Home to some truly bizarre forms of life, much of the 80 – 250km-wide and 2000km in long coastal Namib Desert. This is one of the largest national parks in Africa stretching from Angola in the north to South Africa in the south. In fact, Namib means ‘vast’ in the Nama language. The Namib Desert is basically uninhabited apart from some very small settlements due to the harshness of the conditions.
What is it like to visit the Namib Desert?
One aspect about Namibia that you will never forget are the night skies. This video was created by the photographic genius that is Marsel van Oosten. Take a moment to be inspired. Visit his website www.squiver.com
When is the best time to go to the Namib Desert?
The temperatures along the coast a generally 9 – 20 Degrees thus great for a year round visit. Saying that in summer (November to March) you can experience highs inland up to 45 degrees.
April – May – Great time to visit as it relatively green and mild
June – August – Chilly at night but dry during the day (it is a desert)
September – October – Best Time to visit so plan early. Starts warming up and a great time to visit for game viewing.
November – March – Is by all means warm with potential thundershowers at mid day to cool the air down.
What is there to visit in the Namib Desert?
The Namib-Naukluft National Park
The Namib-Naukluft National Park is bordered by the Namib Desert (considered the oldest in the world) in the west and the Kalahari Desert in the east. The reserve’s dry southern location provides every visitor with exquisite views. It is the most versatile conservation region of Namibia, and is one of the country’s main tourist destinations. This expansive wilderness is bigger than Germany, reaching the size of around 49,768 square kilometres, making it the biggest game park in all of Africa and the fourth biggest in the world. It also encompasses vital features, including Sossusvlei, Sesriem, the Welwitschia Trail, Sandwich Harbour, the Naukluft Mountains and the Kuiseb Canyon. There is a variety of landscapes in the Park, such as dunes, gravel plains and rugged mountainous regions. The reserve is one of the least populated areas in the country, giving guests a true sense of the nature and enormity of the Park, providing beautiful and clear evening skies.
An astonishing assortment of animals inhabits this arid area, such as hyena, gemsbok, jackal, snakes, geckos and intriguing insects such as the Namib desert beetle, a unique insect that collects water on its back. Moisture enters the Park as fog that floats off the Atlantic Sea then falls as rain, giving the region an annual rainfall of approximately 106 millimetres, all between the months of February and April. The winds that help in bringing this fog in are also responsible for forming the Park’s massive sand dunes that show their age with their burnt orange hue. Sossusvlei’s dunes are amongst the highest in the world, rising in certain areas to heights of over 400 metres above the desert ground. Lagoons, wetlands and mudflats draw in an abundance of birdlife.
Namib means ‘open space’, and the Namib Desert offered its name to help create ‘Namibia’, which means ‘land of open spaces’. The reserve was founded in 1907 after the German Colonial Administration declared the region between the Swakop River and the Kuiseb River a game park. The Naukluft portion completes the other half of the Namib and includes such features as the Naukluft Mountains and huge rock formations that make the region a geologist’s heaven. The reserve contains five different vegetation communities that result in plenty of tree and shrub vegetation, and a wide range of aloes. In addition to the Hartmann’s mountain zebra found here, there are also plenty of kudu, gemsbok, klipspringer, duiker, steenbok, leopard, baboon, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, African wild cat, caracal and aardwolf. Naukluft’s steep escarpments are the nesting lands for numerous cliff-breeding bird species, including majestic Black eagles.
The Naukluft Mountains are located in the northeast of Sesriem, where the primary slope juts out into the desert, creating a range that is known as the Naukluft Mountains. These mountains were guarded within the Park in 1968 in order to protect a rare breeding concentration of Hartmann’s mountain zebra. Briefly following this, land was purchased to the west of the mountains and was joined to the reserve, thus creating a corridor that links the mountains to the Park. This permitted oryx, zebra and other wildlife to migrate between the two regions, and in 1979 the reserves were eventually combined to form the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Though most of the land in the Park tends to be rocky and lightly peppered with plant life, the ravines and valleys are lush. The area boasts an incredible variety of fauna and flora, and is a scenic must-see for anyone preparing a visit to Namibia.
Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan amid towering red dunes in the southern part of the Namib desert, which is part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Rust-red dunes mark this territory by rising 300 metres above the valley floor, a spectacular sight to see.
What is there to do in the Namib Desert?
Sossusvlei and Sesreim National Parks
Steenbok, springbok, oryx, kudu, zebra, rock dassie, klipspringer and much more
Huge red sand dunes
Camel thorn trees
Namib Desert Map
Interesting fact about the Namib Desert
The Famous Namib Desert Beetle
The Namib Desert Beetle originated in the dry desert of Southern Africa. With such a small percentage of rain per year (1.4cm), this beetle survives by collecting water on its back that has small ridges on it. The beetle teeters on its little legs and faces into the breeze and spreads out its wings, thus collecting droplets of moisture from fog on its bumpy back. These droplets flatten as they come into contact with hydrophilic (water-attracting) surfaces which allows the droplets to accumulate. Eventually the droplets become heavy at which point it drops into the beetle’s mouth.
In fact a US company wants to mimic the beetle that stores water by creating a self-filling water bottle. They want to cover the surface of a bottle with hydrophilic material, much the same as the beetle has on its back. They are in the process of building a functional prototype, says Miguel Galvez, the co-founder of the company. “We think our initial prototype will collect anywhere from half a litre of water to three litres per hour, depending on local environments.”