In the Nama language, Namib means vast, and this is an understatement when applied to the desert it names. The Namib-Naukluft Park is the largest conservation area in Namibia and one of the largest in the world, at almost 50,000 km2.
It encompasses several very different landscapes the wettest of which is the estuarine lagoon at Sandwich Harbour. At the opposite end of the moisture scale is the parched Namib desert with endless orange dunes blown into razor sharp ridges by the sand-shifting wind.
The famous Sossusvlei sand dunes at 300m, are the highest in the world, towering over their nearest rivals in Arabia, and just begging to be climbed barefoot.
The northern part of the park has stony plains leading to lunar landscapes, and the Naukluft Mountain massif has monumental purple-hued mountains, rock pools and wildlife. A few gravel roads traverse the northern section and another leads into the middle dune area and Sesriem canyon, apart from that the only way to appreciate the magnificence of all this is by light aircraft on a scenic flight from Walvis Bay/Swakopmund.
Animals, insects and plants have adapted to live in this generally inhospitable region and apart from infrequent rains, rely on the sea mist that rolls far inland. There are some wonderful books on the area, best bought in Swakopmund.