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Namibia

Introduction:

Namibia is a vast country in the South-Western part of Southern Africa, also known as the smile on the face of Africa. It is dominated by the Namib Desert, an extensive inland plateau and stunning mountain ranges.

More Info:

General Information

Geography - Environment

History, Culture and Politics

Useful Information

Country Hotspots

General Information - Namibia Travel

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By its very definition Namibian safaris are off the beaten track, with a surface area that is four times the size of the UK and just over two million people, Namibia is the second most sparsely populated country on Earth.

The Namibian landscape varies from vast expanses of desert and sand dunes to rock formations in the south, contrasting starkly to the savannah and woodlands of the central regions and the lush and forested scenery of the northeast. This makes a real treat for the nature enthusiasts who tour in Namibia. The Brandberg with a height of 2 579 meters in the southern Kunene Region is Namibia's highest mountain, while the Fish River Canyon in the far south is the second largest canyon on earth. Namibia is also home to the 8th largest protected area in the World, the largest underground lake in the world and was the first country on Earth to include nature conservation into its constitution.

Namibia is a melting pot of cultures and peoples, with 28 languages spoken; English being the national language. Namibia is a safe destination with a wide network of roads which are well maintained and demarcated – with a wide variety of lodges to suite every pocket. Hence, a holiday in Namibia is a fantastic opportunity for self-drive, but also a destination for every taste.

Enjoy Namibian Tours in the Oldest Desert in the World

Namibia is bordered by South Africa in the south, Angola and Zambia in the north and Botswana and Zimbabwe in the east; while the Western border of Namibia is 1,300km of seemingly desolate coastline, from the Orange River in the south to the Kunene River in the North. The Namib Desert, meaning “vast place” in the local Nama language is where the country takes its name and is the oldest desert in the World, with reputedly some of the highest sand dunes on Earth. For some this is the main highlight of their Namibian tours.

The local currency is the Namibian Dollar, which is pegged to the South African Rand. The South African Rand is legal tender in Namibia which makes changing money prior to arrival much easier for visitors.

Namibia offers a diverse range of highlights; from the lush northern Caprivi Strip and the wildlife of Etosha National Park to the vast Namib Desert and the desolate Skeleton Coast, Namibian safaris have something for everyone.

Geography - Environment

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Namibia stretches along Africa's west coast and covers a total land area of 824,290 sq km. It is bordered by Angola and Zambia in the north, Botswana in the east and South Africa in the south. Although the majority of the country is very arid, there is much variety to explore during a safari in Namibia from the dune fields and coastal desert plains in the west to the 1660m high central escarpment, the densely wooded bushveld in the north and the lush, green Caprivi Strip.

The coastal region receives only 15 to 100mm of rain per year.

The long, narrow Namib desert from which the country derives its' name, stretches 2,000km from the Oliphants River in South Africa to San Nicolau in Angola. Hence, the entire coastal strip of Namibia falls within the realms of the Namib Desert.

The climate is arid with a usually brief rainy season between October and March. The desert days are extremely hot with summer temperatures reaching into the 40's centigrade and sometimes higher. Nights are, conversely, very cold and warm clothes are needed in the early morning during your Namibian holidays. A major factor in the shaping of Namibia's environment, flora and fauna has been the cold Benguela current which flows south to north off the coast, up from the Antarctic.

The cold waters reach the coastline and meet warm, offshore winds to create a fog belt which condenses on land. For some this creates a scenery that will become a part of their memories of Namibia Holidays. This moisture sustains many varied and fascinating species of plant and animal including the toktokkie beetle which has an interesting method of gathering the water from the condensing fog. The beetle stands with its' behind raised in the air and waits for the fog droplets to condense on its carapace and flow into its mouth! Such unusual forms of plant and insect life form the basis of a surprisingly rich and varied desert food chain.

The mountainous red dunes of the coastal desert give way to gravel plains as the altitude rises inland. The width of the coastal plain varies; in Luderitz it is almost 300km wide whereas it is almost none existent in the Kaokoveld area to the north where the mountains reach almost to the sea. The Namib itself is criss-crossed by many dry riverbeds leading the way from the mountainous highlands to the coast, most of these rarely carry water although some will flood briefly in years of high rainfall.

Millions of years ago, however, these river beds carried huge volumes of water and were responsible for carving out spectacular canyons such as the famous Fish River Canyon in the south of the country, great for hiking safaris as a part of your holiday in Namibia. The inland landscape boasts chains of dramatic mountains and inselbergs. Some of these are volcanic with caves and rock shelters where remains of ancient human habitation have been found.

The desert vegetation consists of many drought resistant species such as the nama melon, various lichens and some stunted acacias. Desert species give way to savanna grassland near the central escarpment which is dominated by Stipagrostis, Eragrostis and Aristida species. Areas of aloe plants, euphorbias and quiver trees are found in the south and buffalo and camel thorn acacias grow along watercourses. The Caprivi Strip is characterised by Mopane woodlands, acacia belts and grasslands as well as reed-beds near the rivers.

