NamibRand is one of Southern Africa’s largest private nature reserves extending over an area of 202,200 ha; the project has integrated a large number of former sheep farms extending the desert frontiers. It has developed a sanctuary free of fences, so that the wildlife could once again roam their habitat unhindered. Unlike many reserves in South Africa where property owners build high fences to keep their wildlife contained because for each animal there is a value rating and the more animals they have on their land the more worth a farmer posses.
Located in southern Namibia, the reserves conserve the unique ecology and wildlife along the eastern edge of the Namib Desert, which is critical to seasonal migratory routes. The place is surrounded by distinct habitats and over 4 days we covered major ground, enjoying a wide range of the area. My favorite were the impressive dunes blanketed in vibrant yellow-green grasses with huge trees solitarily posting guard like the male orynx when looking for a new resting ground for their female herd.
I was very taken by the saturated colors that decorate this reserve. I really wanted to reenact Priscilla Queen of the Desert or do a really elaborate photo-shoot within this spectacular setting. It had recently rained on the reserve and the annual rainfall is so insignificant that when it does receive water it explodes with vegetation. We felt very lucky. Every color was so vibrate next to deep red dunes.
When we approached the reserves by plane there was initial shock. We were greeted by mysterious bare circles in the sand dotting the landscape. They were everywhere, quite sporadic but consistently everywhere. We later learned they call them ‘fairy circles’ and they stretch from the north-western Cape into southern Angola. While numerous scientists have researched these circles, no one has yet been able to ultimately determine their cause or purpose. Various theories of their origin have been suggested, including euphorbia poisoning, animal dust baths, meteor showers, termites and underground gas vents. In the modern world of advanced research, innovative technology and information networks. It is refreshing to know that nature can still keep some of her secrets.
Though I’ve been to many reserves and grand parks in the United States this one will always be one of my favorite. We managed to find some really unique animals like the bosbok and the dikdik.
As well, I really love the huge communal swallow nests. The birds fly into these huge nests from the bottom so that all the scat falls to the ground. Eventually they get too heavy and fall to the ground giving nesting grounds for another animal in the desert.
One of our final visits was to the Namib Desert Research and Awareness Center, which promotes and assists with environmental conservation, education and environmental management research on the reserve. Hosting camps and school groups all year long aiming at empowering Namibians to make decisions for a sustainable future offering hands-on, experiential environmental learning programs. It was run by a really motivated and talented women that made me want to go home and start cooking on a solar cooker.
It was a really sincere way to end our time in Namibia offering fond memories to this huge diverse country.
Click the photo above to view the Namibrand album