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Popular Destinations

Mamili National Park

 

Mamili National Park, a watery wonderland of wildlife rich islands (Nkasa and Lupala), river channels and wetlands, mirrors Botswana's Okavango Delta. Wild is the best word to describe this park, there's nothing fancy about, no luxurious campsites or guided tours, you're on your own. Mamili holds the distinction of being the largest wetland area with conservation status in Namibia. This protects flora and fauna living within it's complex channel of reed beds, lakes and islands, that form the Linyanti swamps.The focal points of the 320km² national park are Nkasa and Lupala, two large islands in the Kwando / Linyati river. During the dry season the islands can be reached by road but after the rains 80% of the area becomes flooded, cutting them off from the mainland. The good news is that it remains a sanctuary for birds, with more species of birds recorded here than anywhere else in Namibia. In those dry winter months, huge herds of elephant congregate on these islands.
 
Because the park is subject to frequent flooding in the rainy season, camping is inadvisable. Drivers must proceed with caution and negotiate deep pools slowly and avoid rivers where crocodiles, some up to 5m in length, lie in wait. Families of hippopotamus also venture onto the floodplains at night to feed. If you do get stuck, whoever loses the toss will have to dig you out, so listen carefully for nearby elephant and buffalo that maybe crossing the river. Visitors should also be aware that they must be completely self-sufficient in terms of water, food and fuel
It is however an extraordinary piece of wilderness, with lush marshes, dense savannah and high river reeds, that add to the high level of excitement when driving through by 4x4. In addition to large herds of elephants and buffalo, lion, leopard, spotted hyena, giraffe, impala, red lechwe, reedbuck and the elusive sitatunga can be seen. Noteworthy species of bird include wattled crane, rosy-throated longclaw, slaty egret, Meves' starling and the greater swamp warbler birding at it's best!
 
 
You will seldom encounter other tourists in the park, which isn't always such a bad thing. Thunderstorms might be a companion though, and be aware that lightening from these meteorological phenomena can ignite the ground, sparking fires that temporarily burn above the ground and below the earth.Larger animals in Mamili National Park include hippos, crocodiles and spotted neck otters in the rivers. Elephant, buffalo, kudu, impala, zebra and roan antelope are common sights in the park while red lechwe and the shy sitatunga might take a little more patience to be spotted.
 
Entry permits for the park are obtainable at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) offices in Katima Mulilo and Windhoek, or from field offices at Susuwe, Nakatwa and Shisinze or the northern gate of Mamili (Nkasa Lupala) National Park, where reference maps are also available.
 
Camping in the park is very basic. The Nzalu and Lyadura campsites offer no facilities and campers need to be completely self-reliant and willing to rough it . The roads in the park require a 4×4 vehicle. Permits can be obtained from the MET office in Katima Mulilo.
Namibia

Impalila Island

 

Impalila Island lies in the middle of the Zambezi River. It is dotted with small villages and is a good place to see a variety of game and birdlife.About 12 kilometres in length and 6 kilometres in width.Impalila Island has a variety of habitats ranging from mopane, acacia and riparian woodland to open grasslands, floodplains and reed and papyrus-lined channels.
 
 
 
 
The island is inhabited and there are many small fishing and farming villages complete with schools, churches and tiny shops. As many people come to the island from Botswana there is a small immigration office in a hut on the south side of the island.
 
Climb a baobab tree
 
The island interior is forested with baobabs, waterfigs, knobthorne, mopane, pod mahogany and star chestnut trees. On the river banks you find jackalberries and the Chobe waterberry tree. In the middle of the island there is a particularly old and large baobab tree which is possible to climb (however, this is extremely dangerous as the 'ladder' consists of nails sticking out of the tree trunk and there are no safety ropes – it is entirely at your own risk). If you make it to the top you can see the point where the four countries of Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia meet.
 
