Exposed to the mercy of the elements, Namibia’s landscapes are not what you expect to find in Africa. Deserts, tortured rock, open plains and a bleak and eerie coastline that for much of the year is bathed in thick fog. The country is dominated by the brooding Namib Desert, a vast expanse of unspoilt wilderness, where the world’s highest sand dunes march determinedly towards the sea in a dune field 300 km wide.
Despite its hostile environment, Namibia is home to a wealth of African animals and birds – best seen at the shimmering white Etosha Pan. This is the last place on earth that the black rhino roam free, and it’s the only home of the desert elephant, and 25% of the world’s cheetah stalk the arid plains.
Namibia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world with only 1.8 million people occupying over 800,000 sq km. It is a land divided between old and new. While many still dwell in traditional homesteads, hunting and herding their livestock, the towns and cities are clean and modern, with a fully developed infrastructure. Windhoek is as sleek as any European city and the quirky seaside town of Swakopmund, with its pastel-coloured turrets, comes as a delightful surprise on the barren coast.