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pippa - Striving To Protect Wildlife and Encourage Responsible Tourism Practices Sat, 13 Jul 2024 15:12:46 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb creepy crawlies and other critters An old adage goes as follows: 'What doesn't kill you will make you strong' and whether or not you buy into patronising stoicism is irrelevant in this case. One of the most contentious issues when entering the great outdoors are the little 6- or 8- or no-legged critters, many of them with venomous stings or bites - and equally as many completely harmless - that are part of the food chain.

Many visitors to wilderness areas don't seem to realise that the moment they voluntarily enter the bush they automatically also become part of the food chain - something most people do not necessarily cherish. One of the commonest questions asked as a guide - apart from, 'how far is it?' and, 'when will we be there?' - is the inquiry into the size, frequency and toxicity of our reptilian and arachnid life forms. And yes Namibia abounds with all sorts of snakes, scorpions, spiders, bugs, beetles and a myriad of slithering, sliding, crawling creatures. It's a sign of a healthy and well-matured eco-system, and in the case of the Namib Desert, an ancient and unique natural balance.

Ironically enough the automatic reaction from most city dwellers when coming across any of the aforementioned in their natural habitat is to squash it, maim it, poison it. In short, anything with more than 2 legs entering the personal safety and comfort sphere is send to a speedy death. Unfortunately the little creepy crawlies of the bush are magically attracted to people with creature phobias, often leading to a mass murder of completely harmless insects. It's probably similar to the Icarus complex of moths attracted to candles and fires.

Yet even poisonous visitors don't have to be killed merely because it was unfortunate enough to loose its direction and wander into your camp. A scorpion or snake can easily be scooped up in a suitable receptacle and carried some distance out of camp and be released again. The same goes for spiders and ticks. Unless something seriously threatens your immediate health and safety there is no need for excessive destruction of an already beleaguered ecological balance.

The flip side of this wanton decimation is people with the chronic urge to capture and collect creatures of all shapes and sizes, often just for the pleasure of inducing cold shivers in the on-lookers. Most creatures will not survive captivity unless scientifically monitored, in which case it serves the purpose of research and knowledge. Wild creatures generally don't make good pets, so they best left where they belong: in the wild!

Even well-meaning guides catching snakes or chameleons to demonstrate their bush savvy to their guests will subject their quarry to undo duress and trauma which can lead to the animal's demise. Many would-be or hobby collectors are unaware that the majority of our reptiles and other small creatures are protected by law. Thus, unless you actively pursue a research programme for a registered institution or have a collector's license you will be breaking the law and taken to task. On that note: Should you come across anybody in the bush 'collecting' snakes, tortoises or pangolins and find him/her evasive please report the incident in the nearest town's police or ranger station. Smuggling protected species is rife and the Protected Resources Unit of the Namibian Police is tasked specifically to combat the illegal trade in endangered and protected species.

On a concluding note - people who engage in catching poisonous animals in the bush hopefully also know what they are doing when things go awry and they get bitten. Cyto- and Neurotoxic snake or scorpion bites in the bush far from modern medical treatment can be fatal. Caution and a little respect are always advised when encountering creatures in their natural habitat. After all it's their home. Ignoring this fact of life could lead you through a seriously steep learning curve, as was the case with an American tourist recently who was gored to death because he wanted a close-up photograph of him and an Oryx. Well-known naturalist from the Kavango Region, Mark Paxton of Shamvura, was luckier. He was bitten by a black mamba and lived to tell the tale - how, nobody knows.
Wildlife Details Sun, 28 Jan 2007 18:48:00 +0000
South Africa Travel Report by Pippa

South Africa Travel Report by Pippa 27th of May until 1st of June.

We left germany in a fairly good summer's climat in order to get to south africa which had been hit by a cold front!

