The Arid Eden Route:
Offering an unexpected, otherworldly experience both in its landscape and the rewards it brings travellers, the Arid Eden Route stretches from Swakopmund in the south to the Angolan border in the north and includes the previously restricted western area of Etosha National Park, one of Namibia's most important tourist destinations with almost all visitors to the country including the park in their travel plans.
The Arid Eden Route also includes well-known tourist attractions such as Spitzkoppe, Brandberg, Twyfelfontein and Epupa Falls. Travellers can experience the majesty of free-roaming animals, extreme landscapes, rich cultural heritage and breathtaking geological formations. As one of the last remaining wildernesses, the Arid Edin Route is remote yet accessible.
Top 5 reasons to visit:
- Visit one of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs (rock art) in Africa at the Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site;
- Learn more about Namibia's traditional cultures such as Himba and Damara;
- Visit ancient riverbeds, craters and a petrified forest on your way to an oasis in the desert â€" the Epupa Waterfall;
- See desert adapted wildlife such as elephant, rhino and lion in its natural environment;
- See how communities take ownership of their natural assets in communal conservancies.
- "Epupa" is a Herero word for "foam", in reference to the foam created by the falling water;
- In the Himba culture a sign of wealth is not the beauty or quality of a tombstone, but rather the cattle you had owned during your lifetime, represented by the horns on your grave;
- The longest exposed tree at the petrified forest is 45m long;
- The desert-adapted elephants of the Kunene region rely on a little as nine species of plants for their survival while in Etosha they utilise over 80 species;
- The Brandberg has Namibia's highest peak at 2574m and is home to the White Lady, a San Painting. The White Lady was first believed to be Isis, as known from artworks of Pharonic Egypt, and that the figure bore resemblance to artworks of the classical Mediterranean cultures. The painting is in fact not of a lady, but is a medicine man or shaman of importance and is a fine example of San Rock Art;
- The western gate of Etosa, known as Galton Gate, is named after the British explorer Sir Francis Galton (a cousin of Charles Darwin) who travelled extensively central and northern in Namibia from 1850 to 1852. The gate was previously closed to the public, but now gives access to a previously restricted area of the park;
- The circular "Fairy Circles" in the Marienfluss is actually caused by termites that kill the grass by eating the roots, causing the water to stay in the ground for years at a time. The termites literally swim in watery sand, sustained by water and whatever organic material is left there until the next rain and the next round of new annual grass. Plants stick their roots just inside the circle to get water, but not far enough to tempt the termites, causing barren circles on the landscape;
- The Dorsland Trek is the collective name of a series of northwards explorations undertaken by Boer settlers from South Africa towards the end of the 19th century and in the first years of the 20th century. One of these groups entered Angola by crossing the Cunene River at Swartbooisdrift. The formed an entirely closed community which refused integration into Angola, they returned in the 1970's when the country became independent;
- The Etosha Pan covers a total area of is 4 730 square km and developed through tectonic plate activity over about ten million years;
- The elephant population in Etosha has grown substantially over the years. In 1954 as little as 26 elephants were counted while there are over 2 500 today. This is largely as a result of a series of boreholes that were drilled to attract them from surrounding farms.
- Elephants communicate via infrasound - sound below our threshold of hearing;
- The Welwitschia (Welwitschia mirabilis) is a gymnosperm relict plant endemic to the Namib Desert. Some individual plants are estimated to have lived for over a millennium;
- The Kunene is Namibia's most rapidly flowing river and its ancient course is thought to have been connected to the present day Okavango and Zambezi Rivers. It also hosts over 80 different fish species.
Windhoek to Galton:
- Total distance: 520km
- Suggested time period: 11/2 â€" 2 days
This national road sweeps through well settled farming country. The landscape includes savannah thornveld with numerous game farms and early German settler towns with well-developed infrastructure. Novelties en-route include German delicatessens, coffee shops and locally run butcheries that source delicious game and beef from surrounding farms. The excellent highway offers glimpses of families of warthogs foraging on the road verge and quick views of kudu, giraffe and other game as you pass by.
The route is a gateway to the desert attractions of this arid eden. Towering mountain peaks, vast vistas, desert adapted wildlife, rock art, unusual geological features and a spread of rich local cultures await the adventurous traveller. The route also gives alternate access to the much less visited, western part of Etosha National Park via the Galton Gate.
