Humbling is often the first word that comes to mind for those who have experienced the profound and unimaginable beauty of Namibia.
Overflowing with superlatives, Namibia is home to some of the world’s tallest dunes, oldest deserts (55 million years), its second largest canyon, and its largest intact meteorite (60 tons). Namibia has the largest conservation area in Africa and is the only country in the world that protects the environment in its constitution.
The desert here is full of life and waiting to be explored. It has an extraordinary range of animals and plants that have adapted to their unmerciful habitat. Great African animals such as elephant, lion, and rare black rhino – as well as all sorts of tiny critters like beetles and lizards – have all, over millennia, physically adapted to this harsh climate. Namibia also has 40% of the world’s remaining cheetah population.
Namibia’s splendor lies in the openness of its landscape, replete with river valleys, dramatic mountain ranges, and rugged canyons. More than anything, Namibia is a country of sand – the most breathtaking sand you have ever seen. Voluptuous dune fields stretch hundreds of miles – in patterns of stars and crescents, seemingly permanent, yet constantly changing with the winds.
In contrast to what you might expect in a desert, Namibia is a land of colors. A carpet of green sweeps over the earth after a short (and rare) rain. There are richly colored volcanic rock formations. Dunes change from orange to beige to red as the sun moves across the sky – the older the dunes, the brighter the color due to the reflections of a zillion tiny mineral deposits. After an often-riotous sunset, the cobalt dome of the sky becomes a brilliant showcase of the Milky Way: constellations, satellites, and falling stars.
The desert is only part of the story. Life in Namibia depends on the moisture from dew and fog brought by icy Atlantic currents that run along 1,600 miles of uninhabited coastline. Just off its shores, there is abundant marine life, including hundreds of thousands of seals, as well as dolphins and whales.
Part of this long shoreline is one of the most famous – and notorious – “nautical graveyards” in the world, the Skeleton Coast. Characterized by the strong currents, its treacherous fog, and shifting underwater sandbanks, it is littered with the wooden skeletons of countless ships run aground.
Further south, you can venture out by boat into Walvis Bay, home to large numbers of seal, as well as pelican, flamingo, dolphin, and a rich variety of other marine and birdlife.
Near Walvis is one of our favorite towns. Swakopmund is a virtual outdoor museum, comprised of pastel colonial buildings on sand-covered streets sandwiched between the roaring Atlantic on one side the endless dunes of the Namib Desert on the other.
Outside of Swakopmund is Moon Valley, with a stunning lunar-like landscape. It is one of our favorite places in Africa to serve you champagne and excellent Namibian oysters.
Namibia is best experienced by small plane, affording dramatic aerial views of this extraordinarily beautiful landscape.
We can fly you into ghost towns (former mining towns), abandoned to the shifting sands, accompanied by a professional photographer.
Or we can fly you to Twyfelfontein, a massive open-air UNESCO World Heritage Site containing rock art up to 6,000 years old, carved into red rock by ancient Bushmen.
Namibia’s tiny population of 2 million encompasses over 12 ethnic groups and 20 languages. Perhaps the best known is the Himba. Himba women color their skin and hair with an ochre-colored paste, giving them a distinct reddish hue. Their villages are built around a fire, which is never extinguished. Known as okurowo, it represents the ancestors of the villagers.
“Namib” means vast in local languages. In fact, many clients, upon their return, speak of the ravishing beauty of Namibia’s vast emptiness.
But to us it is very full.