25 may 07 we touched down in JNB around 08.00hrs, got our south african simcard and the rental car and off we left towards krueger NP.

we stop over in white river (close to the numbi gate) at a wonderful country hotel: JATINGA country lodge! wonderful kap-holland style chalets (20 of them spread out within a wonderful landscaped garden). very comfortable and really good vegetarian meals! through out the day tee and coffee is available to hotel guests and 06.00hrs sharp champagne and canapees are delivered to your room! decadence in a very nice style! we could have stayed there forever.

26 may we leave after breakfast, travel through krueger towards SABI SABI - this time we stay at the new bush lodge instead of earth lodge which is out of this world - in the sabi sands reserve adjacent to krueger NP.

stunning large chalets (highly shiny tiles all over, great furniture, extremly large bathroom, large bedroom and large lounge - extremly comfortable!) and great views! we settle in, go to the lounge area where afternoon tea is served prior to game drive in the afternoon around 16.00hrs.

very good game(besides others a lioness with 2 cubs approx. 2,5 month old) are walking a lugga. the cubs were ambushing each other and playing around which we watched for more than 30 min. what a great start in to our southern african trip!
sabi sabi bush lodge has got 24 chalets and a spacy dining lounge, a boma and a swimmingpool!

next morning at 06.00hrs we meet in the lounge respectively around the fire for a light breakfast and off for the morning game drive. it's ice cold and we see frost in top of the gras! we wear everything warm which we brought with us plus we get blankets and hot water bottles in the car!

around 10.00hrs it's warming up so that we have around 25°C at noon.
very little game activities until 07.00/07.30hrs! obviously it's too cold also for the cats!
get back to the lodge around 09.30h for engl. breakfast.
01.00hrs is lunch; after lunch is siesta time!
15.30hrs teatime with cake and snacks
around 17.30hrs sundowner with G+T and snacks in the bush and night gamedrive back to the lodge.
19.00hrs back to the lodge.
dinner around 20.00hrs in the boma - extensive salad buffet, vegetables, potatoes and meat for the carnivores.
27 may the same procedure: ice cold in the morning and heating up by 10.00hrs.

we had a great stay and sabi sabi bush lodge is a great experience and affordable in south african terms

28 may we say good bye to sabi sabi bush lodge and drive to lion sands - also in the sabi sands reserve.

we were upgraded to IVORY lodge which is also one of the most luxurious lodges in south africa - comparable to earth lodge/sabi sabi and the singita lodges and mala mala but a very exquisite contemporary style.
safari routine here the same as sabi sabi.
our suite was 165 sqm and offered living room with open fireplace, dvd player, dimmed lights etc., plunge pool and bedroom, bathroom and also a second outside shower.
luxury as its best!
frequented mostly by honey mooners - which is suitable as we celebrate our silver anniversary this august
meals etc. simply wonderful.
they have an open restaurantdeck and a restaurant for rainy days. dinner can also be served in the own suite which we also tried. great experience!
game was good and also very comfortable open safri vehicles.

30 may we stopped over again at JATINGA country lodge in white river which will definately become one of our most frequented hotels when visiting krueger.

31 may we stayed at Clic-o guesthouse in johannesburg/rosebank. wonderful 7 room guesthouse in a great cap-holland building. very good dinner and cooked breakfast. honesty bar at afordable prices.
i especially loved "verve" the 3 month old kitty which they found when it was only approx. 3 weeks old.

01 june we left for zambia after we exchanged our sa-simcard and got our sat-phone in order to make sure we can reach home and can be reached!

Travel Reports & Rev Wed, 27 Jun 2007 11:31:00 +0000
Zambia Travel Report and Lodge Review

