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Welcome to Namibia

Namibia derives its name from the Namib Desert, the world’s most ancient desert, which stretches 2000 km’s from the Orange River in the South to the Kunene in the North. This vast country is four times the size of the United Kingdom (some 800 000 square kilometres) is renowned for the haunting beauty of its stark, diverse landscapes. This is a land of many faces including the shifting dunes, the flat plains and the sandy riverbeds of the desert region, the high central plateau and the shallow Etosha pan which is one of the world’s most impressive game parks. While Namibia is the most sparsely populated country in the world, it boasts a rich blend of 13 different ethnic groups. Of the 1.4 million inhabitants, one of four people lives in the urban centres, the largest of these being the capital, Windhoek.

A Brief History

Namibia's past is as diverse as its landscapes. The first inhabitants were the San hunter-gatherers (Bushmen) who roamed the sunlit spaces more than a thousand years ago. They were followed by the Hottentots in the South and the Wambo and Herero who moved in from the north. The Portuguese navigators were the first Europeans to land in Namibia as they charted the coastline in their desperate search for a route to the Indies. The first European settlers were predominantly German missionaries who set up mission stations during the late 18th and early 19th century. However, it was only in the late 19th century that the colonial powers showed real interest in Namibia and in 1884 Adolf Lüderitz, a Hamburg trader, succeeded in getting full-scale annexation of the entire territory known as Namibia. The only territories excluded were the Walvis Bay enclave and the Guano islands, which remained the property of the Cape colonial government under British rule.

At first the German government's main role in this young colony was to establish and maintain civil order. However, as the colonial community grew and economic progress was made, the Herero and Nama people began to question this "progress" and its direct threat to traditional freedoms. There were a number of rebellions; the most significant being that of the Herero peoples whose numbers dropped from 80,000 to a post-rebellion figure of 15,000. During World War 1, South West Africa was the first German possession to fall to the Western allies and in 1915 an interim South African military administration was installed in Windhoek. After the war, the Treaty of Versailles entrusted South West Africa to the Union of South Africa as a mandate. During the mid-1950s there was increased resistance to the South African authorities and the seeds of rebellion were sown. After many years of negotiating and fighting between the South African authorities and SWAPO (the South West African People's Organisation), Namibia held its first democratic elections in February 1990 and Sam Nujoma, who returned to Namibia after 30 years in exile, was unanimously elected president of Namibia.

Climate

Namibia's climate falls into the "continental tropical" category, but there is very little of the lushness that one normally associates with the latter word. Namibia is hot but for the most part bone dry. Namibia's rains are very unreliable and some of the drier regions received their entire annual quota during one single cloudburst. What rain there is generally falls during the summer months (November to February). Mean annual precipitation is about 250 millimeters, although the arid Lower Orange and Namib regions enjoy less than 100 mm per annum and frequently a lot less.

Temperatures vary according to area. The climate in the desert coastal belt is largely determined by the upwelling of the cold Benguela Current offshore and South Atlantic high-pressure system. The Benguela current is responsible for the omnipresent fog and the temperatures are very moderate 18 - 25 degrees. In the central highland region days are warm to hot (20-34 degrees) and nights are cool, with extremes during the winter when temperatures can drop to zero at night.

Cape Town or Windhoek

Begin and end the expedition in Cape Town or Windhoek. If one begins in Cape Town and adds on the river rafting then up to 9 additional days are included. This would then incorporate an excursion to the Robben Island Nelson Mandela Museum and/or an outing up Table Mountain.

This expedition may include a 3-5 day river rafting component on the mighty Gariep (the Orange river) through the deserts of the Richtersveld. Set out on a rafting adventure with all your necessities on the raft with you. You will paddle in 2-man inflatable rafts which are very easy to handle and very comfortable. We will spend the next 3-5 nights along the banks of the river, camping where the guides find a suitable spot. There are no facilities along the river and you will experience raw nature by bathing in the river and eating around the camp fire at night. You don`t even have to bring your tent along and can sleep out under the blanket of more stars than you could ever imagine. The paddling is easy going and most time is spent swimming, relaxing or even fishing. You can even try a nappy run (swimming down one of the rapids wearing your life jacket as a nappy) to get the adrenalin flowing.