Travel News Namibia Summer 2023/24

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Namibia Travel News

SUMMER 2023/24 | Vol 32 No 1

Conquering the


Khaudumand Nyae Nyae

The Last True Wilderness

Aawambo Pottery | KAZA Elephant count | Zambezi Birding

LISTEN TO NATURE. “There are times when solitude is better than society and silence is wiser than speech.”

Photo Stefan Redecker

Charles Spurgeon


Namibia Travel News

is published by Venture Media in Windhoek, Namibia

Namibia Travel News

SUMMER 2023/24 | Vol 32 No 1

Conquering the

Tel: +264 81 285 7450, Unit 1, Wasserberg Park, 1 Jan Jonker Road PO Box 21593, Windhoek, Namibia


EDITOR Elzanne McCulloch PRODUCTION & CONTENT MANAGER Le Roux van Schalkwyk PUBLIC RELATIONS Elzanne McCulloch

Khaudumand Nyae Nyae

The Last True Wilderness

VOLUME 32 No 1 SUMMER 2023/24

Aawambo Pottery | KAZA Elephant count | Zambezi Birding N$45.00 incl. VAT

Winter 2023

LAYOUT & DESIGN Liza Lottering CUSTOMER SERVICE Bonn Nortjé TEXT CONTRIBUTORS Pompie Burger, Le Roux van Schalkwyk, Elzanne McCulloch, Helga Burger, Charene Labuschagne, Marx Itamalo, Hilda Basson Namundjebo, Lee Tindall, Kirsty Watermeyer, Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, WWF Namibia

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PHOTOGRAPHERS Elzanne McCulloch, Pompie Burger, Le Roux van Schalkwyk, Charene Labuschagne, Willie Olivier, Marx Itamalo, Hilda Basson Namundjebo, Lee Tindall, Kirsty Watermeyer, Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, WWF Namibia, Ondili Lodges, Abdner Tshikalepo Simeon Travel News Namibia is published quarterly, distributed worldwide via Zinio digital newsstand and in physical format in southern Africa. The editorial content of TNN is contributed by the Venture Media team, freelance writers and journalists. It is the sole property of the publisher and no part of the magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.


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All information and travel details are correct at the time of going to press. Due to uncertain circumstances, this may have changed after the date of publication. Please check businesses' individual websites for up-to-date details.

Namibia Travel News

SUMMER 2023/24 | Vol 32 No 1

Conquering the


Khaudumand Nyae Nyae

The Last True Wilderness

VOLUME 32 No 1 SUMMER 2023/24

Aawambo Pottery | KAZA Elephant count | Zambezi Birding N$45.00 incl. VAT

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Namibia Travel News

SUMMER 2023/24 | Vol 32 No 1

Conquering the


K haudumand Nyae Nyae

Why ethical business, conservation, tourism, people and communities matter. How these elements interrelate and how we can bring about change, contribute to the world and support each other. Whether for an entire nation, an industry, a community, or even just an individual.

The Last True Wilderness

VOLUME 32 No 1 SUMMER 2023/24

Aawambo Pottery | KAZA Elephant count | Zambezi Birding N$45.00 incl. VAT


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WWW.VENTURE.COM.NA or email us at for a curated proposal

stories that matter TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2023/24



30 never looked this good


he smell of rain is in the air as I sit in my office in Windhoek and work through the Summer issue of Travel News Namibia. It’s been a wild ride of a year, the first in which we feel we have found steady footing and returned to a true sense of ‘normal’. The team has been out in the field at least once a month during 2023. Discovering interesting places, meeting new people and finding stories that matter. It has been a year of many celebrations, the most significant of which is certainly the 30-year anniversary of this publication. At a joyful event at Droombos on 1 November, we celebrated 30 years of the Travel News Namibia magazine in style! A remarkable occasion made all the more special because we could share it with our friends and partners in the tourism industry. We would like to thank Hollard Namibia for their generous contribution to this special event, and Droombos for hosting us. We would also like to thank our tourism partners who participated in this special evening. Partners who have supported us and continue to support our goals of sharing Namibian stories across the world. Ongava, Ondili, Journeys, Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Africa on Wheels, FlyNamibia, Wilderness and CYMOT. Your support and the impact you have on tourism in Namibia is invaluable. For the last three decades, Venture Publications, now Venture Media, has been at the forefront of sharing credible, up-to-date, informative and inspiring Namibian travel and tourism stories and news with the world. What started as a thin leaflet that was posted to countries across the globe, is today the multimedia content and storytelling platform we all know and love. Paul van Schalkwyk started Travel News Namibia as a platform for the tourism industry to share their brands and products with the world. Few other publications with a singledestination niche market have enjoyed the success and longevity which Travel News Namibia celebrates this year.


Namibia Travel News

SUMMER 2023/24 | Vol 32 No 1

Conquering the


K haudumand Nyae Nyae

The Last True Wilderness

VOLUME 32 No 1 SUMMER 2023/24

Aawambo Pottery | KAZA Elephant count | Zambezi Birding N$45.00 incl. VAT

Nyae Nyae Pans during an exceptional rain year as seen on our cover look decidedly different from the pictures on page 22. A beautiful example of the contrast and change that our ‘grateful desert’ country undergoes when blessed with rains. Image: Le Roux van Schalkwyk


INSTAGRAM @thisis_namibia

With Rièth van Schalkwyk at the helm for almost as long as Travel News has existed, this beautiful publication has shared Namibia’s story with the world. Rièth built a legacy, a powerful tool that can celebrate success, showcase beauty and advocate change. She has placed it in our care and we are honoured and humbled. In this Summer issue, the last of our 30th celebratory year, we explore a diverse selection of wonderfully and uniquely Namibian destinations. Le Roux goes on a hike in elephant country and Kirsty meets a host of interesting people in Swakopmund, our coastal gem. Hilda Basson Namundjebo takes us with her on a journey into the Fish River Canyon and Pompie entertains and delights with the world’s ugliest bird. Follow our team as they rediscover Khaudum and the Nyae Nyae with Charene’s epic tale of wild adventures into Namibia’s last true wilderness. Along the way we hope you are informed, inspired and fall in love with Namibia. We will continue to dedicate the pages of this publication to this purpose. Here's to another 30 years of inspiring conscious travel, one Namibian story at a time. With love from Namibia,

Elzanne McCulloch @elzanne_mcculloch

Rièth and I on Gerhard Thirion’s Wilderness Land Rover, affectionately known as Kangombe, on one of our annual Ride for Rhinos adventures.



CONTENTS In this issue A HIKE IN THE SHADOW OF BRANDBERG p12 The start of a four-day slackpack hike

PHOTOGRAPHY FEATURE p52 Abner Tshikalepo Simeon: A journey from humble beginnings

THE KAZA TRANSFRONTIER ELEPHANT SURVEY p66 An elephant survey covering parts of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe

BIRDING WITH POMPIE p74 ‘Ugly’ is in the Eye of the Beholder

22 BACK TO BASICS | An untamed adventure in Namibia’s northeast



7 305 Sunsets 340 000 Smiles

Thank you Namibia for 20 years Contact your broker for more information, call us at 061 422 398 or email tourism • home • car • business • life • travel




Podcast While rays of sunlight find their way through the cloudy sky, podcast host Katja sits in an empty bathtub – amidst masses of sand, in the ghost town of Kolmanskop. The remnants of this settlement, believed to have been the richest in Africa at the beginning of the 20th century, are relentlessly claimed by the desert sands. Looking at Kolmanskop today, it is hard to imagine that life flourished here for a brief period during the German colonial era. Kolmanskop is the backdrop to our first podcast episode about Namibia. Namibia: The land of vast spaces, of contrasting landscapes, of desert-adapted elephants, Omajova mushrooms and glorious sunsets. The land of stories galore. In our podcast ‘Namibia hören’ we take a look behind the scenes

of the most exciting places. And we meet people who care deeply about this country. Discover Namibia with us and share our love for this beautiful land. We showcase our unique natural environment and tell you about Namibia’s conservation. We answer questions how charcoal or beer made finds its way to foreign markets. What makes kapana or Zambezi bream so special? Or what role sports, music and politics play here. In short, we take you on a journey through Namibia. Want to join the world of Namibian wonders and beauties? Simply tune in to Hitradio Namibia’s podcast ‘Namibia hören’. No need to worry about missing out because of language restraints – the podcast is a mix of German and English.



Also in this issue 10 BUSH TELEGRAPH News from the tourism industry 18 POTTERY an epitome of Aawambo craftsmanship 20 PANGOLIN CONSERVATION AND RESEARCH FOUNDATION At home under a Bushmanland Baobab

28 KHAUDUM + NYAE NYAE book review 32 “I WILL BE BACK” conquering the Fish River Canyon 37 THE TNN PLAYLIST Dust-stomping Tunes 38 LIVING WILD Sleep-outs and simplicity 40 ICE & SPICE GELATO ARTISTRY Savouring Swakopmund 42 BRIGADOON BOUTIQUE GUESTHOUSE Romantic and authentic 45 NAMIBIA'S BIOMASS Turning Overgrowth into Opportunity 46 ECO AWARDS NAMIBIA sustainable destination management 48 NAMIBIA’S HIDDEN HERITAGE SITES Grave of John Ludwig 51 EMPOWERING THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED Namibia's Groundbreaking Inclusive Training Program

58 IETSIEMEER to do blissfully nothing 60 TREES OF THE NORTHEAST get to know the Peeling Bark Ochna 62 BIRDS OF ZAMBEZI Not another Grey Go-Away 72 CHECKLIST Top 5 Experiences to enjoy in the Zambezi

52 58 74



BUSH TELEGRAPH News from the tourism industry


Le Roux van Schalkwyk

The Hospitality Association of Namibia’s third quarter tourism statistics indicated a 65% occupancy in accommodation establishments, slightly surpassing the figures from the same period in 2019. The growth is credited to increased arrivals from Central Europe, with the German-speaking countries, France and Italy all registering an increase of more than 3% compared to the 2019 levels. Notably, the resilience of online reservations and self-drive options in Namibia’s tourism market was underscored, and this sector emerged as a frontrunner in achieving full recovery and sustained growth. These findings suggest a positive outlook for Namibia’s tourism industry.


The Namibia's Namib, authored by Steve, Sean, and Dayne Braine, is a compelling guide born from the authors' desert guide training experiences. This book complements existing literature on the Namib Desert with captivating photographic depictions of its diverse wildlife. It delves into the country's overview, emphasising environmental concerns and the imperative for sustainable conservation efforts to preserve the Namib's unique beauty amidst global challenges. The authors, particularly Steve's extensive experience and his sons' contributions, offer a comprehensive and visually rich exploration of the Namib's intricacies. Available on order:


During his 35 years in Kaokoland, Koos Verwey left a lasting legacy of passion for Kaokoland and compassion for the Ovahimba. His service to the Ovahimba was selfless; his energy and dedication boundless. He had a deep love and understanding of the people and the environment of Kaokoland. Undeterred by his detractors when taking a stand, he enriched the lives of many. He was a legend, and legends continue to live for generations to come…

TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA CELEBRATES 30 YEARS AT TRAVEL NAMIBIA FESTIVAL At a joyful event held at Droombos on 1 November, we celebrated 30 years of Travel News Namibia magazine. It was a memorable occasion, made all the more special because we could share it with our friends and partners in the tourism industry. The event was attended by a wide spectrum of industry members and partners and focussed not only on celebrating the indelible mark this publication has made, but celebrating the industry itself. We would like to thank Hollard Namibia for their generous contribution to this special event and Droombos for hosting us. Thanks also to all our partners, clients, guests and friends. For the last three decades, Venture Publications, now Venture Media, has been at the forefront of sharing credible, up-to-date, informative and inspiring Namibian travel and tourism stories and news with the world. What started as a thin leaflet posted to countries across the globe, is today the multimedia content and storytelling platform we all know and love. Travel News Namibia was started as a platform for the industry to share its brands and products with the world. Few other publications with a single-destination niche market have enjoyed the success and longevity which Travel News Namibia has. With our eye on the future, we are excited about continuing to inspire conscious tourism by sharing our stories with the world. Here’s to another 30 years of inspiring conscious travel, one Namibian story at a time.

