|Saturday, 23 February 2008 00:00|
The Atlantic waves crash thunderously onto the beach and wind churns water and sand over the likely most inhospitable coastal region in the world: the Skeleton Coast in the Northwest of Namibia.Thick fog fills the region in the early hours of the morning. This fog once left numerous ships and whales to their doom. Skeletons and shipwrecks are a witness to those unlucky days long past. Whoever got stranded here didn’t stand a chance as the land was nothing but sand: the Namib Desert.
Today a large part of the coast is under conservation – it is only possible to tour the northern section up to the Angolan boarder with a guide, while the southern regions are freely accessible to everyone. Whoever goes to the North should listen up near Camp Terrance Bay: With the right wind strength and direction you can hear the ‚Roaring Dunes’. The sand generates a disharmonious sound when it slides down the ridge of the dunes, similar to an avalanche in the mountains.
Further south you can hardly hear the dunes at all, despite being largely visible: In Sossusvlei stands the highest dune in the world. Dune Number 7 is with around 380 metres the highest of its sort. Particularly in the evening when the sun is low, the golden light conjures fantastic shadow play upon the crimson giant.
The most southern costal region in Namibia is for the most part closed to the public. It’s not animals that are protected here, but valuable minerals: Diamonds. At the beginning of the 20th Century the glistening stones were discovered by chance by the building of a railway line. Since then companies control the region.
On the way to the port city of Lüderitz in your hire car you will come across a hastily constructed former settlement that is now an abandoned ghost town. Moreover, Keetmanshoop is on the way. From here travellers should definately go on to visit the ‚Giant’s Playground’ – massive rocks that are piled up in a bizarre formation. Close by you’ll see a rare Quiver tree forest. These trees can grow up to nine metres tall and over one metre thick, and some are over 200 years old. From Keetmanshoop in the south you can travel down through the heart of Namibia in the uplands to the North. About half way is the capital Windhoek. The ‚Tintenpalast’ (or ‚Ink Palace’), the ‚Südwest Reiter’ and ‚Alte Feste’ are the names of the sights in the city. The German names are no accident, as towards the end of the 19th Century Namibia was called German South-West Africa and was a German colony. The ‚Alte Fest’ is a fort that now houses the Namibia’s National Museum. The Tintenpalast is the seat of the Namibian parliament and the National Assembly. The name of the palace was obtained by the then-German populace who scoffed at the would-be poets working there and the high ink consumption. Anyone wanting to hear further about the colonial times and more of Windhoek’s history would have to have a German dictionary on hand: A large number of residents still speak German.
Further north the A-road branches off in two and leads to the country’s most distinguished ports: Wall Fish Bay. As in Windhoek you can still find traces of the former German rule. In the harbour passenger boats cast off for bird, seal and dolphin watching.
The first A-road continues through the Damarlaland with its famous rock paintings and numerous organ pipes (pillars of red Basalt). Right up north extends the Etosha National Park. Around the Etosha pan, in which there in water only in the rainy season (November to April), there are vast grasslands for almost every kind of animal on the African continent: Elephants, giraffes, wild cats, antelope and zebras are just a few of the representatives of the seemingly unlimited diversity.
Eastern Namibia is dominated by the Kalahari Desert. The continuously reappearing dunes in the country’s Northeast are being abruptly taken over by thick green. Given that years can go by without any rain in many parts of Namibia and that the temperature rises over 60°C, narrow strips of green oases are spread out. The Caprivi Strip is has many rivers crossing through it that flows the whole year round. A thick, tropical jungle grows on the bank that attracts particularly big elephant herds.
Inhospitable deserts and green oases: Discover the fantastic landscape of Namibia!