in Namibia · Map of Namibia
· Cape Cross
· Seal Colony
Mirabillis · Namib Desert
· Sesriem Canyon
River Canyon · Skeleton
South West Africa; Namib means “vast open place” in
the language of the Nama people. This vast, arid country with
a population of 1.1 million has spectacular scenic attractions
and interesting game parks. The reserves cover 13% of the country.
The coast is very arid with less than 100mm of annual rainfall,
much of the interior highland gets between 100-500mm while the
northeast receives more than 500mm.
territory was under German administration from 1884 until 1914.
After WW1 the territory was placed under mandate of the Union
of South Africa by the Société des Nations (United
Nations since 1946), until South Africa terminated the mandate
in 1990 due to pressure from the United Nations.
Windhoek: The capital of Namibia lies at an
altitude of 1603m and has a population of 150 000. The name of
the city can be traced back to Chief Jonker Afrikaaner. The mountains
around Windhoek reminded him of the farm Winterhoek near Tulbagh
in the Cape (South Africa).
The Waterberg is the relic of a sandstone layer which once covered
a substantial part of Namibia. The sandstone was eroded away,
leaving only fragments scattered over the plain like pieces of
a jigsaw puzzle on the floor of a child’s playroom. The
Waterberg remnant of this lost landscape is a flat-topped plateau
48km long and between 8 and 16km wide.
National Park: Its name derives from the Ovambo
e Tosha and conserves 22 270km2 of semi-arid savannah, including
the pan itself. The pan temporarily fills with water during wetter
summers, attracting breeding flamingos, pelicans and other waterbirds.
The more common mammals are springbok, blue wildebeest, gemsbok,
red hartebeest, greater kudu, giraffe, steenbok, black faced impala,
and the Damara race of Kirk’s dik-dik.
large scale hunting by European hunters, the first German governor
Von François introduced hunting laws and made hunting permits
obligatory. In 1907 Governor von Lindequist declared one fourth
of South West Africa a nature reserve. The Etosha Pan and the
surrounding area were included. The fauna regenerated rapidly.
The Kaokoland was incorporated into Etosha making it one of the
largest reserves in the world. The Odendaal Plan based on the
homeland policy of South Africa removed Kaokoland from Etosha
in 1972. The Park is entirely fenced similar to the South African
parks; Kruger, Zululand etc.
The fort was built by the Germans as a police post
in 1903. A Silesian nobleman Count Wilhelm von Saurma Jettsch
had the idea of a gleaming white fort in the wilderness. The count
designed the fort as an irregular quadrangle, 60m x 68m, with
four towers and three gates. Accommodation for officers and men
was provided inside. There was a kitchen, a cool room for provisions,
some sheds, a bakery, smithy, gunsmith’s workshop, joinery,
wheelwright, and even a swimming-bath outside of the fort. On
6 July 1915, Namutoni was occupied by South African troops after
the Germans were defeated.
then on, the fort was only occupied occasionally and gradually
became dilapidated. The fort was declared a historical monument
in 1950 and funds were allocated by the government to rehabilitate
it and to convert it into a tourist camp. In 1957 the reconstructed
building was opened to tourists who were mainly local residents
from Windhoek. Sunset at the tower is a superb spectacle of colour
over the endless savannah plains.
The most recent camp in Etosha. The name is derived from the bugle
call made by the German soldiers.
(Watering place of the lion) is the headquarters of the park and
the first and largest tourist camp built in Etosha.
The Odendaal plan had envisaged homelands for the various indigenous
population groups, including the Damara. The Damara probably originate
from the Sudan, and they knew how to melt iron and copper and
to forge metal. They made spearheads and axes for the Herero and
Hottentots. The most serious problem encountered in Damaraland
is the lack of water. Dryland farming cannot be practised due
to the poor quality of the soil and the low rainfall. Khorixas
- the main town of Damaraland - was formerly known as Welwitschia.
The valley is known in the Damara language as Uais (one fountain).
When it flows, this fountain has attracted game animals and man.
Since its nature has always been erratic, Europeans have named
it Twyfelfontein (the doubtful fountain). The origin of the well
preserved rock engraving is uncertain. They are probably the work
of Bushmen or Nama artists and are estimated by some to be about
5000 years old. Engraving on rocks is difficult, with no possibility
of erasing errors. The engravings are so skillfully done that
they must have been the work of artists who have previously learnt
the skill on waste rock and who had made no amateurish mistakes.
Cross: Diego Cao erected a padrao (cross) in 1483.
Presumably he was the first European to step onto the Namibian
soil. It was a custom of the Portuguese to erect a cross of wood
or limestone wherever they landed.
