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Namibia

Main attractions

The mysterious fairy rings, Namibia
The mysterious fairy rings of Namibia / Thorsten Becker, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0 Germany.

Few countries in the world have such visually stunning landmarks as Namibia - it is no wonder that the landscape of Namibia has been used to depict life on other planets.

Highlights of Namibia are:

  • Ecosystems. In Namibia is located the eerie Succulent Karoo Ecosystem with thousands of life forms not met anywhere else in the world. Such plants as Welwitschia mirabilis or Aloe dichotoma create unusual sight which resemble life on another planet.
  • Cliff formations, canyons. This is characteristic for many desert countries and Namibia is no exception - here are found numerous unusual cliff formations. Some of most impressing are Fish River Canyon and the 700 m tall Spitzkoppe.

There are several unique landmarks without analogues - such as the largest piece of natural iron in the world (Hoba meteorite), the largest underground lake, 50 m long crystals and some others.

Natural landmarks

Hoba meteorite, Namibia
Hoba meteorite / Damien du Toit, Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Meteorites, impact craters

  • Hoba meteorite – Otjozondjupa. The largest known single-piece meteorite and the largest known natural piece of iron on Earth. The stone fell some 80,000 years ago, it weighs more than 60 tons, 2.7 by 2.7 m long.
  • Roter Kamm crater – Karas. Approximately 4 - 5 million years old impact crater. Diameter of the crater is 2.5 km, depth – 100 m. It was deeper earlier – the bottom is covered with 100 m thick layer of sand.
Spitzkoppe, Namibia
Spitzkoppe / Maurits Vermeulen, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Rock formations

  • Bogenfels - Karas. Large natural arch at the sea, 55 m tall.
  • Fish River Canyon - Karas. Second largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon (United States). This giant canyon is some 160 km long, up to 27 km wide, up to 550 m deep.
  • Sesriem Canyon - Hardap. Approximately 1 km long, narrow canyon, with up to 30 m tall walls. In some places canyon is just 1 - 2 m wide.
  • Spitzkoppe - Erongo. Granite peak - monolyth, rising some 700 m above the surrounding plains. Nearby are located some more granite monoliths. Rock art.
  • Valley of the Organ Pipes - Kunene. Valley which is flanked with impressive, polygonal dolerite columns.
  • Vingerklip - Kunene. 35 m tall monolith of conglomerate, similar to giant finger.
Otjikoto Lake, Namibia
Otjikoto Lake / Ikiwaner, Wikimedia Commons, GNU FDL.

Caves, sinkholes

  • Dragon's Breath Cave - Otjozondjupa. Unique cave with the largest cave lake in the world (except for subglacial lakes). This lake is located some 100 m below the surface, area of this lake is some 2 ha, lake most likely is very deep. Endemic species.
  • Harasib sinkhole - Oshikoto. At least 63 m sinkhole. 50 m below the rims is located lake.
  • Lake Guinas - Otjozondjupa. 145 m long, 70 m wide and 132 m deep lake in sinkhole. Endemic fish - Tilapia guinasana Trewavas, 1936.
  • Otjikoto Lake - Oshikoto. Lake in large sinkhole, at least 60 m deep. Lake water is polluted with chemical fertilizers and has poor visibility. Weapons of retreating German army were thrown in the lake in 1914.
Ruacana Falls, Namibia and Angola
Ruacana Falls / Rubend Nazario, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Waterfalls, rapids

  • Epupa Falls - Kunene and Namibe, Angola. Group of picturesque waterfalls in approximately 1 km wide front, formed by Kunene River. Tallest single drop is 37 m high. Picturesque groves of large baobabs right at the falls. Endemic species of fish.
  • Popa Falls - Kavango. Impressive rapids on Okavango River. Level of the 1.2 km wide river here descends by 4 m.
  • Ruacana Falls - Omusati and Kunene, Angola. Unusual, very impressive waterfall. Kunene River here falls by 170 m over a fan shaped, 700 m wide cliff. This sight opens only after heavy rains.

