Namibia is a land of contrasts and extremes. Situated between the Namib and the Kalahari deserts, Namibia gets less rain than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa. Namibia’s coastal desert is one of the planet’s oldest, with powerful offshore winds sculpting the highest sand dunes in the world, in some places rising more than 1,000 feet.
Water — or more to the point, its absence — defines life in Namibia.
Hot and arid in the interior, Namibia’s coast is surprisingly cool and moist, the product of the cold Atlantic colliding with Africa’s warm and dry southern tip. Seals and sea birds come by the thousands to congregate in this narrow temperate zone.
In the rest of the country, only where there is water is there life. Here is my vision of this untouched and primal land, with its towering red sand dunes, vast deserts, and wild animals struggling to survive.
Kolmanskop is a deserted German mining settlement located in Namibia. The town was abandoned in the 1950s, and the desert has been reclaiming it ever since, creating an interesting mix of colorful painted walls and sweeping sand dunes engulfing entire rooms.
QUIVER TREE FOREST
The Quiver Tree Forest, near Keetmanshoop, contains a collection of the so-called “quiver trees” which aren’t really trees at all, but rather a species of aloe, a flowering succulent plant.
NAMIB-NAUKLUFT NATIONAL PARK
Namib-Naukluft National Park preserves part of the extensive Namib Desert. The most famous area of the park is called Sossusvlei, which contains the tallest sand dunes in the world, rising more than 1,000 feet above the desert floor. Oxidization of iron in the sand gives them a reddish-orange color, which becomes especially intense when bathed in the warm light of sunrise and sunset.
One of the most stunning places in Sossusvlei is known as Deadvlei (which means “dead marsh”). The area used to be wet and covered in trees, but 600 or 700 years ago the water dried and the trees died, their eerie skeletons preserved by the dry air.
ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK
Etosha National Park is a beautiful national park in northwestern Namibia, known for its abundance of large game animals, including elephant, lion, rhino, giraffe, cheetah, zebra, and many more. What amazes me most about Etosha is the clear, strong light at sunrise and sunset, bathing animals and landscapes in warm color.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MAPTIA
World-renowned professional photographer, writer, and adventurer Ian Plant is a frequent contributor to and blogger for Outdoor Photographer Magazine, a Contributing Editor to Popular Photography Magazine, a monthly columnist for Landscape Photography Magazine, and a Tamron Image Master. Ian is also the author of numerous books and instructional videos. See more of his work at www.ianplant.com