The oldest desert in the world, the largest canyon in Africa, holy mountains, bizarre landscapes: Namibia – land of extremes, the discovery of which is an extraordinary experience.
Whether you marvel at the dunes from a birds perspective , explore Etosha National Park in a 4 x 4 or follow the spoor of the legendary desert elephants – Namibia offers the adventure of a lifetime.
" Land of Extremes "
Boasting some of the most spectacular desert systems in the world, Namibia's harsh landscape is an unlikely paradise for humans and wildlife alike. Most of Africa's large charismatic mammals occur in Etosha and other parts of the north, while unique desert-adapted wildlife inhabits the Namib.
Situated in the subtropics, the country's entire western border is flanked by the Atlantic coastline - a cool and often inhospitable environment. The cold Benguela current, which drifts northwards from Antarctica, has a massive influence on the Namibian climate. Cool, moist air from the west sweeps inland from the sea and as it mixes with the dry, warm desert air it creates life sustaining condensation to a myriad of flora and fauna.
Rain storms are not commonly associated with Namibia; most of the country receives less that 250 mm of rain (the entire coastal region has less than 25 mm and 80% of this rain falls between October and April. The evergreen Kunene region, located as a narrow finger of land protruding into the far northeast, is an exception to the rest of the country. Summers are hot, with an average of 8-10 rainy days per month. Annually, the Kunene region receives between 600 mm and 800 mm of rainfall.
Inland summer (October to April) days are warm to hot with cool nights, although during Namibia's hottest months, usually from November to February, nights too tend to be very warm. From May - September (winter), days are pleasant with clear skies but nights and early mornings can become quite cold, with frost and freezing conditions the norm from June through early August.
Namibia doesn't have dreary grey days and the rainy season is actually a very exciting period to visit. You may witness the buildup of clouds throughout the day followed by a downpour, which may be over as quickly as it began with skies usually clearing just before a spectacular sunset appears. Daily sunshine is pretty much guaranteed in Namibia, even during the rainy season.
Namibia has a sparse population of just 2.3 million people, which, after Mongolia, makes it the second least densely populated country in the world. The 11 different cultural groups allow for a very interesting cultural destination where many traditions are proudly preserved.
Languages & Culture
English is the national language, though Afrikaans is widely spoken, and German is often heard. A variety of local languages include Oshiwambo, Herero, Damara-Nama (which uses a variety of tongue twisting clicks) and San Bushmen. Most people live in the northern part of the country where there is more water.
Many Herero women wear magnificently colourful dresses that, resplendent by multiple heavy layers of skirts, are inspired by the previous century's Victorian missionaries and colonialists - completely impractical in hot Namibia. Sometimes their heads are adorned with an elaborately folded headdress symbolising the horns of their much revered cattle.
This is a destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers.
Namibia is an ultimate a self-drive destination but can be done with charter flights if budget allows, or driver-guided for a stress-free & seamless travel experience.
Varied landscape assures a diverse range of sights and activities .
Most roads in Namibia are gravel, and in a fair to poor condition unless recently graded. In some areas driving can be a little more challenging due to road conditions.
A safe country to travel through, the local people are friendly and hospitable.
A note on game drives in Namibia:
Namibia's desert top soil consists of a fragile dry dust which, when driven over, will remain fissured and scarred for millennia to come.
Therefore off-road driving is strictly prohibited, not just inside all the national parks, but also on most private reserves and conservancies.
This means game viewing might at times prove challenging since you are not allowed to veer off allocated roads (which incidentally are often surrounded by the most awe-inspiring landscapes) to approach wildlife. And yet this is all part of the attraction; the adventure of looking out for interesting animals and perhaps being rewarded by a great sighting on a long journey.
Serra Cafema, one of the most remote camps in all of Southern Africa, is located on elevated banks of the Kunene River in an area of incredible beauty. Access is by air charter and takes roughly 3 hours from Windhoek.
Photo credit: Wilderness Safaris