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7 things you didn't know about Namibia

Sand dunes. Ship skeletons. More sand dunes? Namibia evokes images of vast sandy landscapes and towering dunes. But beyond that, few people know much about this fascinating desert nation. Here are seven facts that might surprise you about Namibia.
Author: Donná Louw - Digital Content Executive at Explore Worldwide
Published: 16 October 2023

1. It has the world’s tallest sand dune

Dune 7 stands at over 1200 feet tall, and got its name for being the seventh dune past the Tsauchab River as you travel towards Sossusvlei. This area is a vast depression or clay pan, towered over by huge sand dunes up to 300 metres high. Look out for springbok and ostrich among the sparse vegetation of this wild and beautiful spot. 

2. Fish River Canyon is second-only to the Grand Canyon

Namibia is home to the second-largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon - Fish River Canyon. While it’s Namibia’s second-most visited site, Fish River Canyon receives less than 1% of the visitor numbers of the Grand Canyon. The canyon is steeped in San legend, which tells that this vast crevasse was carved by a great serpent. Walk around the mighty rim to appreciate this spectacular natural wonder.

3. The food is surprisingly good

The food isn’t a typical reason to book a trip to Namibia, but it’s a pleasant surprise. Fresh local beef, sausages and game are grilled on a traditional open barbecues and served with homemade flatbreads. Biltong – air-dried meat – is also popular here. Vegetarian and vegan options are traditionally more limited, but Namibians are so welcoming and generous, they’ll go out of their way to find the best dishes and eateries for you. Your Tour Leader is on hand to provide recommendations.

4. More cheetah live here than anywhere else

Cheetah hunt during the day - unlike lion, leopard and hyena – thus eliminating competition for their prey. These social animals are usually found in families or hunting groups. Still, cheetah are elusive and sightings are far from guaranteed. Our best chance to see these beautiful cats is in Etosha National Park, whose arid open grasslands support a good cheetah population. 

5. It gets cold sometimes

While a desert nation, Namibia is not as hot as you might expect. January and February are the hottest months here, when temperatures in the heart of the Namib Desert can exceed 40c. Outside of this time, the average maximum temperature in Namibia is 20-25c, more temperate and comfortable than many imagine. At night-time, the average minimum temperature is less than 10c, so prepare for colder evenings and early mornings – layers are key! 

6. There are very few people here

Namibia has one of the lowest population densities in the world. It has very few inhabitants, and attracts relatively few visitors. The vastness of Namibia’s desert scenes is exacerbated by their quietness - particularly Sossusvlei and the Skeleton Coast. Being the only people around just adds to the eerie atmosphere of these other-worldly landscapes.

7. Namibia is home to the oldest desert in the world

80 million years old, the Namib desert is the oldest desert on earth, and is known for being home to some of Africa’s strangest flora and fauna. This huge 2,000 kilometre expanse is almost entirely uninhabited other than some small indigenous settlements. Its animal residents are specially-adapted species that have developed techniques to survive the environment here – desert elephant, ostrich, oryx and the endemic Namib Desert beetle.

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