NAMIBIA This enormous, sparsely populated country is a celebration of extremes and an absolute treasure trove of the wild, weird and wonderful. The Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world, the world’s largest known meteorite fell to earth in Namibia – about 50 tons of solid nickel-iron.
There is a forest of fossilised trees, and living fossil trees that grow underground, animals that never drink, and birds that don’t fly. The world’s highest sand dunes are here, and the terrain is so flat, and the sky so immense that, at night, you don’t even have to look up to see the stars.
It’s a desert country surrounded by water on three sides – the icy, unforgiving Atlantic on the west, the long, sinuous oasis of the Orange River in the south, and the westward flowing Kunene and eastward-flowing Kavango in the north.
The population of Namibia is surprisingly rich and diverse – even for Africa, where diversity is the norm. The world’s oldest inhabitants live here in one of the world’s newest republics, and ghost towns and stationary trains bear witness to a wild and wicked history.
Genteel little German towns cling to the edge of the desert on the edge of the ocean. The cold, misty fog that embraces the coastal towns lingers long into the day, prompting the proud housewives of Swakopmund and Luderitz to drive for twenty minutes into the desert to hang up their laundry, where it dries in less than an hour, while they drink coffee and play bridge. Probably burns less carbon than a tumble drier.
Some of the richest diamond mines in the world are here – mostly under the sea – but the real treasure is the immense sense of space, peace and quiet.
Namibia is a place you can easily get lost, but it’s also a place where you can really find yourself.