With a long coastline stretching for 1,570km, from the Orange River on the border with South Africa to the Kunene River at its northern junction with Angola, at first glance Namibia might seem like a wonderful place for all kinds of aquatic adventures.
While this stretch of the Atlantic, incorporating the Skeleton Coast, may be a paradise for fishermen, lovers of adventure sports and sightseers, the tempestuous waters of the Atlantic in this area are prohibitive to even the hardiest of underwater explorers, with water temperatures ranging from 8 to 18C.
Die hard, experienced divers have been known to venture into the depths between Luderitz and Spencer Bay from December to May, but visibility remains low at 3 to 10 metres at the best of times.
So, if you want to suit up and get down while visiting Namibia, you need go above sea level, into the arid inland regions of this vast country.
Here you will find caves and sinkholes where you can don your goggles and strap on the oxygen for hours of subterranean enjoyment.
Diving in these secret depths remains technical, with the sites classified as Type III by the World Underwater Federation CMAS. Pre-dive training and evaluation is done with this in mind, and a qualified instructor accompanies all dives. As these places are all located on private land, permission is required from the landowner, and it is a good idea to contact the Namibia Underwater Federation, up to three months in advance to arrange these activities.
The following dive sites are the best-known in Namibia:
- Lake Otjikoto, a National Monument outside Tsumeb – for sightings of the endemic Otjikoto tilapia, and WWI artefacts at depths from of 25 m to over 80 m.
- Lake Guinas, Otjikoto– only suitable for technical divers as access is by 30 metre high cliffs. About 10m down, at the bottom, the lake breaks off in to underwater caves and visibility is good.
- Lake Harasib, Grootfontein – An 80m dive after an abseil of 140m to reach the water.
- Dragons Breath, Grootfontein – found on the same property as Lake Harasib, this is the largest subterranean lake in the world and the record for this spot is 105m down.
You can contact the Windhoek Underwater Club for more information regarding these and other dive sites in Namibia. Don’t let the paperwork get you down – make plans to discover the underwater worlds of Namibia on your next visit.