Namibia is a country of compelling beauty, abundant sunshine, and a feeling of confined space. With its unspoilt landscapes and large variety of game, Namibia is one of the larger countries in Africa and draws an increasing number of visitors from various part so the globe
A sense of freedom is generated by the wide horizons, the clear unpollutted skies and a population density which is among the lowest in the world. This feeling of tranquility and stillness combines with a landscape which is singular in its colors, full of contrasts of light an shade. In addition, the diversity of its people creates a rich blend of cultures and traditions.
Namibia is known for its contrasting landscapes. There is the brooding, desolate Namib Desert, said to be the oldest in the world, with its high dunes and awe-inspiring sense of space. The central plateau, with its thronbush savanna and rugged mountains, rising abruptly from the plains, gives way to the majestic Fish River Canyon in the south. In the north the country, landscapes range from dense bush and open plains of the great Etosha Pan, to woodland savanna and lush riverine vegetation. Dinosaur footprints preserved in the sandstone, prehistoric rock art, and the ancient fossil plant, Welwitschia mirabillis, bear witness to the eons past in this- “the ageless land”.
All these facets combine in a country which can justifiably be called ‘Africa’s Gem’.
Namibia is the first country in the world to include protection of the environment and sustainable utilization of wildlife in its constitution. About 15.5% of the country has been set aside as national parks. In these areas, rare and endangered species of animals, birds and plant life are preserved and protected. They serve as a living reminder to us all, and to the generations of the future, of how it once was in Africa.
Most of the African game species are well represented in Namibia, with the largest concentration of game in Etosha National Park, which is firmly entrenched on the world map of international parks. Etosha provides memorable experiences. A waterhole at dawn with a medley of giraffe, zebra, rhino, graceful antelopes and a solitary hyena is like a finely etched painting of African wildlife.
Wilderness and modern amenities co-exist happily in this land of vivid contrasts. Visitors to Namibia can see the country by means of comfortable coach tours, fly-in safaris, self-drive tours, or guided tours tailored to suit individual needs.
For the more adventurous, there are wilderness safaris and hiking trails.
A large number of comfortable guest farms are found all over the country, where guests share the table with their hosts, and you are assured of personal attention, typical Namibian hospitality, and its people. Privately owned games ranches offer controlled, professional services to trophy and meat hunters. Photographic safaris can also be arranged.
In Namibia, not only hotels, but all other accommodation establishments including rest camps, caravan parks, private hotels, guest farms and safaris companies, are graded according to the services offered. Regular inspections to ensure that each establishment complies with expected standards are carried out by official from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
The Central Region is dominated by Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, a mall bustling city with an estimated population of 280 000 (based on the 2001 census). Situated in an airy basin in the central highlands, Windhoek is surrounded by the Auas Mountains to the south east, the Eros Mountains to the north east and the Khomas Hochland to the west.
There are several recreation resorts and guest farms close enough to Windhoek for day and weekend excursions. These include the Daan Viljoen Game park, Gross-Barmen Hot Springs Resort, Von Bach Recreation Resort 65 km to the north of B1 to Okahandja and a popular venue for aquatic sports and fresh water angling enthusiast, and the Reho Spa Recreation Resort in Rehoboth, 90 km on the B1 south of the city.
Guest farms close enough to Windhoek to offer visitors short on time the opportunity to gain a “bush experience” in the space of a day or two include Okapuka Ranch, 30 km to the north; Midgard Guest Farm, a hour’s drive to the north east; and Elisenheim Guest Farm in the Eros Mountains 15km north of /Windhoek. For 4 x 4 enthusiast the Okahandja 4×4 Route, starts our 30 km north of Windhoek.
Southern Region spans two famous deserts – the Kalahari in the east and the Namib in the west – with rugged, mountainous terrain in between, This arid region of colorful sands and sunsets has a close to the soul charm, as the traveler along the back roads will experience when driving pas locals going about their business in donkey carts, the landscape punctuated by the odd windmill pumping water into concrete or corrugated iron reservoirs.
The main agricultural activity in the south is karakul farming, an industry that developed rapidly farming, an industry that developed rapidly after the first karakul sheep were brought to Namibia from Central Asia in 1907. Today karakul pelts, known as Swakara, are fashioned into high-quality garments by international and local furriers, and the durable karakul wool is used for weaving carpets with unusual designs and color combinations. Ostrich farming, for which the south is highly suitable, has expanded tremendously in recent years.
Because of the rugged terrain and pristine beauty of the grassy plains and mountainous areas, the south is sought after by 4×4 enthusiast.