Discover the Fastest Animal on Earth on your Namibian Holidays

The wide variety of vegetation across the country supports an equally staggering array of insect, bird and animal life creating fantastic photographic opportunities during the safari in Namibia. The "big five" rhino, elephant, buffalo, leopard and lion are represented across the country, and in addition approximately 20% of the world's cheetah population is found in Namibia.

The bird life is equally prolific with many water birds supported by the rich fish stocks and several hundred land based species present throughout the country. Namibia is home to the worlds' largest bird, the ostrich, as well as the worlds' heaviest flying bird, the Kori bustard.

History, Culture and Politics

You will be able to grasp the country and its people when you know the history and the earliest inhabitants of Namibia were the San, also known as bushmen, a small number of whose descendants still survive in remote areas of the country living a traditional, nomadic lifestyle which you may have the chance to witness in your trips in Namibia. Initially the San lived in widespread groups of low population density, moving around frequently. They were always incredibly well adapted to their harsh environment, and the many skills which have been passed down through the generations are still relied upon today in a few of their remote settlements.

Over time the San came under pressure from Khoi-Khoi (Hottentot) groups, ancestors of the present day Nama tribes, who are thought to have moved into Namibia from the south. The Khoi-Khoi relied on raising cattle rather than hunting for survival, and they were probably responsible for making the oldest pottery fragments found in the archaeological record. Many of the San were absorbed into the Khoi-Khoi way of life, and latter references are made to the 'KhoiSan' people, an amalgamation of the two original tribes.

Bantu tribes arrived in Namibia around 2,300 years ago, bringing with them the first tribal structures in Southern African societies. The majority of the KhoiSan retreated further into the desert or to Botswana, those who remained in the more accessible areas of the country risked enslavement by the Bantu tribes. Around 1600AD Bantu speaking cattle raisers from the Zambezi occupied the North and West of Namibia, these people were known as the Herero tribe. There followed conflicts with the KhoiSan for the best grazing land and water holes. Most of the KhoiSan and the Damara people (whose origins are unknown) were displaced and only a few remained to hold out against the Herero.

By the 1870's a new Bantu group, the Wambo, probably descended from East African migrants, had settled in the North of Namibia along the Kunene and Okavango Rivers. The Wambo now constitute the largest tribal group in Namibia.

The first European visitors to Namibia were the Portuguese. Initially the coast of Namibia was largely ignored. Further exploratory voyages occurred during the 1600's, but these were based out of Dutch colonies in the Cape. The first white explorer to travel overland from the Cape across the Orange River to Namibia was a Dutch elephant hunter in 1750.

He was swiftly followed by a progression of traders, hunters and missionaries. The Cape colony government then decided to put the ports of Angra Pequena (the present day Luderitz) and Walvis Bay under their 'protection' as they perceived a threat from British, American and French colonisers and obviously saw the value of these ports. The ubiquitous missions began to spring up around 1805 with stations established in Windhoek, Rehoboth and Keetmanshoop towards the middle of the century.

It was around this time that Britain began to take an interest in the more lucrative areas of Namibia and in 1867 the country annexed the guano islands off the coast of Angra Pequena in order to exploit the guano for fertiliser.

Walvis Bay and the surrounding area was also annexed by Britain in 1878 as the only deep water port in the country. Britain subsequently took a prominent role in maintaining law and order in the KhoiSan/ Herero wars. Although at this point Namibia had a number of colonial influences, it was Germany that finally emerged as the dominant power. In 1883 a German merchant named Adolf Luderitz bought the port of Angra Pequena from a Nama chief, and the town was subsequently named after him. Namibia was put under German protection in 1884 following conflict between Germany and Britain and the boundaries were finally agreed in 1890 between the British in neighbouring Becuanaland (Botswana), the Portugese in Angola and the Germans.

The German take over was facilitated by a colonial company, a similar procedure to that of the British in India. Unfortunately this company was unable to maintain law and order among the many different tribes and colonial influences, and the first German troops arrived in Namibia in the 1890's. They built elaborate forts which can still be seen across the country.

Between the 1890's and the First World War, the German Reich took over all of the Khoi and Herero land and demolished most of their tribal structures. During this time the majority of the arable land was taken over and distributed among German settlers.

During World War One South Africa was pressurised by Britain to take Namibia over from Germany, and an invasion was eventually effected in 1914. German troops were pressed northwards until their defeat at Khorab in 1915. In 1921 a League of Nations mandate was signed which gave power to South Africa and many of the German farms were sold to Afrikaans settlers. During this time the Bantu tribes were subjected to territorial demarcation similar to the South African 'homelands' policy. This remained in place until independence in 1990.

South Africa maintained control over Namibia despite growing international pressure from 1950 onwards. The rich mineral deposits and the countries strategic importance was enough incentive for the colonists to hold onto power for as long as possible. Towards the 1970's however, many other African countries had gained independence and the struggle for Namibia was gaining momentum. During this time the first conference involving all of Namibia's eleven ethnic groups gathered.

