Namibia is a little-known country in the southern part of Africa bordered by Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It is a fascinating country and definitely qualifies as one of the countries you should visit at least once in your lifetime. Here are a few facts about the country that will interest you if you are planning to travel to Namibia.
1. Namibia is home to the world’s oldest desert. According to scientists, Namib is over 55 million years old! The desert is also quite large, stretching for 2000 km along the Atlantic coasts of Namibia, South Africa and Angola.
2. Namibia is the only African country with a female leader. Saara Kuugongelwa is the country’s fourth prime minister and the only female leader on the continent.
3. If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the fastest land animal on the planet, Namibia is the place to go – for it is home to the world’s largest population of free-roaming cheetahs. Etosha National Park is probably the best place to see them, though eagle-eyed visitors might spot them throughout the country.
4. Celebrities Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie chose to give birth to their daughter Shiloh in Namibia in 2006. The couple also donated US$2 million to the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary.
5. Namibia is the second least densely populated country in the world. It has a population of 2.6 million living in an area of 825,615km2, with just 3.2 people per km2. Only Mongolia is more sparsely populated.
6. The San of Namibia are the world’s oldest surviving hunter-gatherers. By the age of 12, most San children are able to identify 200 species of plant, while many adults can identify over 300.
7. Namibia is the first country in the world to introduce environmental protection in its Constitution. Tourism-based initiatives are organised by communities and brings in much-needed tourism in Namibia and revenue.
8. Some of the world’s highest sand dunes can be found in Namibia. Stunning Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world, after the Grand Canyon – it is 161km long, up to 27km wide and 550m deep, formed about 500 million years ago.
9. Namibia has the world’s largest meteorite – The Hoba Meteorite. Discovered near Grootfontein, Namibia in 1920, it is believed to have fallen to Earth approximately 80,000 years back and weighs 54,000 kg.
10. And the largest underwater cave. Dubbed Dragon’s Breath Cave – on account of the humid air that rises from its entrance – this gargantuan grotto is home to the largest non-subglacial lake in the world. Discovered in 1986, the cave can, alas, only be explored by professionals because of its treacherous topography.
11. The Skeleton Coast is the world’s biggest grave site for sailors and ships. It was named due to the shipwrecks, whale bones, and human skeletons in the area. The shipwrecks were caused by the dense fog surrounding the coast, but many have disintegrated and washed away.
How to reach?
Namibia has two international airports – the Hosea Kutako International airport, 42 km from the capital, Windhoek and the less used airport at Walvis Bay. Windhoek also has a smaller airport, the Eros Airport that is the operational base of the national carrier, Air Namibia. There are a number of connecting flights from India to Namibia.
Etosha National Park: No trip to sub-Saharan Africa is complete without seeing the abundant wildlife it has to offer. Etosha National Park covers more than 20, 000 sq. km and is one of the greatest wildlife viewing locations in Africa. The park is a proud home to lions, elephants, gemsboks, and countless other animals.
Sossusvlei: Sossusvlei is Namibia’s most popular strip of sand, where gargantuan dunes tower more than 300 meters (1000 feet) above the ground. A visit to Namibia is incomplete without making the long trek into Sossusvlei, climbing Big Daddy and sitting atop the world’s tallest dune looking out over a sea of equally big dunes disappearing into the western horizon.
Skeleton Coast: It’s probably pretty unusual that a place known as “the Sands of Hell” (Portuguese explorers), or “the land God made in anger” (the native San bushmen) would find its way onto a must-see list. This place got its name from how dangerous it was to sail a ship along the coast in centuries past. To this day, the desolate coastline is still known as the world’s biggest ship graveyard. Most visitors come specifically to see the Cape Cross Seal Reserve.
Fish River Canyon Park: At Fish River Canyon Park, you’ll be able to see one of the largest canyons in the world. The canyon is formed by the Fish River, one of the longest in Africa. It is a whopping 160km long and almost 30km wide, giving you some of the most dramatic scenery in the world to enjoy. There are a few trails to hike for the adventure junkies.