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Namib Naukluft NPNamib Rand NRSossusvlei(dunes)NaukluftMountainsOtavi MountainsCentral NamibianHighliandsFish RiverCanyonSkeletonCoastEtoshaNPKaudomMahango NPMudumu MPHardapDamNauteDamWaterbergPlateauNamib Desert SOUTH ATLANTIC OCEANOpuwaOshakatiOndangwaRunduTsumkweTsumebGrootfonteinOtaviOutjoSesfonteinKamanjabOmaruruTerrace BayKhorixasOtjiwarongoOkonjimaUsakosHenties BayKatima MuliloKaribibOkahandjaWindhoekGobabisAranosMarientalMaltahoheSwakopmundWalvis BayLüderitzRehbothKeetmanshoopAusGrünauKarasburgOranjemund Travel Namibia Southern Kalahari & Fish River Canyon The ancient ‘fossil desert’ of the Kalahari is a far cry from the true desert of the Namib, west of here. Deep red dunes are covered with vegetation and support large numbers of game: oryx, giraffes, bat-eared foxes and delightfully endearing families of meerkats. Measuring 161km long, 27km wide and almost 550m deep in parts, the Fish River Canyon is probably the second largest canyon in world. Perch on the edge of the rocky cliffs surrounding the chasm to see the russet, meandering river below. And keep an eye out for the occasional kudu and klipspringer, rock hyrax and plentiful baboons. It’s possible to hike along the canyon floor but this is not for the faint hearted: the five-day, self-guided adventure offers no easy way out after the start and little shade, making it one of the continent’s toughest hikes. Damaraland Bushmen lived in this area for several thousand years. The imposing granite domes (inselbergs) that rise from the lichen-covered gravel plains in southern Damaraland conceal their ancient caves and shelters, along with a wealth of early rock art. Most paintings, including the famous White Lady, can be found in the Tsisab Ravine on the northeast of the Brandberg massif. North of the Huab River the gravel plains reach up to ancient lava beds, which appear as burnished, flat-topped mountains. Here, four huge private reserves protect rare desert-adapted elephant and black rhino in areas of rugged wilderness. Excellent guiding and conservation initiatives ensure a unique experience. Etosha Etosha, meaning ‘Great White Place’, is an area of hazy horizons and open vistas; a vast pan of silvery white sand, where dust devils dance around the tens of thousands of animals who come to quench their thirst in the park’s waterholes. Certainly one of Africa’s best game parks, the dry season brings the greatest concentrations of animals. A strong lion population, along with leopards, cheetahs, elephants, black and white rhinos, giraffes, zebras, and 300 bird species make this a wildlife wonderland. Self-drive around the park is surprisingly easy, even by 2WD, with game easy to spot, a well-kept road network, clear signposts and rest camps; luxury accommodation and guides are found in the private reserves, such as Hobatere and Ongava, bordering the park. Caprivi Strip The Caprivi Strip is unlike much of the rest of the country. Generous annual rainfall and the presence of four great rivers – the Chobe, Linyanti, Okavango and Zambezi – give this finger of land a lushness and a higher density of people. Bordering Botswana to the west of the strip is the delightfully diverse Mahango National Park where riverine forest, permanent papyrus reedbeds and Kalahari desert all meet, attracting more birds than any other Namibian park. Animal lovers will be wowed by the particularly high numbers of hippos and crocodiles. Mudumu National Park, on the banks of the Kwando River, offers excellent game with large numbers of elephant, buffalo (unusual in Namibia), lion, red lechwe, roan and sable. Continue from here, across a new bridge spanning the Zambezi, to end your trip at Zambia’s Victoria Falls. Northern Kalahari & Bushmanland Characterised by sand, stands of ancient baobabs and shallow seasonal pans that attract flocks of flamingos at the start of each year, this area is harsh, difficult to access, and yet thoroughly rewarding. The Ju/’hoansi !Kung people, known as the San or Bushmen, live in small, very remote villages here, and it’s possible to join excellent trips to stay with these communities. Witnessing their understanding of their environment is an eye-opening, humbling experience, and the more visitors are willing to get involved with daily activities, the more insight and warmth they will receive. It’s not to be rushed: allow 3-4 days. Windhoek The capital city: a small, friendly, pleasant place in which to start or end a trip. Neat suburbs, vibrant pavement cafes, eclectic restaurants, old Germanic architecture and modern shopping centres lend the place a distinctly European air, whilst bustling markets and street stalls piled with tempting curios remind visitors it’s Africa. Sperrgebiet The coastal belt of land stretching south of Lüderitz to South Africa is the Sperrgebiet, or Forbidden Zone. Covering an enormous 26,000km2, this area of desert plans, marching dunes and turn-of-the-century diamond ghost towns was declared off-limits in 1908. Register in advance with the authorities and it’s possible to venture along its empty roads through hauntingly remote scenery. From July-September, head to the Orange River border to see blooms akin to those in Namaqualand. Ute vonvon Ludwigerudwiger