01. - 04. June 2007 TONGABEZI and SINDABEZI – Livingstone

01. – 03. June 2007 TONGABEZI

Very nice chalets and wonderful spacious houses like treehouse, dog’s house etc.
Very attentive “valet”
Poor meals (presentation and variety should be improved urgently so that the “luxury” standard of which the rates are based on can be maintained)
Poor “activities management” (one couple from Netherlands was left behind for the lunar rainbow; they planned the whole safari around lunar rainbow!). We ourselves got aware of the Lunar rainbow (full monn - months febr-june when the zambesi has got lots of water!) just by accident but were taken far too late to the falls so that we could not see the lunar at all! We left TONGABEZI at 20.20hrs for vic falls but when we finally reached the falls the lunar was gone – but they charged for thos activity!!!
Advise to wear decent walking shoes for vic falls was also false! Flipflops are the shoes for such a walk! The heli ride was due when we were on the way to the falls so that this had to be postponed till the afternoon. Overall impression of the activities management: rather poor!) I would rather book activities with a local tour operator in order to make sure my clients get what they want!

03. – 04. June 2007 SINDABEZI

Very nice open accommodation and very good meals!
1 night there is perfect as activities have to be done from tongabezi.

04. – 06. June 2007 STANLEY’s Safari Lodge

Very good accommodation, excellent staff and delicious vegetarian meals!
Activities from there are rather very expensive. No activity included in the rate. But this shouldn’t be a problem at all!
The cottage we stayed in should be only booked for clients with a rather high level of tolerance because there the guest might face a staff or visitor entering its room while he can be clearly watched while using the toilet as there is no door and the toilett faces the openness of the room! my bookings clearly state that this cottage won’t be one for our guests!

06. june zambian airways flight livingstone-lusaka followed by
06. June proflight LUSAKA to JEKI airstrip/lower zambesi

06. – 07. June 2007 OLD MONDORO

Very simple but somehow nice rustic chalets. The extremely friendly and communicative hostess Helen makes up for the lack of comfort.
Very nice location!
Very good meals and nice game drive.
Very good for walking safaris because of the open space only dotted mainly with winterthorn trees!

07. – 09. June 2007 SAUSAGE TREE CAMP

Spacious tents (reed walls with tent roofs) but based on the reed walls extremely high concentration of small flying insects after the lamps are on.
The walkway which leads parallel to the river along the honeymoon tents MUST be cut off for any trespassing because while making use of the bathroom one could not be sure there won’t be any trespassing – especially after dark. The situation was: while sitting on the toilet one could cleary watch the river flowing by as the wall were only approx. 1 m in heights! Makes the client feel uneasy especially after dark when he uses the bathroom.
Very friendly and communicative hosts
Very good activities! Anything can – nothing must! Extremely nice athmosphere!

09. – 11. June 2007 CHONGWE river camp

Very nice tents but somehow run done amenities (wardrobe etc.) which will be refurbished soon according to chris. No mosquito net! The staff insists on “mosquito proof tents” we all know there is no such thing like a “mosquito proof tent” in the world! Somehow amazing how camp owners jeopardize the health of the guests especially under consideration that mosquito nets don’t cost a fortune!
Good activities, good gamedrives.
Very poor vegetarian meals despite knowing well in advance of our request. Dinner was vegetarian starter but the “ordinary carnivore main course” just leaving the meat out which meant for vegetarians e.g. carrots and mashed potatoes! For a luxury camp this is inacceptable!
Site inspection chongwe house.

11. June 2007 pro flight royal airstrip – mfuwe / south luangwa

11. – 13. June 2007 NKWALI Lodge

Very comfortable accommodation.
Good activities and game drives.
Delicious meals and excellent staff!

13. – 15. June 2007 NSEFU Lodge

Very nice accommodation despite being a bit small when the mosquito nets are lowered in the evening.
Very good meals.
Good activities and gamedrives.
Very nice staff!
Site inspection of TENA TENA, luangwa house and robin’s house..
Very nice tents/no mosquito net.
good location.
Service and gamedrives cannot be estimated.