NTB APPOINTS NEW BOARD MEMBERS The Namibia Tourism Board announced its newly appointed board members who will serve a three-year term from 1 November 2023 to 31 October 2026. After interviews and recommendations done by an independent panel that included officials from the Ministry of Finance and Public Enterprises, Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism and members from the private sector, the following people were appointed: Olavi Hamwele, Ally Karaerua, Janette Fourie, Maggy Mbako, Ngivitjita Zatjirua, Efraim Nkoshi and Rachel Nathaniel-Koch. Minister Pohamba Shifeta appointed Janette Fourie as chairperson of the board with Olavi Hamwele serving as deputy chair.

“Given the competitiveness of the sector, it is not the time for Namibia to play small, but it is time for this country – through NTB as its agency in the promotion of its tourism sector and in collaboration with other partners and stakeholders – to take up the promotion and marketing of the country to a higher level and to reposition Namibia as a destination of first choice for leisure tourism, adventure and business appeal. The country can only achieve this with a new mindset and innovative thinking. I would like to urge the Namibia Tourism Board to adopt a new mindset in conducting its business, especially in its marketing and regulatory function,” Minister Shifeta said at the occasion. TNN




BRANDBERG Text & Photographs Le Roux van Schalkwyk

I hear the familiar crunch of my hiking boots on the sand as the sun peeks from the granite koppies behind Madisa Camp. It is the start of a fourday slackpack hike. The first two days will take us down into the Ugab River, and on the other two we will follow the bends of the river course as we make our way upstream. It is the land of desert-adapted elephants, magical landscapes and Brandberg Mountain. Exploring this area on foot is a new experience for me – and I am savouring it.






am fortunate enough to be part of the first group on this new hike called the Damaraland Hiking Safari which will officially start in 2024. It is the brainchild of Kelly Beukes and Claire Whipp. Claire, the owner of Madisa, and Kelly, who has a lifelong love for hiking and making food, teamed up to offer an unforgettable experience in the heart of Damaraland. The first night is spent at Madisa Camp and I get to know my hosts and fellow-hikers Larry Dolley, Alta Bredenkamp and Helga Frielingsdorf. After a hearty meal we retire to our tents and get a good night’s rest.


Our guides for the walk are Jessica Meriam Kharuxas and Karneels Thaniseb. Karneels is originally from a tiny village at the foot of Brandberg. His training from Elephant-Human Relations Aid will ensure that if we run (or rather walk) into elephants we will be able to get around them safely. Jessica, who is also a local from the area, works as a rhino ranger and her extensive knowledge and experience of the region is invaluable. We start the hike by passing the granite koppies behind Madisa Camp, heading in a southwesterly direction. Our first stop is a rock finger formation not far from where we set out. Compared to the Vingerklip, the small rock protruding in the shape of a finger might not be as impressive but it is nevertheless a sight. The route takes us through mopane bushes sprouting new leaves. Karneels and Veronica share intriguing traditional knowledge about the plants we pass and some are worth remembering when in need – like eating the smelly leaves of a shepherd tree to stop a runny tummy. The dry landscape is surprisingly full of life. A couple of Northern Black Korhaans keep us company flying overhead and giving their piercing kraak-kraak-kraak calls. Entering a clump of trumpet thorns we see a Kori Bustard, and a lone springbok taking flight. Our guides point to steenbok pellets and easily identify every animal spoor we come across. At a dry pan Karneels tells us that this place is favoured by elephants when it holds water. That is evident by their rub marks high on the surrounding mopane trees where clay from their backs sticks like plaster to a wall. Our brunch is on a dune under a gazebo. Apart from other tasty treats, Kelly rustles up some flapjacks on a gas stove. A perfect companion meal for the view we have of Brandberg dabbled in purple hues and etched against a blue sky. On the dune we find perfect devil’s claw specimens with their mangled hooked arms protruding from the fruit. When we continue, the sand is more compressed and it is relatively easygoing. We explore the remains of a Decca station – a relic from the past used for navigation by ships and aeroplanes before GPS became available for public use.





We arrive at our camp at lunchtime. Tents, showers and a toilet were all set up by Claire’s husband Brett Leask and their team. As a welcome surprise, foot baths are waiting for every hiker to soothe tired feet. Our camp is situated on a slight rise that dominates an otherwise flat terrain with a 360-degree view of the area. As the day winds down and during the golden hour in which the sun starts setting we watch the horizon turn from shades of purple to blue and finally darken into an orange haze.


After a restful night, we wake revitalised and ready to take on the next day. A quick breakfast of coffee and rusks, and we set off on the next leg of the hike. The day’s trek takes us down a continuous decline, the result of thousands of years of water erosion, until we finally reach the Ugab River. Brandberg is the only constant while the landscape and plant life gradually changes during our descent to the river. Following a twisty jeep track we pass some granite inselbergs along the way. We have a chance to observe the broom-like crowns and reddish-brown stems of endemic Brandberg acacias from up close. A nice tree for hobby-botanists to tick off their lists. At some point, Jessica and Karneels suddenly stop and without saying a word start kicking sand away at a spot where the solid ground has been disturbed. With their boots, they dig out the scat of an aardwolf. “You burn the scat in your house to get rid of any nightwalkers (bad spirits). You can also make a tea of it



to cleanse your innards,” Karneels explains. Quite a handy item to have in your bag, I think to myself. After a slog of 18 kilometres we reach the river at Elephant Rock. Erosion has formed the granite into the perfect profile of an elephant. Fitting for the Ugab, well known for its desertadapted elephants. Shortly after we reach our campsite, cocooned underneath the arms of two massive Ana trees. The highlight of the day comes after lunch when Bennie, an elephant bull, decides to feed on Ana trees on the river bank across from us. Relaxing in our shaded campsite we had the best view of this massive grey beast slowly stripping the branches of leaves above its head.


We set off upstream early in the morning, just as the sun rises behind a koppie and peeks through some light clouds. The next two days the hike takes us upriver and that means walking on sand. The going is slightly tougher than the previous days but it is made easier with the shade from giant Ana trees and occasional leadwoods on the riverbanks. Furthermore, we try to keep to the side of the river where the sand is a bit more compressed. Since the elephants constantly walk up and down the river because this is where food and water is readily available to them, we are constantly on the lookout. To ensure that we don’t bump into them where it might be dangerous for us, our guides circumnavigate a section with a natural spring and where the river is quite narrow.

Unfortunately, we don’t see any of the big-eared beasts but we bump into seemingly the second-most dangerous animal of the Ugab – two Brahman bulls about to brawl. The literal clash of heads happens in the middle of the river. Not risking getting in their way we stand amongst a clump of tamarisk bushes, allowing the fight to end and the moody winner to make his way downriver before we head on.


After going through a difficult period in her life Kelly did the 150 km Camino on the Kunene River and realised she could channel her passion for hiking and her background in hospitality into a new career path. A mutual friend of Kelly and Claire introduced them, and the concept of a slackpack trail in Damaraland was born. “The act of walking allows for introspection and also the sharing of life experiences in a non-threatening fashion. In addition, my love of wildlife, and elephants in particular, made for a wonderful match in creating something unique for visitors to Namibia. Desert-adapted elephants live against the backdrop of Brandberg in Damaraland. Now I can share these loves in a mutual relationship.”

Another shady campsite awaits when we arrive at lunchtime. It has become the norm over the previous couple of days to spend the afternoon relaxing in cool shade and taking a well-deserved nap before we have another of Kelly’s scrumptious dinners.


The last day is another march upriver and the sand works the weary legs, but we are so distracted by the sights and sounds of the river that we are not bothered. In some narrow sections, the canopies of the Ana trees from each side of the river touch, making for fairytale scenes in the early morning light. We also stop to look at huge trees uprooted and deposited along the river banks during the last flood the previous year. Stunning garden ornaments, if only there were a way to get them to your garden – but then you also need a yard of some size to fit these behemoths. The day consists of a short trek of 9 kilometres before we stop for our last brunch under the bulging canopy of a leadwood tree. Driving in the guide vehicle back to Madisa, it feels strange to navigate the last segment of the river at a speed not known during the hike. I realise how much more intimate the experience of this remarkable river was going at a slow pace and how I already miss it. TNN


We covered 68 km in four days. The average per day was around 20 km, but only 9 km on the last day. It is a fairly easy hike, and since you only carry a backpack with water and snacks it is doable for most ages and fitness levels. • • •

The first and last night spent at Madisa Camp is included in the price. Hikers need to bring their bedding, the rest is provided. It is a fully catered hike; you can bring snacks to keep up the energy levels during the hike. It is important to note that this was the first hike and some small details might change when it officially starts next year, but needless to say that will not affect the experience.

Price per person (excluding conservancy fees): N$ 20 000 For more information visit or send an email to




- an epitome of Aawambo craftsmanship Text & Photographs Marx Itamalo

The Aawambo people, a Bantu ethnic group, have been known for their craftsmanship for centuries. From forging iron products and weaving baskets to making pots, drums, bowls and other earthenware from a special type of clay.


had the rare opportunity to visit one of the few Aawambo potters who are still dedicated to the art of pottery. In her traditional basement workshop, known as ondjibololo in the Oshikwanyama dialect, she produces clay pots (eembiya), bowls (omatiti) and drums (iitoo).

Le Roux van Schalkwyk

Ndahafa Nghishiiko is 78 years old. She lives in the village of Okadiva in the Ohangwena Region. Okadiva is about three kilometres from the Angolan border. Nghishiiko is an Omukwanyama and some of her kin live just across the border. Namibian Ovakwanyama and those living in Angola share very strong kinship ties. As a girl growing up in her rural village, Nghishiiko learnt the pottery trade from her mother. Back then, you would find an ondjibololo behind almost every second homestead, she recalls. There were many of them and potters were many, too. Nghishiiko was kind enough to tell us more about the Aawambo pottery process and the significance of pottery in Aawambo tradition and culture.

Aawambo people have been producing earthenware for centuries. Earthenware was an integral part of their lives. Everything a household needed for handling food and water was made from clay: pots large and small, bowls in various shapes for serving meat or milk, plates, basins and even water drums or containers. Pipes for smoking were made from clay, too. People relied on items made from clay and making them was entirely entrusted to women.

in the etiti. Whoever does not own one, male or female, is considered a disgrace and a coward.


DRUM/BUCKET (OSHITOO) The oshitoo is a large round kind of drum. It has many uses: Carrying water or traditional beer, and also to store water used for brewing the beer. The drums are essential items at traditional weddings and gatherings or festivals.

Special clay is used for pottery. It is collected from a pit and taken to an ondjibololo, the basement workshop. This clay is not an ordinary one. It is a rare type, found only near anthills. In the ondjibololo it is mixed with a little water and left to rest overnight. The next morning it is taken out to dry in the sun the whole day. After drying, it is mixed with water once again and left to rest, but this time in the ondjibololo. The potter or potters will then start molding the shapes of the items they want to create. An ondjibololo is constructed according to the number of people who will be working in it. Typically, an ondjibololo could accommodate between two to five people. It is like a trench fortified with four or more pillars and many poles laid flat on top. Branches of trees or blankets are also added. Soil is applied to them provide complete cover against the elements. Inside, a potter can mold as many items as they want at the same time, provided there is enough clay. Creating a clay product can take up to a week from start to finish. The whole process takes place inside the ondjibololo and no product can be taken outside before it is finished, because it would crack if it is exposed to wind. When work on the items is finished, by which time they are black in colour, they are put in a shallow pit filled with cattle dung. The pit is lit and the items are fired overnight to make them strong and give them their red colour. After firing the items are considered ready for use. For a touch of stylishness they can be stained bright red with a local onion-like plant called onzingankelo.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF POTTERY PRODUCTS IN THE AAWAMBO CULTURE BOWL (ETITI) The traditional etiti bowl is held in high regard by the Aawambo people. It is used for serving all kinds of meat. The head of an Oshiwambo household should eat meat from an etiti. When visitors are served, meat should definitely be

FLAT BOWL (OLWIYO) Another type of bowl common in the Aawambo culture is the olwiyo. This one is generally used for serving milk, beans and simple meals. Owning one is also mandatory. Children are mostly assigned an olwiyo for their daily use.