Wildlife of Impalila Island
 
Surrounding the island, the area is similar to that found in the northern part of the Okavango Delta where deep water channels are lined with papyrus and there are quiet lagoons covered in waterlilies. While elephants and buffalo are sometimes seen near and on the island, they are more commonly seen beside the Chobe River. Hippo and crocodile can be seen in the waters and there is a spectacular birdlife. African skimmers nest on the exposed sandbanks and reed cormorants dry their wings on the papyrus while various kingfishers hover about the water to find food.
Namibia

Sossusvlei

 

The sand dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert are often referred to as the longest dunes in the world. Climbing up one of these dunes provides breathtaking views of the whole area. The best time to view Sossusvlei is close to sunrise and sunset when the dunes refract spectacular colors.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.
 
 
 
 
'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' nowdays 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.
 
Climbing to the top of Big Mama, as it is known to the locals, is well worth every bead of sweat. Catch your breath, take a drink and try to avoid camera shake before capturing some unique moments in your life. From the top you can see Naravlei; so-called because of the countless cucumber-like melons growing around the edge of the pan. The !Nara plant is a vital source of nourishment for many desert creatures, including man. Cessna Pan is to the east and the rocky ridges of Witberg have proved to be a valuable landmark for adventurers over the years. Dead Vlei is at the foot of Big Mama. Its' dead camelthorn trees, some over 800 years old, stand helplessly as photographers worldwide attempt to capture that unique, ageless desert shot. Out of view from the 2x4 car park, tucked behind a dune, is Hiddenvlei. Many species of bird shelter here on both dead and live camelthorn trees. For most of the year all 3 vleis are little more than huge hollows in the ground with no water whatsoever.
 
 
The belief that nothing could survive in temperatures that surpass 40ºC during the day and fall to below freezing at night is a real one. Water is scarce but life still manages to exist under the sand. Tiny tracks at the base of Sossusvlei's dunes give the game away. A fine example is the toktokkie beetle, one of over 200 species of tenebrionid living in the Namib Desert. Whilst under the surface they communicate between sexes by tapping their abdomens on the ground. The shovel-snouted lizard is another sub-sand survivor, a reptile that has the ability to store water in its body. Other desert-dwelling creatures drink droplets of the desert's periodic fog or lick minute tear-drops of water trickling down rocks and plants. Others simply burrow a channel in the sand, an action that will allow them to accumulate moisture such as Grant's golden mole. This amazing little rodent spends almost its entire life under the sand and as a result of this evolutionary adaptation, has no need for eyes.
 
You are more likely to see or be shown larger tracks though. Black-backed jackal, a notorious scavenger, springbok and ostrich tip-toe across the dunes frequently. Gemsbok (oryx) last for weeks without drinking water. Moisture is not allowed to leave the body and therefore they stop sweating. Some unique moments in your life can be small ones as well.
 
Caution Information:
 
The sand-dunes at Sossusvlei are some 60km from the Sesriem gate (the entrance to the park) and the drive takes about an hour. The gate into Sesriem only opens at sunrise, so those staying outside of the park (which includes all the lodges in the area with the exception of Sossus Dune Lodge) will have to wait until sunrise to begin their journey to the dunes.
 
Although the roads in the area are renowned for their high accident rate, possibly the highest in Namibia, they are traversable with a normal sedan vehicle (two wheel drive). The road from Sesriem to the 2x4 car park (4 kilometres from the vlei) is tarred but is in poor condition and is pot-holed. Because the dunes close in and the road becomes a sandy track near the vlei itself, if you do not have your own 4x4 you will have to walk the final stretch from the 2X4 parking area to the vlei - many people do - or use the 4x4 transfer service.
Namibia

The Fish River Canyon

 

The Fish River Canyon in Namibia is (allegedly) the 2nd largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon. The immensity of this magnificent landscape is truly breathtaking. The towering rock faces and deep ravines were formed by water erosion and the collapse of the valley due to movements in the earth's crust over 500 million years ago. Today the canyon measures 160km long up to 27km wide and almost 550m at its deepest. It is fair to say that when you arrive at the canyon though, its exact location is a bit of a mystery as the 500m vertical drop from the flat dry plateau is completely out of view.
 
