A Harsh And Beautiful Landscape
Shipwrecks splatter the treacherous shores of Namibia along the Skeleton Coast, sleep in a shipwreck-inspired hotel and walk through eerie dilapidated ghost towns standing testament to the harsh realities that fortune-seeking settlers faced trying to forge a life in the desert. Now deserted, the town of Kolmanskop was once a glamorous outpost for fortune-seekers. Where the desert stretches for miles, shipwrecks line the beach, and fairy rings remain a natural mystery you can find a truly unique experience in Namibia. Thanks to the lack of population and light pollution, the NamibRand Private Nature Reserve is one of just 18 International Dark Sky Reserves in the world, and the only one in Africa.
A Vast Land
Namibia reigns as the second least densely populated country in the world after Mongolia. Namib translates to “vast place,” and the desert that spans 81,000 square miles and covers a large portion of the country certainly fits that description. The shifting sands of this harsh desert habitat provide a good reason why so much of Namibia remains uninhabited and why the people, animals, and other creatures that have thrived here are all the more remarkable. Namibia is home to the world’s most ancient desert sands existing in the The Namib Desert between 50- to 80-million years, utterly devoid of surface water, and yet life has found a way to survive in the parched landscape. Of Namibia’s 12 major ethnic groups, there are several indigenous tribes, including the Himba, one of the last desert-dwelling and semi-nomadic groups living in Africa.
Main tourist attractions for wildlife in Namibia are Etosha National Park, Waterberg National Park, Skeleton Coast National Park and Cape Cross Seal Reserve. Impressively, Namibia is also home to the largest unfenced population of black rhinos in Africa. Namibia’s parks and reserves range from the open bush of the center and the north of the country to the barren and inhospitable coastal strip with its huge sand dunes. There are over twenty species of antelope ranging from the largest, the eland, the Damara dik-dik. Namibia also harbors a wealth of small mammals including mongoose, jackal and aardvark (antbear).
One of the most accessible game reserves in Namibia and Southern Africa. Luxurious camps in Etosha’s remote areas have now added top end accommodation to the park’s offerings. The three main camps (Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni) offer various types of accommodation from camping to chalets overlooking floodlit waterholes. The park is home to the world’s largest bird – the ostrich, the European bee-eater, the Kori bustard and more than 340 bird species. The areas with thicker vegetation are home to elephant (some of the largest in Africa due to the vitamins and nutrients found in the ground), the endangered black rhino and even leopards. Lions are camouflaged in the pale golden color of the grasslands, while giraffes rise high above most of the dry vegetation. During the rainy season, the salt pan fills with water attracting flamingos which are a great spectacle. During winter the park is a wasteland of white dust which comes from the clay in the pan. The summer is vastly different with heavy rains turning a dry dusty Etosha National Park into a lush green oasis. This time of year means life in the park for new born animals as well as birdlife. The landscapes and the vast Etosha pan are always highlights for any photographer.
Waterberg Plateau Park
Rising about 200 meters above the surrounding area. The region hosts numerous private game farms and reserves including luxurious game lodges. Buffalo, many species of antelope, leopards and cheetahs are also found at the mountain. More than 90 mammals and 200 bird species have been recorded, as well as various reptiles. Towering sandstone cliffs, dinosaur footprints, mysterious rock engravings and some of Namibia’s most rare and valuable game species are synonymous within the park and it is zoned into management areas for wilderness, trophy hunting and tourism.
Cape Cross and The Skeleton Coast
Both historic and biological significance. Along the the Skeleton Coast, there are quite a number of wild animals to observe, for example desert-adapted elephants, rhinos, desert lions, brown hyenas, jackals, giraffes, seals, oryx, kudus and zebras. Cape Cross Seal Reserve is a sanctuary for the world’s largest breeding colony of Cape fur seals. New facilities include a walkway enhancing viewing of the seals, information signs along the walkway, renovated picnic areas and five campsites. The Skeleton Coast National Park stretches from the Angolan border/Kunene River to the north for some 500km. It’s a fascinating area where interdependent dune-dwelling insects, reptiles and small mammals survive against all odds. The area’s name comes from a book written in 1944 about a famous shipwreck, the Dunedin Star and the coast is littered with scores of shipwrecks, some are barely recognizable, other are still in remarkably good condition.