Each homestead ought to have them. Beer should not be carried in plastic or metal containers but only in these drums. When a woman dies, her relatives inherit her drums. POT (OMBIYA) Earthenware pots were traditionally used for cooking porridge or meat or for brewing beer. Today they are less common because clay pots need more firewood to heat. However, they are still found in Aawambo households which keep the traditions alive. According to Nghishiiko it is Aawambo tradition that each homeowner must have an ombiya. “When a homeowner, man or woman, dies, the head and the left front hoof of every animal slaughtered for his or her mourning has to be cooked in that traditional pot – unskinned. Not this thing of today where you skin the head and hooves and you cook in metal pots. It was not like that in the past”. Nghishiiko expects that the craft of pottery will soon die a natural death in the Aawambo community, as many of her generation are about to complete their earthly journeys. “The young people do not want to emulate us. They say we are old-school and that their generation has got nothing to do with clay items. I have a daughter and even she is not interested.” Nonetheless, Nghishiiko says, she produces many clay items. Some of them are bought for weddings, baptisms and birthday parties. “People come here and I sell to them. Others refer me to their friends, colleagues and relatives. This is my craft and I will continue with it until my eyes and legs tell me they no longer can. Right now, I am ok and I will continue.” As our team leaves Nghishiiko’s ondjibololo, I cannot help but think of how magnificent it is that this old lady is not distracted by the kind of civilisation that has engulfed all the layers of Aawambo society. TNN





At home under a Bushmanland Baobab The Pangolin Conservation and Research Foundation’s new base camp Text & Photographs Le Roux van Schalkwyk

Bumpy roads often lead to the best destinations, especially when accompanied by dense bushveld all around and the sight of a baobab in the distance, protruding far above the treeline. This particular jeep track veers deep into the Nyae Nyae conservancy of Namibia’s northeast and leads us to a crescent koppie – in the nape of its bend a quintessential Bushmanland baobab – for the inauguration of the research base camp of the Pangolin Conservation and Research Foundation (PCRF).


ust over a year ago, Travel News Namibia joined a pangolin monitoring expedition with PCRF. In a heavy downpour we ventured into the bush shortly before midnight, the illusive pangolins escaping us, staying safe and dry in the burrow at which we were patiently waiting. We wondered whether these shy mammals, which are heavily trafficked for their scales, might merely be folklore.

Undoubtedly the backbone of the NNPP is the community itself who joined a Namibian braai with song and dance with the donors and supporters of PCRF. The project employs Ju/’hoansi San as pangolin rangers and local custodians of this mammal threatened by extinction. Currently, three locals are full-time employees and a further 11 work on the project part-time, representing five different villages. The research base camp allows the full-time rangers to access material needed to tag and monitor animals in the area. During the launch each of them received a crisp new uniform, including boots and belts, sponsored by WWF, to continue their hard work in the field.

Yet, returning to this rugged corner of the country on 30 September 2023 to celebrate a solar-powered sage green container station, we know for certain that not only are pangolins real and in danger, but there are also a whole lot of people who are rooting for their safeguarding and conservation. The opening of the PCRF base camp marks a new chapter for the foundation’s Nyae Nyae Pangolin Project (NNPP). It has been tagging and monitoring eight or more resident pangolins since its establishment in 2021.

The project employs Ju/’hoansi San as pangolin rangers and local custodians of this mammal threatened by extinction.

Fireside and under a full moon, PCRF’s founder Kelsey Prediger shared snippets of the ongoing research project aimed at developing monitoring methodology, establishing guidelines and informing conservation management planning for the species. The wild pangolins of Nyae Nyae represent the first of the species to be researched in open, communal conservancy land, semi-wetland ecosystems and Kalahari broadleaf woodlands. The PCRF research base camp, set up in a container, provides ample storage for supplies as well as running water, solar-powered electricity and much needed shade from the sweltering sun. Concrete slabs are strategically scattered around the baobab intended for students and conservation professionals to pitch their tents alongside the camp resident’s canvas tents.

Kelsey stresses the integral role that these local rangers play in the NNPP. On one occasion, she was elsewhere in the country on another crucial expedition, when word began to spread among the members of the Nyae Nyae community that somebody local had found a pangolin and intended to slaughter it for a meal. With incredible speed the NNPP rangers were able to track down the pangolin and its captor, mitigate the situation and successfully tag the animal. This story is testament to the fact that PCRF’s presence in the conservancy has fostered a loyal understanding of the vulnerability of pangolins, where otherwise the community might have considered much worse alternatives after finding a pangolin. The Nyae Nyae conservancy and its people are ever more conscious of conserving pangolins. They understand that children of their soil are employed to protect them, and this in turn brings upliftment for everybody. TNN




BASICS An untamed adventure in Namibia’s northeast Text Charene Labuschagne Photographs Le Roux van Schalkwyk

The juxtaposition of Namibia’s landscapes continues to leave me speechless. The northwest, characterised by rocky flat-top and pointy mountains cascading into valleys and then rivers. The deep south, where standing on a hilltop has you overlooking endless stretches of deserted plains. Our coastline, misty and magical, where gemsbok occasionally stroll on the beach. The fingertip of the Caprivi, lined by wondrous waterways, lush greenery and punctuated by rural villages.


nd then there is the northeast. Rugged bushveld, baobabs the size of cathedrals, powdery dust, deep jeep tracks and San communities living so simplistically, it’s almost poetic. “Off the beaten track” may have become a bit of a cliché, but Bushmanland and Khaudum truly is an untapped and untamed adventure unlike any other place.


We began our adventure with a series of baobab camps in the Nyae Nyae conservancy. This splendid and wild land stretches south from the tiny settlement of Tsumkwe to the veterinary cordon fence at Gam. Speckled with pans that flood after good rains, traversing the area involves lazily cruising at low speed through thick vegetation until you grow weary of bushes. Then a baobab pops up into view, and an ice-cold beer in its shade is on the agenda. Colloquially called the upside-down tree, baobabs are centuries old and resemble an intricate tapestry of taproots for branches. Their fat trunks bulge in all directions and on them the texture of folds and lumps tell fables of aeons of existence. It’s not only my favourite tree in Namibia, but seemingly that of elephants as well. Alongside the natural stretch marks of the trees are deep etched lines and crevices, where the dried fibres of the baobab become exposed from regular bum scratches and the occasional razor-sharp slice of a tusk. Standing in the skyscraper-high tree’s shadow and lifting your gaze up to the markings entirely out of reach, the mind inevitably paints a picture of the sheer size of the northeast’s elephants. Along the M113 gravel road, inconspicuous little signs mark the turn into the untamed. These repurposed iron boards are hand-painted and either held up by wooden posts, or nonchalantly propped up against a rock on the ground. Blink, and you’ll overlook the endearing, occasionally misspelt signs to a “campside”. Our first detour from the main road on the Baobab Trail led to Gamsa Pan, where dense bushveld gave way to an open expanse of miraging white sand, and the first of many elephant herds kept us company while we sluggishly crept across the pan’s edge. In this wilderness, elephants have the right of way. Nothing impedes on a holiday like haste and the nerve-wracking consequences of misreading wind direction and distance from a herd, leaving travellers at the mercy of an aggravated twotonne mammal. Take your time, switch off the car engine and give in to the sweat droplets on your upper lip. And at the next pan, where even more elephants await, do it all again in the name of adventure. Setting up camp on our first night, we saw a crèche herd of ellies slurping up what remained of the scarce water in the second



pan we discovered. Around a beautiful baobab the ground is cleared for tents and cars, a long-drop loo and bucket shower within sight, while a built fireplace and braai grid beckons for the company of camping chairs and the smoke signal of a dinner in the making. As dusk fades into night, a near full moon illuminates the treeline where silhouettes of the thirst-quenched elephants move along in a row, with only the occasional huff, puff and branch break filling the otherwise silent evening air. To me, holiday is epitomised by waking up with the sun, taking a moment to stare out of a tent window with sleepy eyes, then hitting the proverbial snooze button until the heat forces you out of the sleeping quarters to make a coffee. This ritual is ideally followed by leisurely reading your book, observing birds around the campsite, and a freshening up for the day. We departed our campsites around 10 or 11 every day, just before it gets a little too hot and you find yourself playing musical chairs to chase the shade around a tree. Trekking through ever denser bushveld on our second day along the Baobab Trail of Nyae Nyae, one would expect the scenery to grow a little tiresome. Yet, every bend into shrub-lined jeep tracks is as exhilarating as the first, every Lilac-breasted Roller a remarkable sighting, albeit a common one, and the preemptive signs of a small village approaching – like a stray goat, dog or row of rustic fencing – a delight. Overnighting at one of the community campsites, you are guaranteed to meet a local. Often, such “manager” is appointed by the village for speaking decent English, and arrives at unpredictable times – sometimes with an entourage – with an invoice booklet in one hand and an activity brochure in the other. The ladies of the village offer guided food foraging excursions, interactive homemaking presentations and the opportunity to buy their meticulously created jewellery and crafts, while the entire group chimes in for dance performances, welcomes and goodbyes. Even if the trail to the demarcated campsite does not pass the village, through the thicket one can always tell roughly where it is, be it from the sound of children laughing or drums at sunset. Our adventure passed through a quaint village of about 80 residents, where barefoot kids played in the sand and elders conversed under a tree. We had passed quite a few rather dire villages at this point, so the sight of this settlement’s thriving vegetable garden was welcome. A gentleman with deep laugh lines and an even deeper frown sat upright on a plastic chair when we asked what they were growing in the garden. “Food for my family,” he said plainly. I urge you to take a moment out of your day to spend with the village headman or embark on one of their activities – not for charity or sympathy, but because there is so much simplistic wisdom and wholehearted respect to be gained from and for the San.






Refuelling in Tsumkwe on both beer and petrol, we set out northwest to the unsung Namibian national park of Khaudum. It’s a wide detour from most self-drive itineraries, leaving you and your convoy to be the only people on a jeep track to seemingly nowhere. Khaudum should never be ventured alone. The soft off-white sand is deeply trodden, so at the very least two cars are necessary to make the expedition from Sikereti in the south, through the park to Khaudum Camp in the northern part, or vice versa. Should you get stuck, disembark, assess, deflate your tires, grab a refreshment, and proceed with a towing manoeuvre. If you’re ever concerned about the elephant population of Southern Africa, a visit to Khaudum will assure you of their bounty. If not through observing large herds at water holes, then the sight of disturbed vegetation lining a beautifully bumpy track with a near-metre-high middleman should convince you. Our group spent the first night camping at Sikereti, where lanky trees and the auburn hue of leaves from winter passed clear to grey sand and concrete slabs for tents to be pitched on. Ideally, we would use this as a base, from which daily excursions to the nearby water holes can be made, before trekking all the way to the only other camp in the park at Khaudum. But we were a bit pressed for time. If you, dear adventurer, have made it this far, try spending a few days in the park, and a few hours at each water hole. The rewards of driving a little slower are spotting roan antelope, giraffes and avians through the shrubbery, and not having to grip the handles inside your vehicle as you bounce along the jeep track bumps. Although the latter is pretty exhilarating, try it with caution. Khaudum’s waterholes all feature a raised viewing deck. In its shade, seated on a bench, perhaps with a prepared sandwich or leftovers, one could easily spend endless time watching the commotion of elephants, kudu and birds. Being the only people at a water hole, with the absence of humming game viewer engines and nowhere else to be, is unlike other safari experiences in the country. It is untamed and all yours.

