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Namib-Naukluft Park - Namibia

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The Namib-Naukluft Park, located in the central Namib, is a massive desert and semi-desert region that includes the diverse habitats of the Namib Desert Park, the Naukluft (until recently the Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park), the dunefields of Sossusvlei and the bird lagoon at Sandwich Harbour.

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Probably one of the most remarkable areas is Sossusvlei that provides best access to part of the 300km by 150km dune expanse stretching from the Khoichab River in the south to the Kuiseb River in the north. Sossusvlei itself is a huge ephemeral pan amid red sand dunes that tower as much as 300 metres above the underlying strata. Aside from the bewitching scenery and geological fascinations held in store at Sossusvlei and Sesriem Canyon, the area is ideal for observing some of the dune life for which the Namib is so well known. Early morning traces in the sand will often tell a tale or two about the nocturnal activities of the desert's highly adapted insects, spiders, scorpions and reptiles. Two camps, Wolwedans Dunes Lodge and Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp, situated on private property just outside of Sesriem offer the best opportunity for privacy and a degree of exclusivity whilst exploring the area.

Sandwich Harbour, a lagoon located 50km south of Walvis Bay is a deserted wetland flanked by dunes and provides an ideal environment for an extraordinary proliferation of birds. The area is restricted to daytime visits only and should be included in any self-drive itinerary.

The Namib Desert Park, characterised by broad gravel plains, some linear dunes and granite kopjes (inselbergs) has a reasonable network of gravel roads between the Kuiseb Canyon and the Swakop River. This part of the desert is the best place to see the ancient and extraordinary Welwitschia mirabalis plants - described by Darwin as "the platypus of the plant kingdom". The area also contains some remarkable lichen fields. It was in the Kuiseb Canyon that geologists Henno Martin and Hermann Korn hid for 3 years during World War II.

The Naukluft Park is a mountainous region dominated by the Naukluft Massif that rises from the gravel desert plain to a high plateau incised by steep gorges. This is a well-known refuge of the Hartmann's mountain zebra and offers excellent walking trails.

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