Places in Namibia that look otherworldly


By Anjali

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Namibia, a land where time seems to stand still, unfolds a mesmerizing tapestry of landscapes that defy the ordinary. From the hauntingly beautiful DeadVlei to the iconic red dunes of Sossusvlei, and the surreal landscapes of Etosha National Park, this southwestern African gem beckons adventurers and nature enthusiasts to embark on a journey into the extraordinary.

As we delve into the heart of Namibia’s otherworldly terrains, where ancient deserts, colossal dunes, and wildlife-rich plains blend to create a perfect symphony of natural wonders, we’ll tell you all about the best places in Namibia that leave an indelible mark on the soul.

DeadVlei: Home to the dead trees

Tucked within the heart of the Namib Desert, DeadVlei stands as an otherworldly landscape frozen in time.

DeadVlei, which translates to “dead marsh,” is home to ancient camelthorn trees, their skeletal remains contrasting starkly against the bleached backdrop. The cobalt blue skies and towering red dunes of the Big Daddy with these ashen trees jutting out in the middle make this sight arguably the best in South Africa.

These trees, believed to be over 900 years old, especially create a hauntingly beautiful tableau that photographers and nature lovers find irresistible. Interestingly, even Bollywood couldn’t resist the allure of this spot as is proven by the Amir Khan starrer film Ghajni (2008) which was shot here.

Sossusvlei: Red Dunes and Deadvlei’s Kin

Adjacent to DeadVlei, Sossusvlei is a symphony of red dunes and salt pans.

The term “vlei” refers to a shallow depression or pan with intermittent water, and Sossusvlei itself means “dead-end marsh” in the Nama language. Despite its name, Sossusvlei is not always dry, and the landscape can transform dramatically after rare rainfall.

The dunes surrounding Sossusvlei are estimated to be among the oldest in the world, with some dating back around 55 million years. The vibrant red color is attributed to the high iron oxide content in the sand. The most popular one, Big Daddy Dune towering proudly at 325 meters, invites daredevils to climb its heights for a sunrise panorama.

Namib Desert: The World’s Oldest Desert

Stretching along the Atlantic coast, the Namib Desert holds the title of the world’s oldest desert. Its towering dunes, some reaching heights of more than 300 meters, shift in color from apricot to vivid red as the sun paints the sky with hues of dawn and dusk.

But it’s not just the stark landscapes that make Namib as iconic as it is. The age-old desert has proven itself to be miraculous in its ability to be a safe habitat for wildlife.

From lions that were never able to exist in the Sahara to the world’s largest land mammal, the elephants have adapted themselves to the arid climates and no one seems to be able to explain how it’s possible. But that’s not the only mystery surrounding Namib.

The peculiar phenomenon of fairy circles – barren patches of sand enclosed by grass, has scientists scratching their heads for years now. Many researchers believe it’s a sign of alien activity.

Sandwich Harbor: Where Desert Meets the Sea

Namibia’s coastline is a dramatic meeting point of desert and ocean, and Sandwich Harbor epitomizes this contrast. Located near Walvis Bay, this natural lagoon is framed by towering dunes of the Namib desert on one side and the restless waves of the Atlantic Ocean on the other. The juxtaposition of these elements creates a landscape that is both surreal and breathtaking.

The dunes surrounding Sandwich Harbor are in a constant state of flux, shaped by the prevailing winds. The shifting sands create a dynamic landscape, while the area serves as a vital sanctuary for numerous bird species, including flamingos and pelicans. The air is often filled with the melodic calls of these winged creatures.

Beyond the dunes, the waters of Sandwich Harbor are teeming with marine life. Seals and dolphins are commonly spotted and even majestic whales can be seen offshore making it the best place to visit in South Africa.

Etosha South: A Wildlife Haven

Etosha National Park, particularly its southern region, is a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise. The word “Etosha” translates to a great white area which describes the landscape perfectly. It is renowned for its vast salt pan, covering 4,800 square kilometers, which can even be seen from space.

Etosha is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including the Big 5 (elephant, lion, leopard, rhinoceros, and buffalo). The park’s center is surrounded by grassy plains and watering holes, drawing a myriad of animals year-round, offering safari enthusiasts to witness these animals in their natural habitat.

Etosha’s commitment to preserving its diverse ecosystem doesn’t end here. It is also home to one of the largest populations of the endangered black rhinoceros.

As fascinating as it is today, Etosha has archeological sites that reveal evidence of human habitation dating back thousands of years, adding depth to the park’s identity beyond its wildlife attractions.

In this land, where ancient deserts meet restless oceans and wildlife roams freely, one cannot help but feel a profound connection to the Earth’s enduring beauty. Namibia’s landscapes are not merely scenes to behold; they are chapters in a story written by wind, time, and the heartbeat of nature.

For this reason alone, every traveler must go on a Namibia road trip at least once in their lives.

Published On: 6th December 2023

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