UPDATE September 2022: I've just returned from a fantastic three-week trip to this country and will amend the text below as well as add several all-new chapters with lavish photo galleries, as and when I find the time. Plenty to look forward to, but please bear with me. It'll take a while.
A large and sparsely populated country (in fact the world’s second most sparsely populated sovereign state, after Mongolia) located in south-west Africa between Angola
to the north, Botswana to the east, South Africa
to the south and the Atlantic
Ocean to the west.
For the dark tourist, the main attraction, apart from the empty and beautifully desolate desert scenery, is one of the world’s most fabled, atmospheric and photogenic ghost towns:
Other than that there are other, less well known ghost towns
that can be visited on jeep tours through the desert
, a big uranium mine
that allows coach tours to visit once a month (Rössing mine), as well as a few sites associated with Namibia’s darkest chapters in its history during the German colonial times, which included the first genocide of the 20th century, as well as with the country’s long struggle for independence (see here
). The Independence Memorial Museum
covers both of these periods (open daily from 9.30 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m., free).
Travel to Namibia will for most people (except perhaps those coming from South Africa or Botswana overland) mean flying into the capital Windhoek’s international airport. Travel around the country is really only possible by hire car, ideally a sturdy 4x4, given the rough gravel tracks in some parts of the country. Some areas can only be accessed on organized tours.
English is the official language
in Namibia, even though only few speak it as a first language. In addition to various African languages, German is also still widely spoken as well as Afrikaans and Portuguese (due to people who migrated in from neighbouring Angola
The climate of Namibia is extremely arid except in the far north and north-east. Much of the territory is desert, in fact the Namib is one of the oldest and driest deserts on Earth. Further inland it gives way to the Kalahari semi-desert. After the short rainy season the land can burst into an explosion of wild flowers. But most of the year the reddish and yellow of sand dominates the scenery in many western parts of the country, including almost the entire coast.
The northern stretch of this coast is called “Skeleton Coast”, after the numerous shipwrecks that ended up here (also further south around Walvis Bay and Lüderitz). These wrecks are slowly being taken by the ocean and few remnants remain. New wrecks have stopped coming since the introduction of GPS navigation. So this formerly additional special dark element of Namibia will soon be a thing of the past entirely.
The photo above was taken from a plane en route from Johannesburg
to St Helena
, which had a refuelling stop in Windhoek. That had until recently been the only glimpse I've ever caught of Namibia ... But now I have loads of new photo meterial to dig into. So you can expect large photo galleries in due course.