The history of Namibia can be found carved into rock paintings found in the country, some dating back to 26.000 B.C. A long lineage of various groups including San Bushmen, Bantu herdsmen and finally the Himba, Herero and Nama tribes among others have been making this rugged land home for thousands of years.
Part of the allure of Namibia is that it's four countries in one: four different landscapes, each with its own characteristics and attractions. The most definitive is the Namib, a long coastal desert that runs the length of the country and is highlighted with migrating dune belts, dry riverbeds and canyons; the central plateau is home the majority of Namibia towns and villages and is divided between rugged mountain ranges and sand-filled valleys; next is the vast Kalahari Desert with its ancient red sand and sparse vegetation; finally, Kavango and Caprivi, blessed with generous amounts of rain and typified by tropical forests, perennial rivers and woodland savannahs.
The ruggedness of the Namibian landscape has obviously done nothing to deter both flora and fauna from adapting and thriving. Here, the very act of survival can sometimes be an art. The shear abundance and variety of wildlife of all sizes is staggering. Namibia is home to 676 bird species, of which over 13 are endemic to Namibia. Furthermore, 217 species of mammals are found in Namibia, 26 of which are endemic, including unique desert-dwelling rhino and elephants. This high level of endemism gives Namibia's conservation of biodiversity a global significance.
Elephants in Namibia occur in three distinct populations: the desert elephant of Kunene, the Etosha elephants and those in the Khaudum and Caprivi region. The desert-dwelling elephant can be found in only two countries in the world, Namibia and Mali, and can travel up to 70 kilometers a day in search of food and water. Elephants in sub-Saharan Africa have historically suffered from war and ivory poachers. However, thanks to conservation efforts, Namibia's elephant population more than doubled between 1995 and 2008 from 7.500 to over 16.000 individuals.
What to do
Dune & Snowboarding
Sossusvlei and Namib Desert
Situated in the largest conservation area in Africa, Sossusvlei is Namibia’s most spectacular and well-known attraction. Characterized by the large red dunes that surround it, Sossusvlei is a large, white and salt pan. The dunes are some of the highest in the world, reaching almost 400 meters, and provide wonderful and unforgettable scenarios.
Skeleton Coast and Cape Cross
This area is acknowledged as one of Namibia’s greatest treasures, in that it is one of the world’s last great wildernesses. It extends from the Ugab River in the south for 500 km. Dense coastal fogs and cold sea breezes caused by the cold Benguela Current add atmosphere to the windswept beaches that are littered with shipwrecks, bones and other debris.
Fish River Canyon
The Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon worldwide after the well known Grand Canyon in the USA. The history of some of the oldest rocks started over a billion years ago. Many animals have also managed to adapt to the conditions of this hostile environment like giraffe, zebra, leopard and the fascinating feral horses of the Namib.
Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings
Twyfelfontein is one of the most extensive rock-art galleries on the continent and has been inhabited by Stone-age hunter-gatherers. In the ancient past, this area attracted wildlife, creating a paradise for the hunters who eventually left their marks on the surrounding rocks. Animals, animal tracks and geometric designs are well represented here, though there are surprisingly few human figures.
Imagine colonial buildings and brightly-coloured German Art Deco style architecture...lying on one of the least hospitable coasts in Africa, surrounded by the Namib Desert and with only one road: this is the fascinating harbour town of Lüderitz, with its quiet charm under cobalt blue skies.
Damaraland is one of the most extraordinary collections of landscapes in Namibia and as well as one of the most underrated areas of wildlife watching of southern Africa, home to endangered black rhinos, lions and elephants adapted to the desert, as well as the whole range of Namibian particuliarities such as zebras, giraffes and spotted hyenas.
Etosha National Park
Etosha N.P. is unique in Africa. The park’s main characteristic is a salt pan so large it can be seen from space. Yet there is abundant wildlife that congregates around the waterholes, giving almost guaranteed game sightings. Waterholes are a great place to silently observe wildlife. Each waterhole in Etosha is different and animals spotted at each vary from season to season.
The Kalahari, "the great thirst" in the Tswana language, is a red sand desert whose southwestern area, the driest, makes it a fossil-type desert. Human settlements are reduced to nomadic Bushman groups believed to have lived in these lands as hunters for at least 20,000 years. Although there are few endemic species, a wide variety of species live in the region, including predators.
Walvis Bay is a place many have heard of but very few have ever visited. The lagoon, salt pans and the bird sanctuary, which form the Walvis Bay Wetlands, are rightly heralded as the single most important coastal wetlands of Southern Africa. Giant sand dunes run straight into the ocean, creating breathtaking sceneries and real unique landscapes.
Caprivi Game Park
The Caprivi area with its sub-tropical temperatures forms a separate natural region in the otherwise arid Namibia. The area is located in the northeast of Namibia and forms a strip that protrudes far into the middle of the African continent. Due to the humid climate, wildlife is abundant and many parts of the region have been declared national parks.
The Spitzkoppe is a group of granite peaks, more than 120 million years old, located in the Namib desert. The peaks stand out dramatically from the flat surrounding plains. Such an unusual landscape that even became the filming location for some sequences of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Kaokoland is one of the most pristine areas on the planet. The area is one of the wildest and least populated areas in Namibia, with a population density of one person every 2 km². The most represented ethnic group is the Himba people, who account for about 5,000 inhabitants: their way of life is nothing like modern and urban life.