Places in Namibia

Places in Namibia, Photo by Pichguin Dmitry

Namibia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world with only 1.8 million people occupying over 800,000 sq km. It is a land divided between old and new. While many places in Namibia still dwell in traditional homesteads, hunting and herding their livestock, the towns and cities have modern amenities and excellent infrastructure. Namibia is better off than many other countries in the region, particularly because of its diamond wealth, though the distribution of this wealth is not always fair. Namibia's government is forward thinking and efficient, health and education standards are far higher than in neighbouring countries, and there have been some very successful conservation projects in recent years.

Places in Namibia has more to offer than you could ever see on one trip. There is a staggering and ever-expanding array of destinations, activities, sightseeing and experiences, and it is becoming an increasingly accessible place to visit. Namibia's greatest attraction is the magnificent natural beauty not only of its game reserves and national parks, but also its remote and beautiful deserts and gravel plains. The towns too are worth a visit for the excellent shops and restaurants, and the opportunity to learn about some of Namibia's colonial history on display in the museums and reflected in the architecture. Adventure junkies will be well rewarded with the numerous adrenalin activities on offer such as quad biking through the dunes or sand boarding. Preparation for your trip should include careful research into which of the great range of activities and destinations you find most appealing. Your itinerary will also depend on whether you are more interested in a general cultural visit or a more wildlife-oriented trip, in which case you may prefer to skip places such as Swakopmund or L├╝deritz, and focus more on Etosha, Sossusvlei, the Naukluft Mountains and a private game lodge. Beware of setting yourself too ambitious an agenda as distances are significant and there is little in the way of public transport. Rather than cram in too much, try to arrange stops of two to four days in each location or region to fully appreciate what there is on offer; you can always return some time in the future. How you travel around Namibia has some influence on where you go. The best option for budget travellers is to either take a camping tour to the major highlights, or self- drive staying in the cheaper accommodation options and/or camping. For those with more cash to splash, flying between destinations affords the opportunity to really get away from it all at the remote luxury lodges and allows extra time to fit more in during your visit.

Wide open spaces

Around 60% of Namibia is semi-desert. To the east is the red sand of the Kalahari Desert; to the west lies the 80 million-year-old Namib, with its endless, seemingly lifeless sand dunes, its barren coastline and its uniquely adapted plants and animals, which survive on the life-nourishing fog that rolls inland off the cold Atlantic Ocean. Fish River Canyon in the south is Africa's second largest canyon, a 300-million-year-old gash in the earth forcing the river to wind tortuously
through the towering sandstone rocks. To the north are the stony, parched plains of Damaraland and Kaokoland, which harbour free-roaming rhino and elephant and some unusual rock formations. Also in this region is the fabulous Etosha National Park where a network of waterholes gives life to a staggering number of animals.

Adventure sports

Throughout Namibia, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, from the mountainous Naukluft Trail to the sandy, ephemeral Ugab River. If the sky is your thing, try ballooning, gliding or skydiving, followed by quad biking or sandboarding down a giant dune. On water there are leisurely canoe trips on the Zambezi and Orange rivers and whitewater rafting on the Kunene River. The cool Benguela Current creates a perfect breeding ground for big game fish and Namibia is popular for angling and deep-sea fishing. The Caprivi Strip is one of the world's top birdwatching spots, as well as being home to hippo, elephant and crocodile.
This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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