CoastalGeneralHint`s and TippsNamibia

The Namib Desert and Tourism

Namibia, a country of vast open spaces; extreme contrasts of harsh, arid deserts and green palm-fringed oases, of thorn bush savannah and rugged mountains, of frosty cold winter nights and sweltering hot summer days. A country with European influence revealed in the German architecture, the lifestyle and language of many of the white population. A rich tribal population offers the traveller a unique cultural experience. Namibia is the driest country south of the Sahara, 5th largest country in Africa and yet has the smallest population.

The Namib Desert is considered to be one of the oldest deserts in the world. Sossusvlei is basically an enormous clay pan which is surrounded by gigantic red sand dunes. Tsauchab River flows through this desert. The colour of sand dunes changes with sunrise and sunset which is the reason why many tourists come here. In the Namib Desert, there is this ghost town called Kolmanskop (click for more Info), which was home to Germans who settled here for the purpose of mining gold. This town included school, casino, ballroom, hospital as well as first tram in Africa. It was ultimately evacuated in 1954. The Namib Desert is definitely one of the important Namibia tourist destinations.

Namib Desert Nightsky -photo from Pinterest

Namibia is so vast and wild – bigger than France, with a population of just 2.5 million – it’s impossible to do it justice in a single trip. Topographically it varies from the dunescapes of the Namib Desert in the west to the mountainous wilderness of the north, from the forbidding flatlands of the Kalahari in the east to the stupendous Fish River Canyon in the deep south.
On the coast of northwestern Namibia, there is this small seaside town known as Swakopmund. It is a premier holiday resort known for its pubs, discos, night clubs and excellent restaurants. The Fish River Canyon is a magnificent and breathtaking canyon in southern Namibia. It has a gigantic ravine, 160 kilometres long, 27 kilometres wide and 550 meters deep. Since it is being dammed, it only contains a small amount of running water.

Swakopmund – photo by Cullinan Namibia

You can also visit Skeleton Coast Park which is full of mystery, covered by dense coastal fogs and has many shipwrecks. Some of the interesting places to visit here are; the salt pans near Agate Mountain, Clay castles of Hoarusib, remains of shipwrecks along the coast and the seal colony at Cape Frio. Namibia tourist destinations should be visited by those travellers who want to experience the contrast of places in Namibia.

Clay castles of Hoarusib – photo by Miljonet

Namibian cuisine is varied and interesting. Some of the popular cuisines of Namibia are; chicken potjie (stew cooked in a large three-legged pot over coals), Rauchfleish (smoked meat), Biltong (air-dried meat), potjiekos (one-pot bush stew), seafood (mainly oysters) and game comprising of antelope, zebra or ostrich cooked on the braai.

With all those empty roads and spectacular landscapes, driving is enjoyable in Namibia – but you can be lulled into a false sense of security if you’re not used to driving long distances, often on gravel. Make sure someone knows where you are expected to be each evening – tourists in remote areas have been known to break down and not be found for several days. Bear the following in mind at all times.

  • Some good general insider Tips and guidelines:

1. Observe speed limit: 120km/h on tarred roads, 80km/h on gravel.

2. Take special care on gravel, which can be deceptively tricky – for example, braking suddenly may turn your vehicle over, while you need to slow right down at dips and even on gentle curves.

3. Keep emergency numbers with you. Mobile phone coverage is generally good.

4. Build-in plenty of time for your journey.

5. 4WD is advisable for gravel roads.

6. Keep headlights on gravel roads.

7. Watch your fuel and fill up when you can.

8.  When overtaking on gravel, keep to the right-hand (opposite) side of the road for a good half-mile so the plume of dust from your vehicle does not obscure the vision of the overtaken driver.

9. Take two spare tyres, plenty of water and snacks.

10. Do not drive at dawn, dusk or night-time when animals are most active and maybe crossing roads.

Did you know that the tourism destination – Walvis Bay, is the fourth biggest city in Namibia? Walvis Bay is not only Namibia’s prime tourism destination but is also host to the country’s largest port. The destination is greatly accessible, both by road and air. The destination has an interesting and unique geographic setting given its exciting and contrasting sceneries – on one side is the Namib Desert (which forms the thrust of this study) and on the other side of Walvis Bay is a gigantic lagoon and harbour flowing from the Atlantic Ocean. These landscapes provide visitors with uncommon sightseeing opportunities in Namibia. Other tourism activities that are on offer in Walvis Bay include various water-related activities such as shore angling, boat angling, shark angling, boat cruises, sightseeing, photographic, sea kayaking and surfing. Land activities in Walvis Bay include sandwich harbour, sightseeing tours, desert sightseeing tours, 4X4 sand dune driving tours, quad biking tours, camel riding, dune hand gliding, dune boarding, dune skiing, guided educational tours, visits to the Topnaar people and living desert tours among others.

Swakopmund Sandboarding – photo by Travel News Namibia
  • Some cool links:

» Fun facts about the Namib Desert (by Beautiful World)

» Namibian Regions for Tourism (Embassy / Permanent Mission in Vienna)

» Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the tourism sector in the Greater Sossusvlei-Namib Landscape Area (.pdf Document)

» Conference Link Activities and Tours (.pdf Document – prices subject to change without prior notice) 

» Great read: 5 reasons to visit the Namib Desert first-hand account Blog Post experience (by WeAreTravelGirls)

  • Printed Literature:

Vanishing Kings, Lions of the Namib Desert is a unique record of an elusive predator in an unusual environment. It uncovers the secret lives of a small population of desert-adapted lions which occurs only in the oldest desert on our planet, the Namib. A first-ever, this extraordinary book about Desert lions celebrates the highly adaptive nature of one of our planet’s most iconic predators which continue to battle for survival in today’s world.

Vanishing Kings – Standard Edition

  • Price: N$ 695.00 (diverse Outlet prices may vary and are subject to change without prior notice)
  • Vanishing Kings – Lions of the Namib Desert. Boxed Edition:  N$ 1,995.00 (as shown in the image left)
  • SIZE: 280mm x 210mm
  • PAGES: 360
  • ISBN: 9780994692467
  • Author(s): Philip Stander, Will & Lianne Steenkamp

» Order Product Online or just visit the Author Webpage here

Desert tourism is a niche form of tourism, where specific types of people, usually minority tourists enjoy visiting unusual kinds of places, which offer location specific attractions and activities. The tourism sector in Namibia is a major industry that has a total contribution of N$7.2 billion toward the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Namibia as a tourism destination receives slightly over a million tourists per annum. The Namib Desert is considered a major tourist attraction, particularly among tourists from Germany, who constitute 17% of the total number of tourists to Namibia based on the 2012/2013 data (Ministry of Environment and Tourism, 2016:6). 17% is by far the largest long-haul market of tourists to Namibia as a desert tourism destination (Atkinson, 2016). Other significant long-haul source markets for the Namib Desert as a tourism attraction include the United Kingdom, Italy and France. The Desert’s key African source markets include South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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