5. – 17. June 2007 KAKULI tented camp instead of the booked MCHENJE camp

On arrival we learnt that we won’t be accommodated at the booked and confirmed camp. Instead we had to stay at Kakuli tented camp which is very basic and cannot be considered a luxury tented camp at all!
No moskito nets.
Very basic open bathroom with only a couple of mats on the sand. Very limited space for bathroom amenities. No clothes hangers, neither rack nor wardrobe in the sleeping tent! Only 2 mini tables available for clothes, equipment etc.
Poor meals but very good snacks.
Good game drives despite some of the guides just drove and we found the game – especially the night drives! They did not watch out for tracks. The spotter just worked the spotlight. Site inspection of the other 3 norman carr camps of which only mchenje is to be considered “luxury” despite I have not experienced its service, meals, gamedrives.
Kakuli has a good location.
Based on our experiences we would not book Norman Carr camps because I cannot risk my reputation in case Norman Carr just shifts our clients from the booked camp to another simply because the originally booked camp has been overbooked.
The mchenje hostess insisted on kakuli camp and mchenje is almost equal in quality and amenities which is definitely not the case. If they have a rank I would rank kakuli and the other 2 camps 3 stars and mchenje 5 stars.

17. – 19. June 2007 MFUWE lodge

Very comfortable accommodation.
A good lodge at the end of a bush experience before leaving the country.
Good location at the lagoons for year round game viewing right from the rooms.
Acceptable meals.
No drinks included in the rate accept during game drives which is inacceptable at that rate! Even for dinner they offered no house wine.
Good game drives.
Very attentive staff especially when they saw my swollen lip as a result of a bee sting at the inner side of my lip which happened while staying at kakuli. the staff at mfuwe provided antihistamine tablets and ice to cool.
Gamedrive vehicles are rather uncomfortable. In case the lodge is packed they pack also the vehicles which means 3 pax in a row – no “window seat guarantee"! This is even more uncomfortable as photographers have to carry equipment on their lap and the person in the middle will bump into the others on end! For a lodge in that price range rather inacceptable!


Zambia seems to be an extremely expensive safari destination in view to “value for money”. Compared to Botswana which still has got a “luxury” label Zambia’s camps keep well up with Botswana rates (except mombo and some other wilderness camps) but obviously has neither the skill nor the experiences and attitude to provide luxury in most of the camps except nsefu and nkwali.

Tongabezi, chongwe and sausage tree have to improve either their service or their accommodation or both in order to play in the luxury league.
Old mondoro is not a luxury experience at all and will only be sold to hard core walkers who are willing to compromise on comfort.
Norman carr won’t be considered due to the reason I mentioned above.
e.g. freshl orange juice instead of double or triple concentrated juice should be available. None of the carr camps provided decent juices nor cheese board after meals.

Safari is about wildlife, meals and drinks. Is one of the mentioned 3 is not up to expectation the whole experience is at stake.

Gamedrives/Wildlife: I would consider the wildlife “average”. But this might improve during the drier months when the animals are forced to frequent the waterholes.

Very disturbing to me (and my clients): no buffer zone between the national park and the “game management area”.
Safarigoers pay a fortune to track and see the big cats and higher and lesser game. Especially when it comes to the cats, kudus, elephants……. it’s absolutely disgusting that one pays a lot of money in order to find and photograph a big cat etc. well knowing that the lack of these animals is based on the vital fact that they cross easily into the killing zone of the game management area. And a gracious cat might have been shot just the day before.

This educational has shown that it is essential to experience any camp in order to estimate its service, meals and drives in order to be marketed properly because especially safaris are enormously depending on good and consistent quality in every aspect.


Based on the experiences I have made during the educational I see very good chances for all robin pope camps. A very good combination would make improved chongwe and/or sausage tree together with nsefu and nkwali.

Travel Reports & Rev Wed, 27 Jun 2007 09:22:00 +0000
Namibia waste - don't litter't-litter't-litter Few things in today's day and age are more tiresome than litter. And far from wanting to patronise my readers with yet another lecture on littering, one can not help but notice the carelessness with which Namibians, as well as visitors to our country, abuse the sensitive environment per se as a rubbish dump. Particularly after the Christmas holiday season and on weekends the road verges of our national carriers have to shoulder this burden.

