When we are asked to think about African safari holidays we might be forgiven for immediately envisaging the drama of the South African Savannah, the enormity of Tanzaniaâ€™s Serengeti National Park or perhaps the iconic Maasai warriors of Southern Kenya. There is however another region of Sub Saharan Africa, a rugged and beautiful landscape that awaits the discerning traveler.
Namibia is perhaps more famous as the home of sprinter Frankie Fredericks than as a leading holiday destination but for many this nation is being tipped as new star in the African constellation. A burgeoning band of intrepid and enthusiastic tourists are slowly beginning to uncover the secrets of this mysterious land; a place that rewards its visitors with some of the most dramatic and ethereal scenery in Africa making for a truly unforgettable experience.
Namibia is known as the ‘land of contrasts’ and this is certainly an accurate impression. Vast sweeping deserts of the most vibrant sands, lush green plains, inland lakes and an incredible range of wildlife assert Namibia as a world as diverse as it is breath taking.
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Namibia’s Western territories are dominated by the Namib Desert, a seemingly endless blanket of shifting sands that stretches from Namibia to South West Angola and as part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park constitutes the largest game reserve in Africa. Though it maybe classified as a desert, the Namib region is certainly not lacking in energy or spectacle and in fact provides a treasure trove of impressive sights. The Sossusvlei and Deadvlei areas of the South Namib are amongst the most photographed landscapes in Southern Africa featuring spectacular shifting and terrestrial sand dunes and a wild and ethereal panorama. The regions themselves are made up of vast clay and salt pans accessed by the famous Sesriem gate or 2×4 parking as it is known because no vehicles without 4 wheel-drive can make it past this point. Other features of particular interest include dune 45, the most photographed dune in the world; Big Daddy one of the largest dunes in the world which incredibly stands at a height similar to that of the Empire State Building and of course Deadvlei an alien world of scorched black trees, rich red earth and bright orange sands which has featured in numerous Hollywood films and music videos.
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To the north of the Namib, the unforgiving Skeleton Desert offers a fascinating and rather sobering glimpse into a true wilderness. The strong tides of the Atlantic Ocean combined with rolling mists and a remote and desolate landscape have over the years claimed numerous cargo ships and sailing vessels, all but condemning their crews to a sad fate. The mechanical â€˜skeletonsâ€™ of these ships litter the coastline along with the bleached white bones of whales that have beached themselves on the sands; although not everyoneâ€™s idea of a tourist attraction the Skeleton Coast is undeniably striking.
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The beating heart of an African safari is of course the wildlife and no encounter would be complete without interacting with some of the most iconic animals on Earth. Though the deserted areas of Namibia are not renowned for their animal species many creatures do still inhabit these territories including antelopes, gazelles, ostriches and desert elephants. The home of wildlife in Namibia, is however though Etosha National Park. Good infrastructure makes navigating the vast 22,000 sq km park a simple task and particularly during the dry season from May through to October animals can be seen congregating a numerous drinking holes. Species that can be seen in and around the park include lions, leopards, rhinos, hyenas, elephants, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, springbok, impala, eland and many many more.
Namibia is a land intrigue, of rugged beauty and surprising diversity. For the ultimate alternative African safari experience Namibia awaits you.