Colony: About 50 000 seals are at Cape
Cross. Seals are warm blooded animals (37°C) and have an 8mm
thick layer of fat to protect them from the icy waters of the
Benguela Current. The Benguela Current is rich in plankton which
attract an abundance of fish on which the seals feed.
The name derives from the Swakop River that flows into the Atlantic
south of the town. The Germans, in the process of expanding their
colony in South West Africa, needed a port but the only natural
harbour on this part of the coast was Walvis Bay, which was already
annexed to the Cape. The Germans built an artificial harbour and
a narrow-gauge railway to convey goods across the Namib to the
interior. Swakopmund has many interesting buildings of the German
colonial era. The Swakopmund museum is excellent, with well-displayed
exhibits on themes such as the Namib Desert, the ocean and Swakopmund.
Mirabillis: In 1853, Dr Welwitsch the director
of the Botanical Gardens in Lisbon was requested by the Portuguese
Government to do research on flora and fauna in their colony of
Angola. Dr Welwitsch, an Austrian, penetrated as far as the Skeleton
Coast and discovered typical species of the flora of an arid region,
amongst others, the Welwitschia Mirabillis which was named after
him - Welwitschia (from the doctor) and Mirabillis (miraculous
carrot-shaped stem of the Welwitschia can grow up to 3m into the
soil and has a tap root with numerous ramifications. Apart from
the two cotyledons the plant has only two very long leathery leaves
beginning at the stem and worn away at the tips. These leaves
rest on the ground and are being shredded by the action of the
wind. The lifespan of the Welwitschia is extremely long and certain
plants are estimated at more than 1000 years old.
Desert: A vast, solitary place, harsh and primeval
- one of the oldest deserts on earth. Namib means a vast open
plain, seemingly without end. The cold Benguela Current produces
a mist over the coast and covers the Namib, causing some dampness
due to condensation, but not proper rain. Most of the creatures
and plants depend on the mist from the Atlantic for survival.
Over 200 species of beetles, scorpions, spiders, geckoes, chameleons,
crickets, wasps, slide winder snakes and jackal have adapted to
this harsh environment.
This is a huge clay-floor pan dotted by camelthorn trees
(acacia erioloba) surrounded by dunes which are amongst the highest
in the world (±275m). The Tsauchab River flows every fifteen
to twenty years into the pan after a long rainfall. The pan was
filled by water in early 1997.
Canyon: The name derives from the time of the first
settlers when six thongs made of ox leather (Afrikaans: riem)
were required to pull up buckets of water from the pool in the
gorge. The Tsauchab River has cut a 50m deep gorge into the schist
layers of metamorphic rock.
The name means narrow cleft. The park consists of a massive jumble
of rocky mountains carpeted with diverse flora and abounding with
perennial water, and a rich bird life with a population of baboon,
leopard, rock hyrax and Hartmann’s mountain zebra.
River Canyon: The canyon is 161km long, 27km wide
at maximum, and up to 549m deep. These days, the Fish river, whose
energy caused this vast gash in the landscape, flows only intermittently,
but water is always contained in a succession of deep pools which
are full of fish such as barbel and yellowfish. Four pluvial (wet
periods) seem to have occurred in the south western part of Africa
during the last million years, resulting in the powerful run-off
of water which eroded this canyon.
Coast: The Skeleton Coast Park is one of our planet's
most inhospitable, but hauntingly beautiful places - it is wild,
desolate and uninhabited. It has everything from roaring sand
dunes, windswept plains, towering canyons, salt pans to seal colonies,
shipwrecks and even one of the most productive fishing grounds
anywhere. The arid desert environment in the Skeleton Coast is
within the northern reaches of the Namib Desert. The Benguela
current brings cold waters all the way from Antarctica and helps
to moderate temperatures. The cool air off the ocean meets the
hotter desert air, and nearly every morning, a cool mist envelops
the coastline, bringing life sustaining moisture to the desert.
Another bonus is that this current also moderates the temperatures.
In the middle of the desert in the height of mid-summer the temperatures
almost never rise above 28 degrees C. The cold Benguela Current
travels all the way up from Antarctica and brings plankton rich
waters to this coastline - along with massive amounts of fish.
Skeleton Coast National Park has three zones. The southern half
is the public area of the national park focused around Terrace
Bay and its accommodation, which is used predominantly on self-drive
safaris. The northern zone from Mowe Bay northwards is a totally
private concession within the National Park (where the safaris
we offer are conducted), while the extreme north of the park is
the research area. Between Mowe Bay and the research area is about
200,000 hectares of incredible countryside, which is totally isolated
water springs permeate through barren sands to create rare oases
in the desert, which sustain pockets of wildlife. Springbok, Gemsbok
(Oryx), the Desert Elephant, Ostrich, Jackal and Brown Hyena eke
out an existence in this rugged terrain, along with vegetation
like Welwitschia which has adapted to the harsh conditions.