Having gained its independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibia is one of Africa's youngest countries. Its dry land has been inhabited by Bushmen, Namaqua and Damara since early times and by the Bantu later on in the 14th century. This incredibly diverse and hauntingly beautiful country has been called a photographer’s dream. Situated between the Kalahari Desert and the Atlantic Ocean, the country is bountiful in its seascapes, remote deserts, red rugged mountains, colonial cities, and spectacular wildlife. Here you can witness a lion stalking her prey against a red sky on an endless plain in Etosha. You can sleep under the desert stars beside a campfire listening for the calls of the wild. After Mongolia, Namibia is the world's second least densely populated country. That means there isn't a lot out there but sheer wilderness, and Namibia safaris are famous.
An arid land, Namibia has four topographical regions: the Kalahari bordering Botswana and South Africa; the wooded Bushvelt in the Caprivi and Kavango regions; the Central Plateau; and the Namib Desert and the coastal plains just to the west of it. Travelers should see Etosha National Park in the northwest for its wildlife as well as the sand dunes in Namib-Naukluft Park in the west. Surfers should head to Swakopmund. Windhoek is the country's capital city and geographic heart, containing an eclectic mix of people from all of southern Africa.
Fish River Canyon is one of the most dramatic sites in all of southern Africa with its inner canyon depths reaching 550 meters. The length of the canyon is 160 kilometers and its width is 27 kilometers. All this to say, this is a humungous canyon. Unfortunately, an unprepared hiker died here in 2001 so day hikes are now prohibited even though thousands hiked here before 2001 without incident. Hopefully the authorities will change this soon.
Etosha National Park covers the vast green and eerily white Etosha Pan (a huge salt pan in the Namib Desert). The enormous park protects over 100 mammals, 340 species of birds, 15 reptiles and amphibians, numerous insects and one species of fish. Only two-thirds of the park is open to the public, with the western third open only to tour operators. The roads in the eastern section need only a two-wheel drive vehicle and contain three camps, all with information centers. It's advisable to book in advance if you'd like to go during Namibian school holidays.
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