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Namibia, the land of vast open spaces, soul-refreshing sunsets and home to a range of very special experiences.
Visitors can meet the Himba people (the nomadic, ochre-covered tribe of Northern Namibia), gaze at the dazzling night sky in Sossusvlei and explore one of the world’s largest canyons. Here are six compelling reasons why Namibia should be on everyone’s travel list.
1. See the Cheetahs in OkonjimaOkonjima is home to The AfriCat Foundation, which rehabilitates cheetahs, wild dogs, hyenas and leopards. Here, you can see these beautiful predators in their natural environment.
As their website explains, “Although hunting is instinctive in carnivores, many of the cheetahs at AfriCat lack experience due to being orphaned or removed from the wild at an early age. This inexperience, as well as their conditioning to captivity, makes them unsuitable for release. The park provides captive cheetahs and other carnivores with the opportunity to hone their hunting skills and become self-sustaining and thereby giving them a chance to return to the wild.”
2. Stargaze in SossusvleiStirringly beautiful and splendidly open, Sossusvlei, in Namibia’s Southern Namib Desert, is the country’s iconic destination. Some of the largest dunes in the world can be found here, reaching almost 400 metres. Oryx occasionally dot the dunes, but it is not the animals that people come here for.
It is the stars.
Sossusvlei is so isolated that the light pollution is non-existent, meaning the night skies are among the clearest on earth. The region has been certified an official Dark Sky Reserve because of its spectacular starry night. This untainted sky is spellbinding with its plethora of normally unseen constellations, the vivid Milky Way and bursts of light from the Magellanic Clouds.
This is how the bushmen saw the sky for millennia. Bright, clear and enchanting.
3. An authentic Himba cultural experience at Serra CafemaIn the far northwest corner of Namibia bordering Angola, lies Serra Cafema Camp. This esteemed lodge shares this isolated area with the Himba people. The Himba tribe continues their traditional semi-nomadic way of life and, when they are in the area, guests have an opportunity to learn about their lifestyle and customs.
The Himba are among the last indigenous nomadic tribes of Southern Africa. Women paint themselves twice a day with red clay mixed with butter, creating their iconic look. They wear short skirts made of goat skins and long red clay covered plaits of hair ending with tassells. They survive in the harshest conditions without electricity or running water living in huts made of sticks and mud. But it is their calm nature and simple lifestyles that most captures the hearts of visitors.
4. Hike the Fish River CanyonThe Fish River Canyon is a monumental sight and one of Africa’s greatest natural wonders, and yet, it is seldom spoken about. It is one of the biggest canyons in the world, measuring 160km in length and up to 27km in width, and the dramatic inner canyon reaches a depth of 550m. Those numbers may not have much bearing on your understanding of the scope of the canyon, but it is colossal.
One of the best ways to see the canyon is the five-day hike from Hobas to Ai-Ais, Namibia’s most popular long-distance walk. The magical 85km route, which follows the sandy riverbed along the river, which fluctuates depending on the season, begins at Hikers’ Viewpoint, and ends at the hot spring resort of Ai-Ais.
5. Explore the haunting KolmanskopYou may have seen the pictures of Kolmanskop…
A deserted house, sinking in sand.
A ghost town, disappearing into the desert.
In 1908, diamonds were discovered just sitting upon the sand waiting to be found, as if they had fallen from heaven like presents from the gods. A small diamond rush ensued and the residents built the village in the architectural style of a German town, including the first x-ray-station in the southern hemisphere, as well as the first tram in Africa.
The town declined after World War I when the diamond field slowly exhausted and was ultimately abandoned in 1954. The geological forces of the desert mean that tourists now walk through houses knee-deep in sand, as nature slowly reclaims the town.
6. Track desert-adapted rhino in DamaralandDamaraland, the tranquil, rocky land in northwest Namibia where we host our annual Challenge4ACause, is home to an array of desert-adapted animals and the largest free-roaming black rhino population in Africa. After being poached to the brink of extinction, the rare black rhino made a remarkable comeback through the inspiring efforts of Save The Rhino Trust. But with no tagging or satellite tracking systems, finding the rhinos can still be a challenge.
Experienced guides will take you through the ancient, sparse land that’s home to the shrivelled, papery-leaved, 1,000-year-old welwitschia plant and the needle-thin euphorbia bush, poisonous to almost every living creature except the rhino.
If you’d like to find out more about what else Namibia has in store for its visitors, please feel free to contact one of our consultants for free advice on one of Africa’s most captivating countries.
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Matt discovered a passion for writing in the six years he spent travelling abroad. He worked for a turtle sanctuary in Nicaragua, in an ice cream factory in Norway and on a camel safari in India. He was a door-to-door lightbulb-exchanger in Australia, a pub crawl guide in Amsterdam and a journalist in Colombia. Now, he writes and travels with us.
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