The Namib Naukluft National Park is one of Namibia's national parks and encompasses part of the Namib Desert (considered the world's oldest desert) and the Naukluft mountain range. It is one of Namibia's most versatile conservation areas as well as one of the country's major tourist destinations. Covering an area of almost 50 000 square kilometres, or if that number wasn't big enough for you 5,000,000 hectares, the park includes well known features such as Sossusvlei, Sesriem, the Welwitschia Trail, Sandwich Harbour, the Naukluft Mountains and the Kuiseb Canyon. To give you an idea of the size of the park, it is appropriate that we compare it to the size of another well know country, Switzerland. Switzerland covers an area of 41,285 square kilometres, 8,715 square kilometres smaller than the Namib Naukluft National Park.
Namib Naukluft's wilderness ranges from dunes (some of which at Sossusvlei are amongst the highest in the world), gravel plains and rugged mountainous areas. The park is surprisingly home to a wide range of wildlife including the Hartmann's mountain zebra, kudu, gemsbok, klipspringer, duiker, steenbok, leopard, baboon, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, African wild cat, caracal and aardwolf. And the steep cliffs of the Naukluft mountains are nesting grounds for various cliff-breeding bird species, including Black eagles.
The word Namib means open space and the Namib Desert gave its name, to the one South West Africa, to form Namibia, the land of open spaces. And Namib Naukluft National Park is one of the least populated areas in the country where visitors can experience an intense feeling of vastness and isolation. The park was established in 1907 when the German Colonial Administration proclaimed the area between the Swakop River and the Kuiseb River a game reserve. The park however was changed in 1978 when the present boundaries were established, this included the merging of the Namib Desert Park, the Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park and parts of Diamond Area 1 and a small amount of surrounding government land.
One of the country's top tourist destinations, Sossusvlei, is found in the park. Sossusvlei is known worldwide for having some of the tallest sand dunes in the world, reaching up to 325 metres from the desert floor. These dunes have been the subject of many artists and photographers work as they try to capture the beauty of these ever changing, monumental features. The dunes are formed by strong multi-directional winds, and are at their highest and most spectacular where the west-flowing Tsauchab River empties itself into the vlei. When it has rained sufficiently in the interior for the Tsauchab River to flow down into the main pan, flamingoes and other aquatic birds are drawn to the area.
Without doubt, the fourth-largest national park in the world ,Namib Naukluft National Park, which is known for its beauty, isolation, tranquility, romantic desert landscapes, and rare desert adapted plants and creatures is well worth the visit!