The Sperrgebiet National Park
The 'Forbidden Diamond Area' of Namibia
The Sperrgebiet National Park can be entered off the B4, on the main tarred road running between Keetmanshoop and Luderitz, but is only open to those travelling with a Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) concessionaire. Proclaimed as recently as 2008 and covering an area of some 26,000km² of globally important semi-desert, visitors should prepare themselves for savage gales, flying grit, fluctuating temperatures, a constant wind and most importantly of all – one hell of an adventure!!!
The diamond industry has been a double-edged sword in the history of Sperrgebiet mainly due to its exclusion policy; it has left the park both scarred but spared of over-use. Inland, the habitat has remained largely untouched and pristine, but the coastal areas, where the diamonds occur, have suffered considerable damage. Increased mining excavations didn't take long to destruct the land and the process was moved off-shore to act as sea-barriers, enabling miners to extend their operations into the Atlantic Ocean. Thankfully, the Namdeb Diamond Corporation is working to reverse the damage caused by open-pit mining, by re-vegetating spoil heaps and gradually aiming to restore affected areas to their former glory.
As it is Namibia's newest national park, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to learn that is still largely undeveloped and inaccessible to visitors, but there is still the opportunity to explore the unexplored. A sandy (and windy) escapade into the Forbidden Territory starts in the Atlantic Coastal town of Luderitz, taking visitors initially to the southern extremity of the park to the colossal 55m tall Bogenfels rock arch, on to a modern diamond mine and the mysterious ghost town at Elizabeth Bay, before venturing on to yet another ghost town of Pomona (with its claim to fame of enduring the highest average wind speeds in Southern Africa!) Märchental and the famous and appropriately named 'Fairytale Valley', a place where diamonds were once so common, they could be picked up by the shovelful.
At the southernmost border, a wide variety of birds and animals can be observed that frequent the Orange River mouth, another Namibian RAMSAR site. In between the northern and southern boundaries, are a host of succulents, some that grow as tall as trees, with many producing a stunning floral display after the winter rains. This profusion of succulent species in terms of endemism and number, are unrivaled anywhere else on the planet. Tree Huggers United, will be thrilled to know that conservation scientists have classified this area as one of the world's top 34 Biodiversity Hotspots! If you know of an area and would like to join this rather unusual club, please remember that to qualify for hot-spot status, an area must contain at least 1,500 endemic vascular plants (0.5% of the planet's total).
Another worthwhile excursion for visitors is climbing to the summit of the Aurusberg Mountain on its botanical hiking trail, to view the Rotor Kamm meteorite crater, the fourth largest of its kind in the world.Future plans and developments by the MET, include:
- The layout of ecologically sensitive guided hiking trails and guided drives.
- The opening of basic rest camps.
- Admission to limited numbers of fossil and archaeological sites.
- Visits to diamond mines, a meteorite crater, shipwrecks, seal and seabird colonies.
The opening of the restricted mining town at Oranjemund is also in the pipeline and with its well-stocked shops, entertainment and sporting facilities, will act as the ideal base from which to explore the southern Sperrgebiet National Park and the neighbouring /Ai-/Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, situated either side of the Namibian / South Africa border.
Making the time to visit to the Sperrgebiet National Park, is well-worth the effort to experience a truly unique wilderness.
Well equipped & maintained self catering apartments on Shark Island
A unique and very popular bed & breakfast establishment on Shark Island
A prime sea-front location is complimented with sea facing rooms, a top class restaurant & a private beach
Budget accommodation & campsite on shark island
Luxury self catering holiday apartments
visit the Kolmanskop Ghost town near Luderitz
trip into the Sperrgebiet (forbidden diamond area) with visits to the abandonded mining town of Pomona & the rock arch at Bogenfels
Several cruises around Luderitz harbour, options include sunset cruises & a visit to an oyster farm