Main Tourist Attractions in the southern region included the Soussusvlei, with its monumental dunes. The Sesriem Canyon, were centuries of erosion have incised a narrow gorge about 1 km in length. The Fish River Canyon, one of Namibia’s most spectacular geological phenomena and on the African continent, second in size only to the Blue Nile Gorge in Ethiopia. Hardap Recreation Resort is one of Namibia’s oldest and most extensive rest camps. Duwisib Castle built by the legendary Baron von Wolf for his American wife, Jayta, the castle was completed in 1909. There are more attraction in Lüdertiz and surrounding areas which include beaches, bays and birds including the Lüdertiz Waterfront. In Keetmanshop we find the Eagle’s Monument in the Garden of Remembrance, Brukkaros Mountain, Quiver Tree Forest & Giant’s playground.
The definitive feature of this region, the Namib Desert, is knonwn for the unusual beauty of its landscape, which changes from expansive gravel plains to vast dune seas, rugged canyons with towering walls of volcanic rock and distant mountain ranges. The Namib Region consists of the coastal desert between the Kunene River and Sandwich Harbor, the adjoining Kunene and Erongo regions and the northern section of the Namib-Naukluft Park.
The coast and its hinterland afford many opportunities or sport, angling and other recreational activities. Accommodation ranges from tented camps, desert lodges and seaside rest camps, to comfortable pensions and luxury hotels. Annual highlights at the cost are the yacht race and regatta for wind-surfers, coastal adventure cruises to Lüderitz, and the triathlon in December between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. A marathon is run in mid-October, when runners take on the stretch of desert between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund.
Namibia’s Northern Region extends from the sparsely populated Kunene Region in the west across the four densely populated regions of Owambo, to the aquatic and species-rich habitats of the far north east with their densely populated communities of subsistence farmers. Large herds of game including Africa’s Big Five can be seen in the Estosha National Park and Waterberg Plateau Park, as well as in the lush riverine forests and seasonal flood plains of west and eastern Caprivi and Kavango.
Accommodation options in this region range from luxury river lodges, tented camps, basic trail camps and rustic reed and thatch huts, to guest farms and comfortable chalets in rest camps with all the necessary amenities. The larger towns offer a choice of hotels and caravan parks. Locals and visitors are asked to show consideration towards the inhabitants and wildlife in these densely populated areas by not camping too close to settlements and waterholes.
National Reserves and Game Parks
Namibia’s national reserves and game parks are owned by Government and managed on its behalf by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
1. Mahango Game Reserve:
- Found on the perennial Okavango river.
- Significant to it are the riverine forests, flood plain, baobabs, herds of elephants, red lechwe, over 400 bird species.
- Visitors should exercise caution as there are crocodiles and hippos in the river.
2. Caprivi Game Park:
- Found between Angola and Botswana, extends about 180km from the Okavango River in the west to the Kwando River in the east.
- Significant to it are the woodlands dominated by trees e.g. wild seringa, copalwood, Zambezi teak, wild teak, sanctuary to 35 small game species, elephant, roan, kudu, buffalo and 339 bird species.
- Visitors with small vehicles might not see many of these animals, as the terrain is extremely sandy, however there are 4X4 tourist tracks along the western bank of the Kwando River.
3. Mudumu National Park:
- Found in Eastern Caprivi, an expanse of dense savannah and mopane woodlands with the Kwando river as its western border.
- Significant to it are small populations of sitatunga and red lechwe, and spotted necked otter, hippo and crocodiles in the waterways.
- Other animals found here are elephant, buffalo, roas antelope, kudu, impala and Burchells zebra as well as 430 bird species.
4. Mamili National Park:
- The area has the largest wetland area with reed beds, oxbow lakes and tree-covered islands and two large islands in the Kwando/Linyanti River.
- Same bird and animal species occur as in Mudumu National Park.
- Visitors have to be completely self-sufficient in terms of water, food, fuel, etc no facilities are provide at the campsites.
5. Khaudum Game Park:
- Found in the north east of the country bordering on Botswana.
- Densely wooded wilderness that harbours several big game species e.g. elephant, giraffe, lion, leopard, hyena, jackal and African wild dogs and about 320 bird species
- 4×4 vehicles are available to visitors but fuel is only available at Bagani, Divundu, Mukwe and Rundu in the Kavango region.
6. Mangetti Game Reserve:
- Found in the Kavango Region
- Area is used for game breeding by the Ministry
- Excess Game is captured and translocated from other reserves like Daan Viljoen Game Park andHardap Game Reserve to Mangetti
7. Etosha National Park:
- One of the largest game reserves in Africa
- Significant to it is the Etosha Pan, the area that makes Etosha game viewing experience unique.
