The Sperrgebiet National Park is one of Namibia’s newest National Parks and while the park is largely undeveloped and much of it remains inaccessible to visitors there are still ways explorers can access this wild landscape.
Sweeping vistas abound in the park.
The Sperrgebiet (meaning ‘forbidden territory’) covers 26,000 km2 and used to be the site of a massive diamond mining industry. While there is still some small scale diamond mining going on today the Sperrgebiet has largely been left untouched for decades.
Since it has been closed to the public for nearly a century, the habitat is largely untouched and pristine, making a visit to the Sperrgebiet National Park a truly unique wilderness experience.
A sign board and fence restricting access to the Sperrgebiet.
Because the public is not allowed free access to this area nature has been able to rehabilitate itself and now the area is of global significance as it forms part of the Succulent Karoo biome that extends down into South Africa.
With a wide variety of succulent species, that in terms of uniqueness and species number is unrivaled anywhere else on the planet, conservation scientists have classified this area as one of the world’s top 25 Biodiversity Hotspots.
Mesembryanthemum longipapillosum can be found in the park.
(Image courtesy of Coleen Mannheimer via GEF)
To qualify for hot-spot status, an area must contain at least 1,500 endemic vascular plants (0.5% of the planet’s total) and must have lost at least 70% of its original habitat. Prior to the establishment of the Sperrgebiet National Park, a mere 11% of the surviving Succulent Karoo, which is home to 2,439 endemic plants, fell in protected areas. Now, with the park’s proclamation, 90% is protected.
Protected land = Little to no human/environment conflict.
Ministry of Environment and Tourism concessionaires from Lüderitz can take visitors into the northern extremity of the park where they can admire the colossal 55-metre tall Bogenfels rock arch, the modern diamond mine and the mysterious ghost town at Elizabeth Bay.
Standing 55 metres tall the Bogenfels is truly humbling when seen up close.
While in the Sperrgebiet you can also visit the ghost town of Pomona (which is noteworthy for enduring the highest average wind speeds in Southern Africa) and Marchental – the famous ‘Fairytale Valley’, where diamonds were once so common they could be picked up in handfuls as they gleamed in the light of the moon.
Part of the abandoned mining settlement.