GPS: -23.082405901464, 15.167575050405
The Namib-Naukluft National Park is the fourth largest nature reserve in the world and the largest conservation area in Africa. It is 400 kilometres long and 150 kilometres wide. Its total surface area is therefore around 50,000 km², the size of a country like Slovakia or Costa Rica. The name of the park includes two former protected areas of the country: the Namib coastal desert and the steep Naukluft Mountains. In recent years, many sites or specialized travel guides have rightly considered the Namib-Naukluft National Park as one of the most beautiful natural sites in the world. This vast and burning land contains a sea of sand swept by ocean winds.
As early as the beginning of the 20th century, German settlers established a national park in this wilderness. They created a diamond mining area around the coastal town of Lüderitz and the small village of Aus, which they named Sperrgebiet. This former “forbidden zone” now includes several ghost towns scattered across the vast Namib Desert. They were abandoned shortly after the First World War following the withdrawal of German troops in the face of the British colonial army of the Union of South Africa. In 1979, the Namib-Naukluft National Park became a sanctuary for the Hartmann’s mountain zebra (a mountain zebra species). This water-poor reserve is subject to various expansions to preserve the dune landscapes and the sandy desert of the Namib. Classified as one of the most emblematic sites in Namibia, the park is divided into four geographical sections: the Sossusvlei sand dunes, Dead Vlei (dead trees) and Sesriem Canyon to the south, the Naukluft mountain range to the east, the Namib Desert in the centre and the Sandwich Harbour lagoon to the west (where cold ocean currents meet extremely hot sand dunes).
Along the Atlantic coast south and east of Walvis Bay, Namib-Naukluft National Park is inhabited by many endemic species of birds, insects, reptiles and snakes. It has a thousand different varieties of plants and is home to numerous mammals despite its very hostile living conditions. It is the fog generated by the ocean that is at the origin of an unsuspected wild life in this extreme environment. The great arid spaces of the Namib have been occupied by man since the Stone Age. Like the vast sand dunes of Big Daddy and Big Mamma or Dune 45, they are endowed with breathtaking landscapes changing colour with the sunlight. The vegetation, wildlife and ephemeral rivers of the fragile balance of the Namib-Naukluft National Park are increasingly threatened by climate change.