Rare natural materials, gemstones

  • Giant crystals in Verloren - Khomas. Verloren quartz ridge is formed of giant quartz crystals which certainly reach 20 m length but could be even 50 m long. In some places there are caves formed in sites where giant dolomite crystals have weathered away, leaving voids in even larger quartz crystals. Other minerals also have formed enormous crystals - tremolite needles are up to 20 m long, calcite crystals - up to 1 m long.
  • Pietersite mine - Erongo. The only active mine of gemstone - pietersite - in the world. This gem has variegated color and "cat's eye" effect.
  • Tsumeb Mine - Oshikoto. One of world's richest places for mineral collectors, with the best samples of dioptase, cerussite, world's largest azurite crystals and more than 240 other kinds of minerals. Some germanium minerals are found only here.
Deadvlei, Namibia
Deadvlei / Greg Willis, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Ecosystems

  • Cape Cross lichen field - Erongo. One of the largest lichen fields in the world.
  • Deadvlei - Hardap. Clay pan, visually stunning place with blackened, many centuries old trunks of dead acacia against orange sand dunes.
  • Fairy rings in Hartmann's Valley and Fairy rings in Giribes Plains - Kunene, Kaokoland. Largest of the mysterious fairy rings of Namib desert. Slightly concave, round areas without any vegetation, around the rim of these fairy rings is a ring taller plants. In spite of several investigations no explanation for this phenomenon has been found, although one likely explanation is activity of termites.
  • Quiver Tree Forest - Karas. One of the few existing Aloe dichotoma forests. Here grow some 250 of these unusual plants, the tallest ones are 200 - 300 years old.
  • Wlotzkasbaken lichen fields - Erongo. One of largest lichen fields in the world, with numerous very rare and endemic species of lichen. Lichens can survive and grow thanks to the fogs from Atlantic.

Trees

  • Holboom - Otjozondjupa. Enormous baobab (Adansonia digitata) with 38 m in circumference. Trunk of tree is divided.
  • Ombalantu baobab tree - Omusati. Giant baobab, 28 m high, with a circumference of 26.5 m. Door leads into the tree and room inside can accommodate 35 people. In the room today is located local museum.
  • Welwitschia mirabilis in Messum Mountains - Erongo. Largest known example of this amazing desert plant. This 1.8 m tall plant could be up to 2,000 years old.
Dune 45, Namibia
Dune 45 / Stuart Orford, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

    Other natural landmarks

  • Anabib Petrified Forest - Kunene. Group of large, fossilized trunks of trees from Permian period. Largest trees were up to 45 m tall.
  • Big Daddy dune - Hardap. 325 m (380 m?) tall sand dune.
  • Dune 7 - Erongo. Very tall sand dunes, 383 m high.
  • Dune 45 - Hardap. Visually impressive, up to 170 m tall sand dune. One of most photographed dunes in the world.
  • Otjihaenamparero dinosaur footprints - Otjozondjupa. 170 million years old footprints of three-toed dinosaurs.

Man made landmarks

The White Lady of Brandberg, Namibia
The White Lady of Brandberg / Raymond Ostertag, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Archaeological monuments

  • Apollo 11 Cave - Karas. Contains some of the oldest cave art in Africa, created 25,500 - 23,500 BC.
  • The White Lady in Maack Shelter - Erongo, Brandberg, Tsisab Gorge. Some 2000 years old rock paintings, which show something what could be a ritual dance. One man has white painted legs and hands, which once was considered as a proof that white people have been here. Now it is considered that painting shows a shaman with white painted limbs.
  • Twyfelfontein (ǀUi-ǁAis) - Kunene. Site of more than 5000 valuable rock engravings on 212 sandstone slabs, important sacred site, where shamanistic rituals have taken place. Most engravings and paintings made circa 4000 BC.
  • ǁKhauxaǃnas - Karas. Ruins of old fortified settlement, built by indigenous people between 1796 and 1798 in order to hide from the Cape authorities.
H.E.S.S., Namibia
H.E.S.S. / Wikimedia Commons, © H.E.S.S. collaboration.

Other man made landmarks

  • Christ Church in Windhoek - Khomas. Church in Neo-Gothic and Art Noveau style, constructed in 1910.
  • High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) - Khomas. System of four enormous telescopes for exploration of high energy processes in universe. The location was chosen because this area has very clean, dry air. System has helped to find numerous high-energy gamma ray sources in space.
  • Historical centre of Lüderitz - Karas. Collection of German colonial architecture, mainly in Art Noveau style, financed by find of diamonds in 1909.
  • Historical centre of Swakopmund - Erongo. Streets of this historical town are lined with ornate buildings in German colonial style, built in the early 20th century.
  • Alte Feste - Khomas, Windhoek. German built fortress, constructed in 1890 - 1915.
  • Altes Gefängnis - Erongo, Swakopmund. Prison in Art Noveau style, built in 1909.

List of described attractions by regions

Namibia is divided into 13 regions.

Caprivi
Erongo
Hardap
Karas
ArrowRoter Kamm craterImpact craters
Kavango
Khomas
Kunene
Ohangwena
Omaheke
Omusati
Oshana
Oshikoto
Otjozondjupa

Map of Namibia