Barefoot Namibia Self Drive Tours, "Drive Yourself Wild!"
Here are a few of the many highlights of Namibia to inspire your trip of a lifetime:
Etosha National Park
One of the greatest wildlife viewing parks in Africa. Depending on rain, the pan is either dry or filled with shallow water, which then attracts thousands of wading birds including flamingoes to the glistening pans. The park has four of the "big five" - lion, leopard, elephant and rhino, and is not to be missed! Much of the area is open country where wildlife is easy to see, especially in the dry season when animals crowd around springs and waterholes. Dwarf shrubs grow on the fringes of the pan with grassland beyond. In the rest of the park, savannah and woodland are typical, with mopane as the dominant tree.
There's no question that the immense, rich-ochre sand dunes at Sossusvlei are one of the most spectacular sights in the world. Their curving slopes rise to a remarkable 300m and they just beg to be climbed. Sossusvlei is a clay pan set amid monstrous piles of sand known as star dunes that reach the height of a 70-storey skyscraper and rank among the tallest dunes on earth. A stark white against the red sands, the pan is the endpoint of a usually dry river, the Tsauchab, in the interior of the Great Sand Sea.
Fish River Canyon
The Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world (after the USA's Grand Canyon). It is absolutely magnificent; breathtaking in its immensity, it often renders the most voluble tour bus into stunned silence. Somewhat off the beaten track, it is worth visiting if you are in the southern half of Namibia. The Fish River rises west of Maltahöhe. It flows north for a short distance, does a U-turn and thereafter for the rest of its course, flows south. Although the river is ephemeral and the Hardap Dam checks its flow in the rainy season, pools in the canyon hold water throughout the year and hot-water springs bubble out of faults in the rock formations.
Twyfelfontein contains around 2,000 rock engravings and in 2007 UNESCO approved it as a World Heritage Site. The site is one of the largest and most important concentrations of rock art in Africa. Volcanic action in prehistoric times gave rise to some of today's most notable geographical features, which include the Burnt Mountain, Doros Crater, the Petrified Forest and the Organ Pipes. The rock engravings and paintings at Twyfelfontein were created about 6,000 years ago by the Bushman who inhabited the area. They used quartz against the sandstone to create images of all the animals in the area - particularly the giraffe, which was sacred and represented water.
Swakopmund is an enchanting seaside resort town in the middle of the Namib Desert. Often described as 'a slice of Germany on the edge of the desert', it has many fine German colonial buildings and a distinctly German character. Along with the region's food specialties of rock lobster, fish and Swakopmund oysters, traditional German fare, including sausages and pastries can be enjoyed and German is widely spoken among the local residents. This stretch of coast is particularly known for its angling, and the surrounding dunes of the desert provide many opportunities for sand boarding, quad biking, paragliding, sky-diving and hot-air ballooning. Swakopmund is the adventure capital of Namibia.
The desolate coastline of the Skeleton Coast Park is a spooky desert shore with massive sand dunes and treacherous rocks where mighty storms and violent surf have claimed many ships throughout the centuries. Stories abound of sailors walking for hundreds of kilometres through this barren Namibian landscape in search of food and water only to perish in this hostile coastal desert. The landscape includes sand dunes, canyons and mountain ranges all of which are synonymous with Namibia. The climate is seemingly strange for desert conditions where dense fog and cold sea breezes predominate, blown in by the cold Benguela Current.
A lush water-fed area, the narrow extension of land known as the Caprivi Strip protrudes eastwards from the extreme north-east of Namibia, adjoining Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola and Botswana. It is a superb conservation area that may in the future rival Etosha. Three river parks are situated in the Caprivi: the Mahango Game Reserve (245km²) on the Okavango River, the Mudumu National Park (1,000km²) on the Kwando River and the Mamili National Park (320km²) in the Linyanti Swamps. A 4x4 is required to negotiate tracks in all the parks. Wildlife in the Caprivi is typical of Central Africa rather than Southern Africa. It includes elephant, hippo, crocodile, African buffalo, common impala, red lechwe, roan, sable, sitatunga and tsessebe. Sometimes puku, reedbuck and waterbuck are seen.