Fish River Canyon
The major attraction in the southern-most reaches of Namibia is the Fish River Canyon. One of the largest in the world, the canyon proper is about 60km long, up to 8km wide, and 550m at its deepest.
The ephemeral Fish River - one of a handful that rise in Namibia - began its work creating the canyon in about 170 million years ago when tectonic rumblings increased the gradient of the river.
All around the canyon, the land rises and falls in gentle undulations marked by dramatic inselbergs. Hardy wildlife thrives in the unspoilt wilderness of two adjacent nature reserves: Fish River Canyon National Park and the privately-owned Gondwana Cañon Park.
The Orange River rises in the highlands of Lesotho and flows all year round into the Atlantic at Oranjemund. It forms the the southern border with South Africa and flows through the Ais-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Peace Park, which joins South Africa's Richtersveld with Ais Ais National Park.
The vast plains of the Nama Karoo give way, without the slightest warning, to an enormous fissure that is one of the top attractions of southern Namibia. One of the world's largest and oldest, the Fish River Canyon is a meandering incision half a kilometre deep, 161km long and up to 27km wide.
Multi-day self-sufficient hiking trails along the riverbed are popular and the shallow pools and occasional springs belie the arid and rugged conditions. Around the canyon there are many lodges and game parks featuring spectacular scenery and endemic plants and animals. Explore these reserves on horseback, on foot, by air, or in an open safari vehicle.
A scenic flight will complement your ground-based exploration with a dramatic all-encompassing view that gives you an inkling of the canyon's scale.
Ais-Ais Hot Springs near the southern end of the canyon and Warmbad, about two hours' drive from the canyon, are fed by natural springs and an elixir for weary feet.
The Orange River is a malaria-free, bilharzia-free, and crocodile-free river that is reputedly the cleanest in southern Africa. Multi-day guided canoe trips wind through the rocky mountains of the Ais-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
More In Namibia
The 10 Best Places to Visit in Namibia
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.
After the world's oldest desert in the south, the Caprivi wetlands come as a bit of surprise. The finger of land that slices between Botswana and Zambia to touch Zimbabwe is a sub-tropical paradise of perennial rivers, sodden marshes and verdant woodlands at odds with the parched country to the west.
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.
The Skeleton Coast
The Skeleton Coast is a sliver of desert that spans the 1,500km from the Orange River in the south to the Kunene River and Angolan Border. Despite its macabre name - given by sailors wary of the strong winds, shifting sandbanks and rusting wrecks - the northern section of the great Namib Desert is full of life and a fascinating place for the informed visitor.
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