Less than half a cup: that is the annual rainfall in this vast country, crafted by aridity: an ancient land-face, etched by earth shifts. Not one, but two great deserts are to be found here. A place where the ghosts of rivers snake into the sand and a jagged coastline is measured in shipwrecks. And yet, this is a country of triumphs, a world of natural treasures, a towering tree of life.
In the parched northern region, you will find people. This is the place of the Himba: a nomadic tribe steeped in a culture spanning centuries. Ornate hair designs portray age and social status. Red-hued bodies symbolize deep belief in the total unity of human life and the earth.
This is a place of illusion where dunes roar, plants take the shape of men and stones flower. You will need to look closely and tread carefully. This is where the masters of disguise are to be found: the domain of web-footed dancers; burrowing, sand-diving, cartwheeling artists and side-winding slitherers.
Go to where the earth shimmers green and white, a bleached scar known as ‘the great white place’. In wet years, this crusted hollow fills and a million pairs of pink wings colour the water. It is here, amidst a sanctuary of grass plains, you will find a parade of Africa’s biggest, wildest and most threatened.
Eco-tourism in Namibia is alive and very well. Conservancies occupy large sections of the country. Elephant and lion numbers are on the rise. Black rhino and cheetah roam free in the world’s largest numbers. An interesting counter to this is that Namibia’s second only to Mongolia in terms of human population.