Namibia: Deserts, Wildlife, and a Headless Ghost

Mountain, desert, beaches, and wildlife in profusion – if this is the kind of vacation you’d like to take, you might want to look at visiting the southern African country of Namibia. Bordering South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Zambia, and the Atlantic Ocean, this former German colony gained its independence in 1990 after a 23-year guerrilla war by the South-West African People’s Organization (SWAPO) which is now the ruling party.

Unlike many post-independence African countries, Namibia has enjoyed relative political stability and some economic growth, and with attractions such as the Namib Desert, Fish River Canyon Park, the Kalahari Desert, and beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, is perhaps one of southern Africa’s most attractive tourist destinations. Except for the northeastern panhandle, or Caprivi Region, Namibia is an arid country, with brutally hot temperatures in summer (December – February), and only marginally cooler temperatures the rest of the year, except in the desert, where it’s hot all day, all year long. Having said that, the red-sand deserts and the highest sand dunes in the world still attract many travelers, and with a few precautions, a visit can be fun.

Nearly half of Namibia’s population lives below the UN-determined poverty line, and HIV/AIDS constitutes a serious health problem. As the world’s fourth largest exporter of non-fuel minerals and fifth largest uranium producer, it should come as no surprise to learn that the country’s economy depends mainly on mining. Windhoek is the only major urban center, with most of the population living in small settlements scattered around the country.

Getting There

While there are border crossing points with all of its neighbors, and one can get to Namibia by road, flying is advisable. Hosea Kutako International Airport, 45 minutes drive east of Windhoek, is served by Air Namibia with flights from Frankfurt, London, Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe). Americans, along with passport holders from most western European countries, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries, Cuba, Japan, Singapore, India, Russia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region may enter Namibia without a visa. Tourists may enter and remain for up to 90 days. Citizens from all other countries must apply for a visa before arriving.

What to Do in Namibia

The country has four primary geographic regions, though, and the whole shebang should be toured to be really appreciated. The northern Etosha Pan, which once had a lake, is a large alluvial basin which is still sufficiently fertile to support herds of gemsbok, impala, springbok, zebra, and elephant, and his home to one of Africa’s premiere game parks.

The Namib Desert, which runs along the Atlantic coast, is a barren expanse of brilliant red sand unlike almost any other spot on earth. Located at the point where the icy waters of the south Atlantic hit the hot coast, it boasts some of the most incredible foggy landscapes; a photographer’s delight.

The Caprivi Strip, in the northeast, is a wooded and fertile region, in contrast to the rest of the country, and is crisscrossed by a number of rivers. Two of them, the Zambezi and the Okavango, are considered among the great rivers of Africa. This area is home to an abundance of wildlife, and some spectacular views.

The center of the country is a high escarpment, in the middle of which sits the capital, Windhoek. Rising 150 meters from the surrounding plain, the plateau is well watered and lush, and is home to a number of rare and endangered species of animal.

At the very southern tip of the country is Fish River Canyon, second only to the Grand Canyon in magnificence.

And, finally, for an experience you’ll never forget, while you’re in southern Namibia, you might just want to visit an area near the Uhabis River, where the ghost of a headless German soldier, killed in a skirmish with the resident Nama people is supposed to hang out.

Where to Stay

Chances are you’ll spend most of your time in Namibia in a safari camp, but since you’ll definitely want to explore Windhoek, a great place to hang out there is Windhoek Country Club Resort and Casino. It’s pricey, even by western standards, but in this case, you get what you pay for.

Windhoek Country Club Resort & Casino

P.O. Box 30777



Phone: + + 264 (0)61 205 5911 or

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