Journeying to Khaudum Camp, our last water hole stop before retreating to ice-cold beers and dinner was an intimate elephant experience. As I had come to realise in this wild place, you are always in the company of these large mammals, whether you know it or not. From left and right, straight ahead and behind our cars, they approached the water with urgency. Three large bulls on an awkward speed walk – trunks flopping around like pool noodles – came to a grinding halt as they met the master of the elephants already at the water. A few brief displays of resentment, establishing the pecking order, and then passive aggressive approval of the new group to the water. I’m no elephant whisperer, yet quite certain in my conviction that the acceptance of bombastic newcomers is only on the condition of charity. In the dry season, water is rather scarce, and I like to think the elephants condone more mayhem because they know their frenemies are thirsty. The stories we concoct to make sense of the animal world. Perched on the side of a hill overlooking an expansive omuramba (ancient river), Khaudum Camp is the kind of place where I could easily spend a couple of days. The view from there is reminiscent of cheesy movies about Africa. A flat plain dotted with wildlife, a mountain on the one side and dense treeline on the other, not to mention the sunrise awaiting the next morning – fiery pink and canary yellow, painting the day in watercolour. I left Khaudum and Bushmanland feeling completely rebooted. Four days took me right back to the basics of shelter, sustenance and bare feet on soft sand. What more do we need? Perhaps a 4x4 vehicle, a decent camera to capture it all and the occasional shower to wash off the dust. This place surely has wildlife viewing deluxe, cultural connection and a peek into simplistic living, beautiful baobabs and deep jeep tracks. But what is more important in any adventure, is how it makes you feel. Venture to Bushmanland and Khaudum, and uncover these secrets for yourself. TNN


Willie Olivier


Khaudum National Park is renowned for its large elephant population.


haudum National Park has justifiably been described as ‘Namibia’s last wilderness’ and ‘Namibia’s lost wilderness’. It is renowned for its large herds of elephants, packs of wild dogs and one of the largest populations of roan antelope in addition to various other species. Khaudum’s attraction is experiencing true wilderness rather than seeing which species can be ticked off next. The park has a bad reputation for the deep soft sand in the north. Shunned even by intrepid travellers until recently because of the once-dilapidated facilities at Sikereti in the south, Khaudum has seen a steady increase in the number of visitors. Sikereti Camp has been completely revamped, and viewing platforms at most of the waterholes provide excellent game-viewing opportunities. The publication of Khaudum + Nyae Nyae, the first comprehensive book on this fascinating area, comes



at an opportune time. The 108-page hardcover book provides detailed information about the archaeology, early history and the proclamation of Khaudum National Park. The park’s landscape, flora, fauna, birdlife, reptiles and amphibians, as well as its management, are also covered. Useful information about getting around in Khaudum (which is renowned for its deep loose sand in the north), the Khaudum North Complex and the KAZA Transfrontier Conservation Area is included, too. The book also features Nyae Nyae to the south of Khaudum as it is an integral part of the area – ethnologically and from a wildlife perspective. Highlighted aspects include the Ju/’hoansi, the Ju’hoansi traditional authority, the Nyae Nyae wetlands, Nyae Nyae’s monumental baobabs and the demise of the Grootboom and the Holboom, the well-known Dorslandboom, Tsumkwe and the Living Hunters’ Museum of the Ju/’hoansi north of Tsumkwe.

The text is enhanced by over 100 stunning full-colour photographs (sourced from several photographers) that capture the essence of Khaudum and Nyae Nyae. There are also several historical photographs taken by the Marshall family during their research into the Ju/’hoansi during the early 1950s. A Witwatersrand convoy arriving at Cho/ana (Soncana) to camp for the night and the tent of the first Bushman Commissioner, Claude McIntire, at Tsumkwe are among these photographs. The book comes with a very handy Travel Advisory for planning a visit to Khaudum and Nyae Nyae. Information in this section includes climate, getting there, fuel and supplies, best times to visit, money matters, Khaudum ‘twee spoor tracks’, vehicle recovery, communications, accommodation and camp safety. Essential contact details are provided in the directory.

The handbook format makes it an ideal travelling companion and an indispensable guide for anyone visiting the area. Khaudum + Nyae Nyae is written by well-known Namibian author Willie Olivier, who visited Khaudum for the first time in 1990 and has since returned on numerous occasions. He has written several hiking, 4x4 and travel books covering Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and various parts of southern Africa. TNN

Published by Sikereti Camps and Safaris, Khaudum + Nyae Nyae is available for N$695.00 (including VAT) at: • Solitaire Press, 16-20 Brahman Street, Northern Industrial Area Tel 061 311-300 or 311-324, • Book Den, c/o Hosea Kutako Avenue & Puccini Street, Windhoek, • or for N$749.00 (including VAT) at Sikereti Camp, Khaudum National Park.




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Le Roux van Schalkwyk



“I will be back” Hilda Basson Namundjebo sets off to conquer the Fish River Canyon



Our fearless leader, Eric McLaren




ever again!” That seems to be the solemn pledge after a five-day stint of hiking the Fish River Canyon.

That’s what Eric McLaren thought to himself upon completing the extraordinarily challenging Fish River for the first time. For me, this was the prevailing thought that occupied my thinking as I attempted to focus on “just one more step and then another”. Eric McLaren was my guide when I hiked the Fish River this year. Along with 25 other pilgrims, some of them expert hikers, some beginners and a few in the middle, we descended into the mighty Fish in mid-August. In simmering heat it was a slow descent, much slower than what Eric is used to, but true to form this seasoned guide led his flock down a treacherous route. A motley crew scrambling downhill – some of them racing as if they were attempting a Guinness World Record while others are there to slay their fear of heights, and then the soulful ones who want to find themselves away from the clamour of city life. Eric joined his first guided hike in May 2014 on a whim. “A friend asked me to come, so I borrowed a backpack and off we went on an excursion of four nights and five days, crossing a pulsating river, bursting at its seams. I have never seen the river that full since,” he recalls. In contrast, 2023 was a year of extreme drought in the canyon, and I must admit that suited me just fine. Not famous for my love of wet feet, I was grateful more often than not for traversing dry river beds. I am Namibian after all, and we have grown accustomed to flourishing even in dry places. Without any doubt, our group of South African, Dutch, Slovakian and American participants was very well prepared. For weeks before our descent we had exchanged tips on the ideal hiking boots, how much food to carry and how to make that backpack lighter. “Years of careful research on the route, diligent note taking and memorising landmarks became second nature to me,” Eric says. “I wanted to curate an experience for hikers, one that would be most memorable and fulfilling.”

The Fish River experience stretches over a distance of 160 kilometres. We, as Group 230, were able to complete it in 4 nights and 5 days. Every day the troupe set off before the crack of dawn, with Eric’s morning whistle sounding the alarm, and by 06h50 the walk started. At around 11h00 it was time for breakfast and a welcome relief for our weary feet to escape from the imprisonment of our boots. The canyon is difficult to hike and Day 2 proved to be the most challenging. Because that is when the boulders start, interspersed with mountains of white beach sand. The route varies and there are days on which you do 14 km, while on another day you set out to conquer a shorter distance which includes boulder hopping. Eric has now completed 22 guided hikes in the world’s second largest canyon. ”I simply can’t describe the pleasure I get from it, it’s something I can’t get enough of. The tranquillity, the ability to switch off and to disappear,” says the clearly mesmerised guide who turned sixty this year. The best part of the canyon was the end of every day. After pitching your tent for the night, getting a warm meal into your body and then the deafening sound of silence under a dazzling constellation of stars. With water flowing close by, some of us would gather around the fire and compare our battle scars of the day. Would I do it again? An unequivocal yes! I parted with Eric, so grateful for his guidance and leadership. In February I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and on Summit Night I was carried down the mountain on a stretcher with my world spinning. Unable to sleep on my last night in the canyon, I worried whether I would make it or whether vertigo would again thwart my dreams. But luckily, 89 kilometres later, I had conquered – thanks to an exceptionally talented guide. “On the last night of each hike I make a notch in my walking pole. This is the same pole that I first used in 2014, so it has a lot of sentimental value to me,” Eric remarks. The Fish River Canyon will definitely see me again. And, of course, with 'the McLaren' as guide! TNN



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Dust-stomping playlist

o much of this continent’s cultural identity, from South Africa to Egypt, from Tanzania to Nigeria, is rooted in the practice of dancing. But before Africa could dance, its people made music. You only need to hear a church choir sing gospel, their synchronised swaying helping to keep the tempo, and see two hands move like liquid over the stretched hide of a drum, to begin to understand the influence Africa has had on countless music genres. Blues has its roots firmly planted on the continent and in the diaspora, jazz came from blues, rock and roll from jazz, and hip hop from rock and roll. It is said that even samba music, associated with the vibrant culture of Brazil, also derives much of its sound from Africa.

– but whenever I heard a kwaito beat with an aggressive use of the hi-hat, I wanted to dance. So this playlist really is a love letter to my African heritage, wanting to dance to African music but not knowing how, until I rediscovered it in my twenties, with a twist of techno.

This dust-stomping playlist is a medley of Afro house and Afro tech music. Electronic at their core, these two genres have done the heavy lifting in bringing African-influenced music into the mainstream. Ever more European festivals are adding Afro house and tech DJs to their lineups. On the African continent there has never been a glimmer of doubt that Africans love this music and, more importantly, love By Charene Labuschagne dancing to it. The only thing that truly matters about music is how it Travel News Namibia’s makes you feel.

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We cannot claim to be the founders of all music. Its origins are far too complex for that. But one thing is for sure, Africaninfluenced music has a certain je ne sais quoi to get your feet itching to dance. As a child of Namibia I have always had an affinity for tribal, rhythmic and soulful music. Not from exposure to it – my parents almost exclusively introduced us to Pink Floyd and Neil Diamond

Dust-stomping Playlist

On your journey through Namibia, may you find a dune at sunset, or be stirred by the starry night skies. Put on this dust-stomping playlist and feel the soul of Africa, the tribal calls, fast paced rhythms and the instantly recognisable sound of the mbira, and dance like the ancestors would have – transcendental and as if nobody is watching. TNN



The land of sand and freedom

Sleep-outs and

SIMPLICITY Text & Photographs Lee Tindall

Even in the land of sand and freedom, time is a precious commodity and these days it is more limited and precious than ever before. Lately, we have found ourselves with little time to enjoy the land and the environment, and even less to sleep out.


