Environment, Wildlife and Nature Reserves - The lie of the land.
Nearly 15% of all land in Namibia is protected by government decree. A far greater portion is protected in private reserves.
Two thirds of the country is made up of savannah type vegetation characterised by open plains, dotted with hardy trees. The remaining third, but for the thin strip of sub-tropical woodlands in the Caprivi wetlands, is the true desert of the Namib spanning the entire 1,500-km length of the coastline from South Africa to Angola.
Namibia has about 250 indigenous mammals and several rare and unique species including Damara dik-dik, cheetah, desert-adapted elephant, desert-adapted rhino and Hartmann's mountain zebra.
Birdlife is prolific. Of over 900 species in southern Africa, about 660 have been recorded in Namibia the majority of these are residents. Namibia has 16 endemics and over 90 of its birds are southern African endemics and near endemics.
Of the 17 National Parks in Namibia, Etosha ranks among Africa's greatest. There are several enormous private reserves around the park that extend to the Skeleton Coast - itself a massive conservation area. The Namib-Naukluft is one of the largest conservation areas in the world. The other 15 are no less spectacular in their own right and each offers something different to the wildlife and nature enthusiast.
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Namibia has some beautiful, unique and extraordinary scenery. Attractions abound and activities are limitless. But it's the whole journey that is the most extraordinary attraction of them all. Just driving through the country will be an experience quite unlike any you've had before. While parts of Namibia resemble other places - like the Kruger Park and Okavango Delta - no other place on Earth comes close to resembling Namibia.
Etosha National Park
Etosha Park supports 114 species of mammal and over 340 species of bird including numerous endemics and rarities. At the heart of the park is a salt pan that is surrounded by sparse shrubs and grassy plains that become hilly mopane woodlands as you move away from the sunken saline desert.
Damaraland's hilly savannah supports a large number of species including lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, eland, kudu, giraffe, klipspringer, steenbok, gemsbok and springbok. Birdlife is prolific with over 33 raptors recorded including cuckoo hawks, Egyptian vultures and peregrine falcons - the world's fastest animal.
The Kaokoveld, a vast and empty wilderness occupying the north-western quarter of Namibia, is roughly divided in two by the Hoanib River. The north is known as Kaokoland and the south as Damaraland. Although these administrative divisions fell away after Namibian independence the colloquial demarcations have persisted.
The springs of Windhoek (pronounced VIN-took) attracted pastoralists long before time was measured with alarm clocks, breakfast runs and train schedules. But since 1840 random claims and several skirmishes for dominion over the precious water have culminated in a city with more facets than a flawless diamond.
When the British annexed the natural harbour of Walvis Bay, Germany was left with mile upon mile of barren shoreline in which to find a decent port. They chose an area north of the Swakop River for want of a better location and set to work building a port. It failed.
And that early failure saved what was later to become Swakopmund.
NamibRand Nature Reserve
This reserve originated in 1984 as a passion of the late J.A. Brückner, who had a dream to extend desert frontiers and this began by integrating numerous livestock farms in the area. To date the reserve is comprised of 17 former livestock farms and with no fences between them, the NamibRand became an exclusive reserve through which animals could roam freely across the expanse of this incredible environment and natural habitat.
This German town of about 25,000 inhabitants was born out of necessity in 1487 when Bartholemu Dias sailed his little flotilla into the natural bay created by the rocky peninsula. Centuries later the the bay was no more than an obscure anchorage on the spice route when whales and guano attracted fierce commercial interest in the 19th century.
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