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NAMIBIA

Introduction

Namibia is a land of spectacular beauty and of extreme contrasts. From the depths of the Fish River Canyon in the Namaqualand, the shimmering colours of the Namib, the oldest desert in the world, to the Skeleton Coast and Kaokoland, home to the nomadic Himba people in the extreme North of the country, a wind of freedom is blowing.

Exploring the bare mountains of Damaraland (known for its elephants and desert black rhinos) and the Etosha wildlife reserve, one of the most renowned parks in Africa, is pure adventure. Namibian horizons open the doors of your imagination...

Population

Namibia has about 2 million inhabitants and a very low population density (2 inhabitants/ km2) and includes about 10 tribal groups: Bantu (Ovambo represent more than half the population), Khoisan, Coloured as well as White (Afrikaners, German and English speaking people) who represent 7.5% of the population.

 

Even if most of the population is concentrated in the northern rural areas, the country is going through a fast urban development.


Windhoek counts more than 150 000 inhabitants and the main coastal towns have more than 10 000 inhabitants each.


Afrikaans is the mother tongue of more than 78 000 Namibians (including many Coloureds).
Local populations speak Bantu languages (especially in the North of the country) and Khoisan.

History

Blacks represent 87.5% of the population, Whites 6.6% and Coloureds 7.5%, who are divided into two distinct groups, the main one being Afrikaans speaking, originated by the mix of Dutch settlers and Khoisan women in colonial South Africa.

 

There are about 30 ethnic groups, the two main ones being the Ndonga and the Ovambo (or Ambo) sharing the same language: Ndonga.


The most ancient Namibian people are the Bushmen split into three large tribes: the San, the Damara and the Nama. The first main ethnic group is the Bantu, divided into five groups split into tribes and clans.


As far as religion is concerned, Namibia is mostly Christian (80 to 90% including 50% Lutherians) as well as Animist (10 to 20%).

Geography

Area: 825 000 km2

Capital: Windhoek

The ancient South African South West is divided into 4 (5?) main sectors:

  • The Namib Desert and the plains stretching along 2000km of the Atlantic Ocean coastline.
  • The Central Plateau, where the cities are concentrated, standing at 2606 m above sea level.
  • The Kalahari Desert in the East.
  • The Bushveld covered with woodlands in Kavango and Caprivi in the North.
  • The Damaraland stretching over 48 000 km2 and revealing unique geological formations, whose colours change with light. It is a magnificent untouched region with very few people.

Climate

The climate varies strongly depending on the region. The Benguale Current coming from the South brings about a temperature gradient rising from the coast to the interior of the country.


In the Namib Desert, the temperature can be higher than 40C in daytime and colder than 0C in the night!

Rainy season: November-April.

Economy

The main resource of the country comes from the subsoil and the many uranium, copper, silver and diamond mines.
Diamond production accounts for 40% of the GDP followed by the fishing industry. Namibia remains dependant on its neighbour South Africa for other sectors.

Practical info

Visas and passports...

International visitors must be in possession of a valid passport of at least 6 months. European visitors do not require visas.

Money…

The currency is the Namibian dollar indexed to the Rand. Only the Rand and the Namibian dollar are accepted in the country. However, most upmarket lodges accept Euros and Dollars to set drinks and souvenirs. Credit cards are also accepted.

Telephone…

The international code is 264.

Electricity…

The voltage is 220 volts, but the plugs are non standard {Similar to those of South Africa) and you will need an adapter.

The Namib-Naukflut Park

The oldest desert in the world; how can you not be seduced by the Namib orange sand dunes, infinitely photogenic…

 

In the Namib-Naukflut Park , with its mountain range (layers of quartz, dolomite and clay), the horizon meets amazingly diverse desert landscapes from stony plains to the great Sossusvlei dunes, crossed by the small Kuiseb River and sparkles like stars (possibilities of hikes, horse riding, and flights over the desert in a small plain or hot air balloon).

 

Going towards the coast, you will discover Walvis Bay and its swampy lagoon (one of the most important ones for coastal birds in Southern Africa) home to 70 000 to 120 000 birds. 200 000 other birds stop for supplies on their way from or to Antarctica. You can observe different types of flamingos as well as rare white pelicans.

 

The Cape Cross will provide a fascinating encounter with the largest seal colony in Southern Africa.
You can observe as many as 200 000 seals during the mating season.

The Fishriver Canyon

Before it meets the Orange River, the Fish River dug the second greater canyon in the world. It took millions of years of work to create these stone arches (5 billiard years old), Inselbergs with more recent sediment formations (20 000 years), terraces, and vast plains…This produced a spectacular result that you can see on the 69 km long panoramic road.

 

The “largemouth yellow fish”, catfish, the Mozambican tilapia and carp still inhabit the natural pools formed in some areas.

 

There are 1 day or more hiking possibilities in the canyon depending on the season and you can observe baboons, rock rats, ground squirrels and klipspringers.


Leopard footprints have been seen next to the water holes as well as mountain zebras.
An amazing experience!


15km away form Keetmanshoop, the Kokerboom forest (recognized as a national monument since 1st June 1955) is a paradise for photographers. The Kokerboom tree, 200 to 300 years old, is endemic to the hot Namibian regions. It is actually more a plant belonging to the Aloe species than a tree. It is called “Kokerboom” because the Hottentot tribes used to use its bark to make quivers (koker= quiver).

Etosha National Park

Etosha is the biggest wildlife park in Africa, covering an area of 23000 km2.


You will be able to observe the great wild animals, black rhinos, giraffes, thousands of zebras and antelopes, wildebeests and the Great elephant.


The waterholes are exceptional observation spots and will introduce you to lions, leopards, elephants and rhinos, preferably at sunrise or sunset.

The Waterberg

As if surrounded by red cliffs, Waterberg (in the South of Etosha) is a reserve protecting endangered species such as the last white rhinos of Namibia, the last Cape Vultures as well as a rare flora. It is also a research station on the flora and fauna and visits have to be organised.

 

There are several day hiking possibilities in the reserve, but as it is very difficult to see the protected animals, time and patience will be greatly rewarded.

The Caprivi strip

This long hall hosts 4 of the 6 permanent rivers of the country, the Okavango, the Kwando, the Chobe and the Zambezi, which makes it the greener region of the country.


Several nature reserves will let you come close to the rivers and the wildlife that inhabit them. It is also a point of access to the Victoria Falls and the Okavango Delta.

The Kavango

The Okavango River is one of the last African natural paradises. The river blossoms in an immense delta, spreading over 15 000 km2 in the sea of sand of the Kalahari. It is home to rare species such as Sitatungas or wild dogs. Papyrus and water hyacinth flourish the calm waters.

Bushmanland

In the North East, Bushmanland and its capital Tsumkwe, where more than 15 000 San people still live, is well worth a stop, to discover their skills and craft.


The Khaudum wildlife reserve gives us a glimpse of the life of hunter gatherers and its untouched lands covered with trees are home to roan antelopes, wild dogs, elephants…and are explored essentially by 4x4.

The Kaokoland

Kaokoland, or “land of the Himba” n this stony region and red soil, time stops. Meeting the people evokes heartfelt emotion.

 

Moreover, this expedition throughout the most untouched part of the country will take you to the Kunune River lined with Makalani palmtree forests and to the Marienfluβ that turns into a shelter for large herds of Oryx, Hartman zebras and desert elephants (more rare) after heavy rain. The Kunene flows to the magnificent Ruacana or Epupa Falls until it ends in the Atlantic Ocean. Magical!

 

What more can be said about Namibia, except that one has to experience it, intensely, with awakened senses, enjoying each precious moment.