"The desert that's at the heart of the country" Top 5 Page for this destination Namib-Naukluft Park by CatherineReichardt

Namib-Naukluft Park Travel Guide: 145 reviews and 418 photos

When the name of a desert comprises nearly three quarters of the name of a country, it doesn't take too much imagination to guess how profound an influence that desert must have had on the country's development and culture.

Actually Namibia straddles not one but two deserts: the Namib in the west and the Kalahari in the east. By far the more interesting from the tourist point of view is the Namib, much of which lies within the boundaries of the Namib-Naukluft Park.

The Namib is the oldest desert in the world, as evidenced by the height of the dunes and radiometric dating of the sandblasted surfaces of rocks and sand grain. The desert owes its origins to the Benguela current, which is an upwelling of cold water from the ocean depths which flows northwards up the Namibian coast. All of the southern continents have a similar cold current off their west coast, which exert a profound influence on the climate onland. The cold air rising from these currents has little moisture bearing capacity and results in low rainfall, giving rise to desert conditions in the Namib, Atacama and Western Australian deserts.

Deserts are all about extremes and provoke extreme reactions, which is why you either love them or hate them. They experience scorching daytime temperatures and yet the mercury can plummet down below zero at night in winter. There are parts of the Namib which don't receive rain for years on end, but when it does rain, it usually falls as dramatic thunderstorms which generate flash flooding. Deserts are uncompromising places, and you either play by the rules, or you deal with sometimes life threatening consequences. As an outsider, you can either interpret that as a challenge or a threat.

Access restriction for tourists

Access is prohibited to large section of the southern Namib - the Sperrgebeit (meaning 'Prohibited Area' in German) - because of the presence of diamond bearing sands and gravels. These deposits are mined by Namdeb, a 50/50 joint venture between De Beers and the Namibian government. Although this area was proclaimed as a national park in 2004, access is still extremely restricted and difficult to obtain for tourists. Similarly, access to the diamond mining town of Oranjemund just to the north of the mouth of the Orange River which forms the border with South Africa is also strictly controlled.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Stark, wild, uncompromising and heartstoppingly beautiful
  • Cons:Not for you if you're agoraphobic!
  • In a nutshell:Whoever would have thought that a whole lot of nothingness could be so wonderful?
  • Intro Updated Jan 16, 2012
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Reviews (7)

Comments (2)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Jul 25, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    Another good page! How lucky were you to see the flowers, love the pinky one. As for the Dunes, I would leave that for the "young & fit!"

  • giampiero6's Profile Photo
    Mar 7, 2012 at 12:02 AM

    what a glorious page!

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