 
Nowadays the canyon is part of the Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. Self-drive tourists, hikers, photographers and nature lovers world-wide are attracted to this long, thin, meandering river. Depending on the time of year, you could be looking out to a dry river bed or a rainy-season raging torrent. The northern most entrance is the gate at Hobas Campsite and a further 10km drive takes you to the main viewpoint. Stunning views of the gorge combine with your first impressions of the Nama Karoo to the east of Fish River and the Succulent Karoo to the west of the river. The latter extends into the Sperrgebeit National Park and has over 1.600 different plant species, many of them occurring here and nowhere else. Other outstanding vantage points are at Hell's Corner and Sulpher Springs.
 
The environment of this spectacular scenery embraces a number of habitats bringing together several species of mammals, an abundance of reptiles, insects and fish that live in natural pools and the Fish River itself. For example the hot springs occurring on the canyon floor, the most well-known being at Ai-Ais, form pools of water which in turn attract many types of waterbirds. So birding around the canyon can be very rewarding.
 
Egyptian goose, olive thrush, black-headed, grey and goliath heron, African black duck, flocks of Abdim's stork, black stork, Cape robin chat, reed and white-breasted cormorant and dab-chick have all be observed on many occasions. Along the dry Fish River bed, the cooler temperatures allow for permanent pools of water to remain, left behind from when the river last flowed. Thickets of reedbeds flourish and residents such as African marsh warbler, great reed warbler, Cape reed warbler, red bishop, masked weaver and red-billed quelea gather. Black eagle and jackal buzzard nest in the steep cliffs and the African fish eagle has also been observed in the same area. At least 6 species of chat have been recorded in Fish River Canyon and birders have also observed black-headed canary, Cape sparrow, hamerkop, martial eagle and rock kestrel over the years.
 
The klipspringer is one of Fish River Canyon's most unique creatures. The hoof structure enables this 'rock jumper' to walk on the tip of its hoof. It leaves an unmistakable double-rounded spoor, allows for extra grip with the ability to bound smooth rock surfaces and leap from boulder to boulder to escape predators. Other canyon residents include mountain zebra, kudu, steenbok, gemsbok and springbok, attracting predators such as leopard, jackal, brown hyena and bat-eared fox. Rare sightings of a small population of grey rhebok have been recorded.
 
Sharing the water in a number of canyon floor water pools are several species belonging to the order Odonata where large numbers of epaulette skimmer dragonfly congregate. In the breeding sequence, males stand guard over open water whilst out of sight amongst dense vegetation, females can oviposit. Sentry duties are common amongst male dragonflies, especially with blue emperors, who constantly patrol for females along running waters to the south. The larvae of the common hooktail are 'sand swimmers', who possess the ability to burrow themselves out of sight, an action unheard of in almost every other species of dragonfly.
 
One of Namibia's most widespread and common butterflies, the red tip, flutters around the Fish River Canyon. The larvae of other species of tip such as Queen's purple and doubleday's orange use the leaves of caper bushes and shepherd's tree to feed on. Kalahari orange tips are common from October to March.
 
 
The Nama padloper tortoise is endemic to Namibia and protects itself by hiding in the rocks and crevices around the canyon, usually from heavy rains. Emerging often after a torrential downpour, the nickname of 'thunderstorm tortoise' has been bestowed by locals. Sparse and irregular rainfalls affect their food consumption with mating opportunities increasing with a healthy intake of greens.
 
Sharp-toothed catfish and yellow fish are found in the natural pools of Fish River. The former can adapt to almost any habitat. In some of these environment, they are preyed upon by leopard and African fish eagle. They themselves will eat other fish, birds, small mammals, reptiles, insects, other invertebrates and plant matter such as fruit and seeds. Largemouth yellow fish swim upstream from the Orange River and into the Fish River continuing on for many miles. The frog population includes the marbled rubber frog, common platanna and Boettger's caco.
 