- 114 Mammals species are found, several are rare and endangered e.g. rhino, cheetah and black-faced impala.
- Etosha’s elephants are the largest in Africa. The tallest measure up to 4m. Blue wildebeest, zebra, hyena, lions, cheetah, leopard, giraffe, antelope species and about 340 bird species are also found in the area.
- The area has about 30 springs and waterholes that provide excellent game viewing and photographic opportunities.
- Visitors should approach and depart from waterholes slowly and with little noise so as not to disturb the game.
8. Skeleton Coast Park:
- The long stretch of coast north of Swakopmund.
- Significant to it is the colour, changing moods and untouched profile of its landscape. The dense coastal fogs and cold sea breeze caused by the cold Benguela Currrent. Clay castles, the salt pans near the Agate Mountain and the seal colony at Cape Frio.
- Animals found are gemsbok, springbok, jackal, ostrich and hyena, while desert-adapted elephant, black rhino, lion and giraffe roam up and down the dry river courses.
9. Cape Cross Seal Reserve:
- Situated about 130 km north of Swakopmund.
- Significant to it is the Arctocephalus pusillus, the largest of the world’s nine fur seals species. During November/December breeding season as many as 150 000 of these animals gather at Cape Cross.
- It was here that a Portuguese navigator, Diego Cao erected a stone cross in 1486.
10. National West Coast Recreation Area
- This is the 200km stretch of coastline between the Swakop and Ugab rivers.
- The lichen fields are found here extensively. They depend on coastal fog for survival, are extremely slow growing and are destroyed when vehicles drive over them.
- Visitors are cautioned that off road driving is not allowed in the National West Coast Recreation Area.
- Along the coast at Mile 14, 72, 108 and Jakkalsputz are campsites providing basic amenities for anglers.
11. Waterberg Plateau Park
- The park is situated 60km east of Otjiwarongo and 300km north east of Windhoek.
- The park is home for about 25 game and over 200 bird species.
- Vegetation changes dramatically from acacia savannah at the foot of the plateau to lush-green sub-tropical dry woodland with tall trees and grassy plains at the top.
12. Von Bach Game Reserve
- This reserve is situated 3.5 km south of Okahandja and extends over an area of 43 km.
- This has become a popular venue for aquatic sports e.g. water skiing, yachting, wind surfing and boating.
- Visitors can explore the surrounding nature reserve on foot however game viewing opportunities are limited.
13. Daan Viljoen Game Park
- Situated in the rolling hills of the Khomas Hochland.
- It is a small park (3,953ha) but home to a relative large population of game species such as kudu, springbok, gemsbok, eland, red hartebeest, hartmanns mountain zebra, blue wildebeest, baboon, klipspringer, steenbok and rock dassie. Ideal for viewing at sunset.
- Interresting species to look out for are Ruppell’s parrot Monteiro’s hornbill, Carp’s tit, Rockrunner and Whitetailed shrike.
14. Hardap Game Park
- With the capacity of 323 million m3 and a surface area of 25km, Hardap is Namibia’s largest dam.
- The reserve is divided by the dam into a norther andwouthern section and the largest game concentration is found in the southern section. The game to be seen in this area are kudu, gemsbok, springbok, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, red hartebeest and steenbok.
- The dam is home to one of Namibia’s three largest colonies of white pelicans. Pnback pelicans, greater flamingos, white breasted and reed cormorants, darters, African spoonbills, osprey and African fish eagles are also found in this ares.
15. Namib-Naukluft Park
- This is one of the Country’s major tourist destinations. The vast wilderness of almost 50 000 km contain key features uch as Sossusvlei, Sesriem, the Welwitschia Trail, Sandwich Harbour, the Naukluft Mountains and the Kuiseb Canyon.
16. Naute Recreation Resort
- Situated 50 km south west of Keetmanshoop
- Namibia’s third largest cam is found here. It is surrounded by flat-topped ridges and large rust-coloured boulders.
- Tarea harbours a variety of birds, including aquatic species, has a peace full atmosphere and appeals especially to fresh-water anglers and watersports enthusiasts, although as yet there are no facilities here other than rudimentary picnic sites.
17. Fish River Canyon Park
- The Fish River Canyon Park including the Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort and Huns Mountains are incorporated into one conservation area. The Huns Mountains section is not yet open to the public.
- This is the second largest natural gorge in Africa.
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