You can talk about Ghost Towns but Namibia is almost what you might call a ‘Ghost Country’. It’s the second least densely populated country in the world with an average of 2.5 people per square kilometre and when the population of the capital is taken out of the equation the figure drops to under two – truly a ghost country! Namibia has some seriously ghostly areas too.
The Skeleton Coast for example - over 6,000 miles of nothing but sand dunes, gravel plains and dry, dry heat. It’s named the Skeleton Coast for two reasons; there are hundreds of skeletons of whales and other large sea mammals littering its shore, relics of the heydays of whaling and, alongside these sad reminders of a cruel trade, lay the wrecks of ships that have foundered in the crashing surf of the inhospitable coast.
If that wasn’t ghostly enough, there is the icy cold air that rolls in from the cold currents of the Southern Atlantic, meeting the dry hot air of the desert and forming fogs so dense and impenetrable, visibility shrinks to a few feet. Imagine, stuck on the edge of one of the world’s most feared deserts as billowing shrouds of silvery fog roll in with the incoming tide. Soon, you’re teetering about, hands outstretched, simply to find your way to the safety when your hand touches the slimy, moss encrusted, sun bleached timbers of an ancient shipwreck, and feeling down the timber your hand happens upon a near oval object, fingers find holes, brain registers ‘Skull’ and the stuff of horror films becomes a reality!
Namibia has so much to offer, from fear drenched trips to the Skeleton Coast, to safaris on the lush Etosha Pan, a unique area that is green to passing aeroplanes and satellites, not because of the lushness of its vegetation but because of the blue green algae, the only organism to live in its highly salinated lake. When this shallow lake evaporates curious hexagonal structures form in the lake bed only to dissolve when the waters flow again. The area is so ‘otherworldly’ that it was used as a backdrop to the fourth Star Wars film. Historians will revel in the diamond mining towns of the south west. Namibia has the largest concentration of gravel bed diamonds in the world and large areas of the country are owned and guarded by De Beers. As the collection of diamonds waned, many towns became deserted such as Kolmanskop
and Elizabeth Bay, some to rise again as tourist attractions, others to wither to nothing but the dust and sand of the desert.