Namibia has been described as the last frontier, a wild and rough country, exposed to the elements like no other southern African nation. Sandwiched between two of the world’s oldest deserts, the Namib and Kalahari, the landscapes are weathered, desolate, and exposed to some of the harshest conditions on the face of our planet. From the rolling hills of Kaokoland, to the Skeleton Coast and the misty cold blanket of the South Atlantic, to the diamond rich area of Sperrgebeit, Namibia is a diverse and contrasting place to experience, luring in the mysterious frontier for explorers to make a hot new tourist destination.
So with all this excitement why has it now only become a new tourist destination?
As a journalist in 1980 noted…
“South Africa has mobilized thousands of military reservists to reinforce army units in northern Namibia, where one of the biggest operations in the 13 year war against nationalist guerrillas is said to be underway. Hundreds of trucks, troop carriers, and armored vehicles have been moved north through Windhoek in convoys often several miles long.”
With the coming of Independence and peace only the most intrepid travelers whole-heartedly jumped into a newly independent Namibia in the early 1990’s and pioneered this new tourist destination. Since those early days, the word has spread and continues to excite the traveling masses with extraordinary visions.
What was it exactly people were saying about Namibia? And why were their words creating a contagious buzz?
From the days our ancestor’s left Africa and ventured out into the frontiers of Asia minor and what is now Europe, to the Vikings of Scandinavia sighting Greenland for the first time, and even with the curiosity of a great philosopher himself, Thomas Jefferson willingly sending two men on a secret expedition to collect knowledge about the North American continent, human hearts have always discovered purpose and a rejuvenated living spirit in venturing to the unknown.
In an area half the size of Alaska…
Populated by only a measly 2 million people (Namibia is the least populated country in the world, second to only Mongolia) nature reaches to the far horizons, obstructed by nothing. Wildlife flourishes in what could easily be categorized as some of the earth’s harshest environments, giving life to endemic species such as the Desert Adapted Elephant and the Welwitschia mirabilis in the Namib Desert.
And with each year that passes…
The native peoples of Namibia are being understood and sought after. The San Bushmen of the Kalahari are treasured and marveled, placed upon the same pedestal as one of Africa’s last remaining semi-nomadic tribe -the Himba.
But even past the sights of an older world, the Herero, Kwangali, Damara, Lozi, and Owambo peoples spark curiosity and inspire compassion. Namibia’s rich diversity allows for new cultural activities and foods to be discovered and no trip shall go without delving into the ancient Bantu and Bushmen traditions… adding to the allure of a new tourist destination.
To walking a land where there are more wildlife than people.