Namibia has four primary geographic regions, all of which are of great interest to the adventure traveller. In the north lies the Etosha Pan, an enormous alluvial basin that has long since lost the lake that it once held. Although water supplies are now limited for most of the year to the perimeter of the pan, the area remains sufficiently fertile to support great herds of antelope species (including gemsbok, impala, and springbok), zebra, and--most famously--elephants. Many other species of wildlife abound as well, and the Etosha Pan is now the center of one of the finest game parks on the African continent.
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: Along the Namibian coast lies the Namib Desert, a spectacularly barren, brilliant red sand landscape that is divided into the Skeleton Coast (in the north) and the Diamond Coast (in the south). There are a number of features of this coastal desert that make it quite unlike any spot on earth. First, and most famously, it is the richest source of diamonds on the planet, and Namibia is as a result the world's largest diamond producer. Second, the dry and hot Namibian shoreline is situated right at the point where the icy waters of the Atlantic hit the continent--Antarctic water meets African desert, and the result is often unbelievable fog. This highly mysterious coast is now the site of the 19,000 sq. mile (49,000 sq. km) Namib-Naukluft National Park.
In the northeast, Namibian territory extends between Angola and Botswana along the slender corridor of the Caprivi Strip. Unlike most of the rest of Namibia, the Caprivi Strip is a wooded and fertile region, and it is crossed by a number of rivers. Two of these, the Zambezi and the Okavango, rank among the great rivers of Africa. The strip is also the site of several game parks, which while not offering such an abundance of wildife certainly provide spectacular scenery and relative solitude. Namibia's center is occupied by a high escarpment plain. Windhoek, the capital and the only city of any size, is located smack dab in the middle of the country. In the northern part of the central plain is the Waterberg Plateau, a 150 sq. mi. (400 sq. km) shelf that rises 150 metres straight from the surrounding plain. The plateau is well-watered and lush, and is home to several rare and endangered species. At Namibia's southern tip is yet another geological wonder--the immense Fish River Canyon. Second only to the Grand Canyon in size, Fish River Canyon offers magnificent vistas and great--though strenuous--hiking.