Think Namibia, and images of red dunes covered with undulating golden grasses probably spring to mind. But the spectacularly striking dune fields of the Namib Desert, from which the country takes its name, is only one facet of this incredibly diverse country, which stretches for 1 500km up the south west coast of Africa – from the Orange River, the country’s southern border with South Africa, to the Kunene River, bordering Angola in the north.
The Kalahari Desert dominates eastern Namibia, while in the northeast the lush, riverine Kavango and Zambezi regions (formerly known as the Caprivi Strip) form a narrow corridor that ends at the Zambezi river.
Katima Mulilo, the capital of the Zambezi region, is located at the crossroads of Namibia, Angola, Botswana and Zambia, and is a major gateway to Central Africa.
With a population of around 2.2 million, Namibia has one of the lowest population densities on earth, but it still boasts excellent infrastructure and a good road network. It is easy to travel around in. Although desert temperatures can soar in summer and drop to below freezing in mid-winter, blue skies and sunny days are the norm and, other than in the Kavango and Zambezi regions in the northeast, the country is malaria-free. The ever-changing landscapes, kaleidoscope of colours and huge variety of habitats make any visit to Namibia a photographer’s dream.
The southern and western parts of the country are strikingly arid. Here hardy animals make an impossible living in what appears to be a totally hostile setting.
These include the magnificent oryx, desert-adapted elephants and rhino, as well as a myriad of reptiles, beetles and other insects that somehow survive in this inhospitable landscape.
In complete contrast, the country’s major attraction, the world famous Etosha National Park in the north, and the game parks of the north-east are home to vast concentrations of big game such as lion, rhino, elephant, giraffe, hippopotamus and crocodile, as well as an array of antelope species.
The birdlife of Namibia is particularly outstanding and there are various wildlife sanctuaries dedicated to protecting and rehabilitating big cats.
Windhoek, the attractive capital, is the country’s only city, but the vibey town of Swakopmund, and nearby Walvis Bay, the major settlements on the Skeleton Coast, offer a host of exciting adventures including dune sports such as quad biking and sandboarding, deep sea fishing, sea kayaking, dolphin cruises as well as skydiving and ballooning.