Named after the oldest desert in the world that extends almost the entire length of its South Atlantic coastline, Namibia boasts 20 National Parks and protected areas, with a small population (under 2 million). The country has dramatic and sparsely inhabited wilderness areas with truly spectacular mountain and desert landscapes. The stark emptiness and desolation of the Namibian expanses are captivating.
The country is well endowed with wildlife, but doesn't compete with its regional neighbors in terms of game concentrations and variety (Namibia has the world's highest concentration of wild cheetah). The adaptation to its arid and harsh habitats by animal and plant species is fascinating. Namibia's birdlife is renowned with nearly 70% of southern Africa's 887 bird species having been recorded.
The regions of prime "safari-interest" include the Etosha National Park, Namib-Naukluft Park, the Skeleton Coast, Kaokoveld (described as "Africa's last great wilderness") and the Caprivi Strip.
Namibia has an infant tourism industry and is best tackled on a mobile safari basis. Namibia has a first class road network which facilitates excellent self-drive safari prospects for the more intrepid. Namibia holds a unique set of rewards for adventurous spirits.
Etosha National Park
Namibia's premier wildlife reserve, the size of Switzerland, a semi-arid savannah grassland and thorn scrub expanse surrounding a calcrete pan. This is Etosha Pan, "the place of dry water" that is transformed for a brief period each rainy season only to turn into a sea of mirages during its notoriously dry winter months.
The Namib Desert
Dwarfed by comparison with Africa's giant Sahara, the Namib is believed to be the world's oldest arid region and belongs to the few percent of the earth's land surface that is classified as "hyper-arid". This fascinating region includes the Skeleton Coast and Kaokoveld in the north, rock and gravel plains of the central Namib and the mighty sand dune seas of the south.
The Namib-Naukluft Park
Located in the central Namib, it is one of the world's largest national parks and encompasses 4 main conservation areas including the diverse habitats of the gravel plains of the Namib Desert Park, the massive dunefields of Sossusvlei, the secluded wetland of Sandwich Harbour and the higher plateau of the Naukluft Park.
The Skeleton Coast
Has appropriately acquired its sinister reputation as a graveyard for unwary mariners over the centuries. This remote and ecologically sensitive wilderness in the north is still largely off-limits today.
One of Namibia's least accessible regions holds some of Africa's most famous examples of rock art in the granitic landmarks of Damaraland. The northern wilderness area is a harsh mountainous desert supporting the endangered Kaokoveld elephants amongst other uniquely adapted species.
The Caprivi Strip
The north-eastern panhandle between Botswana, Angola and Zambia. One of the more eccentric legacies of 19th Century colonial accords - now a small conservation area struggling to recover from the ravages of poachers and the Namibian bush war of the 70's and 80's.
Namibia's seasons can be broken into three main periods:
1. A cool dry season from May to October when days are cool, clear and sunny and night time temperatures often drop down to near freezing. The end of the dry season warms up dramatically and can become very uncomfortable in the Kaokoveld and Etosha. The Caprivi area is affected by floodwaters from the north between May and August as they flow into the larger Okavango water system.
2. The "little rains" from October to December are characterised by a period of high temperatures and sporadic rains.
3. January to April is the main rainy season, mid-summer can be extremely hot and violent thunderstorms accompanied by flash floods particularly in the north are not unusual (take particular heed of local warnings about weather conditions in remote areas).
The best game viewing is generally between May and October with the birdwatching season being best from November to March throughout Namibia.
Windhoek International Airport is Namibia's primary international hub with regular and reliable links between Johannesburg and Cape Town, weekly schedules connect Frankfurt and London. Secondary air links connect Harare, Lusaka, Maun and Gabarone.
Eros Airport just south of Windhoek is the main hub for all domestic and charter connections. Namibia has reasonably well serviced air strips throughout the country.
The roads within Namibia are first class by African standards with nearly 4500km of good tarred roads and an extensive network of gravel roads. Namibia is second only to South Africa in terms of its road connectivity in the sub region and is therefore ideally suited for self-drive and mobile safaris.
Sedans can cope with the roads connecting all of the major centers but there are certain areas that demand 4x4 vehicles and even then only in convoy. Local advice must be sought for certain wet season excursions in the Kaokoveld (January to April), portions of the Caprivi are impassable when the river systems are flooding from April to August.
Provided By: The Zambezi Safari And Travel Co. Ltd.
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