Attempts at self-government began in the 1980's with a Multiparty Conference and the Transitional Government of National Unity being established in 1985. The South African government remained responsible for foreign affairs and defence. A huge South African military presence involved itself in a messy bush war against the SWAPO "terrorists" who based themselves just across the border in Angola with the backing of Cuban forces.

An end to this futile war was reached on April 1st 1989 with Cuban forces agreeing to pull out of Angola in return for the granting of independence to Namibia from the South African government. Full independence was achieved on 21st March 1990 under UN supervision, and the government has remained SWAPO dominated ever since.

Today, Namibia's population numbers around 1.7 million with approximately 25% living in urban areas. The growth rate is around 3% and 44% of the population are under 14 years old. Life expectancy is now 41 years for men and 40 years for women. Around half of Namibia's population are reliant on agriculture for their living, much of this at a subsistence level. With the country being dominated by desert, the country's carrying capacity is close to being reached, even taking into account the tiny population! Windhoek is the capital city, and is situated conveniently almost in the geographical centre of the country. Windhoek is home to the Supreme Court, parliament buildings, international airport, museums and art galleries.

The Namibian head of state is president, Hifikepunye Pohamba, who was elected by popular vote on 21 March 2005. The government is headed by the prime minister, who, together with his cabinet, is appointed by the president. SWAPO, the primary force behind independence is still currently the country's largest party.

The main opposition party is the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) which is a moderate, 11 party alliance. Thus far the government has remained stable and elections based on universal franchise are held every five years. The Namibian legal system is based on the Roman-Dutch rule of law, and the constitution was drawn up for independence with UN recommendations in 1990.

Despite the lack of water and local fuel sources, Namibia is still a very prosperous African country. The main reasons for this success have been a constant effort to attract foreign investment and a reasonably sensible approach to the exploitation of natural resources.

The mainstays of the economy are mining (mainly diamonds and uranium), agriculture (cattle and karakul sheep), fishing and tourism. Your holiday to Namibia is directly impacting on its economy since tourism has now overtaken fishing in terms of revenue earnings. The high quality diamond deposits are found in alluvial sands and gravels and are mainly extracted by strip mining. In addition to uranium and diamonds, Namibia also has reserves of lithium, germanium, silver, vanadium, tin, copper, lead and zinc.

Commercial farming is mostly carried out in the central and southern areas of the country. Subsistence farming occurs widely in the higher rainfall areas of the north. Over the years the commercial emphasis has shifted from cattle to game ranching, this is due to the high incidence of drought and the fact that game animals are infinitely better able to cope with these harsh conditions than cattle. Many benefits can be seen in this approach; the main one being that habitats are able to return slowly to an ecological equilibrium much closer to the natural state. Indigenous game animals also exert a lot less grazing pressure on the land due to their varied diet.

The Benguela current is responsible for the rich fishing waters off the coast of Namibia. The cold waters swelling up from the Antarctic are rich in plankton and sustain plentiful shoals of anchovy, pilchard and mackerel as well as the larger tuna and swordfish and rock lobster and oysters. Hence a platter of ocean fresh sea food platter is something not to be missed during your vacation in Namibia.

History, Culture and Politics

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The earliest inhabitants of Namibia were the San, also known as bushmen, a small number of whose descendants still survive in remote areas of the country living a traditional, nomadic lifestyle. Initially the San lived in widespread groups of low population density, moving around frequently. They were always incredibly well adapted to their harsh environment, and the many skills which have been passed down through the generations are still relied upon today in a few of their remote settlements.

Over time the San came under pressure from Khoi-Khoi (Hottentot) groups, ancestors of the present day Nama tribes, who are thought to have moved into Namibia from the south. The Khoi-Khoi relied on raising cattle rather than hunting for survival, and they were probably responsible for making the oldest pottery fragments found in the archaeological record. Many of the San were absorbed into the Khoi-Khoi way of life, and latter references are made to the 'KhoiSan' people, an amalgamation of the two original tribes.

Bantu tribes arrived in Namibia around 2,300 years ago, bringing with them the first tribal structures in Southern African societies. The majority of the KhoiSan retreated further into the desert or to Botswana, those who remained in the more accessible areas of the country risked enslavement by the Bantu tribes. Around 1600AD Bantu speaking cattle raisers from the Zambezi occupied the North and West of Namibia, these people were known as the Herero tribe. There followed conflicts with the KhoiSan for the best grazing land and water holes. Most of the KhoiSan and the Damara people (whose origins are unknown) were displaced and only a few remained to hold out against the Herero.

By the 1870's a new Bantu group, the Wambo, probably descended from East African migrants, had settled in the North of Namibia along the Kunene and Okavango Rivers. The Wambo now constitute the largest tribal group in Namibia.

The first European visitors to Namibia were the Portuguese. Initially the coast of Namibia was largely ignored. Further exploratory voyages occurred during the 1600's, but these were based out of Dutch colonies in the Cape. The first white explorer to travel overland from the Cape across the Orange River to Namibia was a Dutch elephant hunter in 1750.