Indeed it is poor reflection of our society that we would rely on sub-contractors to clean up our road verges. And to boot, said contractor merely collected the trash only to cart it a few kilometres away from the tarmac and dump it in the open landscape. Whether he intended to bury it at a later stage or not is irrelevant - the hypocrisy of the matter remains that tourists commend us on the cleanliness of our country. If we reflect on the statistics for a second we end up with a desperately miserable failure indeed: how can a country of barely two million inhabitants deem it necessary to employ subcontractors to clean up the countryside, when a mega-million city like Singapore can be spotless without even employing street-sweepers?

Yes, littering is a punishable offence by law even in Namibia, but has anybody ever been convicted? The fact remains, litter is not only a scourge defacing our landscape - which is ever so noticeable with its sparse vegetation - but it is also a hazard to our ecology. Toxins from inks and bleached labels leach into the soil and broken bottles and razor sharp can-edges pose a threat to our wildlife.

The synthetic fabric of cigarette butts will not decompose even under the most favourable conditions in less than thirty years, i.e. when buried in moist climates. The same goes for beer cans: Recently I discovered a cache of old beer cans in a sandy river bed that still bore the label of the old South West Breweries. Apart from the fact that the cans had not rusted (the labels were slightly bleached), the perennial torrent had unearthed a pseudo-aesthetic placebo.

How to deal with trash then when going out into the wilderness? For starters, when you do your tour-shop keep in mind that there will be no garbage collectors 'out there' and that in today's age of excessive wrapping every extra piece of cellophane or plastic could be a potential littering agent. (Even the wrappers of sweets dished out to kids in the countryside most often will be carelessly discarded; as are wrappers for drinking straws attached to some of fruit juice brands.)

Take along extra-strong trash bags. You will be amazed at the amount of garbage a small party of even five can generate over just two or three days. Woven bags are the most durable, because invariably they end up strapped onto the roof of your four-wheel drive for another few days until you can find a suitable dump site. Burn as much as you can, but remember that the aluminium liners of milk and cigarette boxes do not burn or melt at such low temperatures. Those need to be extracted from the ashes afterwards or are disposed beforehand.

Organic waste can be buried at a suitable site away from camp in order to decompose, but preferably not in a sandy riverbed where it could be washed up during the next rainy season. Egg-shells, banana peels, apple cores and, worst of all, orange peels will not be eaten by gerbils or other wildlife critters when flung into a nearby bush and they will certainly not decompose, but instead just turn to unsightly litter.

Avoid taking glass or bottles to the bush - they break and take up space. Cans at least can be crushed and returned to a Collect-A-Can depository and cartons or boxes burned. Make a point of informing your fellow campers of the situation even at the danger of sounding condescending (as I am now) and what system or programme you are following to combat it. In future Namibia will hopefully actively endorse recycling programmes which will make it possible for us to return most of our trash from the bundus.
General information Sun, 28 Jan 2007 18:33:00 +0000
general driving through southern africa Visiting Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana

Africa is undoubtedly the most scenic and exciting continent in the World, with its vast open spaces, variety of Fauna, Flora, with its very impressive variety of birds, reptiles, wild and marine life and the place to visit on the African continent is - Namibia.

Many tourists visiting our beautiful Namibia often find themselves short of money, because they have not been informed correctly of the extra costs when deciding to visit the neighbouring countries in the north- eastern part of Namibia, being Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana. I have outlined each country separately, as each country has different fees and charges.

All countries require your vehicle papers and proof that you are either the owner or have permission to take the vehicle out of the country. To help you budget for your hassle - free holiday, I have put together some important information.

