The Namib Desert is not only the hottest place on Earth, it is also the oldest desert in existence and therefore hides a lot of secrets. And although the name is translated from the local language as “a place where there is nothing,” this area is capable of surprising its inhabitants, because they can not be found anywhere else. However, not many people tend to conquer the scorching land of more than 100 thousand square kilometers.
Many people don’t even know where the oldest desert in the world is located, because it is rarely given enough attention in the general educational program. Nevertheless, it is very interesting both from a research point of view and from a tourist point of view, although it is impossible to stay on its territory for a long time.
Due to the fact that the desert meets the Atlantic Ocean, the temperature near the coastline is low, about 15-20 degrees. Moving further inland, the sweltering climate is felt more strongly, here the air heats up to 30-40 degrees. But even this would be easily tolerated if it were not for the lack of precipitation, which makes the dryness of the air very exhausting.
Namib is located in southwestern Africa, where it is strongly influenced by the Benguela Current. It can be considered the main cause of the hot desert, although it cools it down through breezes. Near the coast there is high humidity and frequent downpours, mostly at night. Only in the depths of the desert, where the dunes obstruct the sea air, there is almost no rainfall. Canyons and high dunes holding back currents from the sea are the main reason why there is no rainfall in Namibia.
Scientists conventionally divide the desert into three zones:
- the interior.
The boundaries between the areas are palpable throughout. Starting from the coast, the desert seems to grow above sea level, so that in the eastern part it looks more like a stony plateau consisting of scattered rocks.
The peculiarity of the Namib Desert is that it was formed millions of years ago, when dinosaurs still existed on Earth. That is why there is nothing strange about the fact that this place is home to endemics. One of them is a beetle that lives in a harsh climate and is able to get a source of water even at high temperatures.
However, there are several species of beetles found in Namib, such as unique blackbelly beetles. Here you can also come across road wasps, mosquitoes, and spiders that have taken a fancy to the outer dunes. Reptiles, particularly geckos, are not uncommon in this area.
Because of the continent in which the desert is located, and because of its climatic features, it is not surprising that large animals are almost impossible to see here. Elephants, zebras, and antelopes live in places with high humidity, where flora still grows. There are also predators here: and even though African kings are on the verge of extinction, lions have taken a fancy to the rocky dunes, so local tribes cross the Namib with caution.
Plants are represented in a greater variety. In the desert, you can find dead trees over a million years old. Many endemics attract naturalists who dream of exploring the peculiarities of the living conditions of the amazing velvicia and acanthosicios ostetinus, also known as nara. These unique plants are a food source for the herbivores that live here and are a real decoration of the sandy area.
Exploring the desert terrain
As early as the 15th century, the first explorers landed on the shores of Africa near the Namib Desert. The Portuguese placed crosses on the coast, a sign that the area belonged to their state. Even today you can see one of these symbols, preserved as a historical monument, but meaningless today.
In the early 19th century, a whaling base was localized in the area of the desert, which led to the study of the coastline and seabed on the western and southern sides of Africa. Namib began to be explored directly after the emergence of the German colony in the late 19th century. From then on, the first maps of the desert began to be made and photos and pictures of picturesque landscapes began to appear, depending on the geographic area. Now rich deposits of tungsten, uranium and diamonds have been found here. We also recommend watching an interesting video.