Namibia: Africa’s hidden gem of natural beauty and conservation

Discover Namibia, where stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage meet pioneering conservation efforts to protect its unique wildlife

by Anthology
words and photos Dearbhaile Ní Dhubhghaill

In the south-west corner of the African continent sits a little-known gem: Namibia. Often overshadowed by its popular neighbour, South Africa, Namibia’s underrated status offers a distinct advantage – it’s blissfully free from the tourist crowds that inundate Africa’s more famous destinations like the Okavango Delta and the Serengeti. When I set foot in Namibia for the first time in my late teens, I instantly recognised its extraordinary allure; that initial impression has remained with me ever since.

Modern Namibia is a young nation, only gaining independence in 1990, which marked the end of German and British rule and South African protectorate status. Despite this colonial history, Namibia boasts a vibrant tapestry of indigenous cultures, with around eleven major ethnic groups. For instance, the San people, among the world’s oldest cultures, inhabit the Kalahari Desert and still practise ancient hunting and gathering traditions. The Herero, located primarily in central and eastern Namibia, are known for their distinctive attire, including the otjikaiva, a headdress that resembles cattle horns, symbolising the significance of cattle in their culture. The Damara, who mainly reside in the dry north-western region, now thrive amidst abundant wildlife, community conservancies and ecotourism facilities.

Rough track disappearing into the distant mountains in namibia
The dusty landscapes of central Namibia create beautiful pastel sunsets

Namibia’s environmental diversity mirrors its cultural richness. From the iconic sand dunes and salt pans of Sossusvlei and Deadvlei to the cascading waterfalls of the Naukluft Mountains, from the verdant landscapes of the Caprivi Strip to the hauntingly beautiful Skeleton Coast that is strewn with shipwrecks, Namibia offers a wealth of experiences for adventurous travellers. Ranked as the second least-densely populated country in the world, it can be explored in complete serenity. Moreover, its minimal light pollution provides unparalleled stargazing opportunities – an enduring experience regardless of how much time I spend there.

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  • ‘Namibia: Africa’s hidden gem of natural beauty and conservation’ is published in Anthology Volume 21. Read more features from this volume or buy it now.
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