Namib-Naukluft National Park is located on the western side of Namibia just south of the midway point. The park lies between the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean through to the beginning of the Great Escarpment which extends into South Africa. It borders the neighboring Dorob National Park to the north. The park covers an area of 19,216 square miles (49,768 sq km) creating the largest national park in Africa and the fourth largest in the world. It is a renowned park featuring the splendor of the Namib Desert.
The Namib Desert is at the heart of the national park. As the oldest desert in the world, it displays brilliantly colored sand dunes that are considered some of the largest in the world. The landscapes include remarkable mountains, naturally carved canyons, tremendous gravel plains, and towering and captivating sand dunes.
Many of the dunes serve as landmarks as well as individual attractions. Here are some of the most popular dunes:
- Dune 45
- Elim Dune
- Big Daddy
Salt and clay pans are iconic attractions in the national park. Sossusvlei, Hiddenvlei, and Deadvlei are three of the most visited pans. Sossusvlei is the most renowned, however, all three are known to home to wildlife that is attracted to the salt.
The dunes are some of the most popular features of the national park. The park administration has developed asphalt roads that make it easy to see many of the more famous dunes and surrounding landscape.
One of the best ways to truly appreciated the majestic nature of the dunes is from above. Taking a scenic flight or balloon ride over the dunes is captivating as it allows you to truly capture the astounding size of the dunes and the endless sea of rolling desert.
Along with the dunes, the park is characterized by rocky outcrops and rock formations that are locally known as kopjes and inselbergs. These rock formations are usually comprised of granite, feldspar, and sandstone.
As the desert moves closer to the shoreline, the terrain is characterized by lagoons, mudflats, and wetlands. This terrain and vegetation attract hundreds of thousands of birds creating a birdwatcher’s haven.