As treacherous as the skeleton coast may have been for mankind, this rocky shoreline represents the breeding ground for the largest colony of fur seals in southern Africa. The Portuguese navigator and explorer Diego C.o reached Cape Cross in January 1486, being the first European to visit this area. He is known to have erected two padr.os in the areas during his first voyage, one in Monte Negro, and the second at Cape Cross.
Renowned as the world’s second largest and Africa’s largest canyon, it is only exceeded in size and depth by the Grand Canyon. As one of the major geological attractions in Namibia, it features a gigantic ravine that measures about 160 km in length, up to 27 km wide and in places almost 550 meters deep. At the lower end of the Fish River Canyon, Ai-Ais provides an oasis in the desolate rocky wastes. Guided and unguided walks into the canyon are possible, however, it is strictly forbidden to climb into the canyon as a day visitor.
The forest is comprised of the Quivertree (Aloe dichotoma) one of the most conspicuous plants of Namibia’s indigenous flora. It derives its name from its hollow branches that the indigenous people used to create the quiver of their arrows. Despite its strange, even heroic appearance, closer scrutiny reveals that the quivertree, as known as the “kokerboom” is nothing more than a tree version of the common aloe lily. The forest is so special because the Quivertree usually grows solitary, here however you find over 250 of this aloea in one area.
Situated south of Walvis Bay, the “harbour” is a silted-up beach area where underground desert water reaches the Atlantic Ocean. With its contrast of dune belts, forlorn coastline, and rough Atlantic, it has magnificent animal and bird species. This sensitive environment has gained international importance as a wetland and has gained the recognition of being an internationally acclaimed RAMSAR world heritage site.
The Welwitschia Trail east of Swakopmund offers a closer look at the Welwitschia mirabilis, the oldest living desert plant on Earth. Close by, the Moon landscape with its eroded hills and lifeless features reminds the observer of a surface similar to that of mars! Please take note that a permit is required to visit the above 2 attractions.
The Naukluft Mountains serve as a sanctuary for Hartmann’s mountain zebra that are endemic to Namibia and the remote south-western section of Angola. Due to its permanent springs, the mountains serve as a life-giving geological phenomenon in the Namib Desert. This area has some of the most beautiful and accessible hiking trails in the country and still bears the semblance of the Nama war fought against the German colonial forces between 1904 and 1907. SOSSUSVLEI (within the Namib Naukluft Park) Sossusvlei is a depression in the Namib Desert dunes where the water of the Tsauchab River can flow no further. The monumentally high dunes, thought to be the highest on earth, are a sought after topic for photographers and pose a mind-boggling picture for the visitor.
A 30-meter deep canyon where the erosion of the Tsauchab River over many centuries has incised a narrow gorge that serves as a geological book for the traveler. With its natural pools, the canyon has served as a source of water for the first settlers, and also serves as a breeding ground for the catfish.
Described as the “Matterhorn of Namibia” the Spitzkoppe represents the largest granite Inselberg in southern Africa. Rising to an altitude of about 1800 meters the Spitzkoppe is by no means Namibia’s highest mountain, however, due to its striking outlines, it is regarded as the most well-known mountain in the country and one of the world’s most difficult terrains for professional climbers. Scattered all over the Spitzkoppe are Bushman paintings that can be viewed only in the presence of a Damara guide, who are waiting for guests at the entrance gate of the Spitzkoppe.
The Brandberg is Namibia’s highest Mountain, an extinct volcano that pronounces the already mountainous Damaraland landscape with over 2500 meters solid rock. The Brandberg is a spiritual site of great significance to the San (Bushman) tribes. The main tourist attraction is The White Lady rock painting, located on a rock face with other artwork, under a small rock overhang, in the Tsisab Ravine at the foot of the mountain.
Twyfelfontain Rock Engravings
Twyfelfontein, declared a World Heritage site in 2008, confers yet another distinction to Namibia, that of one of the foremost bushman rock engraving sites in the world. The local tour operators like to refer to this site as the largest open-air art gallery in Southern Africa and guests can climb and walk on the mountain to look and hear of the bushman, their beliefs and traditions from the art.
Situated near Tsumeb, the Hoba Meteorite, weighing some 60 tons (about 10 elephants!), is the largest known piece of extraterrestrial matter on earth, consisting of 82% iron, 16% nickel and 0,7 % cobalt. It is believed that this lump of metal fell to earth some 80’000 years ago.