He was swiftly followed by a progression of traders, hunters and missionaries. The Cape colony government then decided to put the ports of Angra Pequena (the present day Luderitz) and Walvis Bay under their 'protection' as they perceived a threat from British, American and French colonisers and obviously saw the value of these ports. The ubiquitous missions began to spring up around 1805 with stations established in Windhoek, Rehoboth and Keetmanshoop towards the middle of the century.

It was around this time that Britain began to take an interest in the more lucrative areas of Namibia and in 1867 the country annexed the guano islands off the coast of Angra Pequena in order to exploit the guano for fertiliser.

Walvis Bay and the surrounding area was also annexed by Britain in 1878 as the only deep water port in the country. Britain subsequently took a prominent role in maintaining law and order in the KhoiSan/ Herero wars. Although at this point Namibia had a number of colonial influences, it was Germany that finally emerged as the dominant power. In 1883 a German merchant named Adolf Luderitz bought the port of Angra Pequena from a Nama chief, and the town was subsequently named after him. Namibia was put under German protection in 1884 following conflict between Germany and Britain and the boundaries were finally agreed in 1890 between the British in neighbouring Becuanaland (Botswana), the Portugese in Angola and the Germans.

The German take over was facilitated by a colonial company, a similar procedure to that of the British in India. Unfortunately this company was unable to maintain law and order among the many different tribes and colonial influences, and the first German troops arrived in Namibia in the 1890's. They built elaborate forts which can still be seen across the country.

Between the 1890's and the First World War, the German Reich took over all of the Khoi and Herero land and demolished most of their tribal structures. During this time the majority of the arable land was taken over and distributed among German settlers.

During World War One South Africa was pressurised by Britain to take Namibia over from Germany, and an invasion was eventually effected in 1914. German troops were pressed northwards until their defeat at Khorab in 1915. In 1921 a League of Nations mandate was signed which gave power to South Africa and many of the German farms were sold to Afrikaans settlers. During this time the Bantu tribes were subjected to territorial demarcation similar to the South African 'homelands' policy. This remained in place until independence in 1990.

South Africa maintained control over Namibia despite growing international pressure from 1950 onwards. The rich mineral deposits and the countries strategic importance was enough incentive for the colonists to hold onto power for as long as possible. Towards the 1970's however, many other African countries had gained independence and the struggle for Namibia was gaining momentum. During this time the first conference involving all of Namibia's eleven ethnic groups gathered.

Attempts at self-government began in the 1980's with a Multiparty Conference and the Transitional Government of National Unity being established in 1985. The South African government remained responsible for foreign affairs and defence. A huge South African military presence involved itself in a messy bush war against the SWAPO "terrorists" who based themselves just across the border in Angola with the backing of Cuban forces.

An end to this futile war was reached on April 1st 1989 with Cuban forces agreeing to pull out of Angola in return for the granting of independence to Namibia from the South African government. Full independence was achieved on 21st March 1990 under UN supervision, and the government has remained SWAPO dominated ever since.

Today, Namibia's population numbers around 1.7 million with approximately 25% living in urban areas. The growth rate is around 3% and 44% of the population are under 14 years old. Life expectancy is now 41 years for men and 40 years for women. Around half of Namibia's population are reliant on agriculture for their living, much of this at a subsistence level. With the country being dominated by desert, the country's carrying capacity is close to being reached, even taking into account the tiny population! Windhoek is the capital city, and is situated conveniently almost in the geographical centre of the country. Windhoek is home to the Supreme Court, parliament buildings, international airport, museums and art galleries.

The Namibian head of state is president, Hifikepunye Pohamba, who was elected by popular vote on 21 March 2005. The government is headed by the prime minister, who, together with his cabinet, is appointed by the president. SWAPO, the primary force behind independence is still currently the country's largest party.

The main opposition party is the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) which is a moderate, 11 party alliance. Thus far the government has remained stable and elections based on universal franchise are held every five years. The Namibian legal system is based on the Roman-Dutch rule of law, and the constitution was drawn up for independence with UN recommendations in 1990.

Despite the lack of water and local fuel sources, Namibia is still a very prosperous African country. The main reasons for this success have been a constant effort to attract foreign investment and a reasonably sensible approach to the exploitation of natural resources.

The mainstays of the economy are mining (mainly diamonds and uranium), agriculture (cattle and karakul sheep), fishing and tourism. Tourism has now overtaken fishing in terms of revenue earnings. The high quality diamond deposits are found in alluvial sands and gravels and are mainly extracted by strip mining. In addition to uranium and diamonds, Namibia also has reserves of lithium, germanium, silver, vanadium, tin, copper, lead and zinc.

Commercial farming is mostly carried out in the central and southern areas of the country. Subsistence farming occurs widely in the higher rainfall areas of the north. Over the years the commercial emphasis has shifted from cattle to game ranching, this is due to the high incidence of drought and the fact that game animals are infinitely better able to cope with these harsh conditions than cattle. Many benefits can be seen in this approach; the main one being that habitats are able to return slowly to an ecological equilibrium much closer to the natural state. Indigenous game animals also exert a lot less grazing pressure on the land due to their varied diet.