Beetz's tiger snake, a slender reptile, shelter in dry, rocky regions of the canyon emerging at night to feed. The Karoo girdled lizard perch on boulders during the heat of the day, pausing only to catch a beetle or grasshopper for lunch. The Nile monitor lizard is common in the river valleys of the canyon and being an excellent swimmer can escape in the water when in danger. A deadly species of snake found in Fish River Canyon is the Cape cobra. The neurotoxic venom can result in death or paralysis in humans. Another species of cobra, the black-necked spitting cobra should also be avoided. Their venom yields are also high and fatal to humans.
 
Apart from its outstanding natural beauty and diverse and unique flora and fauna, the Fish River Canyon Hiking Trail is well-worth a mention. It is one of the most famous hikes in southern Africa, covering a distance of 86km in the base of the canyon. The duration is either 4 or 5 days depending on your group size and fitness and hikers are required to take absolutely everything with them. There are no facilities whatsoever and water can be drank from the semi-permanent pools scattered around the route. The start point is at Hobas and ends at Ai-Ais and there are only 2 emergency exits along the trail! The Cardboard Box Travel Shop can arrange a guided hike of the Fish River Canyon, perhaps a better option for the less-experienced hiker.
 
It's recommend taking an early morning ramble along the canyon where the bark of baboons echoes around the rocks and klipspringers dart up gullies. The view from the top is breathtaking
Namibia

Swakopmund And Pelican Point

 

Swakopmund's German colonial history is reflected in its architecture. Within a short drive of the town you'll see seals and flamingos in their thousands. Pelican Point is excellent for a gentle kayaking trips.
 
The old town of Swakopmund perches between the sands of the Namib Desert and the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
 
With misty morning fog it’s a contrast to the inland and very refreshing after days in the desert.
 
The streets are wide and lined with palm trees, the buildings fascinating examples of old German architecture. There’s an array of curio and antique shops as well as some particularly good seafood restaurants serving fresh crayfish and Skeleton Coast mussels.
 
 
The main beach area is called the Mole, and is the result of a largely unsuccessful attempt to construct the artificial harbour (as South Africa owned the only natural harbour in the area at Walvis Bay). The towns most iconic symbol is the Swakopmund jetty, initially used as mooring for ships it later became a popular are for anglers and walkers, it has fallen into disrepair on numerous occasions and has been subject to several attempts to rescue it from complete dereliction. Recently large scale work has been completed on the jetty which now proudly boasts a small restaurant and bar area.
 
True to its German traditions early mornings and evenings in Swakopmund can be cold throughout the year, as the cold Atlantic Ocean meeting the Namib Desert creates a fog bank. This coolness is often a relief from the heat of the rest of Namibia, but does mean that Swakopmund is not the tropical sunbathing mecca that most people imagine.
 
There is a great variety of accommodation in Swakopmund which cater for all tastes and budgets. It should be noted that these establishments will definitely need to be booked in advance especially if you are travelling in the busy December holidays.
 
Wildlife around Swakopmund
 
A couple of hours’ drive north of Swakopmund you will find the seal colony at Cape Cross. It’s certainly worth a visit as it is home to between 100,000 to 240,000 Cape fur seals at any one time. South of Swakopmund, and equally worth a day’s visit, is the lagoon at Walvis Bay. Pelicans sweep over the dunes to the sea, whilst hundreds of flamingos, avocets and other waders are to be found in the lagoon.
 
 
Pelican Point
 
One excellent way to spend a morning is on a gentle kayaking trip to Pelican Point. Run by Jean Meintjies, these trips start early in the morning when Jean drives you out to Pelican Point, a sandbar near Walvis Bay.
 
