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UNESCO's Sea of Sand

January 7, 2019

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation






Image right: Covering over three million hectares the Namib sand sea stretches from Luderitz to Walvis Bay where the Kuiseb Canyon forms a dramatic end to the dunes.  This is the area of our Namib Desert Safari




To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. Namibia’s Sea of Sand meets four criteria:


Criterion (vii):  …the world’s only coastal desert that includes extensive dune fields influenced by fog….including its aesthetic qualities in the diversity of dune formations, their ever-changing form and the range of colour and textures creates landscapes of outstanding natural beauty.


Image left: Sand transportation is an ongoing process





Criterion (viii):  …an exceptional example of ongoing geological processes involving the formation of the world’s only extensive dune system in a coastal fog desert through transport of material.  The diversity of the ever-changing dune formations are sculpted by daily and seasonal changes in dominant wind directions is exceptional at a global scale


Image right:  Stable inland dunes display the iconic ochre colour due to  oxidation.





Criterion (ix):  ..exceptional example of ongoing ecological process in a coastal fog desert where plant and animal communities are continuously adapting to life in a hyper arid environment…loose sand, variable winds and fog gradients creates an ever-changing variety of micro-habitats and ecological niches that are globally unique.




Image left:  High winds keep the coastal dunes mobile  so oxidation - which results in the rich ochre colour  - does not occur



Criterion (x):  …outstanding importance of the in-situ conservation of an unusual and exceptional array of endemic species uniquely adapted to life in a hyper-arid desert environment in which fog serves as the primary source of water.


The Namib Sand Sea is described by UNESCO as “a place of outstanding natural beauty where atmospheric conditions provide exceptional visibility of outstanding landscapes by day and the dazzling southern hemisphere sky at night”.    Yes, indeed it is!


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