Africa is home to the largest land animal in the world (the elephant), the longest river in the word (the Nile), the oldest human fossils (Ardi, a 4.4 million year old skeleton found in Ethiopia), and several wonders of the world (including the Rift Valley and Victoria Falls). It’s an amazing continent, and one we’re very fortunate to know like the backs of our hands.
Nevertheless, Namibia still manages to surprise and enchant us with its breath-taking natural wonders. From the shipwrecks on the Skeleton Coast to the pink and orange towering dunes of Sossusvlei, this land is more like a dream than anything else. Care for a taste of a Namibian safari? Here are just a few of our favourite facts about Namibia… careful, they’re sure to whet your appetite for the real thing!
- The Namib Desert is between 80 million and 55 million years, depending on which geologist you talk to. Either way, the Namib is the oldest desert in the world.
- The “Moon Landscape” is an inhospitable area of the Namib that is formed by granite which pushed up from the Earth’s crust some 500 million years ago.
- Namaqualand is arid and dry for the majority of the year, but in spring a sudden transformation occurs: hundreds of thousands of orange and white flowers bloom, transforming the dry, empty land into something more often seen through a kaleidoscope.
- The Fog Beetles, endemic to the Namib, have backs covered in hydrophilic bumps and hydrophobic troughs. These cause humidity from the morning fogs to condensate into droplets, which roll down the beetle’s back to its mouth.
- The Skeleton Coast can experience more than 180 days of thick fog a year, hence the name—more than a thousand shipwrecks litter this coast.
- Ships wrecked on the Skeleton Coast can be found as much as 50 metres inland, as the desert slowly moves westwards into the sea.
- The dry inland of Namibia is home to baboons, giraffes, lions, black rhinoceros and springbok, all of whom get most of their water from wells dug by the baboons or elephants.
- In April 2008, a 500-year-old shipwreck containing Iberian coins, bronze cannons, copper, and ivory was found in the Sperrgebiet (a region on the Diamond Coast).
- Southern Namib comprises a vast dune sea with some of the tallest and most spectacular dunes in the world, ranging in color from rose pink to deep red to vivid orange. In the Sossusvlei area, several dunes exceed 300 meters (984 ft) in height.
- Namibia’s Succulent Karoo, a portion of the Kalahari Deset, is home to fully one third of the world’s succulent plants—nearly half of them are only found in the Succulent Karoo.
- The bizarre Welwitschia plant—with its strap-shaped leaves that may grow several meters long—is considered a living fossil, and is found only in the Namib Desert.