Jean has a number of sturdy sea kayaks and she guides you to three colonies of up to 300 Cape fur seals. The seals love to swim and play around the kayaks, and sometimes even jump over them! It is possible to see dolphins, and flocks of gulls and cormorants are often overhead. There is a stop on a beach for warm rolls and coffee for elevenses.
Namibia

Kaokoland

 

Kaokoland is one of the last remaining wilderness areas in Southern Africa. It is a world of incredible mountain scenery, a refuge for the rare desert dwelling elephant, black rhino and giraffe and the home of the Himba people.The most represented ethnic group are the Himbas: a tall and svelt people that rub their bodies with red ochre and butter fat to protect their skins against the climate. These friendly people are herdsmen, breeding mainly cattle and goats while leading a semi-nomadic life. For them, clothes, hair and jewelry hold a special meaning and form an important part of their tradition and culture. Due to the uncontrolled influx of tourists, the Himba’s lifestyle and culture have become increasingly endangered.
 
Kaokoland differs greatly from Damaraland in terms of accessibility and infrastructure. While quite a bit of Damaraland is isolated from the outside world it is really Kaokoland which is the back and beyond, silent, huge and for the most part empty. With 16,000 or so inhabitants, 5,000 of them Himba, Kaokoland has a population density of only one person to every two square kilometers which is about a quarter of the national average.
 
 
Kaokoland is bordered on the south the Hoanib River and on the north the Kunene River which also forms Namibia's border with Angola. Mountain ranges near the Kunene River are rugged and impressive with the highest point located at 2039m in the Baynes Mountains. It is an oddity that a river runs through this arid landscape with the only real waterfalls in Namibia along it's course. The Ruacana Falls are 120m high and 700m wide in full flood. Also along the Kunene River you'll find the Epupa falls, about 135km downstream from the Ruacana falls. The name Epupa is a Herero work for the spume created by falling water. Epupa is formed by a series of cascades that drop a total of 60m over a distance of about 1.5km and at one point reaches a total width of 500m. It is a possibility to swim in some of the pools but one has to be wary of crocodiles in doing so.
 
The area surrounding Epupa Falls has richly coloured rock walls, a variety of trees including the wild fig, baobabs and waving makalani palms. Spectacular sunsets and perennially flowing waters means that the area offers much to see and experience. Bird watching is rewarding, especially for the rare Rufoustailed palm thrush, as well as bee eaters, the African fish eagle and Kingfishers ranging from giant to the tiny Malachite Kingfisher. One of the best places to stay in the Epupa area is the Epupa Camp luxury lodge.
 
For a bit of adventure try white water rafting and canoeing on the Kunene River. For about twenty years preceding independence the Kunene River was out of bounds because of the bush war, but since the early nineties trekking this far north for river adventures has taken off in a big way. The stretch of river normally traversed is the 120km between Ruacana and Epupa Falls. A highlight of the trip is negotiating the Ondurusa rapids as well as passing through the looming zebra mountains and crossing the section of the river known as the 13 rapids.
 
Near the hot water spring at Warmquelle is Sesfontein Fort which for many years was a desolate and rapidly disintegrating ruin. Almost a hundred years after it was first built, the historical monument, originally a police outpost, was reconstructed and equipped to accommodate tourists. Sesfontein Fort derives its name from the six fountains which have their source in the vicinity. The palm trees at the fort were planted by the German police officers who manned the fort to combat weapons smuggling and elephant and rhino poaching.
 
The Himba people who inhabit Kaokoland are the descendants of the earliest Herero's who migrated into this area in the 16th century. Around the middle of the 18th century the pressure of too many people and cattle in this dry, fragile environment led to the migration of the main body of the Herero to the rich pasture lands further south. The Himba are an ancient tribe of semi nomadic pastoralists, many of whom still live and dress according to ancient traditions and live in scattered settlements throughout Kaokoland. They are a slender and statuesque people. The women especially are noted for their unusual sculptural beauty, enhanced by intricate hairstyles and traditional adornments. They rub their bodies with red ochre and fat, a treatment which protects their skins against the harsh desert climate. The homes of the Himba are simple cone shaped structures of saplings bound together with palm leaves and plastered with mud and dung. A family may move from one home to another several times a year to seek grazing for their goats and cattle.
 
