10 interesting facts about Namibia

7 GROOTFONTEIN FORT

10 interesting facts about Namibia

23 April 2018 | Tourism

(ONE) THE DIMINUTIVE DIK-DIK

The Damara Dik-Dik is one of four dik-dik species that occur in Africa. Standing just 40cm tall and with a weight of only 5kg, the Damara Dik-Dik (Madoqua kirkii) is Namibia’s smallest antelope. The Namibian population is separated by several thousand kilometres from the East African population. They occur singly, in pairs, or in small family groups, and are most active during the early morning or late afternoon. These dainty little antelopes are frequently seen in the Waterberg National Park and east and south of Namutoni in the Etosha National Park.

(TWO) HOME TO A UNIQUE FISH

Lake Otjikoto is one of only two places in the world where the Otjikoto tilapia occur naturally. Despite its common name, the species was introduced from nearby Lake Guinas in the 1940s – hence its scientific name Tilapia guinasana. An interesting feature of this species is that each individual has a different colour. The German military dumped large quantities of armaments into the lake when they retreated ahead of the South African forces in 1915. Field guns, machine guns and other objects retrieved from the lake are displayed in the Khorab Room of the Tsumeb Museum.

(THREE) EXCITING DISCOVERY

An American-French paleontological research team made an exciting discovery when they discovered the lower jawbone of the first fossil ape ever found in the southern hemisphere in the mine dumps at Berg Aukas in 1991. The estimated age of 13 million years suggested that the fossil ape lived before the Miocene hominoids developed into branches leading to gorillas, chimpanzees, the ‘southern apes’ and humans. The Jawbone can be seen at the National Earth Science Museum in Windhoek, which is open from 08h00 to 13h00 and 14h00 to 17h00 on weekdays.

(FOUR) TSUMEB’S PATRON SAINT OF MINERS

The St Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church in Tsumeb’s main street is a reminder of the town’s close links with mining. The church was consecrated and named after the patron saint of miners in 1914. During its lifespan of 92 years, the Tsumeb Mine produced 1.9 million tonnes of copper, 3 million tonnes of lead and 1 million tonnes of zinc. It is considered to be the greatest mineral locality in the world and about 100 of the 250 minerals occurring in the mine qualify for the best minerals worldwide. Some 40 minerals are unique to Tsumeb.

(FIVE) ENDEMIC ANTELOPE

The Etosha National Park lies at the southern limit of the natural distribution of the Black-faced Impala, a species which is endemic to northwestern Namibia and southwestern Angola. To complement the park’s small population of Black-faced Impala, some 220 animals were captured in northern Kaokoland between 1969 and 1971 and released in the park after a quarantine period. It is a sub-species of the Common Impala from which it can be distinguished by its distinctive purplish-black facial blaze and a shiny reddish coat.

(SIX) ON THE TRAIL OF DINOSAURS

The Karoo-era rocks south of Otjiwarongo are a treasure trove of fossil reptiles. Dinosaurs left their tracks in the mud which turned into sandstone which was subsequently covered with sediments. Erosion exposed the tracks in the Etjo sandstone countless eons later at Otjihaenamaparero and Mount Etjo. Various dinosaur fossils from the area, including a reptilian dinosaur which lived 230 million years ago, can be seen at the National Earth Science Museum in Windhoek. The museum is open from 08h00 to 13h00 and 14h00 to 17h00 on weekdays.

(SEVEN) THE FIRST REPUBLIC

Grootfontein was once the capital of the short-lived Republic of Upingtonia, the first and only republic in what later became known as Namibia. The republic was declared in October 1885 after 46 Dorslandtrekker families settled in the Grootfontein area on land acquired by the trader William Jordan from the Ondonga king Kambonde. The republic was abandoned in mid-1887 following Jordan’s murder and because of security concerns. Photographs depicting various aspects of the republic can be viewed in the Grootfontein Museum which is housed in the historic fort.

(EIGHT) LAKE WITH A WORLD RECORD

Lake Guinas, like nearby Otjikoto, was formed when the roof of an underground cavern, filled with subterranean water, collapsed. It is larger than Lake Otjikoto with a diameter of 140m and a maximum depth of 130m. The lake, with its sheer cliffs, is set in attractive surroundings while the deep blue sheen of the water adds to its allure. Contrary to suggestions that it is linked to Lake Otjikoto, no conclusive evidence has thus far been found. A South African diver, Trevor Hutton, smashed the world free diving record at a depth of 66m in a time of two minutes and 10 seconds at Guinas in May 2001.

(NINE) LIFELINE TO MANY

The Okavango River, southern Africa’s second largest river, forms the international boundary between Namibia and Angola for some 400km. It is a lifeline to the people living along its banks. Crops are planted on the fertile alluvial flood plains when the water level recedes, and it’s a rich source of protein (the river is home to more than 70 fish species). It also serves as a highway for water travel. Downstream of Mohembo, the river forms a panhandle and then fans out into a myriad of channels to form the world famous Okavango Delta.

(TEN) VINGERKLIP

The Vingerklip or Rock Finger, a 30m-high rock pillar of sandstone and limestone conglomerate, is an erosional relic of a plateau that was incised by the Ugab River during a wetter period in our geological history. The formation survived the onslaught of the Ugab River because of its resistant capping. It has an estimated circumference of 44m. The first recorded ascent was made by an American climber, Tom Choate, in 1971. The Vingerklip is situated on a 1 600ha private reserve of the Vingerklip Lodge, just over 100km west of Outjo.

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