The Republic of Namibia is a southern African country on the Atlantic coast. Around 15 percent of it is desert. It shares borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south. A young nation, it gained independence from South Africa in 1990. Its capital city is Windhoek. Namibia is a member state of the UN, the Southern African Development Community, the African Union and the Commonwealth of Nations.
The dry lands of Namibia have been inhabited for centuries by Bushmen, Damara, Namaqua and, since the 14th century, immigrating Bantu. Europeans didn't really explore the region until the 19th century when it came under German control, except for Walvis Bay which was under British control.
The Namib Desert, the world's oldest, runs the entire length of the country, a distance of 1500km. The Namib Naukluft Park is the central area and that is where you find Sossusvlei and Sesreim. The area is fed by the Tsauchab River and is known for its high red sand dunes which form a major sand sea.
Sesreim marks the entrance to the magnificent dunes. Centuries of erosion has created Sesreim Canyon, a one-kilometre-long narrow gorge with beautiful pools after good rains. Sesreim was named for the number of joined leather ox-wagon thongs used to draw water from the bottom of the gorge.
If you needed to choose one highlight of Namibia, it would be the monumental dunes in and around Sossusvlei. (Vlei is the Afrikaans word for low, open landscape, sometimes marshy). It is Namibia's number-one attraction, but manages to retain an isolated feel.
Star-shaped dunes rise to 325 metres, formed by strong multi-directional winds. It is not itself a dune, but a pan of clay sitting amid the dunes and fills with water on rare occasions. Dune 45 is the highest and most spectacular, but the others are just as inspiring. (There are about 70 numbered dunes there).
It all rather resembles a huge white football ground, surrounded by red dunes and dark blue sky. It is a true delight for photographers and painters. They are rewarded by the dunes turning red at sunrise, and at other times, displaying warm, orange and maroon. An array of desert-adapted animals, birds, plants and insects are to be found, with flamingos creating a dramatic and colourful contrast. Sossusvlei is home to oryx, skink, geckos, lizards, springbok, antelope, ostrich, hyena, cheetah, jackal and over 115 bird species.
Darran Leal operates Safari Wise photography and workshop tours. He is a professional photographer with experience ensuring absolutely anyone with an interest in photography will achieve the ultimate in everlasting memories. Groups are small with a maximum of 10 and he knows where to avoid other tourists. The patterns his groups see in the sand have been made by nature, not footprints.
Each day is packed with action and there is a mix of culture, landscapes and wildlife to experience. In the heat of the day when the light is too high, everyone heads to the campsite for lunch. Dinner conversation is full of excitement and anticipation.
Around 300km south of Windhoek in Namibia.
Safari Wise has 13-day Namibia tours with three days in Sossusvlei. All accommodation, most meals, professional photo guide, entrance fees and land transport are included. They start at $7995 per person twin share from Windhoek.
South African Airways has flights to Windhoek starting at $2470.
For more information
Box 815, Post Office
Coolum Beach 4573
Ph: (07) 5446 6538
Safari Wise Namibia
Box 2796, Post Office
Ph: 264 64 405 220
South African Airways
Ph: 1800 221 699
Ph: 1800 099 281 Western Australia
It is recommended travellers to Namibia see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information visit www.welltogo.com.au
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