Cheetah Conservation Fund:
Founded in 1990, the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)'s maintains a centre of excellence in the conservation of cheetahs and their ecosystems. CCF works with all stakeholders to develop best practices in research, education, and land use to benefit all species, including people.
The Education Centre provides students and visitors the opportunity to learn more about the behaviour and biology of the cheetah and the Namibian ecosystem that supports Africa's most endangered cat species. The visitor centre includes a large meeting room, a small cafe and gift shop.
Etosha National Park - Galton Gate:
Arguably Namibia's most famous natural attraction, Etosha National Park's Galton Gate allows visitors access to the previously restricted western area of the park. The Galton Gate will open up an area of Etosha National Park to travellers that is quite different to the rest of the park, both in its vegetation and wildlife.
The new route links Galton with Okaukuejo along a 190km stretch of road. The route traverses three distinct ecological landscape with high concentrations of game around the Renostervlei and Ozonjuitji-M'Bari waterholes â€" especially in the dry winter months (May â€" November). The western area of the park is the only area Hartman's Mountain Zebra and Burchell's Planes Zebra co-exist. Lion and elephant are also frequently seen at the waterholes along this route.
The Omulunga Palm Route is not only the gateway to Angola but also links the remote and desolate northwest region (the Arid Eden Route) to the lush water ecosystem of the Four Rivers Route (Kavango and Zambezi regions). This route showcases Namibiaâ€™s heartbeat. It is located along the northern border of Namibia and stretches from Ruacana in the west to Nkurenkuru in the east and is named after the distinctive palms that accent the desolate landscape, called Omulunga in Ovambo. The route is the quintessential oasis for weary travellers and serves as a practical stop-over for visitors to refuel and restock in the heart of a bustling African community.
With vibrant colours, sights and sounds, travellers will enjoy lapping up the traditional and contemporary Ovambo culture and steal a glimpse into the local tribal royalty. The area echoes a strong liberation history which, if delved into, will fascinate history buffs, while nature lovers can enjoy the abundant wildlife and wilderness in the world-famous Etosha National Park.
Top 5 reasons to visit:
- Explore Namibiaâ€™s modern history with an array of war museums and shrines commemorating those who struggled during the War on Independence;
- Discover a unique culture, traditional villages, royal homesteads, bustling African markets and hear the drums beat in Namibia largest city;
- Gain a different perspective on Etosha National Park by entering through the north-eastern gate at King Nehale (within King Nehale Conservancy);
- The Oshakati open market is said to be the biggest in the country and is an important part of the town's economic infrastructure. The open market is a cultural experience in its own right as travellers can buy anything from Mopani worms, traditional beer, local crafts and artefacts, and many other local delicacies; and
- Visit one of Africaâ€™s largest waterfalls outside Ruacana and discover how the Kunene Rivers is harnessed to generate renewable energy for Namibia.
- The Cuvelai-Etosha River Basin is located in the north central regions of Namibia, including Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto. The Cuvelai drainage system originates in Angola, however most water travels in shallow ephemeral watercourses known as oshanas.
- â€œEfundjaâ€ is the word used for major floods during the rainy season when travellers can find the oshanas covered with water.
- In 2012, scientists found over 5-billion cubic meters of water within the Cuvelai-Etosha Delta (Northern Namibia and Angola). The aquifer is said to be more than 200m deep but could supply water for a further 400 years at present consumption levels.
- The Oshigambo River (also Ekuma River) links Lake Oponono, Cuvelai Delta with the Etosha Salt Pan. This river is an ephemeral river and rarely carries surface water.
- Natural salt pans are flat expanses of ground covered with salt and other minerals. Usually shining white under the sun, these pans are found in deserts. Namibia contains a vast array of salt pans, the largest being the Etosha salt pans that are protected as part of the Etosha National Park. Other salt pans in Namibia include Omuntele Salt Pan in the Oshikoto region, Otjivakunda and many others.
- In about 1550, the people referred to collectively as the â€˜Aawamboâ€™ moved southwards from the Great Lakes in East Africa and settled between the Kunene and Okavango Rivers. Today, the area is known as Owambo Land (north central Namibia) and represents nearly half of the total population of Namibia.