The Benguela current is responsible for the rich fishing waters off the coast of Namibia. The cold waters swelling up from the Antarctic are rich in plankton and sustain plentiful shoals of anchovy, pilchard and mackerel as well as the larger tuna and swordfish and rock lobster and oysters.

Useful Information

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  • [?]Health & Malaria

    The north of Namibia (Etosha National Park and the Caprivi Strip) is a malaria area and recommended prophylaxis should be taken. The remainder of the country poses practically no risk. Your doctor can advise you on the best type for the area of travel and your personal requirements. However, taking prophylaxis will not guarantee that you will not contract malaria! The best way to avoid malaria is to avoid being bitten by the mosquitoes that carry the parasite. Only the females of one species of mosquito (Anopheles ) carry the tiny parasite, and the greatest incidence of malaria is in areas of high population where there are many people for the mosquito to bite and pass the parasite between.

    Mosquitoes usually bite between sunset and sunrise, so make sure that you are covered up during this time! Wear loose fitting, long sleeved shirts and trousers, use a good insect repellent and sleep underneath a mosquito net or in a tent/ room sealed with netting. If you do develop flu-like symptoms, or feel at all unwell, during your holiday or after your return home, you must make sure that your doctor knows that you have recently travelled in a malaria area. Malaria is not a serious problem provided people take adequate precautions and seek advice and treatment immediately if they feel unwell.

    Namibia's major private hospitals are of a good standard with clean and safe facilities. However, serious medical cases will be evacuated by air to South Africa where further facilities are available. For this reason you must make sure that comprehensive travel insurance is taken out before you travel, this insurance should cover any medical expenses, air evacuation and repatriation if necessary.

  • [?]Water

    The water is safe to drink throughout the majority of Namibia. When visiting the remote areas purification tablets should be used, or bottled mineral water bought en-route. Plenty of water must be drunk to prevent dehydration. We recommend 2-3 litres minimum, excluding beverages such as tea, coffee, juice and alcohol. Dehydration is responsible for many emergency evacuations and can cause very serious problems, it is totally avoidable, so don't let this spoil your holiday!

  • [?]Climate

    Rainy season: Late October to late March. Rainfall does not usually occur every day, and generally takes place in the afternoon with mornings being fairly clear.

    Summer: November to March with a high of 40° C and a low of 17° C.

    Winter: June to September with a high of 18° C and a low of 5° C.

    There is no "best time" to visit Namibia as the different seasons all offer completely different experiences! However, you may like to consider the following when planning your trip:

    Season Summer rainy season (November to March)

    Pros: Quieter tourism period, lush green landscape, fantastic migrating birds, beautiful sunsets and stunning views of electrical storms

    Cons: Wildlife is more spread out, very warm temperatures; activities may be interrupted by rain.

    Season Winter dry season (June to September)

    Pros: Higher chances of excellent game viewing, cooler, few mosquitoes in the north.

    Cons: Busiest tourism period, cold mornings and evenings, drier environment.

    Our personal preference would be for either March-May or early November as these times are neither too hot nor too cool and the accommodation establishments are generally quieter. At both times of year the wildlife is usually very exciting and the heat is not extreme. The coastal weather is unpredictable, and this area is blanketed with fog for up to 9 months of the year! However, during summer this can provide a welcome respite from the desert heat.

  • [?]Photography

    Bring plenty of memory cards and a spare camera battery as these items may not be available in some of the more remote areas of Namibia. A good zoom lens (minimum 200 mm) is essential for wildlife photography.

  • [?]Clothing

    Neutral, muted colours such as khaki, dark green or beige ensure as little disturbance to wildlife as possible whilst on game drives or walks. White or bright colours are not advised and army camouflage uniforms or army hats are not recommended.

  • [?]Recommended Packing

    Neutral coloured casual clothing (shorts/shirts) for everyday wear, stout shoes (with soles thick enough to protect against thorns and for walking), light waterproof jacket for summer, warm jumper/ fleece for winter, warm long trousers for winter, two sets of good casual clothes for evening dining where appropriate, towel, broad brimmed hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, camera, plenty of memory cards & spare battery, binoculars, reliable torch, sleeping bag if camping. It is also worth noting that if you are travelling by light aircraft or as part of a guided safari, you should carry no more than 10-15kg of luggage in a soft bag for ease of packing.

  • [?]Currency

    The Namibian currency is linked one to one with the South African Rand. Each dollar is divided into 100 cents. The South Africa Rand is interchangeable with the Namibia dollar in Namibia and all Rand notes and coins are accepted. However, the Namibia dollar is not accepted in South Africa! Namibian dollars are difficult to get hold of outside the country and it is easier to purchase cash in South African Rand before travelling. US$ can be easily exchanged throughout the country, as can Euro and pounds sterling. Traveller’s cheques can also be changed in banks and most accommodation establishments accept credit cards, mainly Visa or Mastercard, although this should be checked before arrival. Fuel can be purchased with credit cards, but cash is still the preferred method of payment. In the more remote areas they might not have credit card machines either.

