Fun things to do in Namibia

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    by lotharscheer
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    by lotharscheer
  • Things to Do
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Namibia

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    Cross the Tropic of Capricorn

    by magor65 Updated Aug 22, 2010

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    It is a bit strange that crossing such imaginary lines like the tropic of Capricorn affects our imagination so much. it really does. At least in my case it is so. Yes, there is nothing more than a sign saying 'Tropic of Capricorn'. But cars stop there, people get out and everybody wants to have a picture there.
    I did feel special standing there thinking to myself: 'you are just crossing that mysteriously alluring line you learnt about at school. Isn't it incredible?'

    The Tropic of Capricorn lies at 23.5 degrees south of the equator and runs through Namibia, South Africa, Australia, Chile, Brazil. On December 21 at noon the sun here is directly overhead marking the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere.

    I want a picture At the Tropic of Capricorn

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    Sesriem Canyon

    by magor65 Written Aug 22, 2010

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    The Sesriem Canyon, which is just minute in comparison to the Fish River Canyon , is for sure also worth visiting. It is only about one km long and up to 30 metres deep whereas its width at places is mere two metres. But like its enormous cousin, it comes as a surprise when all of a sudden you come to the edge of a sharp drop. One can easily descend to its bottom and have a nice and easy walk.

    Even in dry season there are pools of water in some places of the canyon. Once they were an important source of drinking water for local people and travellers. Actually, the name 'Sesriem' means 'six (ses) thongs(riem)'. In the past the early settlers used to tie together six thongs made of oryx hide to raise the bucket with drinking water from the bottom of the canyon.

    Sesriem Canyon Sesriem Canyon
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    Amazing plants

    by magor65 Written Aug 22, 2010

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    One of the most unusual desert plants is Welwitschia. Unfortunately, I didn't see it as it grows only in the northernmost part of the Namib-Naukluft park which we didn't visit. The oldest specimen are known to have been growing for 2000 years and the 'middle-aged' are about 1000 years old. The plant is not a beauty - its two long leaves darkened by the sun and torn by the wind lie twisted around the cork-like stem. The plant takes most of the needed moisture from condensed fog and the pores in the leaves trap it and 'water' the sand below from where the moisture goes to the roots.

    Another amazing plant growing in the dunes of Sossusvlei is a !nara melon. It has no leaves but stems growing along the ground that absorb moisture from the morning fog. Its root system is very well developed and it grows to 40metres down in order to reach water deep under the dunes. The stems can die out in case of the lack of moisture but the plant can survive and bear fruit which is a good source of liquid in dry periods.

    Besides !nara melons the Namib is home to many species of succulents and lichens.

    !nara plant
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    Find out about life in the desert

    by magor65 Written Aug 22, 2010

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    When you look at the sands and parched ground of Sossusvlei you may think that there are hardly any forms of life here. How mistaken you are! The array of plants and animals living here is really impressive. The Namib considered to be the oldest desert in the world (45 million years) has offered its plants and animals much more time to adapt than other, relatively lifeless, deserts.
    It's enough to say that about 70 reptile species can be encountered here, of which 25 are considered endemic. Geckos using their long tongues to lick fog moisture from their noses and heads, sand lizards lifting their feet, as if they were dancing, to avoid too much contact with the hot sand, chameleons or adders are just a few examples.
    As for mammals, there are baboons, which can go for months without drinking (116 days being the record), foxes, jackals or wild cats. The waterholes draw gemsboks which have an intricate system of blood vessels that cool their blood.
    Insects, as well, have adapted to living in the dunes. The sand particles have been polished so well during the millions of years, that the sand resembles fluid into which the creatures can dive easily to avoid the scorching sun. An amazing example can be a long-legged beetle which runs in the hot sand at a speed of one metre per second creating an extra wind that lowers the temperature of it body. As long as it runs, it's OK. But if it stood still for some time in the hot sun, it would die of hyperthermia.

    diving in the sand food chain?
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    Dead Vlei

    by magor65 Written Aug 22, 2010

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    Set among high dunes, Dead Vlei is a white clay pan, contrasting sharply with the orange colour of the surrounding sands.
    The pan was cut off from the flow of the Tsauchab river about 500 years ago. Due to the lack of water all the trees in this valley have died. What is left are are their dark skeletons which have been perfectly preserved as there is not even enough moisture for them to decompose. Those lifeless stumps against the white parched background of the pan look really sad but amazing.

    Dry, drier, the driest ... Dead Vlei It's not snow...

