A large and sparsely populated country (in fact the world’s second most tsparsely populated sovereign state, after Mongolia) located in south-west Africa between Angola
to the north, Botswana to the east, South Africa
to the south and the Atlantic
Ocean to the west.
For the dark tourist, the main attraction, apart from the empty and beautifully desolate desert scenery, is one of the world’s most fabled, atmospheric and photogenic ghost towns:
Other than that there are other, less well known ghost towns
that can be visited on jeep tours through the desert
, a big uranium mine
that allows coach tours to visit once a month (Rössing mine), as well as a few sites associated with Namibia’s darkest chapters in its history during the German colonial times, which included the first genocide of the 20th century, as well as with the country’s long struggle for independence (see here
). The Independence Memorial Museum
covers both of these periods (open daily from 9.30 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m., free).
Travel to Namibia will for most people (except perhaps those coming from South Africa or Botswana overland) mean flying into the capital Windhoek’s international airport. Travel around the country is really only possible by hire car, ideally a sturdy 4x4, given the rough gravel tracks in some parts of the country. Some areas can only be accessed on organized tours.
English is the official language
in Namibia, even though only few speak it as a first language. In addition to various African languages, German is also still widely spoken as well as Afrikaans and Portuguese (due to people who migrated in from neighbouring Angola
The climate of Namibia is extremely arid except in the far north and north-east. Much of the territory is desert, in fact the Namib is one of the oldest and driest deserts on Earth. Further inland it gives way to the Kalahari semi-desert. After the short rainy season the land can burst into an explosion of wild flowers. But most of the year the reddish and yellow of sand dominates the scenery in many western parts of the country, including almost the entire coast.
The northern stretch of this coast is called “Skeleton Coast”, after the numerous shipwrecks that ended up here (also further south around Walvis Bay and Lüderitz). These wrecks are slowly being taken by the ocean and few remnants remain. New wrecks have stopped coming since the introduction of GPS navigation. So this formerly additional special dark element of Namibia will soon be a thing of the past entirely.
UPDATE: I had planned to go to Namibia in August 2020, but because of the coronavirus pandemic that trip had to be cancelled and postponed to the following year. But now, in June 2021, Namibia is suddenly classed as a virus variant high risk area. I was to fly with my British wife via Frankfurt, Germany
, but the rules imposed on 21 June mean we wouldn’t be able to transit into another Schengen country at Frankfurt. So the trip is off again and we will have to rebook our flights and defer the trip for another year, in the hope that maybe by 2022 it will become possible again. Fingers crossed. Within Namibia, so I was assured, due to its extremely low population density and the fact that most hotels and lodges have strived to get their staff vaccinated, we would have been relatively safe, but it’s the getting back from there that is currently impossible. Hopefully things will change in time for a third attempt in 2022.
The photo above was taken from a plane en route from Johannesburg
to St Helena
, which had a refuelling stop in Windhoek. That has so far been the only glimpse I've ever caught of Namibia ...