Namibia, a country of spectacular diversity – not only from a topographic and cultural perspective – but also especially in terms of its Flora.
On the west of the country the cold Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean influences the climate and formed over millions of years one of the oldest and harshest deserts in the world, the Namib Desert. Rain is almost never received in this harsh part of the country, because of the clash of the cold ocean current and warm inland winds. Another phenomenon of this clash is heavy fog, giving an unsuspected diversity of endemic and other succulents the ideal conditions to prosper in almost noncompromising circumstances. When it does rain however, then the traveller is invited, especially in the South, to a spectacular flower show in all colours possible. Fewer flowers are growing along the central and northern coast, but colourful Lichen fields spread across vast parts of the desert. It is here that the majestic and prehistoric Welwitschia Mirabilis is found. A must see to any traveller as the specific differences between male and female plants can be observed.
The transition from desert to escarpment features parched and desolate sand patches and scree slopes, mostly bare and incredibly dry, fascinating in its apparent desolation. Even here a little rain will transform the landscape into a fairy tale looking ocean of yellow grass. It is a sight to behold to see the white guard hairs of the Stipagrostis grass sway gently at night by full moon, looking like a vast snow landscape.
During a good rainy season some of the usually dry rivers manage to break through from the highlands reaching the ocean. The humidity that is created by these flowing rivers gives life to a variety of lush vegetation, from different grasses, bushes to large trees. Even the hardiest of trees manage to prosper successfully when just the slightest of humidity and moisture is received. The various animals, large or small, benefit hugely from the fruits of the vegetation during this time of season.
From the escarpment turning eastwards towards the highland vegetation becomes more luscious, because more rainfall is experienced here. A variety of grasses, shrubs, bushes, and trees form, according to soil quality, unique biotopes. The variety of stalks, leaves, twigs, flowers, and fruits is a sustainable supply of food to the local fauna. The bigger trees and shrubs also offer shade and protection for animals and birds. Aloes and plants with thick trunks, such as Cissus species, Moringa Trees and Euphorbias, are very noticeable in this part of the country.
By now we have reached the Highland, a part of the country which is extensively utilised by cattle and sheep farming. Cattle farming is cultivated right up to the northern and eastern boundaries of the country. Most important food source for farming are the variety of grasses giving the Namibian meat its distinctive and pure taste.
Driving further north it becomes noticeable how the thick bushy landscape of Acacia replaces the vast grasslands. This type of bushy landscape restricts optimum utilisation of the farmland and poses a great problem for agriculture.
Further north large trees, the Marula Tree, line the wayside. From the Marula fruits a famous liquor is made. After a day’s long eventful travelling this liquid delight is a little piece of African Heaven.
What would Africa be without palms and dunes? Namibia’s very own Makalani Palm grows extensively in this part of the country. They are to be found growing in the river valleys and large planes of the very far north. At the Epupa-Waterfalls in the Kaokoland the Makalani palms lend a special presence.
The far northeast of the country with the Okavango- Kwando- and Zambezi rivers presents itself again to a completely different tree population and resembles the typical African forest. Lumber like Kiaat- and Dolf wood are most common and are used in particular for the furniture industry. The native Baobab tree with its huge voluptuous trunk and beautiful flowers is a particular landmark to this part of Namibia.
If already in Namibia, then the south-east of the country should not be missed. This part of the country is home to the Kalahari Desert. Famed by its red dunes the Kalahari Desert is fed during the rainy season by two seasonal rivers giving live to yellow grasses which grow prolific in the valleys of the dunes. Another endemic landmark, the famous Camelthorn tree, grows in this area and is very often home to the enormous nests of the social weaver, yet another sheer sight to remember.
We invite you warmly to explore and admire the splendour and variety of the Namibian Flora, taking home spectacular memories.