  • [?]Visa Requirements

    Visitors from the European Union and the USA can obtain tourist visas for up to 3 months at the border. Please contact us for details regarding your personal visa requirements.

Country Hotspots

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  • [?]Bushmanland

    The north-eastern region of Namibia is home to some of the last remaining San (Bushman) communities in Southern Africa. These people have mastered the harsh Kalahari environment over thousands of years and are believed to be the original inhabitants of both Namibia and Botswana, over time being displaced by more aggressive tribes moving into the Southern African region. Since Independence in Namibia in 1990, the traditional San hunting grounds have been reduced in size and the people living in this area no longer survive in pure hunter-gatherer societies. New community developments incorporating cattle ownership and tourism have been established, with mixed reactions.

    Although idealists would prefer the San to revert to a cashless society where they are able to pursue their traditional lifestyle, most understand that the advancement of time and 'Western' influence has made this all but impossible and that some amount of compromise is required.

    This compromise ensures that the San are able to continue living in some semblance of their original communities, whilst sharing their ancient skills with visitors to the area in return for the monetary investment that enables them to buy the necessities of their daily lives.

    Tsumkwe is the regional capital of Bushmanland and tours can be arranged from here, as well as from the towns of Grootfontein and Tsumeb a little further west. Visitors can learn about San villages from the local guides, and the area is also home to a variety of wildlife species. The remote and beautifully unspoiled Khaudom Game Reserve in particular is home to many interesting species such as the rare wild dog, roan antelope, elephant, zebra and just about all the species that are present in Etosha.

  • [?]Northern Naukluft

    The Naukluft area, only a few kilometres from Sesriem, offers a complete contrast to the dune dominated desert with its mountainous terrain, fresh water spring pools and lush ephemeral river valleys.

    A small National Parks campsite provides the only accommodation and as such the area is tranquil and unspoiled. Hiking trails meander through the hillsides and lead to many sparklingly clear and refreshingly cold natural pools. Two day-hikes are marked, the Waterkloof Trail which is a 17km loop and takes around seven hours to complete, and the Olive Trail which is 10km long and takes around 4-5 hours. For the more energetic there are also two trails which take 4 and 8 days to complete and which must be booked in advance.

    Between 3 and 12 people can complete the overnight trails at any one time, and these run between March and October in order to avoid the heat and rain of mid-summer.

    Wildlife in the area includes zebra, kudu, springbok, klipspringer and leopard. In addition the area is prime habitat for the magnificent black eagle as well as many other smaller bird species. During the rainy season, it is sometimes possible to watch as rainwater flows down the mountains, gaining momentum on its journey from the highlands through the usually dry riverbeds in torrents. The transformation of this arid environment is truly spectacular to witness.

  • [?]The Orange River

    This river forms much of the boundary between Namibia and South Africa and is a very attractive area with lush, green vegetation and interesting scenery. Guided river rafting and canoe trips are run here which offer participants the opportunity to experience this beautiful area from a different perspective. Guests must be fit, although the trips do not require excessive exertion.

    Most trips run between Noordoewer and Selingsdrif, part of this route runs along the boundary between Namibia's Fish River Canyon National Park and South Africa's Richtersveld National Park.

  • [?]Kunene River

    The Kunene is situated in northern Namibia and runs along the border with Angola for some distance. This remote region is ruggedly beautiful with a large variety of scenery ranging from dry plains and mountains to the lush vegetation along the banks of the river. This landscape provides habitat for many wildlife species and is also home to the Himba people who still live in the relative isolation of their ancestors in traditional villages.

    Guided river rafting trips run here offering participants the opportunity to enjoy this usually inaccessible area. Guests must be fit, although the trips do not require excessive exertion.

  • [?]Fish River Canyon

    A spectacular canyon set in the wide, flat plains of southern Namibia; Fish River Canyon is the one of the deepest in the world and has been likened to the Grand Canyon of Arizona, USA. It is 161km long, up to 27km wide and almost 550m deep. In ages past it was sculpted by the Fish River, which now exists as a mere trickle flowing at the bottom of the magnificent canyon. For most of the year, the river is reduced to a series of small pools along the canyon floor.

    This famous landscape feature presents an unexpected, sheer drop from the flat desert plains and it is possible to walk down to the bottom, and when there is enough water, to take a refreshing swim in the river. The hot springs of Ais-Ais are found at the southern end of the canyon and are reputedly an excellent remedy for rheumatism!

    A 90km hiking trail winds along the canyon floor from the northernmost lookout point at Hobas to Ais-Ais hot springs. The trail takes an arduous but worthwhile five days to complete and is open to groups of a minimum 3 people, between May and September.

