Namibia features striking landscapes in both the Kalahari and the Namib deserts. In southern Namib, the world’s oldest desert, the Sossusvlei Dunes’ sea of red sand casts up some of the tallest dunes in the world. Fish River Canyon is said to be the second largest canyon on the planet. Even in these harsh environments, life persists with 70 reptile species, including the barking gecko, golden mole, jackal and sidewinder. The Cape Cross coast has the largest seal colony in the southern hemisphere. Etosha Pan National Park supports life that includes the rare desert elephant. Indigenous societies such as the Kalahari San Bushmen and the Himba in the far north work to keep their traditional customs alive generation after generation. The infamous bones of shipwrecks are still found on the Skeleton Coast on the Atlantic. Walvis Bay has a natural lagoon that is home to more than 120,000 birds with an additional 200,000 migratory birds that join them each year. Namibia is a multi-faceted gem with dramatic landscapes, unique wildlife and hospitable people that provides a once-in-a-lifetime African experience.
Namibia has been at the forefront of empowering local communities to manage their natural resources for conservation and tourism. Enshrining the protection of natural habitat, ecosystems, and protection of natural resources in their constitution, Namibia set up a Community Based Natural Resource Management system in the early 1990’s, establishing some of the first community-based conservancies in Africa. NACOBTA, the Namibian Community Based Tourism Association, was established in 1995 as a way for local villagers to work together and learn from each other in implementing sustainable tourism as a way to support wildlife conservation and improve local people's livelihoods. Since then, the number of community wildlife conservancies has grown across the country to number more than 80 private wildlife reserves today, owned and managed by local people, in addition to the establishment of significant areas of the country as national parks and protected areas. Other countries in Africa and around the world have looked to Namibia as a model for the development of sustainable tourism that empowers local communities in the management of their natural and cultural resources.
The country has fully embarked on a national level sustainable tourism master plan incorporating the three main pillars of best practice: environmentally-friendly operations; support for the protection of cultural and natural heritage; and improving the special and economic well-being of local people.
Namibia is the only nation to have placed its entire coastline (976 miles) under protection, designating it a national park. The Namib-Skeleton Coast National Park covers 26.6 million acres. It stretches from the Kunene River on the northern border linking to Angola’s Iona National Park. It runs south to Orange River, where it connects to South Africa’s Richetersveld National Park.Why the Elephant Ranking?