The Skeleton Coast
A coastal road straddles the ocean and the desert like a tightrope from Swakopmund through the Recreation Area - dotted with fishing camps - and into the Skeleton Coast Park as far as Terrace Bay.
A few roads lead inland through the multi-coloured gravel plains, shifting barchans and occasional inselbergs. Beyond Terrace Bay, the Skeleton Coast Park lies vast, brooding and impenetrable.
The colony of Cape fur seals is one of the major coastal attractions in the Skeleton Coast. Up to 300,000 seals live and breed at Cape Cross, which is where the first European feet touched Namibian soil - those of Portuguese explorer Diego Cáo.
Fishing along the coast is excellent and there are many rudimentary fishing camps in the recreation area up to the Ugab River, which marks the southern boundary of the Skeleton Coast Park. Copper and cow sharks provide the sport - on tag and release - while delicious line fish include kob, steenbras, blackfish and blacktail.
Desert-adapted flora and fauna is rife: lichens, which are actually a symbiotic relationship of fungi and algae; the fascinating welwitschia; dune-creating dollar bushes; and whole ecosystems in the linear oases along the dry rivercourses. Jackals and the rare brown hyena prey on the seals at Cape Cross and elephant and rhino traverse the eastern parts in search of food and water; kudu, gemsbok, springbok, steenbok, genet and wild cat frequent the vegetated valleys and lure the occasional predator.
The turbulent Benguela Current causes strong winds, shifting sandbanks and powerful undertows that have led to many a sailor's demise. The shipwrecks along the coast are an eerie testament to the humbling power of nature's forces - they're also quite picturesque against the stark desert-and-sea backdrop.
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.
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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