Namibia cruises

Cruising in Namibia

Located in southern Africa on the Atlantic Ocean, the country of Namibia is largely desert—almost the entire coast is an enormous stretch of desert land, and it’s not until you journey inland into the country that you make your way to less arid land. Around halfway down Namibia’s coast, the harbour of Walvis Bay is Namibia’s only commercial port, and the coastal gateway to the rest of the country.

The coastal desert—the Namib—is one of the world’s oldest deserts, if not the oldest, and the strong winds that come in off the ocean have created the highest sand dunes anywhere in the world. Despite the proximity of the Namib Desert, Walvis Bay is home to several wetlands that support a large population of migratory birds, including flocks of flamingos—as many as 20,000 birds during the peak of the season—and some endangered species.

A short distance north of Walvis Bay, the town of Swakopmund, also situated on the coast, is an incongruous sight, with its German colonial buildings one of the last things you’d expect to see on the edge of an African desert—but they are a reminder of the fact that the town was originally founded as a German colony at the end of the 19th century. It’s a charming town with tiny shops and some truly impressive architecture, and several small craft industries, with goods such as spun wool wall hangings and rugs.

One of the major natural attractions on the coast is Namib National Park, where a guided tour will introduce you to the so-called “desert moonscape” that characterises the Namib Desert. Its endless emptiness—the word Namib means “vast place”— is equally eerie and thrilling, and although it’s an amazing thing to experience, it can feel like quite a relief to return to human-inhabited areas after spending time here.

Namibia’s climate is varying degrees of hot throughout the year, dry in the winter months of June to August, with rainy seasons between September and April. Actual rainfall is very variable, however there’s very little in the coastal regions, and almost no rain falls in the desert. Due to the proximity of Walvis Bay to the ocean, its climate is unexpectedly cool and consistent; most of the year it reaches daytime temperatures of 15 to 20 degrees Celsius.

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