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Namib Desert: the highest dunes in the world

The Namib-Naukluft National Park, whose original nucleus was founded in 1907 by the German colonial administration and later enlarged, is today one of the most large protected natural areas of the African continent (49,768 sq km), the landscapes that can be admire are really breathtaking.

The region is characterized by high and isolated rock formations called “inselbergs” or “kopjes” (the latter is an Afrikaans word that means “isolated desert mountains”) formed by red granite rocks, while the easternmost part of the park is formed by the Naukluft mountains.

The Namib Desert, which takes up most of the territory of the park, is probably the oldest desert on earth having an age of about 80 million years, this huge sea of dunes extending from north to south along the coast of Atlantic Ocean for over 1,600 km and from west to east to a depth ranging between 50 and 160 km.

Namib Desert, Namib-Naukluft, Namibia. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini..

Namib Desert, Namib-Naukluft, Namibia. Author Marco Ramerini..

The word “Namib,” in Nama language means “open space”. Winds are the main responsible in the shaping of the Namib dunes, whose color indicates the age, because the iron content in the sand with time oxidized creating the characteristic red-orange color of the sand dunes of the Namib.

The dunes of the Namib Desert are the highest in the world, they are over 300 meters high above the surrounding desert plain.

A surprisingly high number of forms of life is suitable to live in this extremely arid area, among them include hyenas, jackals, oryx, snakes, beetles, and other insects, while many varieties of birds are found near the rare temporary pool of water (as in Sossusvlei).

The rare rains (10 mm/year) sometimes give a little relief to the soil completely dry for the rest of the year, although the fog that formed in the near Atlantic Ocean regularly bring a certain amount of moisture.

This post is also available in: German

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