The “Sperrgebiet”: Namibia’s Newest National Park
The Sperrgebiet (which means ‘forbidden territory’) – also known Tsau Khaeb National Park – is Namibia’s newest national park, covering around 26,000 km2. It has been closed to the public for almost a century, after diamonds were discovered in the area.
Although this was done to protect the area’s mineral wealth, it also helped conserve the area’s biodiversity. This is important since the area forms part of the Succulent Karoo Biome, a unique ecosystem which has the highest diversity of succulent flora in the world. Scientists have classified it as one of the world’s top 25 biodiversity hotspots. However, the scenery of dunes and mountains is dramatically stark.
One of the park’s most unique attractions is Kolmanskop ghost town. Once it was a prosperous mining community. But now sand blows through the abandoned houses and slowly erodes the walls. It’s possible to take guided tours of this lonely landscape.
The national government and tourism agencies are devoting 2020 to developing new tourism routes in and around the park, as well as improving infrastructure. These routes will include former mining hubs such as Oranjemund, a town looking to open up to tourism with new hotels and activities.