Namibia

Namibia is a dry country, sandwiched between two deserts, the Namib and the Kalahari. Its stark beauty portrayed by red dunes, grassy plains, rocky mountains, canyons and Acacia savannas attract the true nature lover. The initially perceived starkness will soon reveal a multitude of life to those who look more carefully. In summer the sun-scorched earth comes to life when rejuvenated by the long awaited rains. This is the time when every raindrop is cherished by plants, animals and people alike. The people who make this harsh land their home, value it above all, this is Namibia.A sense of peace and serenity is reached under the open and vast expanses of the landscapes of Namibia. We invite you to free your soul in the deafening silence of the desert where tranquility is all encompassing. Enjoy the blue skies over the wide open plains and savannas. Here you can really get away from it all, and we can take you there.

Fast Facts

Location: South western Africa along the Atlantic coast
Neighbours: South Africa (S), Botswana (E), Zambia (NE), Angola (N)
Geography: Coastal belt and Namib desert, escarpment, central plateau
Vegetation: Semi-arid savanna, desert, woodlands
Climate: Days – mild in winter, hot in summer, mostly sunshine
Nights – cold to very cold in winter, mild in summer
Capital city: Windhoek
Main cities: Keetmanshoop, Otjiwarongo, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay
Population: 1,827 million (2001)
Population density: 2.5/km²
Languages: English (official), Afrikaans, German, 8 native languages
Religions: Predominantly Christian, some tribal beliefs
Currency: Namibian Dollar. South African Rand can also be used.
Economy and trade: Agriculture, mining, fisheries, tourism
History: German colony (1884 – 1915), South African mandate (1920 – 1990)
Independence: 1990 from South Africa
Government: Democratically elected
Time Zone: WAT (UTC +1)
Summer (DST) WAST (UTC +2)
Calling Code: +264
Internet TLD: .na
Drives on the: Left

Country Highlights

Brandberg
Highest mountain in Namibia (2,606 m, 8,550 ft) formed by a granite plug pressed out of a volcanic pipe. There are more than 43,000 individual rock paintings located at around 1,000 sites.

Brukaros Crater
An ancient volcanic crater of about 80 million years ago in the south of Namibia. It rises 650 m (2,133 ft) above the plain and with a crater diameter of approximately 3 km (1.9 miles). The crater floor lies about 350 m (1,148 ft) below the crater’s edge.

Cape Cross
Largest Cape fur seal breeding colony (about 100,000) on the Namibian Atlantic coast. The Portuguese sea farer Diego Cáo landed here in 1486 and erected a stone cross.

Caprivi
Caprivi is a narrow protrusion in the northeast of the country, some 450 km (280 miles) long. It is bordered by the Kavango, Cuando, Linyanti, Chobe and Zambezi rivers. The Caprivi is unlike the rest of Namibia, with a sub-tropical climate, high rainfall and woodlands.

Cities
Swakopmund – Largest holiday town in Namibia on the Atlantic coast with German colonial style buildings, offering many adventure sport opportunities.

Walfish Bay – Largest, most important habour on the Namibian coast, 35 km south of Swakopmund.

Windhoek – Capital of Namibia, situated in the central region. A cosmopolitan city, mixed with German colonial style buildings that offers all the modern amenities.

Damaraland
Scenic semi-arid landscape interspersed with mountains in the north-west of Namibia, just south of the Kaokoland. The highest mountain in Namibia, Brandberg, as well as desert elephants and black rhinos can be found here.

Etosha National Park
Established in 1907, it is one of the famous wildlife wonders of the world. This 23,175 km² protected area incorporates a large salt pan (130 km long and 50 km wide). The salt pan is usually dry, but fills with water in places after heavy rains. Etosha is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, and 16 amphibian species.

Fish River Canyon
Second largest canyon in the world w ith a depth of up to 550 m (1,804 ft), it is up to 27 km (17 miles) wide. Over a period of 650 million years, the Fish River has helped shape this canyon, meandering along a distance of approximately 160 km (100 miles). At the end of the canyon lies the hot springs resort of Ai-Ais, that provides an oasis in this rocky desert landscape.

Hoba meteorite
It struck the ground some 80,000 years ago and was discovered only by chance in 1920 as there is no evidence of an impact zone. This is the heaviest meteorite in the world and the largest naturally-occurring mass of iron known to exist on the surface of the earth. The meteorite of measuring 2.7 by 2.7 meters (8 feet 9 inches) by 0.9 meters (3 feet) with a volume of nearly 9m², weighs about 60 tons. It consists of 84% iron, 16% nickel, 1% cobalt and various trace elements.

Himba
Tribe living in Kaokoland, leading a traditional, semi-nomadic pastoral lifestyle.

Kalahari Desert
The Kalahari is regarded as a mild desert, a large arid to semi-arid sand basin that reaches from the Orange River in South Africa up to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and from Namibia in the west to Zimbabwe in the east. The sand masses were created by the erosion of soft stone formations. The sand ridges were shaped by wind, which are so typical of the landscape in the Kalahari. Only in recent geological history, 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, were the dunes stabilized through vegetation. Unlike the dunes of the Namib Desert, those of the Kalahari are stable and not wandering. Ancient dry riverbeds—called omuramba—traverse the Central Northern reaches of the Kalahari and provide standing pools of water during the rainy season. The only permanent river, the Okavango, flows into a delta in the northwest, forming marshes that are rich in wildlife.