  • [?]Windhoek

    The capital of Namibia lies almost at the geographical centre of the country. Surrounded by ochre coloured mountains, and at a cool altitude of 1660m, the city has developed within beautiful scenery and is a pleasant place to spend a few days before or after a safari. As well as being the centre of road and rail links throughout the country, Windhoek is the business and commercial centre and has an international airport, offering direct flights to Europe and surrounding African countries. Windhoek means 'windy corner' and as well as being by far one of the cleanest and most orderly of African cities, it is also very green with a central park and many trees and gardens.

  • [?]Damaraland

    This mountainous area of Namibia is situated between the extreme desert aridity of the skeleton coast and the central plateau. Damaraland offers spectacular scenery and a variety of attractions ranging from fascinating geological formations to unique vegetation and the only UNESCO world heritage site in Namibia, the largest collection of ancient rock art in Southern Africa. The Petrified Forest can be found a few kilometres west of Khorixas and is the final resting place for a collection of huge, fossilised tree trunks. These trees were once part of an ancient forest and are thought to have been washed down from higher ground by floods.

    Around fifty trees can be seen and are thought to be around 200 million years old. Most are members of the gymnosperm family. Local guides escort visitors around an organised circuit and share their knowledge of this unique landscape feature

    Twyfelfontein is located a little further west of the Petrified Forest, the name means 'doubtful fountain' and is so called due to the unreliable water supply. It is yet another example of Namibia's stunning scenery and also contains what is said to be the largest collection of rock art in Southern Africa. The majority of art consists of rock etchings made by using stone chisels to cut through the hard outer crust of the local sandstone. Most of the work dates back around 6000 years and was probably undertaken by San hunters. Many of the huge boulders used as a surface for these ancient pieces of art have subsequently moved from their original resting places and it is quite possible that many more etchings lie beneath rocks overturned by thousands of years of natural disturbance.

    More rock paintings can be seen at the Brandberg Mountains, north of Uis. This is Namibia's highest mountain at 2573m and is strewn with pottery fragments and stone tools. The famous 'white lady' painting can be seen here, located in a protective shelter on the mountainside. This specific painting is around 40cm high and due to its unusual colour, extensive debate on its origin has taken place. Some have put forward the view that the painting represents a San spirit, some more far-fetched hypotheses are that it depicts an alien or a Caucasian time traveller! Whatever the origin, it is a thought provoking piece of ancient art which, although never satisfactorily dated, could be part of a frieze painted as long as 16,000 years ago. The Brandberg is also known as 'Fire Mountain', so named because the western face glows a vivid and beautiful red in the face of the setting sun.

    A 12km long volcanic ridge can be seen just south east of Twyfelfontein. Known as Burnt Mountain, this ridge looks very much as though a raging fire has decimated the area. Although very little grows here, the rocks become alive during sunrise and sunset when the whole area glows a burnt umber colour.

  • [?]Skeleton Coast National Park

    The 'Skeleton Coast' has a reputation for being remote, inhospitable and steeped in an eerie history.

    Many ships have run aground on this coast over time, and these ships 'skeletons' can still be seen lying forlorn and rusting along the beaches. Unfortunately the desolate nature of the coastline meant that any sailor lucky enough to survive the shipwreck had a very slim chance of survival once on land. The lack of food, water and shelter would have provided scant comfort for any budding Robinson Crusoe.

    The relatively inaccessible Skeleton Coast National Park runs along the northern coastal area of Namibia, from Swakopmund all the way to the Angolan border

    The southern section of the Park comprises the Tourist Recreation Area and stretches from Swakopmund to the Ugab River. This area is accessible to self-driving visitors, although a permit is required. North of the Recreation Area, a field of crescent shaped dunes stretches along the coast from Torra Bay to the Angolan border. This northern and most remote section of the Park is only accessible by specialist fly-in safari operators. The whole Park area is a stunning reminder of the power of nature, and it is sobering to visit such a timeless wilderness.

  • [?]Walvis Bay Lagoon

    Namibia's only deep water port was first sighted by Europeans in the 1480's as part of Bartholomew Diaz's explorations around the coast. It was not until the 18th century, however, that the port began to gain popularity with American whaling ships, hence the name 'Walvis Bay'.

    In 1867 the town was annexed by the British who saw its significance as an international port and centre for a lucrative fishing industry. Three quite different wetland areas converge here to provide the most important coastal wetland ecosystem for migratory birds in Southern Africa. Up to 150,000 birds move through this area each year and this wetland system alone supports half the Southern Africa flamingo population

  • [?]Sandwich Harbour

    Sandwich Harbour is a partly landlocked reed-lined lagoon at the mouth of the Kuiseb River, south of Walvis Bay. The lagoon fills with water filtered through the dunefield from Kuiseb which has a purifying effect and reduces salinity.

