Namibia is known as the jewel of Africa and one of the youngest democracies in the world that included protection of environment in its constitution. It is a country of the desolate Namib Desert, famous Etosha National park with its abundant wildlife and enormous and magnificent Fish River Canyon. Swakopmund is a small Bavarian-style German town on the edge of the Namib and cold Atlantic ocean that remains almost unchanged since the beginning of the century. This is a peaceful land of old traditions, ancient tribes and modern infrastructure. Namibia has always been a country of superlatives:Dragon’s Breath is the largest subterranean lake in the world, Hoba meteorite is the biggest ever found, Gibeon meteorite shower is the largest ever discovered, Namib Desert is the oldest desert and it is also the only desert in the world that harbors elephant, lion, giraffe and rhino. Red sand dunes at the Kalahari and Sossusvlei are regarded as being the highest in the world. Namib Desert is also home to one of the oldest living fossil plants, the Welwitschia mirabilis. Namibia has the largest free-roaming cheetah population in the world an estimated 2500. Rossing is the largest open-cast uranium mine, the coast is the largest occurrence of rock salt and Uis and it’s mine is the largest known tin reserve.German Stewardship in Namibia spanned three decades from 1889 to 1915. Bismarck had achieved German unification in 1871 and German South West Africa became the first colony of the new Empire under Wilhelm l in 1884. The era known as Wilhelminian, notorious for its erratic course of German policy and international blunders, is paradoxically the era, which witnessed fundamental changes in artistic, architectural and intellectual life in Europe. Namibia is a highland with an average altitude of 1200 m above sea level, its capital, Windhoek, lying at 1620 m. The plateau drops steeply to the Namib Desert stretching along the Atlantic seaboard.
Natural harbors are Luderitz in the extreme South, and Walvis Bay already annexed by Great Britain in 1887 for political reasons. With the exception of the border rivers and the Fish River, all rivers are dry riverbeds. Rainfall is slight – the period December to April being the rainy season – and decreases from North to South and from East to West. The Namib offers no materials fit for building. In the Interior only quarried stone or sun-dried bricks are available. Clay for fired bricks is scarce and of a poor quality. Because of the lack of straightest trees, timber cannot be considered as a sound building material. The development of the colony by its German overlord was slow and hesitant. Only with the introduction of the Directorate of Building Services of the Imperial Government of GSWA in 1897, the decisions to build an artificial harbor at Swakopmund a railway from there to Windhoek, and the floating of a cement-brick company with branches in the coastal towns can one begin to talk of a building industry.
Car rental companies are represented at the major airports and in the cities, as are taxis.
Transportation by Air:
There are one international airport- Windhoek. From this airports, you can take chartered links to Swakopmund, Walvisbay, Keetmanshoop, Rundu near Namibia’s game parks and other areas throughout Southern Africa. Namibia has a fairly well developed road system. Travel time from Europe to Johannesburg is from 10 to 11 hours.
The name “Namib” is of Nama origin and means vast.Namibia’s Coastal Desert is one of the oldest deserts in the world. And its sand dunes are the highest sand dunes in the world.The Namib Desert and the Namib-Naukluft National Park is located here. The Namibian coastal deserts are the richest source of diamonds on earth, making Namibia the world’s largest producer of diamonds. It is divided into the northern Skeleton Coast and the southern Diamond Coast.
A number of unusual species of plants and animals are found only in this desert. One of these is Welwitschia mirabilis, one of the most unusual species. Welwitschia is a shrub-like plant, but grows just two long strap-shaped leaves continuously throughout its lifetime. These leaves may be several meters long, gnarled and twisted from the desert winds. The taproot of the plant develops into a flat, concave disc in age. Welwitschia is notable for its survival in the extremely arid conditions in the Namib, sometimes deriving moisture from the coastal sea fogs.
The Namib Desert is a broad expanse of hyper-arid gravel plains and dunes that stretches along the entire coastline, which varies in width between 100 to many hundreds of kilometers. Areas within the Namib include the Skeleton Coast and the Kaokoveld in the north and the extensive Namib Sand Sea along the central coast. The sands that make up the sand sea are a consequence of erosional processes that take place within the Orange River valley and areas further to the south. As sand-laden waters drop their suspended loads into the Atlantic, onshore currents deposit them along the shore. The prevailing south west winds then pick up and redeposit the sand in the form of massive dunes in the widespread sand sea, the largest sand dunes in the world. In areas where the supply of sand is reduced because of the inability of the sand to cross riverbeds, the winds also scour the land to form large gravel plains. In many areas within the Namib Desert, there is little vegetation with the exception of lichens found in the gravel plains, and in dry river beds where plants can access subterranean water
Along with the Skeleton Coast further north, it is notorious as the site of many shipwrecks. Some of these wrecked ships can be found as much as 50 metres (55 yds) inland, as the desert slowly moves westwards into the sea, reclaiming land over a period of many years.