 
In terms of wildlife Kaokoland is probably most famous for it's desert elephant. The possibility of obtaining a glimpse, however brief, of a herd of desert dwelling elephants is what draws most tourists to the area. Between 1977 and 1982 a crippling drought gripped the area and wiped out large numbers of game. However, the biggest threat came from poachers, and between 1970 and 1983 the number of desert dwelling elephants in the Kaokoveld declined from an estimated 300 to 70. Although the desert dwelling elephants are not a separate sub species they have adapted to their extremely harsh 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 arid wastelands is an intimate knowledge of their limited food and water resources. During the dry periods they will even dig deep holes to obtain water and in this way also provide other animals with water. Unlike other elephants which drink daily, these ones have been observed going without water for up to four 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, while only a few individuals survived in the extreme western parts of Kaokoland which makes them a very rare sight. Nowadays, there are a few organisations doing their best to ensure the continuing existence of these rare and unique animals.
Namibia

The Namib Desert

 

The Namib Desert is often referred to as the world's oldest desert and has been in existence for some 43 million years, remaining unchanged in its present form for the last 2 million years. The Namib is an immense expanse of relentlessly moving gravel plains and dunes of all shapes and sizes that stretch along the entire coastline. The most widespread and dominant type of desert sand dune are linear dunes, with crescent shaped dunes common along the coast and clusters of star dunes, such as the towering horseshoe of dunes at Sossusvlei, found in the eastern reaches of the sand sea.It's an effortlessly beautiful landscape that encompasses the undisputed draw card of the Namib Desert, the famous sand dunes of Sossusvlei. Other features range from seasonally dry river valleys and salt pans to baking gravel plains and isolated mountain islands. The park extends to the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean and also incorporates bird-filled lagoons and deserted, wave-battered beaches.
 
 
It comes as no surprise therefore to discover that the entire western section of Namibia is comprised of the Namib, which spreads beyond the borders of Namibia and flows into southern Angola and the northern Cape Province of South Africa. With ephemeral rivers flowing unexpectedly across an ancient landscape, its dunes, plains, rivers and a foggy coast have all become vital components to support an outstanding and fascinating array of bizarre desert flora and fauna.
 
Evidence of humans living in the Namib through time extends back to the early stone age era. But perhaps the most documented of mankind's existence can still be seen today in the many rock paintings, stone circles, tools and pottery that have been discovered over the centuries. The most famous rock paintings are at Brandberg and Twyfelfontein. The Topnaar are a well-known clan of long term residents of the Namib. More famous for living in the Namib-Naukluft Park, there are at least a dozen villages scattered along the lower Kuiseb River today.
 
A section of the central Namib Desert incorporates the Namib Naukluft Park, the largest park in Namibia and the 3rd largest on the African continent. The present day park is a combination of the Namib Desert Park and the Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park as well as sections of the Diamond Area. The combined area is just under 50,000km², from Luderitz to the Swakop River some 400kms. Its main attractions are Sossusvlei, Sandwich Harbour and the Naukluft hiking and four wheel drive trails
 
The Naukluft Mountain section of the park was initially created as a sanctuary for the Hartmann's mountain zebra. There is also an interesting historical back story to the region as they were the base of Hendrik Witbooi, an important player in the history of Namibia. The celebrated freedom fighter terrorized German Colonizers at every opportunity from his well protected mountain strongholds. In recognition of his exploits, Hendrik is fondly remembered with portraits on Namibian bank notes, an honour he shares with the founding father of Namibia, Sam Nujoma.
 
