The Namib desert is the oldest desert on earth. Yet humans have been living here for longer than in almost any other area in the world, in these valleys, mountains and plains that, today, present a harsh background to a young nation’s struggle to live under difficult conditions.
There are many ways to visit Namibia, and as many facets to see. A popular way is to rent an offroad-capable vehicle and drive, but visitors are advised to be aware that the desert is not your friend! Venturing into remote places on your own, without experience, can be dangerous! Fortunately there are many, experienced tour operators to help, many friendly local people who would advise, and much in the way of tourism infrastructure.
From the Kgalagadi transfrontier park, a vast semi-desert area straddling the southern borders between South Africa, Namibia andBotswana, to the famous Etosha reserve in the north, a variety of nature can be viewed and visited. The southern plains make way to the harsh, yet fertile Khomas highland, where a farmer might count on 18 hectares of land to support one cow or horse.
From the Capital of Windhoek, still strongly infused with the German colonial heritage, one can cross to the coast, where Swakopmund reminds visitors of a Germany of some years ago. From here you can go south, into the Namib itself, but be aware: permits are required, not only for your own protection against the desert, but also to protect the diamond mining concessions from pilferers!
One can see, at the roadside. the Welwitchia Mirabilis plant, a holdover from the days of the dinosaur. But be careful! These plants are fragile! And, going north, towards Etosha, you can also visit the Brandberg mountains, where the rock
paintings record the history of the first human nations.
And take the time to get to know the people: The Herero who suffered a genocide at the hands of the German colonisers, the bushmen or San people, now only found in remote areas, but for millennia the lords of this land, the Ovambo in the north, and the Himba people, famous for their ochre-coloured clothing. Just a few of the many nations that make up this fascinating country. All proud people trying to make a success of their land despite the vast distances and small population.
Some useful addresses:
Namibia Tourism: http://www.namibiatourism.com.na/
Namibia National Parks: http://www.namibiatourism.com.na/national-parks/
Isabis offroad tracks and accommodation: http://www.isabis4x4.com
Chameleon Backpackers, Windhoek: http://www.chameleonbackpackers.com/