Namibia is a timeless land of stark deserts and endless blue skies inhabited by strange wildlife who have adapted to the harsh environment. It has the highest sand dunes in the world, huge shimmering plains, rugged mountains, as well as the mysterious and aptly named Skeleton Coast. The country’s famous Etosha National Park is a wildlife reserve on a vast salt pan whose perennial springs attract elephant, black rhino, lion, cheetah, zebra, wildebeest, springbok and gemsbok. Due to scarcity of water in the driest months, it is not uncommon to find a “Noah’s ark” scenario here – where species of all shapes and sizes are found gathered around the few remaining waterholes.
The Skeleton Coast National Park on the countries northwest coastline is one of the planets most unforgiving environments. Most of the park is accessed only by air and the desolate coastline is an incredible sight to behold. Cape fur seals visit the coastline every year to mate and give birth as well as hunt for fish during November and December. Over 200,000 seals have been seen at once in the colony at Cape Cross Seal Reserve.
The Namib-Naukluft National Park is another awe-inspiring destination filled with magical natural wonders. Highlights include the remarkable Sossusvlei dunes and famous skeleton trees of Dead Vlei – standing on the white salt pans against a backdrop of bright orange dunes. Hot air ballooning is also a popular way to discover the ancient landscape.
Although the human population is small, there is a rich tapestry of cultures to be found throughout Namibia; including Bushmen hunter-gatherers, Herero pastoralists in their Victorian dress and the nomadic Himba of the far north.
If you are short on time, the best way to cover the enormous distances between deserts, dunes and oases is by scheduled light aircraft. Aside from saving you hours on the road, flights provide breathtaking views of this extraordinary land from the air.