As documented in some extraordinary detail in the BBC Planet Earth (TV series) episode #5 on deserts, there is a struggle for existence in this desert by elephants, lions, oryx and other valiant survivors, a struggle that is surprising in that anything can find sustenance here at all. (A pair of oryx is seen on the Namibian coat of arms.)
The Fish River Canyon is located in the south of Namibia. It is the second largest canyon in the world and the largest in Africa, as well as the second most visited tourist attraction in Namibia. features a gigantic ravine, in total about 160 km) long, up to 27 km wide and in places almost 550 metres deep.
The Fish River is the longest interior river in Namibia. It cuts deep into the plateau which is today dry, stony and sparsely covered with hardy drought-resistant plants. The river flows intermittently, usually flooding in late summer; the rest of the year it becomes a chain of long narrow pools. At the lower end of the Fish River Canyon, the hot springs resort of Ai-Ais is situated.
Upstream the river runs through horizontal dolomite strata. These strata formed part of the canyon about 650 million years ago when plate movement cracked the earth, the first process in the formation of the Fish River Canyon.
Lower down, a granite complex system is exposed to form a characteristic river bed that results in forms like Fingerspitze. In this area, a fault runs north-south, which accounts for the gorge-like channel and the presence of hot sulphurous springs.
Palmwag is technically not a town or village. It is actually a concession area. It was put on the maps of Namibia as it has an oasis surrounded by large makalani palm trees, which made a useful stop for travellers. Many travellers with an interest in conservation, ecology and wild places prefer the Palmwag Concession to Etosha, as it is a true wilderness area. In addition to the extremely wild and rugged landscape, Palmwag also offers opportunities to see the desert-dwelling black rhino, and the desert adapted elephants. Due to the extremely wild terrain and environmental sensitivity, inexperienced travellers should be discouraged from entering the area unescorted. Experienced travellers should use a 4X4 vehicle. People can trek the length of the sandy river, passing local Herero farmers and the pink granite ‘inselbergs’ (islands of rock left behind after volcanic activity) dotted throughout the region. These bizarre stones have been shaped over the years into vaguely recognisable shapes, some look like toadstools, while others are eerie hollow structures known as the ‘Petrified Ghosts’.Quite a few plants grow there; much of the visible vegetation is the exotic wild tobacco, Nicotiana glauca. Also found there indigenously are some stunted acacia trees, nara bushes, Acanthosicyos horridus, with their (almost leafless) spiky green stems, and improbably large melons.
The desert-adapted elephant generally inhabit the ancient, ephemeral riverbeds that can be found in north-west regions of Namibia. The seasonal rivers are dependent on local rain fall before flowing above ground, however, in times of drought the water still flows, but deep under the desert sand.There is a debate amongst zoologists and scientists as to whether these desert dwelling animals should be classified as a different species of elephant. Desert elephants are apparently very well adapted to living under the particular conditions of the desert. They routinely move great distances between feeding grounds and the scattered waterholes where they drink during the dry season, distances of up to 70km are being regularly traversed.Desert-adapted elephants are found predominantly in the Kaokoland and Damaraland regions of north-west Namibia. Desert Elephants feed on a wide range of plants, and like elephants elsewhere they take leaves, shoots, bark, flowers, fruit, bulbs, tubers and roots as well as grass and sedges. They have distinct and practical seasonal feeding preferences. During the rains the elephants tend to use more grass, which then becomes abundantly available. In the dry season they concentrate on browsing and this allows the woody plants a measure of respite for recovery during the summer.
Caprivi, sometimes called the Caprivi Strip (in German: Caprivizipfel), Caprivi Panhandle and formally known as Itenge, is a narrow protrusion of Namibia eastwards about 450 km (280 miles), between Botswana on the south, Angola and Zambia to the north, and Okavango Region to the west. Caprivi is bordered by the Okavango, Kwando, Chobe and Zambezi rivers. Its largest settlement is the town of Katima Mulilo..
The area is rich in wildlife and has mineral resources. Of particular interest to the government of Namibia is that it gives access to the Zambezi River and thereby a potential trading route to Africa’s East Coast. However, the vagaries of the river level, various rapids, the presence of Victoria Falls downstream and continued political uncertainty in the region make this use of the Caprivi Strip unlikely, although it is a prime destination for ecotourism. Within Namibia the Caprivi Strip provides significant habitat for the critically endangered Wild African Dog, Lycaon pictus.
The Caprivi Strip is of strategic military importance. During the Rhodesian Bush War (1970–1979), African National Congress operations against the South African government (1965–1994) and the Angolan Civil War, this little finger of land saw continual military action and multiple incursions by various armed forces using the Strip as a corridor to access other territories.