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    Explore Sossusvlei

    by magor65 Written Aug 22, 2010

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    Sossusvlei is home to the highest dunes in the world. Surrounded by the sea of sand they rise over 300 metres above sea level.
    'Sossusvlei' can be translated as 'the gathering place of water' but in fact its prime feature seems to be the lack of water. In fact, Sossusvlei, which is a large clay pan with sand dunes around, does fill with water from time to time. It happens after a heavy rainfall and then dunes block the waters of the Tsauchab River preventing them from flowing towards the ocean. The dry pan changes then into a lake surrounded by greenery - a sight hard to imagine.

    You can get to Sossusvlei from sesriem, but the last 4 km can be made only by 4x4 vehicles. If you aren't driving one you will have to walk the distance. To enter the Namib-Naukluft Park of which Sossusvlei is a part, one needs an entry permit, which can be obtained at the Sesriem, Namib and walvis tourism associations.

    Walking on the dunes Is it still far to the top? an attempt to catch the sunrise a sea of sand Wait for me!

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    Sossusvlei - climb dune 45

    by magor65 Written Aug 22, 2010

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    Who doesn't know the red dunes of Sossusvlei? They appear in ads, films and documentaries about Africa. And dune 45 is a real icon - a symbol of Namibia. But no picture or film can show the beauty and uniqueness of the dunes. First of all - the colours: all hues of orange, rusty and ochre. The orange comes from the iron in the sand which oxidizes and with time makes the colour of the dune brighter. It is advisable to visit the place for sunrise or sunset when the light paints the dunes in dramatic hues and shadows. But it's not just the colour that is so amazing - also the shapes which are constantly changing due to the wind. Some of the dunes have razor-sharp edges, others gentle slopes with wave-like patterns on them.

    The most famous and accessible of the large dunes is of course dune 45 - called so because it's 45 km km from Sesriem. It rises about 150 m above the plains around. It may seem not very high, but believe me, getting on its top is not a simple task. Your feet sink in the sand and you make two steps forward and slide one step downwards. People say that it's much easier when you walk bare-footed, but when we were there before sunrise on a June morning, the sand was freezing cold so I didn't take my shoes off. But when I finally got to the top - just in time for the sunset - I forgot about being tired; the view was stunning.

    Dune 45 Sossusvlei Parking place from Dune 45
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    Namib Desert

    by magor65 Written Aug 22, 2010

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    The Namib desert occupies an area of 80 000 square km, stretching about 1600 km along the Namibian Atlantic Ocean coast. It is considered to be the second oldest desert in the world (after the Atacama). The ocean winds and Benguela current have a great influence on the arid ecosystem of Namib. Solar radiation here is less extreme than in mid-continental deserts and air temperatures are rarely higher than 40 degrees C.

    Part of Namib is protected by Namib-Naukluft Park which comprises such wonders as Sossusvlei or Sesriem Canyon.

    The Namib Desert is probably the only place on Earth where such diverse life exists in such hard conditions. Looking at the arid landscape it's hard to believe that it's home to numerous species of plants and animals, many of them being endemic. It's exciting to discover what forms of adaptation the organisms have developed over the years in order to survive in these harsh conditions.

    The beaches of Namib contain the richest deposits of diamonds in the world, that's why access to some areas is restricted.

    The word 'Namib' means ' a vast dry plain' and was the inspiration for the name of the whole country.

    Namib Namib Namib
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    Enormous and overwhelming

    by magor65 Written Aug 22, 2010

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    The Fish River Canyon is said to be the second largest canyon in the world. With its enormous dimensions - it is 160 km long, up to 27 km wide and in some places over 500 m deep- it is definitely immense and breathtaking. The impression is magnified by the shock of a sudden encounter with the place. First you go across kilometres of flat and barren landscape, which doesn't prepare you for the wonder ahead. Suddenly the plateau drops half a km down, displaying the intricacy of the canyon. It's just awesome. You simply feel overwhelmed by its magnificent beauty.
    We visited the canyon before the sunset so we had a chance to see it bathed in the orange light of the setting sun but then it suddenly started to darken and the canyon looked more and more ominous, until it completely disappeared in the black of the night. By then we reached the meeting point where our guide and cook in one person was waiting for us with dinner under the stars. So there we sat, looking at the endless sky studded with millions of stars and enjoying our meal next to the canyon.

    The Fish River Canyon was formed by a fracture in the earth's crust and then deepened by the flow of water over millions of years. Of course there's a legend concerning its origin. According to the San people it was an enormous serpent called Koutein Koorn that made the canyon. Escaping from the hunters into the desert it burrowed in the earth creating the gouges.

    For the brave and fit ones there's a possibility to hike along the bottom of the canyon. The route is 85 km long and is open from May to September. One has to obtain a hiking permit (either in Hobas or Ai-Ai) and may be asked to present a doctor's certificate of fitness.

