Namibia: Awesome Nature Photography

By: Alex J Smith

Namibia is a vast country - 825,418 square kilometers of scenic, varied landscapes rendered in high-contrast color film. It is no wonder that this peaceful nation is a favorite among photographers, especially the Sossusvlei sand dunes or the famed but feared Skeleton Coast in the Namib Desert, the awe-inspiring depths of Fish River Canyon, and the endless plains of the Kaokoveld. Strangely-shaped rock formations, dormant volcanoes and giant dinosaur footprints round out the diversity of this stark, hauntingly beautiful land. These features provide so much variety to your sightseeing. For the more artistic eye, the tones, textures and forms of these landscape features have made Namibia a popular destination among photographers.

Nature and Wildlife

The 19 state-owned game parks, conservation areas, and resorts comprise nearly 15% of Namibia's land area. Population sizes in its game parks are smaller than in top wildlife destinations, but the Etosha National Park is one of Africa's great game parks. In the arid northwest, you find desert-dwelling elephant, black rhino and giraffe. There is also an amazing variety of small creatures with special adaptations for survival in the harsh Namib Desert.

The northeast is home to woodlands and wetlands that stand in sharp contrast to the western parts. There are small lakes and flood plains that attract antelopes of various species, backwaters carpeted with water lilies, and papyrus at the fringes of water channels. You find many unique plants. The well-known welwitschia with its shredded leaves is a fine example of adaptation to life in desert environments. The bottle tree is evocative of the rocky outcrops of Kaokoveld, and Namibia is home to a bewildering diversity of lichens.

What Else to Do

Namibia's remote regions, especially in the arid northwest, make it ideal for extreme adventures off the beaten track. The Naukluft 4x4 trail is the first route to be mapped out in a state-owned conservation area; it traverses mountainous terrain and the plateau of the Naukluft Mountains. The track runs for 72km including steep inclines, rugged descents and squeeze-through mountain passes, guaranteed to test the limits your driving skills. The Isabis 4x4 trail in a farm in Windhoek has options ranging from 16km to 40km and you have a choice of two campsites. There are a number of other trails to choose from.

There are many opportunities for angling in the country. Namibia is probably the best locations in the world for shark angling from the shore. This unique sport has become very popular. The copper shark is the angler's favorite target, and can weigh up to 180kg. There are other species of shark. Animal lovers need not worry: shark angling is a catch and release activity.

Best Time to Go

The weather allows you to enjoy Namibia all year round, but depending on what you want to see, some months are better than others. August and December are busy tourism months, so ensure that your bookings for car hire and accommodations are done well in advance. Game viewing is best done in the dry winter months May-October. Summers in Namibia can get very hot, and hiking should not be attempted. The Fish River Canyon trail is closed between September and April. Bird-watching is perfect from March onwards, after the rains.

Planning your Trip

The best way to appreciate Namibia is with a car, so plan to spend some money for car hire. The big outlay at the start will be recovered by camping out in some of its picturesque sites. Do good research into what you want to do and destinations that most appeal to you. Focus on important destinations: there is so much to see, there is no time to see them all. Distances in this vast country are significant. Bring some camping clothes and outfits, otherwise, you don't need too much of city clothes.

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