It is well worth making the trek out to Namibia’s National Earth Science Museum, which boasts small but impressive displays on Namibian palaeontology, minerals and mining. Well-labelled glass cabinets show fossil collections from diverse eras, some remarkably preserved, such as the eggs of an ostrich ancestor, the carapace of a giant nineteen-million-year-old tortoise, and the almost-complete, clear fossilized impression of a mesosaurus – a 50cm-long reptile, found on a farm near Keetmanshoop, in southern Namibia. Fear not if you’re struggling to picture such beasts, since they come alive in the wonderful accompanying illustrations by the late Christine Marais, a South African artist renowned for her portrayals of the Namibian environment.

The museum’s geological section is a more mixed bag: though the detailed, specialist displays may fail to grip the casual visitor, the collection of sparkling gemstones holds more general appeal – don’t miss the cabinet showing UV radiation and fluorescence in minerals, and the exhibits illustrating their household uses in such mundane products as toothpaste and make-up. Namibia’s mining industry has sponsored the displays on the country’s various mines, so, although informative, they are inevitably laden with PR-speak.

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