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Namibia Travel Tips & Information
In Namibia, upon the parched palate of a vast and contradictory land, the realities of thirst have created a plethora of idiosyncratic societies. The shifting dunes of the Namib Desert are honeycombed with the greatest variety of living creatures of any dunelands around the world.

Namibia - big sky country. A place where undulating deserts fold down to meet a tempestuous coastline, Namibia offers a diverse range of highlights: Scenic beauty including the Skeleton Coast - untouched and untamed, this desolate and uninhabited landscape is home to the rare Brown Hyena and Desert Elephants, seal colonies and is the burial ground of many ships; the Kunene River - the source of one of Africa's greatest waterfalls, the Ruacana; the splendour of abundant bird and wildlife; unusual geological formations including Fish River Canyon, Brandberg, Spitzkoppe and the unique star-shaped dune mountains at Sossusvlei; pristine wilderness including Etosha Pan - an oasis in the centre of a vast semi-desert region, the Namib Desert - the only desert that harbours elephant, rhino, lion and giraffe; the diverse and friendly nation - vibrant African cultures blended with the architecture and traditions of the Germans, British and South Africans; Adventure opportunities - from sand boarding, canoeing, white water rafting to hot air ballooning and The Desert Express Train.

Windhoek, Namibia's capital city, is set in the Central Region. With its international airport, Windhoek is a convenient point to begin or end your tour and provides a good base for local excursions. The northern part of the Central Region has an astonishing diversity of bird, animal life and mineral wealth while to the west is the Namib Desert and the Kalahari to the east.

The majestic Auas mountains, the Eros mountains and the rolling Khomas Hochland surround Windhoek. Mineral springs offer an oasis in this very dry region and holiday resorts are located close to Windhoek. The national parks, fascinating little towns, out of the way mission stations and cattle ranches all have their own unique attractions.

The desolate Skeleton Coast, monument to by-gone maritime disasters, contrasts with the vibey holiday atmosphere of the quaint German settlement of Swakopmund. Within the precincts of Etosha Pan, the lake of a mother's tears, where perimeter waterholes enclose the salt expanse, great herds of game are on a perpetual pub-crawl. This provides some of the most magnificent gameviewing opportunities anywhere.

Inland, in surrealist Damaraland, you'll encounter various social curiosities, including the Petrified Forest; Welwitschia Mirabilis, the thousand year old underground tree; the statuesque Kokerboom; and the diminutive Damara Dik Dik, with its twitching nose.

The Namib Region stretches from Oranjemund in the south up through the Skeleton Coast to the Angolan border in the north, mostly consisting of national parks. The Namib-Naukluft Park is considered the fourth largest in the world, covering 49 768 km sq. Hardy desert plants and the variety of landscapes make this a magical place for scenic photographers.

The ancient Namib Desert features many of Namibia's tourist destinations and is home to one of the world's oldest plants - the prehistoric Welwitschia Mirabilis and a large number of endemic dunedwelling creatures.

The Skeleton Coast National Park reaches from the Ugab to the Kunene River. Hardy desert animals congregate around the intermittent watering places, while in the distance craggy mountains and vistas of sand dunes enhance its beauty. The popular coastal resort of Swakopmund has many buildings dating back to the turn of the century, these national monuments represent the town's German colonial past. With its numerous excursion possibilities, Swakopmund is rapidly becoming Namibia's groups and conventions destination. Walvis Bay is 31 km south of Swakopmund, another principal port of entry and has a flourishing fishing industry.

The Walvis Bay lagoon is one of Africa's most important wetlands and hosts large flocks of flamingoes, pelicans and other water birds. West of the Naukluft mountains is the Sesriem Canyon gorged out over centuries by the Tsauchaub River. 63 km away is Sossusvlei, a dry clay basin surrounded by some of the highest sand dunes in the world. Lüderitz, between the desert and the coast, was the first German settlement in Namibia and the base of the South African diamond industry in 1908. This sea-side resort is the centre of Namibia's crayfish industry, renowned for its oysters and the ghost town of Kolmanskop is not far away.

The fertile Northern Region is the largest region in Namibia, with vast areas under cultivation, sustained by underground lakes. The highlight of this region is the Etosha National Park, one of the major wildlife sanctuaries in Africa and an official game reserve since 1907. This 22 270 km sq park ranges from dense bush to open plains and houses prolific bird and wildlife.

Two attractive towns in the centre of a rich mining area are Otavi, sheltered by the Otavi Mountains and Tsumeb further north. Damaraland offers contrasting desert, rolling grasslands and high mountain ranges with unusual geological features, rock paintings and rare animals. It is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Skeleton Coast National Park.

The volcanic landscapes around Khorixas bear footprints of dinosaurs and the Petrified Forest (massive tree trunks up to 30 m in length) lies scattered across the plains with Welwitschias and other hardy desert plants growing among them. Twyfelfontein (Fountain of Doubt) is south-west of the Petrified Forest offering spectacular rock paintings and engravings dating back thousands of years. South of Twyfelfontein is a desolate landscape of volcanic rock called Burnt Mountain. Nearby are the Organ Pipes, a formation of perpendicular basalt. The Brandberg Range contains the highest mountain peak in the country (the Kunigstein 2 573 m) and many rock paintings including the famous White Lady of Brandberg.

The Caprivi Strip is an exciting destination for the adventurous traveller with rivers, forests, swamps and waterways - it is a total contrast to the arid grandeur of the rest of Namibia. Activities in this area include hiking, fishing, gameviewing, birdwatching and mokoro trails. The beautiful landscape of the Southern Region is stark, desolate, hot and dry. Earthquakes and storms have carved the land into wonderful sculptures. Brukkaros, an extinct volcano, looms over the plains north of Keetmanshoop.

The Fish River Canyon - a ravine 161 m long, up to 27 km wide and almost 550 m deep and the hot spring resort of Ai-Ais are popular attractions.

The Kokerboom, an aloe capable of surviving years of drought, and the Quiver Tree Forest, a protected area 23 km north-east of Keetmanshoop, are found here. Although agriculture (dominated by livestock production) provides a livelihood for an estimated 70% of Namibia's population, mining provides the backbone to the economy.

Diamonds, gold, silver, uranium, copper, lead, zinc, magnesium, cadmium and other base metals are all produced. Having developed rapidly since independence, tourism is currently the country's third most important foreign exchange earner.
About the Author
Gerald Crawford was born in South Africa, studied electronics, telecommunication, eco-travel and african travel concepts. He taught responsible tourism in South Africa. If you have any questions or comments please e-mail me on. E-mail address: southafricantravelarticles@12234455.co.za. Website address: www.12234455.co.za.
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