ost recently, though, we packed the car, the kids and the dog and ventured out to connect, explore and sleep under the stars. We had two options in mind. One was a place we hadn’t prepared for at all and we took a huge chance that we would find somewhere to chuck our bedrolls and hang out. We were wrong. What we found were beautiful valleys, places untouched by others in years and perfect hiking routes for cooler days, but nowhere that seemed like a good overnight spot. The temperature when we were ready to settle down for the day was still a sizzling 39 degrees, and eventually we decided to rather go to our ‘Plan B’ campsite. Kids, dog and adults all sighed with relief at some extra time in an airconditioned vehicle. The vastness of the spaces we live in is often forgotten in the hustle of our busy daily lives. While we have less and less time, we still have much more land to protect, visit and learn about. There are different natural nuances here, more spaces that are tucked away from sight and more rocks to lean against. Protecting this is a mammoth task and immersing ourselves in it is the most solid way of remembering who we are and why we do it. We chose the day well. The weather was perfect – hot in the afternoon and lovely and cool in the evening. One of my favourite moments in the day is that moment when the air cools noticeably from one moment to the next. When the heat of the day makes space for the cool, gentle calm of the evening. As evening arrived and we sat together, talking and laughing, I could feel my shoulders relax, the tension in my body melting away and I already loved my family better than I had just a few hours before. The kids have a collection of awfully hilarious (or hilariously awful) jokes which they pull out at any given time, and camping is always one of those times! There is joy in the conversations, but there is also a special contentment in the calm quiet when we all sit in silence,

looking at the skies sparkling with stars and listening out for the barking geckos, howling owls and other nocturnals roaming about. I love an early night (I am known to be showered and in my pyjamas by 18:00 on a Sunday), so camping bedtime is my favourite time, especially because as we all pile into the Christmas bed there are murmurs that become conversations of the type that we only have in the quiet of night, hugged by nature as we settle down. A burst of belly laughter from a small body breaks the quiet, its joy seeping into us all as we fall asleep. As we wake to whispers, giggles and wriggling from the kids, sunrise is upon us. Daylight has suddenly burst across the mountains, crept along the plains below us and heralded a whole new day. The connection to each other, to our purpose and to ourselves is restored and balanced. The signs are all there – we speak more gently, more calmly. We are less frantic packing up the car than we were the day before. We are grounded and rooted together in the land of sand and freedom. TNN

Lee Tindall was born in Namibia. She grew up in some of the remotest parts of the country, living with her parents who were employed by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, in some of Namibia’s most beautiful protected areas. It is here where her love and enthusiasm for nature developed, a passion that she promotes to this day. After spending a magical and memorable time living and working on NamibRand Nature Reserve, Lee and her family moved to the ProNamib Nature Reserve. A new chapter, that will be filled with adventure, growth and conservation. Alongside her position at ProNamib, she is the coordinator for the Greater Sossusvlei Namib Landscape - a NGO focused on large landscape conservation and upliftment. Her 'Living Wild' series for Travel News Namibia shares stories about a life lived differently.



Savouring Swakopmund 40

Victor Naftali


The gelato artistry of

Ice & Spice I

Text &Photographs Kirsty Watermeyer

t’s just another bright and balmy beach day. Salty, clammy breezes caress your skin. Soft and grainy sand trickles through your toes. The air is plump with sunlit rays and the water sparkling with hues of blue. With full hearts and hands holding… an ice cream!

and staff member Victor Naftali, who are the two gelato makers at Ice & Spice. That, and their machine, which they call the “Mercedes Benz of ice-cream makers”.

These vivid expressions are often used to describe time spent at the seaside. After all, were you even at the beach if you did not get sand between your toes and treat yourself to something nice like an ice cream? The sweet dessert is forever entrenched in our beach associations, but in the coastal town of Swakopmund, the honour goes to gelato, the Italian version of the creamy delicacy.

No colourants or preservatives are added and, where possible, they source their ingredients from Namibia. This means their strawberries come from Okahandja, their mangoes from Tsumeb and their chocolate from Namib Belgian Chocolatier. Everything is made at their factory, mere steps away from their retail outlet.

Gelato, as it turns out, is an art. It is not the same as its frozen peers. It has a denser texture because it does not have air whipped into it like with ice cream. This makes for a much more flavourful product and requires special skill to make it. Interestingly, humans have been making frozen desserts for more than 5000 years. Gelato, in particular, has been around since the Italian Renaissance of the 15th century. It is said that a famous artist, architect and a native of Florence, Bernardo Buontalenti, gifted us with gelato when he served this unique version of frozen delight at a banquet for the king of Spain. But it was not until the late 17th century, when an Italian by the name of Francesco Procopio moved from Palermo to Paris and opened a gelato-serving cafe, that the dessert started to gain in popularity across Europe and, eventually, the world. Today you’ll find authentic artisan and homemade gelato – made using both Italian and Namibian ingredients – at Ice & Spice in the heart of Swakopmund.

Edith explains that everything is made fresh and that they pasteurise their own milk in small batches. This means they produce smaller amounts, with fresher ingredients and “lots of love and passion”.

It doesn’t need to be a hot sunny day for streams of people to come in for the mouth-watering and smile-inducing delicacy. “We are very grateful to our clients, both tourists and locals, who support us no matter the weather,” says Edith. She goes on to explain that during the recent pandemic, they were kept alive by the local market who would order their gelato to be delivered to their doors. If you needed any further encouragement to try out their gelato, this is it: Because artisanal gelato is made fresh, in smaller quantities and with a short shelf life, it is loaded with vitamins (such as A and B2) and minerals (like phosphorus), giving you better nutritional intake than a sandwich. Ice & Spice attribute their success to their team, their love, their locally sourced ingredients and their internationally trained expertise. They offer vegan-friendly options and a variety of daily flavours from their list of 120 flavour options. Find Ice & Spice seven days a week in the Atlanta Arcade off Nathaniel Maxuilili Street in Swakopmund. TNN

This success story began in 2014, when Ice & Spice opened its doors. In 2016 two Grootfontein residents moved to the coast and bought the little ice-cream shop. The husbandand-wife duo of Paul and Edith Ströh had always dreamt of becoming chefs but never had the opportunity – one working at a hardware store and the other in insurance. When life took an unexpected turn and the chance to make artisan gelato presented itself, they leapt at the opportunity. Their art is closely guarded through secret ingredients and a mix of Italian imported components as well as Namibian produce. They attribute the success of their consistently delicious taste to the regular training they receive from Italian artisans who travel to Namibia to share their expertise with Paul

Edith Ströh



Romantic and authentically grounded at Brigadoon

ADVERTORIAL Text Kirsty Watermeyer Photographs Kirsty Watermeyer & Ondili Lodges


love how travel makes people feel more in love. How the middleaged couple making late afternoon coffee to counter the chilly air, look at each other so warmly. The way the woman leans over to brush some small irregularity from her partner’s face. Something so unnoticeable in normal life, but in this setting, in this moment, she notices. I love places with history and with people who have grown in it. I found such delights during a recent stay at Brigadoon Boutique Guesthouse in the heart of Swakopmund, Namibia’s coastal holiday metropolis. This well-known boutique guesthouse is now part of Ondili Lodges and Activities, a proudly Namibian company which implements its vision of sustainability and low carbon footprints through its range of low-impact, environmentally friendly establishments. Under the new ownership, Brigadoon has just undergone major renovations. On your arrival you will be met with warm smiles and the kind eyes of the staff, before being handed a pamphlet with all the important information you will need during your stay. In this pamphlet, Ondili Lodges promise to make your stay unforgettable. But truth be told, in this special space it is easy to forget everything other than this present and vibrant moment. Here at Brigadoon, visitors have forgotten everything but each other. It is quiet. It is tranquil. There is the scent of romance in the air. The recent renovations have given Brigadoon a romantic and yet authentically grounded feeling. The style is Provence meets African shabby chic. Royal undertones, rich and beautiful, mixed with wood, stone and neutral colours, finished off with chandeliers everywhere and wicker textures. Heavy white lacquered wooden doors. Enormous clear glass windows to let in the light and the sea breeze. It is beauty and comfort. Above all it is absolute tranquillity. Everything is quiet and peaceful here, except for the chirping of birds and the gentle whisper of the wind in the perfectly manicured garden. It is a topic of conversation, this garden. All of us, the guests, reckon that it must take an expert team of landscapers to keep it looking the way it does. David is that “team”. David Fillemon is the manager at Brigadoon Boutique Guesthouse. He started 20 years ago as a housekeeper. His knowledge of Brigadoon’s history, the exquisite garden and the visitors who come and go, is impeccable. So, too, is his charming smile. After starting as a housekeeper, David soon added gardening to his responsibilities and then went on to conquer the art of hotel maintenance. As time passed he grew into his role as

manager. He attributes his success to his amazing team and the passionate owners he worked with over the years. David and the rest of the staff are often cited by guests as one of the most memorable aspects about staying at the Brigadoon. According to David, “It’s a small place but the team is so amazing that it makes the guests feel comfortable and that adds to the beautiful Brigadoon story.” From the heart-warming smile of Frieda Kapolo, the housekeeper, to the reassuring and helpful manner of assistant manager Linus Nambuli. You will find that the service feels responsive and available, but never intrusive. I am sure that, like us, all visitors to Brigadoon will leave as friends. David says that most of the guests come for leisure, although many come for business, too. All of them love the renovations. According to David they particularly like the new look but also the private terraces. Personally, his favourite part of the renovations is the impressive woodwork. “The new wooden floors, doors and windows. Everything is new. Everything is done well and it looks so beautiful. It is an old house but when you walk in it looks new. It’s fantastic. Mr Hermann Rohlfs, the owner of Ondili, knows exactly what he wants. When guests arrive they ask who did the renovations. They just love the place”, David says. He beams when he talks about the garden, his personal passion project. “This is my job. During the renovations, the builders had to walk through the garden with the cement but I did everything I could to keep it green and alive”, he smiles. “I love seeing it grow. It is beautiful.” The garden exudes an air of tranquillity. Each room has its own personal piece of it through a private patio. That is one of the special features of Brigadoon. Along with comfortable, spacious and well-appointed rooms. Large beds draped in crisp white linen and soft fluffy blankets for chilly coastal nights. Breakfast is scrumptious and extensive. Everything from made-to-order eggs and bacon to fresh fruit salad or hot pancakes. You can choose to sip on endless cappuccinos on cold misty mornings, or enjoy chats with fellow visitors from all over the globe. David says that the feedback he gets from the guests is that they love being within walking distance to town. “Even late in the evening people feel comfortable walking to the restaurants, and it only takes three minutes to get to the sea.” Brigadoon Boutique Guesthouse is a gem, ideally located in the heart of Swakopmund with good security. But what makes it most memorable is not the supreme comfort, the garden or the interior design. It is the love that radiates from the people working there. As David puts it, “I get to meet such great people who come to stay here. It’s really great to be in tourism, it is something that I love.” TNN

Visit the website for more information:



N/a’an ku sê Ecotourism Collection Our Conservation Dream, Your Conservation Adventure Step into a realm where conservation and tourism converge seamlessly - the N/a’an ku sê Ecotourism Collection. Immerse in a world of luxurious lodges and untamed marvels. Visit any of our establishments around the country and experience Namibia's wildlife, landscapes, and culture while safeguarding its beauty.

N/a’an ku sê Lodge

N/a’an ku sê Bush Camp

N/a’an ku sê @ Utopia Hotel

Tranquil accommodation supporting charitable projects in a nature reserve near Windhoek.

A modest and intimate venue in the N/a’an ku sê Nature Reserve, offering relaxation and diverse activities.

A peaceful boutique hotel in Klein Windhoek, ideal for transit, couples, and business travellers.

Rooster & Co. Restaurant

Harnas Guest Farm

Kanaan Desert Retreat

Indulge in delectable treats, barista coffee, and a leafy playground for little ones.

Enjoy a luxury stay while supporting the care of San people and wild animals.

A paradise in the Namib Desert, offering stunning landscapes, starry nights, and delicious cuisine.

Neuras Wine & Wildlife Estate

TimBila Camp Namibia

Experience the romance of oasis with a winery nestled in the Namib Desert's edge.

A riverside retreat for relaxed family safaris and camping.

TimBila Safari Lodge An unparalleled tented luxury in the middle of the Namibian wilderness.


