No statistics truly prepare you for the wonder of Namibia. With a land area of just over 825 square kilometres, it is larger in size than the state of Texas. Yet it is home to only just over 2 million people. This provides some idea of the scale and emptiness of the country which stretches between the Namib and Kalahari deserts and has the lowest rainfall of any in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet facts and figures do not convey the majesty and awe that many people experience when travelling here.
Standing on the summit of the epic red dunes at Sesriem at dawn; visiting the San Bushmen and understanding their incredible relationship with their environment; experiencing sunset over the red sandstone crags of Spitzkopf; flying over the Namib Desert from the coastal town of Swakopmund; standing on the edge of the dramatic Fish River Canyon. All are experiences which transcend statistics and require a different kind of description.
One of the particular joys of Namibia is that, in spite of its scale, it is so well suited to a self-drive safari. Its population may be sparse but its landscape attracts intrepid visitors from around the world. Roads are generally good and the political situation stable which makes it an ideal place for a self-drive safari. Connecting the Etosha National Park with the seals of the Cape Cross, through the vast arid dunes and deserts of the Skeleton Coast to the lush area around the Orange River, the road infrastructure provides many miles of bitumen roads, as well as some more basic (and bumpy) ones.
Along all these routes can be found lodges and camps which provide welcome comfort along the way. Talking to someone who knows and understands your requirements and interests will help you to plan where to stop to ensure these are met. Some parks and places limit arrivals and departures to daylight hours so local knowledge here is also a distinct advantage when planning a route.
Namibia’s complex colonial history, having been under German and then South African rule for the best part of 150 years before its independence in 1990, means that Afrikaans and German are widely spoken, but in most places English can also be used. As with most of Southern Africa, vehicles drive on the left hand side of the road.