The harsh environment of the park challenges man and mammal alike. Carnivores are no exception and 3 of the larger species – black-backed jackal, brown hyena and spotted hyena have adapted to life in the desert. Spotted hyena live in the central and eastern regions, travelling in small groups where gemsbok, mountain zebra and occasionally Namib feral horses are taken. Black-backed jackals often scout the beaches in large groups for marine carrion, Cape fur seal pups and breeding birds. Brown hyena search for smaller items of food, usually alone and also take seal pups, eat insects and fruit as well gemsbok and springbok carcasses. Mountain zebra, chacma baboons, kudu, klipspringer, Cape fox, gerbils, steenbok and a healthy population of leopard are also resident.
 
 
Reptiles such as lizards and geckos, the sand snake and the side-winding adder inhabit this long, narrow wilderness. Smaller still are the scorpions, spiders, fishmoths and beetles that have adapted over centuries to survive in the dune dynamics of the desert. Insects use a swimming motion to travel through the sand beneath the surface, others dig burrows whilst certain adaptations such as shovel-snouts, protective eyelids and tubular nostrils allow other lizards to live below the surface.
 
Hiking around Naukluft Mountains is a very rewarding wildlife experience. As the mountains themselves touch the southern limits of Damaraland and the northern extremes of the Karoo, several bird species such as Herero chat, Karoo lark, Karoo scrub robin, cinnamon-breasted warbler, lesser honeyguide, pearl-spotted owlet, rockrunner, black-headed canary and Monteiro's hornbill can be found here. Namaqua sandgrouse gather in the morning at waterholes in their hundreds, the Karoo eremomela can be seen along the hilly areas of the escarpment and water in the rivers attract amongst other the rosy-faced lovebird. The riverine forests of the Swakop and Kuiseb Rivers entice pririt batis, swallow-tailed bee-eater and long-billed crombec.
 
Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert is the one attraction that should not be missed while you are in Namibia; the dunes are amazing and even though this is a popular tourist destination it is still easy to gain a sense of solitude while climbing one of the dunes or walking to Dead or Hidden Vlei. The Namib Desert section of the Namib-Naukluft Park also includes the Swakop and Kuiseb River Canyons.
 
Namib safari accommodation, especially in the vicinity of Sossusvlei, is plentiful and most lodges offer sumptuous living quarters, fine cuisine and expert guides. These guides will open up the secrets of the Namib Desert to you, bringing the world's oldest desert alive on game drives and interpretative walks. And of course no visit to the Namib Naukluft National Park would be complete without exploring the magisterial sand dunes of Sossusvlei, located at the heart of the park and providing sensational photographic opportunities.
Namibia

Damaraland

 

Damaraland is one of the most scenic areas in Namibia, a huge, untamed, ruggedly beautiful region that offers the more traveller a more adventurous challenge.Damaraland has a wild and rugged landscape and is one of Namibia’s least populated areas. Here there are prehistoric water courses with open plains and grassland, massive granite koppies and deep gorges. Towards the west, the geography changes dramatically with endless sandy wastes, that incredibly are able to sustain small, but wide-ranging, populations of desert-adapted elephant, black rhino, giraffe, ostrich and springbok. These animals have adapted their lifestyles to survive the harshness of the sun-blistered, almost waterless desert spaces. Elephant move through euphorbia bush country, and can travel up to 70km in a day in search of food and water and unusually, do not destroy trees in their quest for food. Follow black rhino cow and her calf in typical Damaraland 'melkbos' terrain. Together, Damaraland and Kaokoland are known as the Kaokoveld.
 
 
Damaraland is the old apartheid name given to the region south of Kaokoland and north of the main road to Swakopmund. It extends 200km inland from the desolate Skeleton Coast and 600km southwards from Kaokoland. The name Damaraland is derived from the fact that the Damara people live in this area (they were relocated here as a result of the Odendaal Plan in the 1960's). The name Damaraland is still commonly used in tourism circles, although the entire region has now been renamed; the southern section now lies in the Erongo region while the north forms part of the Kunene region.
 
