A developing nation with a unique geography, the best outdoors adventures sports in Nambia are surfing, kitesurfing, and sandboarding and, of course, safaris. Ziplining, caving, and river canoe and raft trips in Nambia are also excellent ways to experience this country of extremes.
Namibia (Republic of Namibia), Africa
Namibia is located on the southwest coast of Africa on the Atlantic Ocean. Namibia borders on South Africa to the south, Botswana to the east, Angola and Zambia to the north, and is bisected by the Tropic of Capricorn.
Namibia’s capital city is Windhoek, which is located near the geographic center of the country and is the largest city by a significant margin.
The Geography of Namibia
Covering 825,418 kilometers of the African continent, Nambia is the 34th largest country in the world. Moving west to east from the Atlantic Ocean across Nambia you first cross the Namib Desert, and then the central plateau where most of the population lives and move farther onto the Great Escarpment, an enormous plateau that crosses several countries. The highest point in the country is Brandberg Mountain (also known as Königstien) at 2606 m.
Nambia’s Central Plateau runs north south through the middle of the country and is home to most of the population.
The Namib Desert is an 80,900 square kilometer (slightly smaller than Austria) hyper-arid plain comprised of gravel and sand dunes that covers Nambia’s entire coastline, including the Skeleton Coast. This extremely inhospitable area is thought to be the oldest desert in the world and most of it has little life. Nambia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism claims that this desert is home to the largest sand dunes in the world, but this claim is disputed. Either way, with the tallest measuring 383 m from base to top, they’re pretty damned big. And, ranging in color from orange to pink, the are quite a sight. This area is also rich in diamonds.
The Great Escarpment is a large rocky plateau that makes up a substantial portion of several countries in southern Africa. It occupies the eastern portion of Namibia, rising steeply out of the central plains to an elevation of about 2000m.
The Kalahari Desert is probably Namibia’s best-known geographic feature. The Kalihari Desert occupies portions of Botswana and South Africa, as well as a significant portion of eastern Namibia. The Kalahari Desert gets significantly more rain that the most deserts, and thus supports a wide variety of life.
The Climate in Namibia
Namibia has a climate typical of desert-dominated areas, arid with little rainfall, with large differences between daytime high temperatures and nighttime lows. Namibia normally receives over 300 days of sunshine per year, though this varies a bit from area to area.
Winter, which takes place from June to August, is dry. Namibia has two rainy seasons—a short season during October and November characterized by frequent thunderstorms, and a longer season from February to April. Rainfall varies from nearly zero in parts of the Namib Desert to 600mm per year in the northeast of the country.
During the summer temperatures can reach as high as 40°C, but drop significantly at night. During the winter inland temperatures range between 18°C and 25°C during the day, and can drop below freezing at night.
With a population of just 2.1 million people, Namibia has the second lowest population desity of any sovereign country in the world after Mongolia. The government is a stable multi-party parliamentary democracy and the economy is based largely on mining for diamonds, gold, silver, uranium, and other base materials. Tourism also contributes significantly to the economy, especially ecotourism.
Economically and socially, Namibia is still a developing nation. Even generous estimates say that at least half of the country’s population is unemployed. Half the population also lives below the international poverty line of $1.25 USD per day and approximately 15% of the population had Aids in 2007.G
Receiving one million visitors each year, mostly from South Africa, Germany, the UK, Italy and France, tourism in Namibia makes up an important part of the economy. The industry comprises nearly 15% of the country’s GDP and creates 18% of all jobs.
Namibia is of the few countries that includes conservation and protection of natural resources in the constitution, and much of the tourism is ecotourism. Birding in Namibia is great, with 644 species of bird, 14 of which are endemic. The unique geography of the northeastern Bushveld attracts a fantastic variety of birds. There are also plenty of high-altitude activities. Paragliding and hang gliding are both done in Namibia, though you probably want to bring your own gear (more information can be found here). Hot air ballooning and skydiving are also both readily available. The most unique attraction, however, is the Flying Fox zipline, which is said to be the longest in the world, carrying you 1200 m from the peak of Rössing Mountain into the valley below at heights over 200 m. The most popular places to view wildlife include Etosha National Park, Waterberg Plateau National Park, and Cape Cross Seal Reserve.
Oh yeah, did I mention that the Fish River Canyon in the south of the country is the second largest in the world (after the Grand Canyon). Anybody up for a hike?
Surf Namibia:WannaSurf.com lists lots of good surf breaks in Nambia, mostly breaking left with some points, and mostly suitable only for experienced riders.
Kitesurf Namibia: If you want to try kitesurfing in Namibia, check out the Walvis Bay Kite Center.
Sandbaording in Namibia: With some of the largest dunes in the world sandboarding is something everyone should try while visiting. Sandboarding in Swakopmund is said to be great.
Namibia Outdoor Adventure Activities and Extreme Sports
• Stand-up paddle boarding
• Scuba diving (possible, but at the time of writing there were no known dive centers in the country)
• Surfing (all levels)
• Hang gliding
• Sky diving
• Hot air ballooning
• River raft expeditions
• Kayaking (river and lake)
• Caving and spelunking
• Hiking/trekking (all levels)
• Ziplining (really, really awesome)
• Rock climbing (all levels)
• Mountain Biking (novice to expert)
• Horseback Riding
• Camel riding
Namibia Budget Travel
- Namibia accommodations are not as cheap as one would expect. Although, reasonably priced hostels can be found in Nambia’s capital city, Windhoek, it’s harder to find good prices elsewhere. In Windhoek The Cardboard Box is a good basic hostel with dorm beds for $13 USD per night. If you go to the coast we suggest Loubser’s B&B Self Catering in Walvis Bay, which has beds for $17 USD per night.
A full list of hostels in Namibiacan be found here.
Go here for more information about Namibia hotels.
- Budget meals in local restaurants can be purchased for $3-4 USD and, if you’re dying for a McDonalds burger, that will run you just over $5. The local beer is cheap (less than $1 USD each at the supermarket) and good, so be sure to drink plenty of it.
I like to use World Nomads. It’s not too expensive and signing up is fast and straightforward. They also have pretty good coverage for sports equipment like surf and snowboards, but it varies depending on your country of origin, so be sure double check. You can get a free quote on their website.
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The information on this page was provided by My Namibia Info. If you want to know more about Namibia they are the people to ask.