To enter Namibia from South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe:

(1) All foreign registered vehicles entering into Namibia must pay cross border charges obtainable at all Borders

(2) Keep the CBC voucher in your car at all times

(3) When you depart from Namibia hand in your CBC at your exit border post

(4) Costs: N$ 120 per vehicle, N$80 for trailer - one way only

(5) Should you wish to re-enter Namibia you will have to pay again

To depart from Namibia to a neighbouring country with a Namibian registered vehicle you require the following:

(1) Namibian registered vehicles leaving Namibia require a valid police clearance, valid for 3 months. Cost N$ 30, even if your vehicle is a hired Namibian registered vehicle. This is obtainable at a police station (if in Windhoek) go to traffic office (Mon to Fri) at least two weeks before departure. The office is not open weekends or public holidays.

Car hire vehicles:

It is important that you inform your car hire dealer that you wish to travel out side the country with their vehicle, so that they can give you all the necessary papers for your travel. Please state that you wish to visit all countries in case you should want to visit another country which is near by.

To enter Botswana you require the following:

When you enter Botswana either from South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe or Namibia and wish to re-enter again into Botswana, Please ask for a double entry, as the single entry is for one way.

(1) Costs: double entry Pula 90, single Pula 50, insurance P 20, valid for a year

(2) Should you wish to cross from Zambia into Botswana with the ferry at Kazangula

(3) The ferry costs are extra: U$ 25 or Pula 125 per vehicle and 2 Pula per person

NB: No meats, dairy products, tined meat, tin fish, egg, poultry etc. are allowed into Botswana - from - Namibia - Zambia or Zimbabwe, unless a permit is obtained before entry. Only certain products may be brought in from South Africa, but again these laws could change as well. It is far better to buy what you require once you are in the country that you are visiting and support the local market, than to try and obtain a permit, an original must be produced at the point of entry. To be quite honest most big towns that you are visiting will have all the stocks you require, and there is not much difference with prices, if you think of all the hassles of trying to get a permit. Permits are only available from their offices in Botswana. So in other words you must first go to Botswana or have them courier the permit as a faxed copy is not acceptable. Should you buy groceries in Botswana, and then visit Namibia or Zambia or Zimbabwe and wish to go back via Botswana, you may not take these groceries back into Botswana even though they were purchased in Botswana, unless you have a permit for them. So the bottom line is: finish everything that you have bought.

To enter Zimbabwe you require the following:

All foreign passport holders except SADC require a visa which is obtainable at their borders. Costs in foreign currency - not in Namibian dollars:

U$ 30 single, U$ 45 double

Euro 25 single, Euro 40double

British P 55 single, British P 70double

Rands 210 single, Rands 390 double

All foreign registered vehicles to pay the following:

Carbon Tax: Rand 140, Pula 90, U$ 15, valid one month

Toll Fee: Rand 60, Pula 50, U$ 10, one way

Insurance: R150, valid one month

Hired Vehicle: R200, valid one month

Commercial - T/0: R300, valid one month

To enter Zambia you require the following:

All vehicle papers same as above. Visas required the same as Zimbabwe and obtainable at their borders.

Insurance for all vehicles: N$ 250

Local road tax: N$ 75

Please make sure that your vehicle has red triangles in the car in case you break down, they are required by law in Zambia. Should you not have them you could pay a spot fine of R 100. If you should be fined for anything in any country, always ask for an official receipt. Fines are sometimes payable in the currency of the country, so ensure that you always have some cash in the country's currency on hand.

Use of credit cards:

It is advisable to use your credit card where possible. Petrol stations in Namibia only accept Garage Cards, Botswana (big towns) accept your master/visa cards at petrol stations. Always keep some cash in the local currency on hand. Credit cards can now be used to enter Chobe National Park, at SEDUDU. Main entrance in Kasane, but not at the other park entrances.

In Zambia most hotels accept master/visa cards. It is not advisable to use your credit card in Zimbabwe, rather change your forex at the local Banks. Never change money in any country off the streets - it is illegal and you could end up paying for fake money.

Please make sure that your passports are valid of six months or more. Never leave your passports or car papers in your vehicle, and try and park your vehicle in view of all. Never walk alone at night in any country.

NB.Some countries' driver's licences have expiry dates - please check that your licence has not expired. Namibians, please check yours.