TimBila Private Villa Experience an exquisite luxury hideaway with captivating waterhole vistas, perfect for the entire family

TimBila Farmstead An authentic farm experience, complete with a playground and activities suitable for the entire family



Namibia's Biomass Revolution


Turning Overgrowth into Opportunity

ith 45 million hectares of the country considered “bush encroached”, Namibia finds itself in a unique situation – one which holds the potential to provide revenue and opportunity. And indeed, a dynamic industry is developing around the biomass resource. Here is a summary of what was discussed at the recent Standard Bank Biomass Fair 2023. Under the theme Igniting the Growth of the Biomass Sector in Namibia the three-day Standard Bank Biomass Fair showcased biomass technology as well as field demonstrations to promote the booming biomass sector in Namibia. Implemented by the Namibia Biomass Industry Group (N-BiG), the Charcoal Association of Namibia (CAoN) and the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), this event brought together stakeholders from all over the globe to network and exchange best practices and knowledge on bush control and biomass utilisation. Nelson Lucas, acting CEO of Standard Bank, said, “Our commitment to this event and the larger cause it represents stems from a deep belief in the transformative power of sustainable energy solutions and the pivotal role the biomass industry plays in shaping a greener future.” N-BiG estimates that 1.5 billion tonnes of biomass are standing on bush-encroached land in Namibia and 30 percent of this biomass could be harvested sustainably. These estimates do not include the annual expansion of bush-encroached areas nor the regrowth in harvested areas. Regrowth of woody biomass alone is estimated at more than 10 million tonnes annually. Currently, only two million tonnes of biomass are removed in Namibia per year.

As Environmental Commissioner Timo Mufeti pointed out in his speech on behalf of the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, “Government, as the regulator, is yearning to work with the industry to ensure the bush biomass resources are exploited in a responsible manner to achieve rangeland restoration while safeguarding environmental wellbeing.” Dr Colin Stanley, NUST’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Partnerships, emphasised in his keynote speech that Namibia’s biomass sector can create thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of revenue in the country, tackling climate change and creating a vibrant future for all Namibians. He highlighted innovative projects like that of SteamBioAfrica which is working on a sustainable biomass fuel. “SteamBio’s torrefied new fuel is likely to ignite the domestic fuel energy market,” he said. According to the Head of Marketing and Communications at Standard Bank Namibia, Magreth Mengo, biomass is a sector that contributes a lot to Namibia’s GDP and holds lots of opportunities. About Standard Bank Namibia choosing to support the Biomass Fair, she said, ”The event brings together expertise to share knowledge and research, which helps people to tap into opportunities that are still to come.” Echoing these sentiments, Nelson Lucas noted, “Namibia, with its vast landscapes and unique biodiversity is a prime example of a region that can benefit immensely from biomass energy. By harnessing the power of organic materials, we can reduce waste, generate clean energy and promote rural development.” TNN



The spectacular dune vista presenting itself to our guests in different subtle hues as the light changes throughout the day is a photographer’s delight! Situated on the edge of Swakopmund, it is only 3.5 km from the centre of town or from the beach. Quiet, spacious and beautifully appointed chalets with a view like none other and immersed in a unique natural setting. +264 (0) 64 406 236 | +264 (0) 81 149 4979

Above sand and tamarisk bushes bordering the Swakop River, nine wooden bungalows and two luxury villas stand on stilts with interlinked wooden walkways. The tamarisk merges into phragmites reeds, beach and sea, and in the distance the sensuous sand dunes of the Namib Desert lie seductively along the road to Walvis Bay and the west. +264 (0) 64 400 771 | +264 (0) 64 400 711 |




he travel industry once again accounted for more than 10% of the global economy in 2023. In Namibia, sustainable destination management is becoming more important than ever. Eco Awards Namibia is the only certification program for rating sustainability in Namibian tourism establishments. It is an NGO partnership of twelve organisations, representing the private sector, civil society, parastatals, tertiary institutions and the government, including the Namibian Tourism Board. They have come together to form an alliance which promotes, supports and facilitates the development of responsible and sustainable tourism in Namibia. The Eco Awards Namibia program was introduced to set international standards of excellence in the industry and to make Namibia a destination of choice for environmentally conscious tourists. It strives to consider the true cost of tourism in the country and aims to provide guidance for local tourism businesses to manage their resources sustainably.

ACCOMMODATION ESTABLISHMENTS 1. Ai-Aiba Lodge 2. Alte Kalköfen 3. Andersson’s Camp 4. Avani Windhoek Hotel & Casino 5. Bayview Resort Hotel 6. BüllsPort Lodge & Farm 7. Canyon Park Fish River Lodge 8. Eningu Clayhouse Lodge 9. Etendeka Mountain Camp 10. Gondwana Canyon Lodge 11. Gondwana Canyon Roadhouse 12. Gondwana Canyon Village 13. Gondwana Chobe River Camp 14. Gondwana Damara Mopane Lodge 15. Gondwana Desert Grace 16. Gondwana Etosha King Nehale Lodge 17. Gondwana Etosha Safari Camp 18. Gondwana Etosha Safari Lodge 19. Gondwana Hakusembe River Lodge 20. Gondwana Kalahari Anib Lodge 21. Gondwana Kalahari Farmhouse 22. Gondwana Namushasha River Villa 23. Gondwana Namushasha Lodge 24. Gondwana Namib Desert Lodge 25. Gondwana Namib Dune Star Camp 26. Gondwana Omarunga Epupa Falls Lodge 27. Gondwana Palmwag Lodge 28. Gondwana The Delight 29. Gondwana The Desert Grace 30. Gondwana The Desert Whisper 31. Gondwana The Weinberg 32. Gondwana Zambezi Mubala Lodge 33. Grootberg Lodge 34. Hakos Guest Farm 35. Hoada Campsite 36. Hobatere Lodge 37. Camp Doros 38. Jackalberry Tented Camp 39. Kazile Island Lodge 40. Little Ongava 41. Meike’s Guesthouse Swakopmund 42. MTC Dome Hotel 43. Mushara Lodge 44. Nambwa Tented Lodge 45. Namibrand Family Hideout

46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74.

Neuras Wine and Wildlife Estate Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge NWR Dolomite Camp NWR Naukluft Camp NWR Olifantsrus Campsite NWR Onkoshi NWR Popa Falls Resort NWR Sossus Dunes Lodge Okonjima Lodge Ongava Lodge Ongava Tented Camp Onjala Lodge Riverdance Lodge Serondela Lodge Shipwreck Lodge Villa Margherita Wilderness Damaraland Camp Wilderness Desert Rhino Camp Wilderness Doro-Nawas Camp Wilderness Hoanib Camp Wilderness Kulala Adventure Camp Wilderness Kulala Desert Lodge Wilderness Little Kulala Lodge Wilderness Serra Cafema Wolwedans Boulders Camp Wolwedans Dunes Lodge Wolwedans Dunes Camp Wolwedans Private Camp The Windhoek Luxury Suites

TOUR OPERATORS 1. Abenteuer Afrika Safaris 2. Damarana Safaris 3. Matiti Safaris 4. Pack Safari 5. Sense of Africa – Tourvest Destination Management 6. Ultimate Safaris TOWNS 1. Oranjemund SCHOOLS 1. !Garibams Secondary School 2. Ambrosius Amutenya Primary School 3. Oranjemund Private School

All details regarding the program, including the criteria, the Good Practices Handbook, the process for application and the names of current Award holders, can be found at www. or obtained from the Project Coordinator, Hazel Milne, by emailing



Namibia’s hidden heritage sites

Grave of John Ludwig Text & Photograph Le Roux van Schalkwyk

We comb through travel guides, blogs, websites and do internet searches for interesting things to do and see when visiting another country. But even while travelling through our own country, we often try to find new activities or unknown places. Sometimes these fascinating obscurities can be found right under our noses. You might unknowingly pass it en route to the next destination on your itinerary or it might in fact be close to where you are staying for the night.


riving down Willemien Street in Windhoek’s Ludwigsdorf suburb you will notice an old graveyard with an impressive mausoleum that might seem a bit out of place among the high-walled modern houses. The graveyard is the last resting place of John Ludwig, one of the colonial pioneers, after whom this luxury suburb is named. Hauptmann Curt von Francois chose Windhoek as the site for a fort in 1890. The first German settlers who arrived in the fledgling capital were the Nissen-Lass family in 1891 and John Ludwig who settled in Klein Windhoek in 1892. More settlers followed suit from 1893 onward. Ludwig was born in Mergenscheid in the Simmern district of Germany on 3 April 1857. He trained as a baker in London, after which he went to work in the USA and the South Pacific before settling in South Africa. He became a policeman in the Cape Colony and later acquired a farm in Griqualand West. While he was travelling in neighbouring German South West Africa his farm was expropriated. This prompted him to rather move to the German colony. He was back there in 1887 and served as a driver for the Schutztruppe for five years. In 1892 he settled in Klein Windhoek and started a restaurant which he called Luwigslust. He planted extensive vineyards and orchards around it. Ludwig was the first person in the Windhoek area to produce wine and tobacco. He is considered the founder of Klein Windhoek. Apart from farming and running his restaurant, Ludwig played a substantial role in the early days of business in Windhoek and he was popular among fellow colonists. When he died on 27 February 1913 after a stomach operation, he was the first to be laid to rest in the Klein Windhoek Cemetery – which is part of today’s Ludwigsdorf suburb – and a small mausoleum was erected around his grave. His wife Lida and their children Angela and John are buried next to him. The only other graves are those of the Hӧpfner family and another ten adults and children. It is the mausoleum that makes the Klein Windhoek Cemetery remarkable. The site was proclaimed a national monument in 1967 not only for its historical significance but also for the architectural charm of the mausoleum. According to the Namibia Institute of Architects index it is rated as a class A building with a grading of 85 and termed an exceptional monument with regard to architectural quality and style. TNN Visit the Venture Media offices to get your own copy of the Namibian National Monuments map to ensure that you don’t miss any of these historical sites.




Empowering the

Visually Impaired A Groundbreaking Inclusive Training Programme


here are around 32,000 Namibians who are visually impaired. These individuals face many challenges to find stable employment, such as ignorance, social stigma and limited access to educational programmes. Employers that strive towards inclusion are not commonplace. However, one company in the business of rejuvenation is rewriting the script. Nomad Wellness Homestead is a sanctuary of relaxation in the capital city of Windhoek. It is not purely focused on tranquillity, though, as it also has an ethos of inclusion. Mariane Akwenye, the founder and director of Nomad Institute, explains that it was during a training session that she had an “aha” moment after their head therapist asked her trainees to close their eyes and be in tune with their bodies. She then thought to herself, “What happens to the visually impaired ladies and would this not be the perfect career for them?” After researching and finding out how few training programmes there are for the visually impaired, she felt compelled to act. Mekeliwa Hamunyela, a trainee at Nomad, says, “Receiving training in this field is quite exciting. I was always one of those disadvantaged people, not able to do anything but wait for someone to provide for me, but now I see that disability is an ability. We are all human and able to move and do something with our own hands.” Adeline Serakoane, the head of training at Nomad Institute, notes, “These women have so much that they want to achieve in their lives, so it is a great opportunity for me to actually have an impact in their lives and make sure that they become the best therapists out there in the industry.” This programme is offering hope and a future to many Namibian women, such as Miriam Kamberipa, a trainee at Nomad. “This is not a field that I ever would have thought of. Sitting at home, no one would help me with anything, but coming to this training I now know that not only working here

at the spa, but wherever I will be, this (training) will help me put bread on the table,” she says. The programme aligns to Debmarine Namibia social investment pillar Accelerating Equal Opportunity. Debmarine Namibia, is committed to accelerating equal opportunity, through economic inclusion and the support of diverse voices, we can help empower every individual to take meaningful action, to help shape the future of our communities and societies. Akwenye says of the support she has received, “I feel deeply humbled and honoured. It makes me realise that we can all make a difference.” Looking at the impact that this support has had, she explains, “It has enabled us to train multiple women at the same time and have several new entries throughout the year. We are immensely grateful.” On behalf of Debmarine Namibia, senior manager Stanford Isaacs says, “In a world that often underestimates the capability of visually impaired individuals, it is our responsibility to provide opportunities for empowerment. We believe that everyone deserves a chance to excel, despite any physical limitations they may face. It is through initiatives like this that we make a tangible difference.” By sponsoring the programme, Debmarine Namibia enables the participating women to pursue careers that emphasise human connection and healing. TNN To watch the video, visit:



Photography Feature: Abner Tshikalepo Simeon

A journey from

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS PHOTO F Abner Tshikalepo Simeon's work as a guide for Wilderness takes him around the country. Along the way he captures exceptional photos of the incredible landscapes, wildlife and people he encounters. Equally remarkable is his career.






e was born in the small village of Okambembe in the Ohangwena Region as the second youngest in a family of seven. He grew up at Mount Etjo Safari Lodge, where his father was a chef and his mother worked in housekeeping.

