Explore the amazing nature in Namibia
For all the nature lovers out there, you won’t regret travelling to Namibia. With all the sights and sounds that you can experience there, be sure to include a few of the places below.
1. Etosha National Park
Etosha means ‘place of dry water’ and the park is aptly named as it only contains water after very good rains and sometimes for only a few days of the year. This wildlife sanctuary is 22 750km² and encloses a huge, flat calcrete pan of about 5 000km². The combination of a parched, silver-white backdrop of shimmering mirages and semi-arid savannah grassland and thorn scrub makes it a photographer’s dream.
It is home to the endangered black rhino, lion, elephant and a vast array of large antelope and other wildlife. The growth of blue-green algae on the pan attracts thousands of splendid flamingos to the area. The many waterholes are flood-lit for night-time game viewing, which makes it a popular attraction for wildlife enthusiasts during the dry season (June to November).
2. Kalahari Desert
This is not a desert in the strictest sense of the word as it receives ‘too much’ rainfall. However, it is a vast expanse of sand that stretches approximately 360 000 square miles across Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, and is regarded as a ‘thirstland’. Precipitation is filtered rapidly under the harsh conditions, leaving nothing on the surface. Wildlife species that are endemic to the area have adapted to either survive many days without water, or to obtain water from plants.
The desert is part of the 970 000 square-mile Kalahari Basin, which includes Okavango River Delta and other wetter areas. The Kalahari sand dunes are the largest continuous expanse of sand in the world and are covered with a relative abundance of vegetation that has evolved to cope with a lack of rain. In summer, the temperature can reach 45°C, and in winter months it drops to -15°C.
This region is characterised by large expanses of open water and is a patchwork of perennial rivers, sodden marshes and woodlands. It receives the highest rainfall in Namibia and more closely resembles the sub-tropical beauty of the Okavango Delta. The lush strip of land covers about 20 000km² between the Zambezi and Okavango rivers.
The wetlands team with magnificent game and a vast array of bird life; the appeal being to view them from river cruises. Wildlife enthusiasts flock to see large herds of elephant, buffalo, sable, hippo, red lechwe and tsessebe, with occasional sightings of sitatunga, reedbuck and puku. Wild dog freely roam the area; leopard and hyena tend to stick to the drier flood plains and woodlands.
This is possibly the most spectacular attraction in Namibia, and best-known for the characteristic majestic red dunes that surround the large white salt-and-clay pan. The dunes are some of the highest in the world, reaching almost 400m.
The name translates to ‘dead-end marsh’ as it is the place where the dunes merge, preventing the Tsauchab River from flowing any further. The pan is bone-dry but, if the region has an exceptional rainy season, the Tsauchab River fills up the pan. It then resembles a glassy ‘lake’ with shimmering reflections of the red dunes on its surface. The conditions are harsh but you’ll find a wide variety of plants and animals that have adapted to survive.
5. Skeleton Coast National Park
These inaccessible shores are characterised by swirling mist that is hauntingly beautiful, created when the cold Benguela current reaches the fierce heat of the coastal dunes. Rusted remains of wrecked ships add to the eeriness of the coastline. Portuguese sailors called it the ‘Gates of Hell’ and the Bushmen refer to it as the ‘land God made in anger’.
The park is located in the northwest region and is the third-largest National Park of Namibia. To get a truly breath-taking impression of the vast stretch of land it is best to organise a fly-in safari excursion. It is also home to the flourishing Cape Cross seal colony, one of the largest breeding colonies of Cape fur seals.
6. Fish River Canyon
The canyon is part of a national nature conservation park and is one of the most impressive natural beauties in the southern part of Namibia. The canyon was formed about 500 million years ago and meanders along a distance of approximately 160km. The gorge was not only created by water erosion, but also as a result of the valley bottom collapsing due to movements in the earth’s crust.
During the winter months, the river bed is completely dry or there may be just a few puddles dotted around. After the rainfalls in summer, the river becomes a raging torrent. It is very popular for hikers who tackle the gruelling walk during the cooler months (between May and April). It’s an 8km hike and takes about 5 days.
This is the site of one of the largest and most important concentrations of rock art and engravings in Africa, situated in the Kunene Region of north western Namibia. It was recognised as a World Heritage site as it contains approximately 2 500 rock engravings on 212 slabs of rock. Fortunately, the carvings survived as local inhabitants respected the place as a sacred area which was inhabited by spirits of the deceased.
It lies in a valley that is flanked by the slopes of a sandstone table mountain, covered in a hard patina. Stone Age hunters and animals were attracted to a small perennial spring, the only one of its kind in the area. The name is translated to mean ‘doubtful spring’.
As a break from the fierce heat of the interior, plan to spend a few days in this endearing city on the western coast of Namibia. The beach resort resembles a small German town and attracts hordes of visitors as it is rich in architectural history. The town dates back to the period from 1884 through 1915 when Swakopmund was the main port when it was a German Protectorate. The historical buildings have been well-maintained and preserved for visitors to enjoy.
Holiday makers enjoy the action that takes place on the outskirts of town; quad-biking, sand- and ski-boarding and parasailing for the adrenalin junkies. Close by is Walvis Bay, where you can join in a dolphin cruise or explore the lagoon on a kayak.
This vast stretch of uninhabitable land in the northern region is one of the last remaining wilderness areas of Southern Africa. The land is generally dry and rocky as it borders the Namib Desert but, in the early morning and late afternoon, it is transformed to softly-glowing pastel shades and is truly spectacular.
Although the area is exceptionally dry, there are several rivers and waterfalls that are worth a visit. The most impressive is Ruacana Falls that is 120m high and 700m wide. The northern parts are greener, with vegetation thriving in areas such as Marienfluss and Hartmann Valley.
Kaokoland is most famous for its herd of rare desert-dwelling elephants that, on a typical day, will travel up to sixty kilometres over rocky, difficult terrain between feeding areas and waterholes. Hordes of visitors travel to the region each year to seek out just a quick glimpse of these illusive and mysterious animals.
Bushmanland is an arid area in the south west region and is home to the remaining indigenous Bushmen. It is an inhospitable environment and it is fascinating to discover how these tribes survive in such harsh conditions.
Nyae Nyae Pan is probably the greatest attraction in the area; a large expanse of beautiful salt pans that team with game and water birds in the rainy seasons (January to March). In particular, it attracts flamingos who settle there to breed. Aha Hills is another attraction, an isolated group of hills that straddle the border between Botswana and Namibia. There is an air of mystique to this remote region.
Lastly, Khaudum National Park is worth a visit. The game is not as prolific as Etosha and some parts are inaccessible when there has been a lot of rain, but it is wild and remote and quite spectacular. Soak in the mystical atmosphere and enjoy whatever game you see.
Experience the sights and sounds of Namibia. Lekker Adventures specialises in providing you with the complete travelling experience to Namibia. Click here to find out more about travelling to Namibia with the assistance of Lekker Adventures.