The Brandberg 'the fire mountain' is named after the effect created by the setting of the sun on its western face, which causes the granite massif to resemble a burning slag heap glowing red. The Brandberg (and the Spitzkoppe) is a favourite place for climbers in Namibia, and both mountains contain a high density of San (Bushman) art. The main attraction at Twyfelfontein (doubtful spring) is its large gallery of rock art, one of the most extensive in Africa.
 
Two other well-known geological features close to Twyfelfontein are the Organ Pipes and the Burnt Mountain. The Organ Pipes are a distinctive series of dolerite pillars that have been exposed by erosion and can be viewed in the small gorge on the left hand side of the road leading to the Burnt Mountain. This flat-topped mountain derives its name from the piles of blackened limestone at its base.
 
The Spitzkoppe (sharp head) is one of Namibia's most recognizable landmarks. It's shape has inspired its nickname, The Matterhorn of Africa,' but the similarities begin and end with its sharp peak. It is actually the remnant of an ancient volcano, formed in the same way as the Brandberg and Erongo massifs. It was first climbed in 1946 and is now a popular climbing destination with local and foreign mountaineers alike, with plenty of technical climbs available.
 
In the caves and ravines of the area many prehistoric rock paintings have been found and none more famous than the 'White Lady' of the Brandberg. 
 
Wildlife of Damaraland
 
In Northern Damaraland there are thriving populations of wild game including gemsbok, kudu, springbok, Hartmann’s zebra, desert-adapted elephant and black rhino. Here, tracts of land have been designated ‘concession areas’. These areas are huge and villages are present but tourism is strictly limited. Operators work in conjunction with the local communities creating camps with local guides and where a proportion of all income goes straight to the community. They are excellent initiatives and give you the opportunity to explore the area with those who know it best.
 
 
As many of the camps in Damaraland are far from the roads and offer a number of activities we recommend you stay for at least three days. This will allow you to get the most out of the area and give you an excellent chance of finding the desertelephant.
Namibia

Dorob Park

Dorob Park:
With the declaration of the Dorob National Park on December 1, 2010, the last piece of the puzzle has finally been put in place, thus converting the total Namibian coastline of 1570 km  into the eighth largest protected area in the world and the largest park in Africa, called the Namib-Skeleton Coast National Park.

The Dorob National Park stretches from the Kuiseb Delta (south of Walvis Bay) northwards to the Ugab River; and westwards from the low water mark of the Atlantic Ocean towards the border of the previous National West Coast Tourist Recreation Area.

Being one of the most unique parks in the world, the Dorob National Park along the central Namibian coast caters for various leisure, tourism and sports activities while also providing for conservation measures and specific conservation areas.

Visitors to the Dorob National Park, can enjoy various leisure, sports and tourism activities in the park, but must familiarize themselves with and obey certain regulations, laws and rules set out to protect and preserve wild animal life, fisheries, wild plant life and objects of geological, archaeological, historical and other scientific interest and for the benefit and enjoyment of the inhabitants of Namibia. Therefore some activities in the Dorob National Park are allowed, while others are not.

Windhoek, Namibia

Ai-ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park:

Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park:
With the Orange River as its northern boundary and the adjoining Fish River Canyon Conservation Area in Namibia as its southern boundary the Park, measuring 6 045 km²,  spans some of the most spectacular scenery of the arid and desert environments in southern Africa.

This arid zone is characterised by a unique and impressive variety of succulent plant species and is part of the Succulent Karoo biodiversity hotspot. One outstanding example of such unique life forms is the psammophorous plants, i.e. plant species that are fixing a layer of sand to their surface in order to build a protective shelter against the force of sand storms and the related sand blasting.
 
It comprises the Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort  in Namibia, which is one of the areas top attractions. Ai-Ais means burning water in the Nama language.

The park is only accessible by means of a 4x4 vehicle, but vehicles with high clearances such as combi’s and LDV’s do travel in the park. Sedan vehicles are not permitted.

Windhoek, Namibia