Namib Desert

* This name is listed on the World Heritage List. ª The region is classified by UNESCO.

The Namib ( Khoekhoegowab for more space ) is a dry desert on the west coast of Africa. It is located on the territory of Namibia and Angola, and includes the Namib- Naukluft National Park, the National Park Skeleton Coast and the Sperrgebiet National Park. Since it starts right on the coast of the Atlantic, it is one of the few coastal deserts of the world.

Since 20 June 2013, large parts of the Namib as " Namib Sand Sea " UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The extension of the Namib is from the north ( Benguela, Angola ) to the south ( to the Orange ) around 2000 km, it reaches 160 km into the country. The Namib is 95,034 km ².

In its northern part to the border Kunene River towards it forms, known as Ship Graveyard Skeleton Coast, where numerous ship skeleton sticking out of the sand. Your middle section houses with Walvis Bay and Swakopmund two of the most important cities in the country and the only deep water port in Namibia. In the south, turn the diamond area covers about 500 kilometers around Lüderitz, in the still gems to be won today. The focus of the diamond production, however, has relocated to the Orange River and its estuary in the Atlantic Ocean ( offshore mining ). The diamond mining does well for one-third of the Namibian export proceeds.

The Namib is known for its sand dunes, depending on the sun and moisture content intensive change, their colors. These are, especially the dunes between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, Dune 45 (24 ° 43 ' 54 " S, 15 ° 28' 20" E - 24.73161078111115.472090664167650 ) and the - often referred to as the highest dunes in the world - in the dunes Sossusvlei, as the dune Big Daddy (24 ° 45 ' 47 " S, 15 ° 18' 12" E - 24.76318378555615.303246921667690 ), which is around 380 meters high. The red dunes of the southern Namib except in Sossusvlei only in the Tiras mountains, on the farm Gunsbewys accessible.


The Namib is of an age of 80 million years, the oldest desert in the world and one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. With daytime temperatures well above 50 ° C, night temperatures below 0 ° C, decades long lasting dry periods and frequent sandstorms plants and animals are exposed to extreme environmental conditions. Since these have remained stable over very long periods, there is a whole range of living beings but has managed to adapt and (only ) here to feel at home, such as the Welwitschia ( Welwitschia mirabilis ).

The extreme dryness of the Namib is due to coastal, cold ocean currents, similar to the Atacama desert in Chile: on the coast of the Atlantic flows coming from the Antarctic Benguela Current and leads the region comparatively cold Antarctic water (see also coastal desert ). This results in condensation of the moisture contained in the air. Because of the cold water, the air stratification is always very stable, there is therefore almost no deep convection and thus no rainfall. There are at about 200 days a year fog in the coastal region. This mist is reflected in the cold early hours of the morning, and for many of the living animals and plants, the only source of moisture.


The age of the Namib is still (as of 2010 ) controversially discussed, the problem here is a distinction between a Mesozoic Gondwana Desert inland from the coastal desert pronounced today. The beginning of the coastal desert appears to be associated with the Antarctic glaciation and the onset of the thermohaline circulation and the Benguela Current and falls into the Neogene, further details refer here to the middle and upper Miocene. However, far older formations could prove also an existence of the desert already following the Gondwana inland desert and would thus fall into the Mesozoic.

During the peak of the last ice age about 20,000 years ago prevailed throughout West Africa highly arid conditions up in the Kalahari Basin. Years ago about the Namib 8000-4000 reached a very small extent; since they grew back.

Flora and Fauna

In this hostile environment, plants and animals have settled and adapted to the specific conditions. One of the most famous plants in the southwest African desert, the Welwitschia, named after its discoverer, the Austrian biologist Friedrich Welwitsch. It can be over 2000 years old and produced during her long life only two leaves. The leaves grow continuously, can be up to eight feet long, but break at the ends, partly by wild food -related, again and again and form veritable bushes.

In the wetter parts of the Nara Namib - shrub is found, its nutritious fruits that Nara melons, a variety of animals serve as food source, including elephants, porcupines and gerbils.

The animals living here have developed skills to survive in the heat and dryness can. The Namib Sand Gecko running on net-like spread feet on the up to 70 ° C hot desert floor and constantly changes his legs when he rests a short time. Is it too hot for him, he digs himself - a strategy that helps the Peringuey's Adder ( Sidewinder snake) over the hot hours, with her ​​tail looks out of the sand. This attracts reptiles on the hunt for small animals and used the snake as bait. Other animals have moved their habitat completely under the earth, as the Wüstenmull (see also Graumull ), or soft from the heat of the day, in that they are nocturnal.

Even larger animals have adapted to the desert climate: Black Rhino by increasing their territory. They roam areas up to 2000 square kilometers, is a multiple of what claim their relatives in other parts of Africa. Over time, their feet have become slightly larger, so that the heavy loner not sink into the sand. Special skills in tracking down and exposing of underground water veins, the desert elephants living here have appropriated - so successful that their inventory has grown over the last ten years of the " extinction threat." A prime example of adaptability are the gemsbok ( oryx also called ): they can get along entirely without free water and cover their fluid intake from food alone; Moreover, they can with a body temperature well above 40 ° C live. Therefore, the gemsbok was chosen also the heraldic animal of Namibia. Furthermore, it is feral horses managed to adapt.

Beneficiaries of the cold Benguela Current and its rich fish are also the South African fur seals, which occur on the Namib coast to hundreds of thousands and give birth here. In part, this seal colonies lie in the restricted diamond area or in specially protected Skeleton Coast Park and are therefore not easily accessible. Only at Cape Cross north of Swakopmund, such a colony be visited. The large seal populations form in turn the food source for black-backed jackal, brown hyena (because of their habitat also called beach wolves) and the so-called beach lions.

Next due to the cold Benguela current, the occurrence of penguins - but especially on the coast of the Cape Peninsula and only in small numbers on the penguin island off Lüderitz.

The Namib is increasingly developing tourism. More and more people seek the solitude of the desert. The emergence of private game lodges and new areas has led to desert animals found in larger numbers.