Home to inspiring landscapes, wildlife and people, Namibia is now even more rewarding thanks to its progress in sustainable development through conservation and tourism.
Population: 2.2 million
Foreign visitors per year: 1.2 million
Languages: English (official), Afrikaans, German, numerous indigenous languages
Major industry: mining (diamonds, uranium, gold, base metals)
Unit of currency: Namibian dollar (N$)
Cost index: bottle of Windhoek Lager N$6.50 (US$0.61), campsite per person N$150 (US$14), safari lodge double N$1000 (US$95), balloon safari per person N$4000 (US$375)
Why go asap?
The golden sands of Namibia turned silver in 2015, celebrating its 25th anniversary of independence. And with memories of the country’s birth still fresh in many minds, expect the celebrations to be widespread and long lasting. There is more for you to enjoy in this year than just a landmark birthday, though – the country, home to inspiring desert and mountain landscapes, wildlife and people, is now more rewarding than ever thanks to its ground-breaking progress in sustainable development through conservation and tourism. Already the first African country to include the protection of its environment within its constitution (one of a few in the world to do so), Namibia also empowers local and indigenous cornmu nities to contribute to conservation efforts and ensures that they receive an equitable distribution of the tourism proceeds relating to them.
As a result, almost an eighth of Namibians are currently taking part, leading to registered conservancies covering more than 18% of the country’s landmass. This, in addition to the 19% of Namibia that is protected as part of a national park or reserve, is playing a major role in the nation’s conservation successes – it now hosts the world’s largest numbers of black rhino and cheetah, and, unlike anywhere else on the continent, the populations and range of lions and giraffes are expanding.
With stories of poaching and habitat loss elsewhere in Africa dominating the news, word of Namibia’s wildlife conservation successes hasn’t yet gained too much traction. That won’t last for long, however, so take advantage this year and explore it before you have to share it.
Festivals & Events:
Musicians, dancers, poets and artists from many of Namibia’s cultural groups are on show at Windhoek’s /AE//Gams Art and Cultural Festival at the end of March.
In April the Capital erupts with live music, dancing and slapstick comedy at the Windhoek Karneval.
The Herero people of Okahandja commemorate Maherero Day (Heroes’ Day) in late August with a procession through town. The vibrant traditional garb is a sight to see.
Climb to the top of a sky-scraping red sand dune at Sossusvlei in the early hours and witness the day’s first light seemingly set the desert landscape on fire. You’ll need to stay within Namib-Naukluft National Park at either Sesriem Camp Site or Sossus Dune Lodge, the only two accommodations that allow pre-dawn access to the site.
Sleepless nights are a good thing. Well, in Etosha National Park anyway. Sit up into the wee hours at one of the park’s three floodlit waterholes and be enthralled by the natural night-time theatrics of safari’s big-name game.
Experience the sheer beauty and drama of the Skeleton Coast and its wildlife (both aquatic and terrestrial) on a low-altitude flight safari.
Self-drive safaris. With evocative landscapes, empty roads and world-class wildlife, Namibia is simply the best place in Africa to get behind the wheel and explore. And with the western section of Etosha National Park recently opening up to self-drivers, there is more to see in 2015 than ever.
Oil. How will the development of recently discovered offshore deposits shape the country’s coast and its economy?
Beetles, lizards, spiders and various plants in the depths of the Namib Desert collect their drinking water by ingeniously condensing fog on their extremities.
The golden wheel spider escapes its predators in the desert by cartwheeling down dunes at a remarkable 2600 revolutions per minute.
Although its remote shores are adorned with half-buried, bleached whale skeletons, the Skeleton Coast actually received its name due to its reputation for sinking ships, and the deadly environment that awaited the survivors.
Most bizarre sight:
Kolmanskop, once a booming diamond-mining town – complete with a hospital, school, church, theatre, bowling alley and casino – was deserted and left to be devoured by the Namib’s shifting sands in the 1950s after richer deposits were found elsewhere. Today, Kolmanskop’s dramatic half-digested remains are a surreal testament to the power of nature and to the wastefulness of disposable culture.