Vast expanses of desolate beauty, peaking red sand dunes and some of the toughest animals in the world, the Namib Desert of Namibia is a harsh but beautiful environment where animals and plants have learned to adapt in this water deprived environment.
The Namib Desert is recorded as being the oldest desert in the world, created by the weather patterns within the region and resulting in a barren landscape with a few pans, such as the Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei pans. In the indigenous language of Nama, The Namib Desert means vast, which is reflected in the massive area that it stretches across within the Namibian and parts of Angolan countries.
The Namib Desert of Namibia is home to some of the oldest species of plant and animal life, such as the Welwitschia plants. This plant is considered to be the longest living member of the plant kingdom in the world. This fact is attributed to the specific and stable climate the region has. Add to this the unique insects that have adapted to these conditions, and you have a place that’s sure to tickle a nerve of any nature lover.
A variety of activities, sights and sounds can be enjoyed in the Namib Desert, ranging from hiking, to 4×4 drives and exceptional photographic opportunities of the contrasting landscape. The region includes limited access areas, such as the Skeleton Coast or the Sperrgebeit, which is a diamond mining center.
Although the region is mostly covered with sand, the inner Namib desert supports a large number of antelope, whilst the coastal regions provide magnificent feeding grounds for marine birds. Here one may view the many species of flamingos, penguins, gulls and pelicans that feed in the Atlantic Ocean.
The greater area of the Namib Desert is largely uninhabited, however if one chooses the self drive option, there are a number of settlements scattered across the region, as well as a few luxury lodges for accommodation. Many of these lodges will offer guided tours into the desert with professional guides that can take you to specific areas of interest, such as the pans, dunes and canyons within the region. The region is relatively spread out, and you may want to consider starting from one of the various coastal towns, including Luderitz, Swakopmund or Oranjemund. If you enjoy quality lobsters, the Luderitz is an absolute must, as it serves as the center of the lobster industry in Namibia.
In Swakopmund you will have the chance to experience quad biking in the dunes. This is one of the top attractions in the region, and offers a great chance to experience the wild rides on the dunes of the Namib desert surrounding the town. Additionally the town is based upon a beach resort, within the German Colonial genre, and sports one of the world’s only all grass desert golf courses. This town is also the birthplace of the celebrity couple of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s child, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt.
The various towns and settlements are steeped in history and offer a number attractions that the tourist may enjoy whilst in the town centers, as well as when venturing out into the desert. Remember to drink lots of water here, it is hot, and you certainly do not want to get lost in the Namib Desert, so guided excursions may be best.