Kaokoland(veld)
A magnificent, rugged, mountainous desert area in the northwest of Namibia, and home of the Himba tribe. Stronghold of the desert elephant and black rhino.

Kunene River
One of the three perennial rivers in Namibia, it borders Angola and flows through the northern Namib Desert into the Atlantic Ocean.

Lake Otjikoto and Lake Guinas
These sinkhole lakes in dolomite rock are the only natural lakes in Namibia. With a diameter of up to 500 m (Guinas), their true depths are unknown. At about 60 m (Otjikoto) and 100 m (Guinas), both lakes disappear into lateral cave systems. The geological age of Lake Guinas allowed an endemic cichlid fish species Tilapia guinasana to evolve.

Namib Desert
A true desert, the Namib generally receives less than 10 mm (0.4 inches) of rain annually. Stretching along the entire Atlantic coast of Namibia as a narrow strip of 50 – 160 km (30 – 100 miles) wide and some 1,600 km (1,000 miles) long, the desert is patterned by a sea of giant red sand dunes in the south and vast gravel plains in the north. The landscape is traversed by a number of dry riverbeds that serve as oases for humans and animals. The Namib is considered the oldest desert in the world, where species had time to evolve unique adaptations to survive in this harsh environment. Many of the fauna and flora is found nowhere else on earth.

Okavango River
The only river in the world with no access to the ocean. Originating in the highlands of Angola, its waters are blocked off by the sands of the Kalahari, forming the lush Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Orange River
The longest river in southern Africa, the name was derived from the orangey colour of the water caused by the high silt load. This river forms the border between Namibia and South Africa.

Petrified Forest
More than 50 giant fossilized tree trunks, some up to 30 m long, are found in a relatively small area. These fossilized trunks are estimated to be 200 million years old.

Rivers
Most rivers in Namibia are dry and carry water only in the form of flash floods after recent heavy rains during summer. The only perennial rivers are those along its borders with other countries, i.e. Kunene (NW), Okavango (NE), Kwando/Linyanti/Chobe (NE), Zambezi (far NE) and the Orange rivers (S).

San people
Previously known as bushmen (also Basarwa or Khwe), these original inhabitants of southern Africa for at least 20,000 years, lived in a stone-age, hunter-gatherer society until a few decades ago. Genetic evidence suggests they are one of the oldest, if not the oldest, peoples in the world from which all humans can ultimately trace their genetic heritage. Part of the Khoisan group, they are related to the Khoikhoi. Namibia and Botswana are one of the last strongholds of the San people.

Sossusvlei
Sossusvlei is a salt pan in the central Namib Desert, fed by the rarely flowing Tsauchab River. Surrounded by the highest sand dunes in the world, these can reach heights of up to 300 m (900 ft). A photographers paradise, the white salt pans are surrounded by red sand dunes with clear blue skies overhead. Old, gnarled camelthorn trees add to the magic.

Tsumkwe
Large settlement of San people in Bushmanland, north east Namibia.

Twyfelfontein
This national monument boasts approximately 2,500 petroglyphs (neolithic rock engravings). The age of engravings has not been determined precisely but there is evidence that the area was occupied as early as 6,000 years ago.

The nearby Organ Pipes and Burnt Mountain can also be visited. Formed by a volcanic dolerite intrusion into the overlying rock about 120 million years ago , the rapid cooling shaped these vertical angular rock columns, called the Organ Pipes. The Burnt Mountain was also formed at about the same time, when volcanic lava intruded Karoo limestone that caused metamorphism giving Burnt Mountain its distinctive coloured shale and basalt.

Vingerklip
A dramatic rock formation, the 35 m (115 ft) high pillar of rock “Finger of Stone” stands above the Ugab limestone terraces.

Waterberg
A 50 km long and 20 km wide sandstone table mountain massif rising 200 m above the surrounding plains. Its unique woodland type vegetation differs from that of the surrounding area. The Waterberg Plateau Park encompasses most of the mountain and harbours rare species such as black rhino, Cape buffalo and roan antelope.

Welwitschia
Welwitschia mirabilis is a gymnosperm found only in the Namib Desert. It can reach an age of probably 2,000 years and in its lifetime produces a single pair of leaves. These are the only continuously growing leaves found on any plant in the world. Discovered in 1860 by Dr Friedrich Welwitsch, they were described as the “platypus of the plant kingdom” by Charles Darwin.

White Lady
Famous 2,000 year old rock painting in the Brandberg Mountain. Discovered in 1917, but remained in obscurity until 1948 when the French cleric and archaeologist Abbé Henri Breuil copied it and brought the painting to light. (1 hour walk)

Zambezi River
Africa’s fourth largest river begins as a small spring in north western Zambia, where it borders Angola and the Democratic Republic of Kongo. The most spectacular sections of the river are the Cholwezi Rapids, Barotse floodplains and Ngonye Falls in Zambia, Victoria Falls and Batoka Gorge between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and the Mana Pools floodplains in Zimbabwe. The large Kariba Dam and the Cabora Bassa Dam slow down the water of the Zambezi to form huge lakes. Over its entire length of 2,700 km, the Zambezi runs through six countries and spills into the Indian Ocean in Mozambique. Its unique value is that it is less developed than other rivers and many areas surrounding the river are protected.