Namibia, formerly a German colony, is bordered by Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Atlantic Ocean.
Although it’s one of the least densely populated countries in the world – fewer than three people per square kilometre – it’s home to an astonishing variety of spectacular scenery, from golden deserts, black mountains and the second largest canyon on Earth, to water wonderlands and great flat salt pans teeming with big game and birdlife.
Your clients can start their journey in the laid-back capital, Windhoek, more European than African in style, and discover historical colonial buildings, funky shopping precincts, elegant hotels and welcoming B&Bs.
European influences are also evident in the quaint little town of Swakopmund, with its seaside promenade, sidewalk cafés, spick-and-span hotels and boarding houses. However, sandwiched between the harsh Namib Desert and the icy wild Atlantic, it must have one of the most bizarre locations on Earth. It’s also one of Africa’s adventure capitals, where your clients can go skydiving, sandboarding, dune-buggying, jet-skiing, horseback or camel riding among the dunes (spectacular on a moonlit night), hot-air ballooning, paragliding, or hiking.
Further south your clients can drive along one of the world’s loveliest and most unusual routes between Swakop (as Swakopmund is affectionately known by the locals) and Walvis Bay, where the tarred coastal road is dwarfed on one side by towering sand dunes, and on the other lashed by the crashing ocean.
If your clients are birders, then Sandwich Harbour, one of Africa’s most important wetlands, is where they’ll tick off a variety of waterbirds. Further south, inland from the port of Luderitz, is the ghost town of Kolmanskop in the Sperrgebiet (protected diamond territory), where sand drifts through deserted homes and abandoned buildings.
Even further south is the magnificent Fish River Canyon, second only in size to America’s Grand Canyon, a mecca for hikers of all levels.
But no visit to Namibia is complete without a visit to one of two World Heritage Sites in Namibia – the Namib Sand Sea in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, one of Africa’s biggest protected areas.
Here, your clients will be genuinely awestruck by the huge sand dunes at Sossusvlei (the most famous one, Big Daddy, towers more than 300m into the air) that roar, ramble and rumble (yes, really), and melt in colour from creamy white, ochre and yellow in the day, to golden, rose-pink and deep red as the sun sets. The whole area is a photographer’s paradise. Your clients can drive themselves (Namibian roads are well maintained), take a guided tour, clamber up the dunes as far as their legs and breath will take them, or splurge on a dawn hot-air balloon flight for an unforgettable experience.
Twyfelfontein, Namibia’s other World Heritage Site situated between the Namib and the semi-desert area of Kunene, is the world’s largest outdoor art gallery with more than 2 500 rock paintings believed to be between two thousand and three thousand years old.
About 12-million years ago Etosha National Park in the north of the country was a great inland lake. Today, parched white salt pans cover nearly a quarter of the park’s surface. Here your clients will experience fabulous game viewing because animals, including four of the Big Five (elephant, leopard, lion, rhino), all have to come to the various waterholes – the park’s only source of water – to drink and bathe.
Namibia is a country of superlatives, definitely worth experiencing.