    Fish River Canyon bathed in the sun after the sunset Fish River Canyon
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    Go Sledding

    by krissyM Updated Jun 22, 2010

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    If you are interested in having some fun and getting dirty go sledding on the sand dunes. We booked our day of fun with Far Out Adventures. For the lie down boarding it was $35 USD.

    We were picked up from our hotel and taken to a 90m sand dune. After hiking our butts up the hill we were given a crash course on how to steer, stop and not get friction burns on the sand. Be prepared to get sandy, so don't take a shower before you go!!! We could climb up the dune as many times as we could manage in a 2 hour period. I made it 5 times but the record was 17!!!! Each run gets progressively longer and faster. The last hill of the day they brought out a radar gun to clock us as we flew down the hill. My speeds were around 68 km/h but the fastest time in our group was 76 km/h.

    A cold lunch was included (sandwiches, cold soda and cold beer) as was a short video of the day.

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    Go Sandboarding

    by krissyM Updated Jun 22, 2010

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    I booked a half day sandboarding tour with Far Out Adventures - a high adreneline adventure company that sits adjacent to Hotel Gruner Krantz (aka Swakop Lodge).

    We were picked up from our hotel and taken to a 90m sand dune where we put on snowboarding boots and grabbed a snowboard that had been re-finished for the sand. After hiking our butts up the hill we were given a crash course on how to wax the board and how to get down without killing ourselves :) And off we went!!!

    We could climb up the dune as many times as we could manage in a 2 hour period. I made it 5 times but the record was 17!!!! If you paid for the sandboarding (the satnd-up version) you could also use the lie-down boards (think sledding).

    A cold lunch was included (sandwiches, cold soda and cold beer) as was a short video of the day.

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    Tropic of Capricorn

    by krissyM Written Jun 17, 2010

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    The Tropic of Capricorn, or Southern tropic, is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. It currently lies 23¨¬ 26¡Ç 17¡È south of the equator. It marks the most southerly latitude at which the sun can appear directly overhead at noon.

    The Tropic of Capricorn is so named because about 2,000 years ago the sun was entering the constellation Capricorn at the December solstice. In modern times the sun appears in the constellation Sagittarius during this time. The change is due to precession of the equinoxes. The word "tropic" itself comes from the Greek tropos, meaning turn, referring to the fact that the sun appears to "turn back" at the solstices.

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    Sesriem Canyon

    by krissyM Written Jun 17, 2010

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    Sesriem Canyon is 1 km long and 30 meters deep. It was formed by the Tsauchab river over a period of 2 million years.

    The name Sesriem is Afrikaans and means "six belts", since the early settlers had to attach together six belts (made of oryx hides), in order to reach buckets down into the canyon to scoop up water. Since it is located in a desert it is rare that there is water in the bottom of the canyon. As a result it is possible to climb down into the canyon and walk around.

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    Deadvlei

    by krissyM Written Jun 17, 2010

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    Dead Vlei is a white clay pan located near the more famous salt pan of Sossusvlei, inside the Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia. Its name means "dead marsh" (from English dead, and Afrikaans vlei, a lake or marsh in a valley between the dunes).

    Dead Vlei is surrounded by the highest sand dunes in the world, the highest reaching about 330 meters The clay pan was formed after rainfall, when the Tsauchab river flooded, creating temporary shallow pools where the abundance of water allowed camel thorn trees to grow. When the sand dunes grew and cut off the water from the river then trees then died. The skeletons of the trees are believed to be about 1000 years old.

    The dark brown color is due to the scorching of the wood. The wood cannot decompose because it is too dry.

    If this scene looks familiar it's because it was the site of a few Hollywood films including The Cell with Jennifer Lopez.

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    Guided walks of Sossusvlei

    by krissyM Written Jun 17, 2010

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    Sossus-on-foot offers educational guided walks in Sossusvlei and to the Deadvlei. The price was a bit high ($35 USD per person) but I can honestly say it was worth it.

    Our guide, Bussman for two hours took us around the desest and showed us all it had to offer - snakes, beetles, spiders nests and various plants to name a few. This guy was a genius! He could interpret all the markings and prints of the animals of the desert. He could even tell us what sex they were! He has personally lived in the desert with the Bushman nomadic peoples and described their way of life, told their stories and their turbulent history (and downfall) much like North America's Native Americans.

    The walk ended at the famous Deadvlei site.

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Namibia Hotels

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    We only stayed for one night sadly, as on our return to Windhoek we travelled on to a game farm. But...

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    If you want a good campsite at Sossusvlei (Sesriem campsite) you need to book in Windhoek and/or...

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