Abner attended the lodge’s own little primary school and later went to Otjiwarongo for high school. Unfortunately he failed grade 10 due to health issues. Financial constraints thwarted plans to complete his schooling and prompted him to embark on a quest for employment in 2010.



Abner’s first job was as a general labourer in the small mining town of Uis. Since he was only 16 and therefore underage, no one would employ him permanently. Only odd jobs were available to him at that stage. Eventually he moved to Swakopmund, doing much the same and whatever casual work he could find. In 2012, a visit to a friend employed at Erindi Private Game Reserve, turned into a job opportunity as a general worker. “Growing up on a lodge, I have always loved nature and spent lots of time in the bush, just enjoying the outdoors. During my time at Erindi I realised that the only way to live out my passion for the outdoors was to become a guide,” Abner says. He immersed himself in this new role by accompanying experienced guides on drives, until he was lucky enough to have Amarula sponsor his guide training course – which he successfully completed in 2014. “I always wanted to work for Wilderness and I was very lucky to join the Wilderness family in 2015. I have been with them since then,” Abner says. He worked at various Wilderness camps in Damaraland for three years and in 2018 did a stint at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp. Since 2019 he has been part of the Wilderness Explorations team. After ten years in the hospitality industry he is as happy as ever as a tour guide. Abner's venture into photography started around 2016 while working in Damaraland. Initially he used his phone’s camera. Encouraged by the regular inclusion of his photos in the company’s newsletters, he started investing in cameras and an iPhone to improve the quality of his images.



Growing up on a lodge, I have always loved nature and spent lots of time in the bush, just enjoying the outdoors.


“In 2018, Olympus partnered with Wilderness, and as a result we had Olympus equipment in most of the Wilderness camps. That's when my passion for photography really took off. A lot of my images were sent around the world. Ever since, I have been hooked on photography,” Abner says. “The Skeleton Coast, with its wildlife in that harsh untamed land, is my favourite place in Namibia. I will always take pictures there, depending on what catches my eye. For me, photography is art, and it expresses how I feel and what I love doing. I love taking all sorts of photographs, from landscapes and wildlife to culture. The one shot I still want to capture is that of my favourite animal, the honey badger, fighting a black mamba. I believe that shot will be my winning ticket to the hall of fame,” he chuckles. Abner shoots with two Olympus E-M1 bodies because he doesn’t like changing lenses in the field. One body is equipped with a 12-40mm lens for wide angles, and the other has a 40-150mm with a 1.4x teleconverter, which he mostly uses for wildlife photography. TNN

Abner Tshikalepo Simeon



Ietsiemeer Do blissfully nothing at

Text & Photographs Charene Labuschagne


each holidays on our coastline look a little different. The Skeleton Coast did not earn its name for being a sunny swimmers’ haven. It is called that way for being majestically moody and predominantly overcast, with the cold Benguela Current ruling the restless waters. Sure, the sun comes out and the wind takes a break every so often, but loving our coast includes indulging in its almost constant cooler weather. Going for beach walks here means wearing a sweater and sensing how the baby hairs around your face curl from the crisp moisture. It is a different kind of Namibia from the dry interior, a welcome respite and utterly magical in its own right. We are rightfully proud of our distinctive coastal towns. In the deep south, Oranjemund and Lüderitz are quaint time capsules of the diamond rush. Then comes Walvis Bay, our charismatic harbour town, and Swakopmund, which could be an old town forklifted from the countryside of Germany and dropped on our coastline. A little further north, the small settlement of Wlotskasbaken intrigues with its iconic water towers and wood cabins. But Henties Bay, an angling haven and self-proclaimed retirement destination, receives little acclaim. As a frequent holidaymaker in this tiny town, I can testify that there is not much to do in Henties Bay. And that is a good thing! Enter Ietsiemeer Beach House, the very best place on our coastline to blissfully do nothing. This family home sits in the southern part of the town’s residential area, overlooking the sea. Turn into the quiet cul de sac and you’ll instantly notice a tower at its end, protruding from the surroundings like a proverbial lighthouse. The stone tower acts as both an impressive double-storey foyer and a water container inspired by the traditional woven baskets of the country’s north. Step through the giant front door into the courtyard and a 180-degree view of the Atlantic Ocean through floor-to-ceiling windows awaits.



Ietsiemeer’s six sea-facing and four courtyard rooms are finished with desert sand hue screed floors, rounded open shelving and rich wood textures. Minimalist decor rarely feels so warm and welcoming! The most recent addition to the home is two first-storey rooms with balconies, overlooking the courtyard and offering a sea view beyond. With crisp linen and the sound of the Atlantic, a good night’s rest is guaranteed, but this beach house is much more than just a place to rest your head. Operated on a self-catering basis, booking Ietsiemeer means exclusive use of the entire house during your stay, making it absolutely ideal for bigger groups over longer stays. The magnum opus of the home is definitely the kitchen, dining and living spaces, created especially to connect with the ocean view as well as friends and family through cooking meals in the courtyard braai area or expansive kitchen, sharing stories around long teak wood tables, or sunken into cosy sofas. Our coast’s wind met its match with Ietsiemeer, constructed around an open-air centre space, allowing for shelter and quiet relaxation away from the predominant element, yet still embracing the outdoors.

With crisp linen and the sound of the Atlantic, a good night’s rest is guaranteed, but this beach house is much more than just a place to rest your head. While horse riding on the beach, angling excursions and a few quaint restaurants are at your disposal in Henties Bay, Ietsiemeer is the kind of place where you would want to isolate a little. In its cosy embrace, at your group’s pace of cooking, reading, beach walks and late fireside nights, the cocoon of this beach house is a quintessential holiday experience, perfect for recuperating after days on the road, and staying still for long enough to experience precisely how peaceful our Skeleton Coast can be. TNN

September 2017

Meet the Peeling Bark Ochna Getting to know the trees of the northeast In this series we explore the beauty of trees with our beloved local nature-enthusiasts and authors, Helga and Pompie Burger. Each with a unique voice and opinions on how best to identify the trees of the Kavango and Zambezi, Helga and Pompie help us through the tricky trials of identifying northeastern Namibia’s most iconic flora.


ekkerbreek or “easy break”. This is the enjoyment the tree provides throughout the many months of our dry climate as the branches snap so easily. If I had to name the seven wonders of the botanical world in terms of God’s creative feats the Ochna pulchra would be included. Similar to the Ochna cinnabarina, the Ochna pulchra undergoes a metamorphosis from bare to sporting yellow flowers and then clusters of pinkish to expressive red Mickey Mouse faces with large black ears. Go and see for yourself! - Helga Burger I can understand where the “real” name of the Mickey Mouse tree comes from. Those who changed the name have no idea of trees (comics and movies). Maybe Ochna is the Latin name for Mickey. If you see the fruit of this tree you will have no doubt in your mind that this is it. Needless to describe it, if you know Mickey you will know. The flowers which cover the tree in yellow much later than its younger brother. They are spectacular but unfortunately disappear quite soon. - Pompie Burger

Kidney shaped berries are attached to a persistent calyx


March 2019


December 2020

September 2019

In summer the entire tree is covered in yellow green flowers

Leaves are spirally arranged and terminally clustered on new shoots



AFRIKAANS: Lekkerbreek

• Covered with yellow flowers in summer

GERMAN: Buschveld-Platane

• Thick papery strips flaking off to expose cream coloured under bark


• Shrub or single stemmed tree

LOZI: Munyeleyele

MAP GUIDE Tree density in various areas

Where to find Peeling Bark Ochna Trees in the northeast

Main road













Fruit season Flower season Leaf season

DRINK & DRIVE • A small deciduous tree with a short trunk • In summer the entire tree is covered in yellow green flowers • Flowers are arranged on a terminal spray and drop off soon after appearing

STOP & STARE • The fruit is almost as spectacular as the flowers (Mickey Mouse variant) • Kidney shaped berries are attached to a persistent calyx • Berries turn from green to aubergine when ripe

TOUCH & TASTE • Leaves are spirally arranged and terminally clustered on new shoots • Leaves are leathery and pale green turning red in autumn • Leaves are elliptic with a prominent central vein

DOWN UNDER • Looking at the trunk from the bottom you will see multiple scabs • Bark peels in papery strips

This article is an extract from The unbearable beauty of trees: 56 magnificent trees of Kavango and Zambezi written by Helga Burger, published in 2020. To order The unbearable beauty of trees, contact Bonn at

• Crown is sparse



Text & Photographs Elzanne McCulloch

Not another GREY GO-AWAY

Pompie Burger

Grey go-away-bird

As our skipper slowly turns the boat toward the dock along the bank, a flutter of wings catches my attention in the canopy of the adjacent Ana tree. My brain-eye coordination is still set on “bird spotting mode”, even though our water adventure has come to an end for the day. There, in the lofty canopy, I see the characteristic mohawk-style wispy crest of a Turaco. And I get so very excited. The sun’s incessant glare means my feathered friend is silhouetted against the bright sky, but I know that silhouette, and in the Zambezi Region there is a bird with a similar outline that tries to outsmart me on each visit. The Schalow’s Turaco.


n Wednesday mornings our good friend and resident birding writer and photographer, Dr Pompie Burger, visits our office. Like clockwork, Pompie reminds me it is midweek when he saunters in with his sling bag flung over one shoulder and a delightful goeiemôre. We are not sure if he comes just for the coffee (ours is pretty great) or for the conversation (which is even better), but by hook or by crook, Pompie is there every Wednesday morning. The other days of the week he spends elbow deep in a surgical ward fixing old lady hips or other orthopaedic issues, but when he is not being a surgeon, or drinking coffee and keeping us from work at the office, he is an avid ornithological photographer. Pompie has become my birding spirit guide over the past 10 years, and I am his editor and the bane of his existence, because I keep insisting he cannot swear so much in his stories. It was on a trip to this very part of the Zambezi River where Pompie first tried to introduce me to Schalow’s. This was the trip on which I would tick off this lifer. He had guaranteed my first spotting. Yet, despite hours of searching, and Pompie swearing by his Roberts that he heard the bird and I should just keep looking in the tree canopies overhead, there was no bright green Turaco to be found. With a sore neck (that the orthopedist didn’t even offer to help fix) and a broken heart, we headed back to Windhoek with a camera roll full of pink Carmine Bee-eaters, but no Schalow’s Turaco. How disappointing.

African Fish Eagle

It was one of those moments in life when serendipity intervened, reminding us that nature always has a way of surprising us when we least expect it.

It was not until a few years later, when I was once again sitting on a deck overlooking the Zambezi, that the tides turned. On a trip completely unrelated to birding I was lazing on a couch with one of the lodge owner’s five dogs, a Great Dane, chilling with its head in my lap. Engrossed in a book, I didn’t notice the visitor until the Dane gave a soft ruff before going back to his doze. There, right in front of me on the deck bannister, sat Schalow’s. Staring at me. He had just appeared out of nowhere, and sat casually out in the open with a hey-what’s-up? facial expression as if I hadn’t been looking for him for years! The cheek. It was one of those moments in life when serendipity intervened, reminding us that nature always has a way of surprising us when we least expect it. As the Turaco flitted off to the adjacent tree canopy, I jumped up and grabbed my camera – to the Dane’s great annoyance. I had just enough time with this most beautiful Turaco to capture a few shots that have definitely made it to my most-loved list, proving that delayed gratification is always the best. But the moment was over all too soon and with a flash of verdant feathers he was off again to elude another overexcited birder. And I have been looking for him again ever since.

