northern side of the Khomas Hochland (Khomas Highlands) at an altitude of 1665 metres. Windhoek was originally inhabited by the Herero, then became the centre of a Nama chief who defeated the Herero in the 19th century.