    This remote and beautiful area has become a refuge for coastal and fresh water birds and is a legally protected bird reserve as well as being an important breeding site for many fish species including sharks. Day trips with specialized guides can be arranged from Swakopmund

  • [?]Luderitz

    Lüderitz was purchased in 1883 by a German merchant named Adolf Lüderitz from a Namibian Nama chief. Prior to this the port was known as Angra Pequena (Portuguese for 'Little Bay'). Serious development in the area began around 1908 with the discovery of diamond deposits. The nearby town of Kolmanskop was once party to this affluence, but since being abandoned in the 1950's following the slump in diamond sales it has been taken over by the desert sands. The town has an eerie atmosphere of silent degeneration and the windswept interiors of the houses, now half buried in the sand, create a fascinating picture of a bygone era.

    The waters off Lüderitz are some of the cleanest in the world, due to the ever present Benguela current, and the town is therefore home to many bird species

    Diaz Point, 22 km south of Lüderitz, offers an excellent view of the nearby sea lion colony and jackass penguins, flamingos, cormorants and waders can also be seen.

  • [?]Kaokoland

    This area of Namibia is one of the least accessible, and remains refreshingly untouched. The region lies to the north west of Etosha and is a vast and mountainous wilderness with a sparse population and few roads. Kaokoland is home to the ancient Himba tribe who are known for the ochre paste that they paint over their bodies. This area is best reached with an organised tour, or in the company of other vehicles due to the remote and changeable terrain. The land to the north of the Huab and Ugab Rivers is one of the only areas where endangered animals are still found outside the countries' protected parks and reserves.

    Here rhino can still be found, along with lion, giraffe, several antelope species, ostrich, mountain zebra and desert elephant

    It has been suggested that the desert elephant with their elongated legs and remarkable tolerance for this dry area may be a separate, and very rare, sub-species.

    The Kunene River offers opportunities for rafting, canoeing or simply relaxing. The Epupa Falls are made up of a series of beautiful cascades of water flowing to still pools which offer relatively safe areas for swimming or just cooling off!

  • [?]Kavango & Caprivi

    The higher rainfall in this northern area gives rise to lush, dense vegetation very different to that found in the rest of the country. The Kwando & Linyanti Rivers are home to hippo and crocodile and the waters sustain many elephant in the small Mamili and Mudumu Parks. Mamili, in particular, is a birders paradise with over 430 species having been identified here. The vegetation is very similar to that of Botswana's Okavango Delta region and is made up of dense stands of sycamore fig, jackalberry, leadwood and sausage trees in the centre of lush islands surrounded by papyrus swamps.

  • [?]Etosha National Park

    Etosha National Park is the third largest in the world, covers more than 20,000 km2 and is home to 340 bird species and 114 mammals.

    The main area of the Park is covered by a vast salt pan which originated 12 million years ago as a shallow lake fed by the Kunene River. Eventually the lake dried up as a result of climatic conditions and volcanic activity in the area, and the pan is now only occasionally covered in water. When this happens the usually dry expanse becomes a riot of colour as the area becomes a haven for flamingos.

    The pan is not accessible to visitors, but the surrounding, flat bushveld is dotted with many waterholes which are easily reached via the network of well-maintained gravel roads

    The vegetation is dominated by mopane trees and sparse shrubs. In the western part of the park is the strange 'haunted forest' of Moringa ovalifolia trees; looking as though they have been planted upside down with their roots reaching up into the clear skies, they offer a mysterious ambience to the area.

  • [?]Waterberg Plateau Park

    Waterberg is a 150m high plateau of vividly coloured sandstone rising out of the surrounding plains like a towering oasis. Up to 16km wide, the top of the plateau is covered with lush vegetation and offers habitat to many rare and endangered species such as sable and roan antelope, tsessebe and white rhino.

    Leopards are also found, as are buffalo and over 200 bird species! Due to the dense nature of the vegetation, game viewing is usually limited, but the morning and afternoon drives which can be arranged from the National Parks office still offer a very interesting experience. There are various walking trails leading around the sides and up to the top of the plateau and these offer exceptional views of the surrounding countryside.

  • [?]Sossusvlei & Sesriem

    Sossusvlei and Sesriem present one of the most spectacular images of Namibia. Sesriem means 'six thongs' and refers to the Sesriem canyon, the water at the bottom of which could be reached by lowering a bucket on a length of six leather oxen thongs. Sesriem Canyon is located close to the Sossusvlei National Park campsite and is a relatively small but very interesting area to visit.

    Sossusvlei literally means 'saucer pan' and is a shallow, dry pan located 60km from the campsite and surrounded by high, red coloured dunes shaped into spectacular forms.

    In occasional years of high rainfall, the pan is flooded with a shallow layer of fresh water, causing the desert to bloom and photographers to flock to the area.

    Here the sand is at its reddest and the dunes are higher than anywhere else in the Namib, some climbing up to 300m high. Sunset and sunrise are spectacular and it is well worth exploring the area at this time of day to experience the fantastic colours and light which floods the desert landscape. Guided walking trails can be arranged in this area as well as the nearby extensive and beautiful Namib Rand Nature Reserve.

ATI Holidays | Tel: +264 (0) 61 228 717 | | UK Toll Free: 0808-234-9378 | US Toll Free: 1-888-333-3876 | Skype: atiholidays | Sitemap
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