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Travel Guide: Namibia Highlights

12th Oct 2011 1:55am | By Editor

This land of desert wilderness offers so much more.

The Skeleton Coast

Visualise an endless desert bordering the ocean. Add to this a blanket of coastal fog, a chilly sea breeze and the ghostly remains (skeletons) of numerous shipwrecks. Only then will you get close to imagining what the “coast of hell” - as the Portuguese seafarers used to refer to it - must be like.

Today its unique ecosystem and contrasts make this very same coastline one of Namibia’s main tourist attractions. Namibia's Skeleton Coast includes the National West Coast Recreation Area north of Swakopmund, which is popular with regional fishermen and the Skeleton Coast Park between the Agab and Kunene rivers. The park alone covers an area of 16,000 square kilometres with an abundance of gemsbok, springbok, ostrich, jackal, hyena, giraffe, lion and desert elephants.

The Fish River Canyon

The Fish River Canyon is estimated to have formed about 500 million years ago through water erosion and the collapse of the valley base due to movements in the earth's crust. Being 160 kilometres long, up to 27 kilometres wide and in places almost 550 metres deep, it is the largest canyon in Africa.

Swakopmund

A first time visitor might mistake Swakopmund for a large tranquil coastal town with some interesting German architecture dating back to the German occupation of the then South West Africa, but Swakopmund is in fact Namibia’s adrenalin capital. It offers sand boarding, quad-biking on some of the Namib desert’s largest dunes, skydiving, camel riding and
ballooning.

Etosha National Park

While Etosha seems to be nothing more than a pan of white sand featuring the occasional mirage, it turns into a gathering place for herds of wildlife during the dry season (between July and late October).

The pan is roughly 110km from east to west and 60km from north to south, covering an area of 6,133 square kilometres. After the summer rains it will hold water for a few months at the start of the year, but as the pan and the smaller bush pools start to dry up and the green vegetation shrivels, the animals move closer to the springs on the pan's edge.

The park is designed for self-drive excursions with three rest camps if you need to put your feet up.