Sights and Activities
It’s the oldest desert in the world, a garden of burned and blackened-red basalt that spilled out of the earth 130 million years ago in southwest Africa, hardening to form the arid landscape of Namibia. Precious little can grow or thrive in this merciless environment, with the exception of a few uniquely adapted animals and plants, which illustrate the sheer ingenuity of life on earth. The Namib Desert extends along the country’s entire Atlantic Coast, and is scored by a number of rivers, which rise in the central plateau, but often run dry. Most famous of all are the scorched dunes of the impossibly eerie but always captivating Skeleton Coast.
For wildlife watchers, there are really only three significant areas in Namibia. Further south is the largest wildlife reserve in Africa, Namib-Naukluft Park, which covers an astonishing 6% if Namibia’s area and 50,000sq km. Much of it is true desert, and large mammals occur in extremely low densities, though local species include Hartmann’s mountain zebra as well as more widespread Southern African endemics like springbok and gemsbok. Popular for wildlife watching and hiking all year –round.
Because Namibia is mostly arid, much of the flora is typical African dry-land vegetation: scrub brush and succulents such as euphorbia. Along the coastal plain around Swakopmund are the world’s most extensive and diverse field of lichen; they remain dormant during dry periods, but with the addition of water they burst into colourful bloom. The eastern fringes of Namib – Naukluft Park are dominated by semi desert scrub savannah vegetation, including some rare aloe species. On the gravel plains east of the Skeleton Coast grows the bizarre Welwitchia mirabilis, a slow-growing, ground hugging conifer that lives for more than a 1000 years.
Given its stunning landscapes, Namibia provides a photogenic arena for the multitude of outdoor activities that are on offer. These range from the more conventional hiking and 4WD trials to sandboarding down mountainous dunes, quad biking, paragliding, ballooning and camel riding.
Swakopmund brims with numerous historic example of traditional German architecture:
Namibia’s desert landscape is too harsh and inhospitable to support a great variety of birdlife. The coastal wildlife reserves support and especially wide range of birdlife: white pelicans, flamingos, cormorants and hundreds of other wetland birds.
National Parks & Reserves
Visiting National Parks in Namibia
Despite its harsh climate, Namibia has some the world’s grandest national parks, ranging from the world –famous, wildlife-rich Etosha National Park to the immense Namib-Naukluft Park
, which protects vast dunefields, desert plains, wild mountains and unique flora.
Around 15% of Namibia is designated as a national park or conservancy. Access to the most wildlife parks is limited to closed vehicles. Namibia has wide spread protected areas one of which is the Dorop National Park. It was declared a National Park in 2010 and Namibia became the first and only Country to have its entire Coastline protected through a national parks network.
The Dorop stretches over a 1 600km of a spectacular dune belt, rich in bird and plant life. It boasts with some 75 species of birds flocking to the Coast, and one of these living in the protected area is the Damara Tern, a breading Seabird which is endemic to Namibia, and can be seen all along the coastline.
- Alter Action – Sandboarding with Alter Action is certain to increase your heart rate.
- Ground Rush Adventures provides the ultimate rush and skydiving in Swakopmund is sweetened by the outstanding dune and ocean backdrop.
- Pleasure Flights – Offering scenic aerial cruises, taking to the skies is a wonderful way to appreciate the wild nature that typifies most of the region.