Most Renedian African motorcycle safaris spend significant time in Namibia. Aside from its spectacular scenery, it’s a land of extremes with fascinating history, geography, and culture. Here are but a few of the reasons visitors are captivated by her.
- Namibia achieved independence from South Africa in 1990. Colonized by the Germans beginning in 1884, the area became known as South-West Africa. It was occupied by South Africa during World War I but not annexed until after World War II. In 1966 the Marxist South-West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) launched a war of independence but South Africa did not agree to end its administration until 1988. The SWAPO still governs.
- English is Namibia’s official language but Afrikaans is actually the most common language spoken. German is spoken by 32% of the population. Indigenous languages include Oshivambo, Herero and Nama.
- Namibia’s geography is harsh and ancient, beginning with the coastal Namib Desert, moving east to the central semiarid mountains, and then the Kalahari Desert. Only about one percent of the land is arable. So stark and barren is the landscape that the Namib Desert was used to depict post-apocalyptic Australia in Fury Road, the fourth Mad Max film.
- Namibia’s land mass covers 824,292 km2—about the size of France and Germany combined. With only slightly more than 2.3 million residents, the population density is 2.9 people per km2; one of the lowest in the world.
- Welwitschia Mirabilis is truly a one-of –a-kind plant, thought to be a relic from the Jurassic period. This bizarre and fascinating specimen grows in isolated communities in the Namib Desert, in a narrow strip, about 1,000 km long, and has a lifespan of up to 2,000 years.
- Etosha National Park is one of Southern Africa’s finest wildlife sanctuaries. It’s home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and one species of fish. Included in these are rare and endangered species such as the black rhino, black-faced impala, tsessebe, and gemsbok. The Etosha Safari is part of the itinerary for the Waterfalls and Wildlife trip and an optional excursion either before or after Spectacular South West Africa.
- Spooky by nature and name, Skeleton Coast is littered with huge bleached whalebones and shipwrecks—remnants of ocean liners, trawlers, galleons, and gunboats. Surprisingly, a wide diversity of mammals, birds, and reptiles have adapted to this ghostly terrain. Read one traveler’s experience: The Ghostly Shore of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.
- Sperrgebiet, German for ‘prohibited zone’, was a diamond mining concession controlled by De Beers and off limits for almost a century. Even now after it’s become a national park and open for guided tours, access is heavily regulated.
- Kolmanskop is Namibia’s most famous ghost town. Situated in the Sperrgebiet, (forbidden territory) news of a diamond find in 1908 spread like wildfire, prompting droves of fortune hunters to descend here. A tour of Kolmanskop is part of the Victoria Falls to Cape Town and Spectacular South West Africa tours.
- Namibia is home to Fish River Canyon, formed about 500 million years ago and one of the largest canyons in the world. A visit here is part of the Waterfalls and Wildlife, Victoria Falls to Cape Town, and Spectacular South West Africa tours.
- Namibia’s economy is heavily dependent on exporting minerals. The country is a primary source for diamonds, the world’s fourth largest exporter of nonfuel minerals, and the fifth largest producer of uranium,
- Dubbed the Cheetah Capital of the World, it’s hard to get an actual count on these elusive cats—the world’s fastest land animal and Africa’s most endangered cat. They have extremely large home ranges, averaging 1,600 km2, the largest for any of the big cats. Cheetah’s can be identified by their coat pattern, much like a fingerprint.