Namibia Land of Wonders

Namibia has many astonishing natural wonders and Carrie Hampton takes you on a whirlwind tour of Namibia's best in this short snappy article. Enjoy the ride...Namibia has some of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world including the Fish River Canyon, which is so vast your eyes cannot cope with the full view all at once. Only hikers with a current medical certificate are allowed to scramble down into the belly of the ravine for the 86 kilometre walk. They emerge 5 days later at Ais Ais hot springs where blistered feet and exhausted bodies can be soothed in therapeutic hot water.It was the rippling mirage desert at Sossusvlei that I found the most awe-inspiring sight I had ever seen. In this eerily enticing sea of sand, the dunes change from burnt orange through red to deepest mauve with the moving sun.The feminine curves rise tantalisingly to an astonishing 300m, making them the tallest in the world, 100m higher than their nearest rivals in Arabia, and they just beg to be climbed barefoot. It is said the older the dune the brighter the colour from slow iron oxidisation and a zillion minute fragments of garnets.'Where there are garnets there are diamonds,' stated a gem collector on holiday from Australia who inspected every glinting pebble. This may sound far-fetched but in 1908 a railway line inspector found the first of many diamonds that littered the ground near the coastal town of Lüderitz.Lüderitz was the first German settlement in South West Africa and its colonial history can be seen through such elegant buildings as the classic Art Deco Goerke House. Swakopmund, the second largest town, also has much charm with ornate Bavarian architecture giving it a slightly toy-town feel.About 140 kms north of Swakopmund is the Cape Cross Seal Colony where 100,000 Cape Fur Seals live, breed, fight and sleep a lot. Although fascinating to watch I was finally overwhelmed by the terrible smell which sent me heading south to the huge port of Walvis Bay.Famous for its flamingo lagoon, the birds swirl around the shallow waters like a pink mist and I gorged myself on garlic prawns from the superb vantagepoint in the Raft Restaurant on stilts. East takes you back into the Namib Desert scrubland where giant Welwitschia plants live up to 1,000 years old and the Mountains of the Moon landscape is reminiscent of the Apollo landing site.Animals are plenty in Nambia and nowhere more so than Etosha National Park with its huge glistening salt pans. It is one of the largest game parks in Africa and one of the most popular so accommodation needs to be booked in advance especially during school holidays.There is so much to see in Namibia but the distances are so great you really need time to get from top to bottom. You must not rush on the dirt roads either as most accidents involve tourists unused to the loose gravel. Go carefully but just make sure you do go.Copyright © Carrie Hampton. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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