A country that has the African Fish Eagle as the national bird, the Oryx as the national animal and a living fossil, the Welwitschia as a national flower must be well worth a visit. In fact, a specimen of this plant is reputed to be between 1000 and 1500 years old.
We are of course talking about Namibia. ‘Namib’ means “open space”, and the Namib Desert gave its name to form Namibia – “land of open spaces”.
From ghost towns such as Kolmanskop in the desert, to forlorn wrecks of once mighty ships on the skeleton coast; ancient rock paintings; huge sand dunes; as well as amazing wildlife; scenery and a myriad of bird species, Namibia has a lot to offer the visitor.
Namibia Safari – National Parks and protected areas
A Namibia safari will usually offer the choice of twelve national parks. These few rank among our favourites.
Namib-Naukluft National Park
At just under 50 000 square km, Namib-Naukluft Park is the largest game park in Africa and the fourth largest in the world.
Sitting between the Atlantic coast and the edge of the Great Escarpment it encompasses part of the Namib Desert, considered the world’s oldest desert, the Naukluft mountain range and the lagoon at Sandwich Harbour.
A must see in the park are the dunes at Sossusvlei, a clay pan surrounded by dunes, some as high as 300m. Also visit Sesriem, a small canyon of the Tsauchab and if you have the time, make the journey to what is known as the most photogenic place in Namibia, Deadvlei where hundreds of black trees that died 600 to 700 years ago are juxtaposed against the white clay ground and the bright orange dunes in the background.
Namib-Naukluft is home to several desert adapted species such as the desert elephant. Fauna consists of a surprising collection of creatures that survive in the hyper-arid region, including snakes, geckos, unusual insects, hyenas, gemsboks, leopards, African wildcats, cape foxes, baboons, caracals, bat-eared foxes and jackals.
Skeleton Coast National Park
As its name suggests, skeletons of old ships litter this coast and many people believe that that is how it got the name. It was, however most likely named for the scattered decaying bones of stranded whales.
Visiting the park, travellers can still see the shipwrecks, but there is also an abundance of wildlife. You can see jackals, hyenas, oryx, kudus, and zebras.
At Cape Cross you can visit the seal colony, which is home to around 100,000 Cape fur seals, the largest colony of this sea lion species in the entire world. Watch them sunbathing, splashing around in the waves and barking at each other.
Ai Ais Hot Springs Game Park
Ai-ais means “burning water” in a local dialect and refers to the hot water springs. Apart from the springs, take in the sprawling vistas of crevices and ravines that make up the Fish River Canyon, the largest in Africa. Visitors during the rainy season can catch a glimpse of the Fish River snaking through the bottom of the canyon.
The park is a unique mega-ecosystem with more than 360 different plant species found in a one square kilometre area. This in a place that only receives an average 68 mm of rain per year.
Namibia is better driven because of the beautiful wide open scenery and the huge expanse of the country.
A Namibia Safari is for the safari connoisseur looking for new experiences and vistas. It is spectacular but too big to try and cover in one trip so you need to select according to your interests. Bwabwata National Park, in Caprivi coupled with a visit to the Epupa Falls; or Mudumu National Park, one of Namibia’s least-known parks, for its elephants. In the barren Brandberg Mountain Range you can see ancient rock paintings and carvings. Elevated high in the Kalahari Plains, the Waterberg Plateau is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the country and home to 200 different types of birds and mammals.
But whatever you want to see, it’s best to talk to a specialist who can listen to your needs and wants and then give you the best advice. Talk to John at John Pearse safaris.