Should you require a visa to enter Namibia:

(1) You must obtain the Visa before you leave your country

(2) If you plan to leave Namibia and re-entry Namibia you require a double-entry, as these Visa's are only obtainable outside of Namibia otherwise you will not be allowed back into Namibia, as no visas are available at Namibian borders

(3) This applies to Botswana as well

(4) Visa for Zimbabwe and Zambia are available at all their borders

Currencies that can be used:

Namibia dollars N$ can only be used in Namibia. U$ dollars can be used in all countries, but make sure that you have some. Small notes available, as many places do not have change in the Currency that you are using. Euro, Rands, Pula can be used as well, but are not as popular as the U$ note.

Borders do not take traveller cheques. These can be used at holiday resorts and at some shops. Always ask before you purchase something.


All roads from Cape Town to Lusaka are in good condition and fully tarred. Precaution should always be taken when travelling on gravel roads in any country.

Should you require further information for latest updates on border charges - or any other information on the Caprivi or other Regions - please feel free to email us a Please note that the above prices are subject to change.

Compiled by Valerie Sparg

Kalizo Lodge

Caprivi, Namibia
General information Sun, 28 Jan 2007 18:27:00 +0000
Namibia Namibias Geography

Namibia Geography

Kunene River in KaokolandWith an areal of approximately 824.000 square km, Namibia is more than tripple the size of Great Britain. The north-to-south length of the country is 1500 km, while the east-to-west width is around 600 kilometres in the south and 1100 kilometres in the north. The population density is very low (1,8 million people), amounting to 2,2 inhabitants per sqkm. The main reason for this being the harsh desert and semi-desert conditions and the resultant scarcity of surface water. With the exception of the border rivers - Orange in the south and Kunene, Okavango and Zambesi in the north - there are only dry rivers in Namibia.They are called "Riviere" and only flow periodically during the rainy season, sometimes just for a few days or even hours.

Namibia can be divided into four major geographical segments. In the west stretches the Namib Desert with hardly any vegetation. It reaches from the north of South Africa up to Angola. The desert belt has a width of about 100 kms in the south and 1100 kms in the north, gets up to 600 metres high and is characterised by mighty expanses of sand dunes in its central part. In the north and the south it has predominantly gravel fields. Towards the inland, the desert belt is followed by the "Escarpment", a mountain wall of up to 2000 metres. Namibia's highest mountain is the Brandberg with a height of 2579 m.

The Escarpment changes into the Central Plateau which slowly descends towards the east. The heights of the central highland vary between 1100m and 1700m. The majority of the Namibian towns and villages lie on this plateau, like the capital of Windhoek at 1654 metres above sea-level. Further to the east lies the Kalahari Basin, also part of the plateau, which reaches heights of 1000m in places. It is characterised by wide sandy plains and long-dunes with scarce vegetation. Another distinct geographical area, is the north-east in the relatively rainy Kavango and Caprivi region. It is flat and covered with dense bushveld.

Simply put, average rainfall increases from the south-west to the north-east. The annual amounts vary between 50 mm in the Namib and 700 mm in the Caprivi. In years of drought, like 1991 to 1993, they can even be much lower than that.

Rain mostly comes from the north-east between December and February, when humid, unstable air masses approach from the tropical part of Africa and reach Botswana and Namibia, causing strong thunderstorms with torrential rains. Most of the rainwater evaporates immediately or is channelled away as sheet flow without being absorbed by the vegetation. However, due to water-impermeable layers of clay and stone, the groundwater is collected and is eventually used by the surrounding settlements and farms.

Part of the annual rainfall is collected in dams, the biggest of them being Hardap Dam near Mariental with a capacity of 300 million cubic metres. The water supply remains, on account of the growing population, a major problem for Namibia. There are, for example, plans to build a pipeline from the Okavango to Windhoek, but Botswana fears changes in the ecology of the Okavango Delta and opposes the project.

General information Sat, 27 Jan 2007 15:31:00 +0000