Namibia is a land of wonderful contrasts – the icy Benguela current sweeps up its western shore, home to an abundance of fish life. Ghostly fog floats from the shore to lie suspended over the brooding Namib Desert, providing much needed moisture to desert-adapted flora and fauna.
Further south, the ochre dunes of Sossusvlei- highest dunes in the world, cast a fiery glow at sunset against a cobalt sky. The Fish River Canyon, second in size only to the Grand Canyon, bears among its crevaces and strata secrets to bygone millennia. Windhoek, the capital is an attractive and bustling city, framed by the towering Auas and Eros Mountains.
The haunting Skeleton Coast hides shipwrecks in its misty waters and crumbling bones in its sandy shores, while the well-adapted desert elephants and rhinos roam the rocky hills of Damaraland and Kaokoveld further to the north. Revel in the game-rich Etosha Park or follow the meandering Zambezi and Chobe Rivers through the Caprivi Strip, home to glorious sunsets, vast elephant populations and honking hippos.
Namibia’s climate is typical of semi-desert terrain, hot days and cool nights. The coastal regions are cooled by the cold Benguela current, causing fog and inhibiting rainfall. Over the central plateau in the country which is higher up, temperatures are understandably lower.
With 300 days of sunshine on average per year, Namibia is truly a sunny place. Only during the summer months from November to February does rain occur, mostly as heavy thunderstorms. Then the usually dry riverbeds become saturated with torrents of muddy water in a very short time. It is during this time that the sun-scorched land comes to life and develops a colourful horizon to horizon floral carpet within a few days. The interior enjoys two rainy seasons: the short season is between October and December, marked by frequent thunderstorms. The longer season is from mid-January to April.
Summer is from October to April. Temperatures can reach 40o C which plummet at night to cool levels. Average daily temperatures range from 20 to 34o C. Winter is from May to September with wonderful warm days which are contrasted by very cold nights, when temperatures often drop to below freezing.Namibia enjoys an average of 300 sunny days a year and the main camps in Etosha National Park are open all year round. The best time for visiting the Namib desert is from May – September when temperatures are cooler – note however the nights can get cold. Swakopmund is a popular seaside resort especially over Christmas and Easter so advance bookings or avoiding those times should be considered. In the Fish River Canyon area some of the camps may close from November until mid-March mainly due to high temperatures.
The country has an abundance of animal species. Some of these species are rare to sight, given either their nature or limited population.
Sighting a “Black Zebra” in Etosha is spectacular given the fact that it is a genetic “kick-back” that causes their unique appearance.
Black Face Impala are only found in the North Western region of country. Other unique species to sight include Honey Badgers, Wild Dogs, Sable Antelope, Pangolins and desert dwelling moles.
Some species are not rare, although through unique adaptations they are unique in their own right. Some of these include desert-adapted elephants and giraffe. Desert river-dwelling lions and jackals that survive solely of nutrients gained from scavenging seal colonies at the Skeleton Coast.
Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Buffalo,
Cheetah, Leopard, Giraffe, Antelope
20 species of antelope
240 species of mammals (14 endemic)
250 species of reptiles
50 species of frogs
about 630 species of birds
Namibia has about 200 endemic plant species, 4,300 higher plant species and 422 grass species within the 14 vegetation zones, ranging from several variations of desert vegetation to semi-desert, mopane, mountain, thorn bush, highland, dwarf shrub, camel thorn and mixed tree and shrub savannahs and the forest savannahs and woodlands of the north east. A desert plant that has caused much interest amongst botanists worldwide is the living fossil, Welwitschia mirabilis, endemic to the Namib Desert and one of the oldest plants known to man. Lithops also known as Stone Flowers or Bushmens Buttocks are one of the many small succulents that hide in the arid regions, as well as sensitive Lichens.
Typical trees found in the north are:
Mopane, terminalia, marula, giant figs, baobabs, makalani palms and commercially exploitable timber species, Tamboti and Transvaal teak.
Common trees of the arid central and southern regions:
Kokerboom or quiver tree, Aloe dichotoma, Species of the Leadwood tree, Combretum imberbe and various species of Commiphora. Many of these species are perceived holy by local cultures.
Other plants like the Devel’s Claw and Hoodia are making medicinal break-throughs in the health industry.
Many spectacular species can only be seen when specific weather conditions persist in the arid regions, some of those species are unidentified or only seen in as much as fifteen year cycles.
120 species of trees
200 endemic plant species
100 species of lichen