- In the pre-colonial structure of Owambo society there was a king and his headmen in each of the seven Owambo groups (Ondonga, Uukwanyama, Ongandjera, Uukwambi, Ombalantu, Uukwaluudhi and Uukolonkandhi). The king always had the last say.
- In 2005, the first female chief was elected into the Uukwanyama tribe.
- The Etosha Pan covers a total area of is 4 730 square kilometres and developed through tectonic plate activity over about ten million years.
The Four Rivers Route comprises an unusual water ecosystem that gives life to rich and rare wildlife, birds and culture, while being affordable to visitors who feel nourished in its presence. The name is derived from the four river systems that flow through the Zambezi (formerly the Caprivi) and Kavango regions, namely the Zambezi, Okavango, Kwando and Chobe Rivers. The unusual water ecosystem created by the rivers is one of Southern Africaâ€™s best kept secrets and is home to over 430 bird species, free-roaming wildlife and numerous culturally rich villages and attractions.
This route stretches from Nkurenkuru in the North East through the Zambezi Region (former Caprivi Strip) to one of southern Africaâ€™s most spectacular attractions, the Victoria Waterfalls.
Top 5 reasons to visit:
- With over 430 bird species, the area is one of the most attractive destinations for birding in southern Africa;
- Experience the rich culture of the region at the Mbunza and Mafwe Living Museums. These living museums help to sustain the livelihoods of local people while acting as a traditional school that preserves local culture and traditions;
- Buy authentic, hand-made craft from local crafters. The Khwe crafters at the Bwabwata National Park are renowned for their unique style of basket weaving found nowhere else in southern Africa;
- Take part in a range of river activities in the largest water ecosystems in southern Africa. Activities include fishing, birding, hiking, game viewing and canoeing; and
- See how communities protect their resources through communal conservancies and community forests. In one of Africaâ€™s greatest success stories, communities are managing and benefiting from their natural resources through 17 registered conservancies covering close to 5,000 square kilometres.
- An Omarumba is an ancient, dried-up river bed found in the Kalahari sands of Namibia. The Omarumba Omatako is found in the Kavango region south of the Okavango River towards the Kalahari Desert. These river beds provide occasional standing pools during the rainy seasons and are often home to a unique type of vegetation, different to that of the surrounding plains.
- Fort Doppies, 32 Battalion, Omega I and Omega III are all historic military in the Zambezi and Kavango regions. These bases were used by the South African Defence Force to fight the war on independence. In 1991, Namibia gained its independence and by 1993 most of these bases and operations were disbanded.
- Around 10,000 years ago the Kwando River merged with the Okavango Deltawhen the land surface between the two courses was raised through tectonic activity. Today the Kwando flows into a swamp land known as the Linyanti Swamp.
- The Chobe River is l river course that flows in two opposing directions. It flows west towards the Linyanti swamps but also east towards the Zambezi River.
- The vaKavango people consists of five kingdoms;, Kwangali, Mbunza, Shambyu, Gciriku and Mbukushu. The line of decent is only traced through the females. This means that should a man hold a hereditary position, which is passed on to his sisterâ€™s eldest son and not his own children.
- Nyemba is the word derived by the vaKavango people for immigrants and is largely referred to Angolan immigrants who moved down to the Kavango and Zambezi regions during the war to trade.
- Until the end of the 19th century the Caprivi region was known as Intenga and was under the rule of the Lozi kings. Later it formed part of the British Bechuanaland Protectorate (known as Botswana today).
- The Caprivi Strip (now known as the Zambezi Region) was named after the German Chancellor General Count Georg Leo von Caprivi di Caprara di Montecuccoli.
- In 1890 Germany laid claim to the British-administered Island of Zanzibar but the British objected. This was settled at the Berlin Conference in 1890 when Queen Victoria acquired Zanzibar and Germany acquired the territory that is now known as the Zambezi Region.
- In 1958 the Zambezi rose to the highest levels ever recorded. It flooded the entire eastern portion of the Zambezi Region pouring into a broad depression located south of Katima Mulilo and thereby creating a lake known as Lake Liambezi.