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Namibia, the name derived from the world’s oldest desert Namib, meaning ‘vast place’, is located in southern Africa along the Atlantic Coast. The vast desert landscape however, is not its only claim to fame, for Namibia can boast of differing terrains and some stunning landscapes that are unmatched anywhere else in the world. With the world’s largest sand dune, the eerie Skeleton coast, the astonishing wildlife adapted to its terrain and climates as well as its stunning mountains that run right from top to bottom are reasons enough to regard Namibia as a complete tourist and wildlife package.
However, interestingly, Namibia is not only about natural wonders, but also, about consistent conservation efforts and deep cultural intonations. Gaining independence relatively recently in 1990 from South Africa, Namibia can be said to have a rocky history of its own. Inhabited by native tribes such as, the San, Nama and Damara, Namibia first called South West Africa was colonized by the Germans leading to a bloody history of genocide and discrimination, only later to be a part of South Africa under which it faced racial discrimination until it officially gained independence in March 1990 in a ceremony attended by Nelson Mandela. Post-independence Namibia has maintained the democracy rule and in fact was the first nation in the continent to have incorporated the protection of the environment in its constitution. It can be thus said, that by providing for laws and policies that make the locals shareholders in the proceeds from tourism, Namibia has set a benchmark on conservation efforts as well as, finding the right balance between environment and economy.
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Namibia can roughly be divided into a few geographical natural areas, each catering to different landscapes and climate.
The Central Plateau runs from the north to south and some of the highest and gorgeous peaks of the country are found here, including the Konigstein (2606m).
The Namib Desert runs along the eastern coast and offers some of the most splendid views from space as well as on ground. The vast expanse of dunes and desert features, including the world’s highest dune, called Dune 7 (383m) located in a desert which is more than 80million years old or the sand dunes at Sandwich Harbor plunging to the sea are some of the most iconic desert landscapes of Namibia. The cold Atlantic waters crashing into the hot desert climate often give rise to fogs. The Sossusvlei with its salt pans and red dunes needs special mention, for its breathtaking scenery that can be also viewed from small airplanes or hot air balloons.
The Great Escarpment is further inland from the Atlantic Ocean and rises to over 2000m. Though rocky, this area is more productive than the desert.
The Bushveld is found in north east Namibia and includes the Caprivi Strip. Home to the endangered Wild African Dogs, the Caprivi Strip also provides access to the Zambezi River and is the area of various national parks, such as, Bwabwata National Park, Nkasa Rupara National Park and Mudumu National Park.
The Kalahari Desert in the south that extends into Botswana and South Africa is the world’s well known desert, supporting micro biomes and ecosystems.
Some popular natural attractions that are known for their stunning beauty and or tourist attractions include the Fish River Canyon, the Naukluft Mountains, Damaraland and the ship wrecked Skeleton Coast.
No introduction to an African country can really be complete without delving into its wildlife. Namibia is naturally blessed with a fantastic biodiversity, but due to its concerted conversation efforts it has managed to sustain as well as revive species altogether. Home to many national parks and reserves, its diverse landscapes and climatic conditions have given rise to an enviable range of wildlife.
Some of the national parks as well as reserves that are spread across the country that are not only boast of its wildlife, but also, some splendid scenic views, landscapes and natural features, include, the Bwabwata National Park, Cape Cross Seal Reserve, Dorob National Park, Etosha National Park (oldest game park with more than 100 mammal species and 400 bird species), Khaudum National Park, Mangetti National Park, Namib-Naukluft Park, Waterberg Plateau Park, Tsau Khaeb National Park and more.
The Namibian wildlife includes a wide range of animals and birds, some of them adapting to the specific Namibian topography and climate. The big cats, of course, form the main attractions of Namibia and include the lions (seen mostly in Etosha National Park and the Kunene region), cheetahs which Namibia is estimated to have a quarter of the total world’s population are usually spotted in Waterberg Plateau, along with leopards.
The Rhinos, especially the Black rhinos are found in the Kunene region and their numbers have drastically increased over the last three decades or so through conservation efforts.
The Gemsbok ideally suited to the desert conditions in Namibia is the national pride and large populations of them still live on private farming land. They are usually seen in the Namib-Naukluft National Park.
Elephants are adapted to the arid conditions and are seen in the Kunene region. However, it is at the Etosha National Park that one is sure to spot the Namibian elephants in hordes.
Other animals include giraffes, zebra, impala, wildebeest, wild dog, puku, oribi and more. The coastal areas provide for different marine wildlife, such as, whales.
Namibia is an inciting destination, with its amazing landscapes, hot springs, game reserves as well as wildlife. It also has an inspiring past and is a historically significant nation in global politics and history. From the capital town of Windhoek to the coastal desert or the golden sands of the Kalahari, the rising central plateau peaks or the stunning mountains enriched with wildlife, Namibia is inviting and serene as ever.