The Caprivi Strip also attracted attention as Namibia and Botswana took a long-standing dispute over its southern boundary to the International Court of Justice . The core of the territorial dispute concerned which channel of the Chobe River was the thalweg, the bona fide international boundary. This was important, as, depending on the decision, a large island, (known as Kasikili or Seddudu by Namibia and Botswana, respectively) would fall into national territory. The Botswana government considered the island as an integral part of the Chobe National Park, whereas the Namibian government, and many inhabitants of the eastern Caprivi Strip, held that not only was the island part of the original German–British agreement, but that generations of inhabitants had used it for seasonal grazing, reed gathering as well as a burial site. In December 1999, the International Court of Justice ruled that the main channel, and hence the international boundary, lay to the north of the island, thus making the island part of Botswana.
The sand dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert are often referred to as the highest dunes in the world. Various arguments are laid out to support this claim, but all miss the point, which is that Sossusvlei is surely one of the most spectacular sights in Namibia. Located in the Namib Naukluft park, the largest conservation area in Africa, and fourth largest in the world – the sand dunes at Sossusvlei are just one excellent reason to visit Namibia.
The best time to view Sossusvlei is close to sunrise and sunset; the colours are strong and constantly changing, allowing for wonderful photographic opportunities. The midday heat is intense and best spent in the shade while sunset also offers excellent photo opportunities at Sossusvlei.
‘Vlei’ is the Afrikaans word for a shallow depression filled with water (well, a depression that might sometimes be filled with water!), and the name ‘Sossusvlei’ should strictly only be applied to the pan that lies at the place where the dunes close in, preventing the waters of the Tsauchab River from flowing any further – that is, on the rare occasions that the river does flow as far as this. During exceptional rainy seasons, Sossusvlei may fill with water, causing Namibians to flock there to witness the grand sight, but normally it is bone dry. This particular ‘vlei’ is actually a more-or-less circular, hard-surfaced depression that is almost entirely surrounded by sharp-edged dunes, beyond which lies a formidable sea of rolling sand, stretching in unbroken immensity all the way to the coast. However, the name ‘Sossusvlei’ now days applies to the whole area – an area that encompasses the great plain of the Tsauchab River together with the red dunes that march along like giant sentinels to south and north of the plain.
The second attraction of the area is Sesriem Canyon, which is only a few kilometres from the campsite, the entrance gate, and main Nature Conservation office. The canyon derives its name from the fact that early Afrikaner trekkers had to use six (‘ses’) leather thongs (a thong is a ‘riem’) so that their buckets could reach the water far below. The canyon begins as an almost imperceptible but nevertheless deep cleft in level, stony ground, and then widens until it finally flattens out onto the plain. Because it is so deep and sheltered, it often holds water well into the dry season – an invigorating sight in such a barren and stark environment.
Kaokoland is a unspoiled wilderness area. Kaokoland (also called Kaokoveld) was a bantustan in South West Africa (present-day Namibia), intended by the apartheid government to be a self-governing homeland for the Himba people. Kaokoland, like other homelands in South West Africa, was abolished in May 1989 at the start of the transition to independence.
Kaokoland has amazing mountain sceneries like the Otjihipa Mountains and the Hartmann Mountains. This is where the Marienfluss boundary is formed. The Marienfluss Valley is beautiful and has such breathe taking views of green valleys; it is also right next to the Hartmann Valley. There are also different types of animals. Such as rare desert dwelling elephants, black rhinos and giraffes. Kaokoland is also a home for the Himba people. Kaokoland is around the south the Hoanib River and up north of the Kunene River which is Namibia’s border with Angola. A river runs through this very dry landscape with beautiful waterfalls in Namibia along it, the Ruacana Falls are 120m high and 700m wide. Also along the Kunene River you’ll find the Epupa falls, it is about 135km from the Ruacana falls. Epupa is a Herero word for the foam that is created by all the water that is falling on the water.. This place has many spectacular sunsets and yearlong flowing waters meaning that the place is worth seeing. It is possible to swim in some of the pools, but one pool has crocodiles that people should be warned about, the Kunene River.
The wildlife in Kaokoland is most famous for its desert elephant. The herd of the dwelling elephants draws most tourists in to the area. Between 1977 and 1982 a crippling drought gripped the area and wiped out large numbers of game. However, the biggest threat were the poachers, between 1970 and 1983 the number of desert dwelling elephants in the Kaokoveld declined from an 300 to 70 elephants. Although the desert dwelling elephants are not a separate sub species, they have adapted to their extremely hot and dry environment. The only other place in Africa where elephants live in such harsh conditions is in Mali on the edge of the Sahara Desert. The secret of their survival in the moisture less wastelands is the knowledge of their limited food and water resources. During the dry periods they will even dig deep holes to get more water, this way it also provides other animals with water. Unlike other elephants, which drink daily, these kinds of elephants have been known to going without water for up to four straight days. The black rhino of Kaokoland suffered a fate similar to that of the elephants and by 1983 the population in the east had been exterminated. Since only a few of them survived in the western parts of Kaokoland, this makes them a rare sight. Nowadays, there are a few organizations doing their best to ensure the continuing existence of these rare and unique animals.