Carmine Bee-eater



Schalow’s Turaco

Pompie loves this story. Every time he comes for a coffee after one of my visits to the Zambezi he asks if I saw Schalow’s. The answer is usually no. We only met that once. So, when on the aforementioned boat heading towards the dock, I see the outline in the Ana tree that looks very Schalow-eque, I get incredibly excited. I point it out to my guide and he peers up against the glare, looking none too impressed. And his lack of conviction rings true, and my excitement disappears, when our angle changes with the drifting of the boat and I see that the long-fringed feathered friend above is not bright green and glorious, but a dullest shade of grey… Kwê. The call sounds from above and my heart sinks below. Just another Grey Go-away Bird. Probably the most aptly named bird of them all. Perhaps it is because they are a rather common species throughout southern Africa, or perhaps it's their irritating squawk, but the Grey Go-away has never been very high on the list of birds to see while on safari. With a sigh, I watch the Kwêvoël (in Afrikaans), as it continues to perch in the tree, its slate-grey plumage blending in with the surrounding branches. To be fair, it is a beautiful bird in its own right, with a unique charm. But it is no Schalow's Turaco.



As another wonderful trip to the Zambezi Region comes to an end, I marvel at my list of avian friends that I encountered. It is that special time of year when thousands of Carmine Bee-eaters migrate to the banks of the Zambezi to breed and they can be seen flitting across the sky in flashes of bright pink and orange, with dazzling turquoise feathers in their wings. Along the riverbanks walk Yellow-billed Storks and Goliath Herons, their long legs reminiscent of a ballerina en pointe as they navigate the waters in search of a fresh meal. Overhead an African Fish Eagle calls from a jackalberry tree’s lofty branches, and on a single reed extended over the water perches the diminutive yet colourfully striking Little Bee-eater. A Purple Heron darts between the brush along the bank. Blink and you’ll miss it. The Zambezi is alive with winged marvels and certainly every birder’s wonderland. I hope you are lucky enough to tick off the lifers of your dreams. So, with a sense of contentment and gratitude for the Zambezi and its avian residents, I left the dock that day, knowing that every bird, even the humble Grey Go-away Bird, had its own story to tell, and that the world of birdwatching was filled with moments of serendipity and wonder. Perhaps, one day, Schalow's Turaco will choose to grace me with its presence again in the most unexpected of places. I know I will always be back for another trip. Another cruise on the river in search of new species. Just not another Grey Go-away, please. TNN

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The Kavango-Zambezi transfrontier

ELEPHANT SURVEY Text & Photographs Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism and WWF Namibia





The first flight to begin an elephant survey covering parts of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe took off from a dirt strip in Zimbabwe on 22 August 2022. The survey area, known as the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA), hosts over half of Africa’s savanna elephants, which underlines the importance of the survey.


lmost a year later, after careful analysis and peer overview, the results of the survey were shared by the KAZA member states. The elephant population for the region was estimated to be a staggering 227,900 and confirmed numbers from previous counts held in each of the five countries. The survey also showed that populations were growing in some countries and declining in others, but remained stable over the whole region. Previously, regional elephant surveys have aggregated results from separate surveys. The KAZA survey was the first to use a coordinated and synchronised flight plan that follows aerial survey standards developed by MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants) under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Coordinating the elephant survey across borders was challenging, but worth it: “The KAZA-wide elephant survey brought the five partner countries together. It demonstrated the need for us to work together and to learn together. It reinforced the rationale of why we value the Kavango-Zambezi TFCA,” Kenneth /Uiseb, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Environment Forestry and Tourism said. The survey was conducted from August to October 2022 during the dry season when most trees are bare, thus



maximising visibility. It covered 60% of the KAZA TFCA’s 520,000 km² and focused on areas in the landscape where elephants are known to occur. Pilots and observers flew 67,000 kilometres of transects, nearly twice the circumference of our globe. Dr Russell Taylor, the transboundary conservation planning advisor from WWF Namibia, who has been flying in this region for decades, commented on the importance of synchronised flights for establishing strong baselines and increasing our understanding of elephant cross-border movements and dynamics. He had already stressed this need at a meeting of the KAZA Conservation Working Group held in Calais, Angola, in 2011: “We knew that an aerial survey would help to identify gaps in our knowledge of the area, and allow us to safely survey areas that had been land mined during Angola’s civil war. Twelve years later, for me this survey was an aspiration come true.” /Uiseb added that without collaboration it would have been impossible to pull off such a complex survey. “Donors provided the funding, partner countries gave the necessary permissions and civil aviation authorities approved the aircraft used in the survey to fly in all the different countries. The people who participated were nominated by partner countries and needed training, so the survey team used this opportunity for capacity building,” he said.




2016 AESR

















227,900 (±16,743)

The results of the coordinated KAZA elephant survey in 2022 compared with surveys held in 2014-15 for the same area, as shown in the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) African Elephant Specialist Report (2016 AESR). Estimates of the other large wild herbivores seen during the KAZA TFCA aerial survey.

Botswana accounted for 58% of the elephant population, Zimbabwe for 29%, Namibia for 9%, and the remaining 4% of elephants were found in Zambia and Angola combined. The surveyors also found an estimated 26,641 (±1,645) elephant carcasses, or 10.47% of the live elephant population. This suggests a high level of mortality, which warrants further investigation as a potential warning sign for the health and stability of the elephant population. Namibia’s Zambezi Region has been described as the sword that cuts through KAZA, or as the key that unlocks its full potential. This pivotal landscape links the KAZA countries and provides the corridors for wildlife to move from one country to another. Namibia’s total land contribution to the KAZA TFCA includes parts of Kavango East and the Zambezi Region (12,345 (±2,519) elephants), as well as Khaudum National Park and the Nyae Nyae Conservancy (8,745 (±3,009) elephants).



Spatial distribution of live elephants (bulls and family herds) and livestock observations in the KAZA TFCA survey area during the 2022 survey, overlaid on a human settlement density map created from the Open Buildings dataset (Sirko et al, 2021).




The KAZA survey team maximised the opportunity provided by the elephant survey to count as many other large animals as they could see, including livestock. “We have identified wildlife corridors based on their utilisation with data mainly from collared elephants’ movements. This survey provides us with another layer of information,” /Uiseb said. “It gives us a snapshot of how the elephants and other wildlife are distributed, a view of communities and their activities, and how settlements and livestock are distributed.” Decision makers can use this information for conservation planning and for working with the local communities to create space that can be used by wildlife without affecting livestock farming. The size of the domestic livestock herd in the surveyed area was estimated at 736,426, of which 73% were cattle and 24% sheep and goats. When combining the number of elephants and all other large herbivores counted, the ratio is 1.16 wild herbivores per domestic animal. The survey also pinpointed human settlements and mapped the distribution of livestock and wildlife (see map).


All five partner states will use the results of the survey as a source of information when implementing the Strategic Planning Framework for the Conservation and Management of Elephants in the KAZA TFCA. This framework aims “to ensure the long-term survival of the species, with the vision that KAZA’s elephant population is conserved for the benefit of both people and nature within a diverse and productive landscape.” Ongoing monitoring and research will play a vital role in assessing the conservation status of elephants in the KAZA TFCA. By continuously evaluating population

trends, addressing key threats and promoting sustainable conservation practices, the partner countries and stakeholders can work towards ensuring the long-term survival of the species. One result that warrants further investigation is the overall carcass ratio of 10.47%. “Several factors are likely contributing to the somewhat elevated mortality we’re observing,” KAZA Elephant Survey coordinator Darren Potgieter said. “Factors such as ageing populations, improved sampling methodologies, disease, environmental conditions and poaching could all be at play here.” Looking forward, /Uiseb noted, “The landscape is changing. We are experiencing climate change, an increase in human population, an increase in livestock, an increase in elephants, and a lot of investment in conservation and community development. All this is taking place in a concentrated area, so you need to understand through repeated surveys the relationship between wildlife and livestock to see which of the two is increasing in number and what this increase means for the other.” Surveys allow us to build information bases that can be used in future research and to make predictions, model populations, create early warning systems and predict the impact of climate change on this dynamic system. The KAZA partner countries are committed to keep monitoring and conserving the elephants and wildlife in this, the largest transfrontier conservation area on earth. TNN First published in the 2023 issue of the Conservation and the Environment in Namibia magazine. Visit



Discover the

TOP 5 EXPERIENCES to enjoy in the Zambezi Region The Zambezi Region, a lush and vibrant wilderness in Namibia, beckons adventurers with its abundant wildlife and captivating landscapes. If you are planning a trip to Namibia, don't miss out on the must-do activities that this region has to offer. Here are our top five recommendations for unforgettable experiences in the Zambezi Region.





It is no surprise that game drives top our list of must-do activities in this African paradise. With the possibility of encountering the Big Five and a plethora of other fascinating creatures, a slow cruise through the bush is an absolute must. While the dense foliage may present a challenge, spotting incredible wildlife is all the more rewarding. For the best wildlife sightings, head to Bwabwata, Mudumu or Nkasa Rupara national parks. Keep your eyes peeled for African wild dogs, elusive leopards and majestic lions. And during most seasons you can expect to encounter a delightful family of elephants during your drive. Other game include red lechwe, impala, kudu, bushbuck, tsessebe and even the elusive sitatunga. Be ready with your camera to capture breathtaking moments.



Nothing tops a sunset boat cruise. Whether you are on the Zambezi, Kwando, Linyanti or Chobe river, this is always the most aweinspiring way to experience the region. Cruise along the winding waterways, past lazing pods of hippos and observing families of elephants on the banks. Drink a toast to a day filled with thrilling activities and to your good fortune to be in such a remarkable place. Most lodges and camps offer boat cruises, making it easy to experience this breathtaking activity.

3 4


Walking on the wild side finds its true meaning in the Zambezi. Guided nature walks present a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with nature. Led by experienced guides, these walks allow you to explore the bush and discover the hidden wonders that lurk behind every tree. The exhilarating feeling of being so close to the surrounding wildlife is awe-inspiring.


Where there are rivers, there are fish, and the Zambezi's intricate waterways are no exception. Tiger fishing is a popular activity in the region. Known for their muscular bodies and razor-sharp teeth, tigerfish provide a thrilling challenge for freshwater game fish enthusiasts. Most lodges promote catch-and-release policies to ensure that the tigerfish continues to thrive. Ask for advice at your chosen lodge or campsite to find the best fishing spots. Most accommodation establishments in the region offer this exciting activity and guides are well-equipped to help you make the most of the adventure.



While the Zambezi Region is renowned for its wildlife, it is also a haven for bird enthusiasts. The area boasts a colourful array of bird species, from shy waterfowl to proud birds adorned with stunning plumage. You don't need to be an avid birdwatcher to appreciate the avian wonders that call the Zambezi home. The best times for bird watching are early in the morning and late in the afternoon when these winged beauties are active, perched or gracefully fluttering among the treetops. Of particular interest are Slaty Egrets, Hartlaub’s Babblers, Greater Swamp-warblers, Chirping Cisticolas and Swamp Boubous. Other noteworthy species include Coppery-tailed and Senegal Coucals, Wattled Cranes and Rosy-throated Longclaws. The much-loved African Fish Eagle, Carmine or Little Bee-eaters, Woodland or Pied Kingfishers and Goliath Herons are always favourites. TNN

Woodland Kingfisher

The Zambezi Region is a truly spectacular destination waiting to be explored. Visit our website to get inspired and embark on your journey into the heart of this enchanting region:



‘Ugly’ is in the eye of the beholder Text & Photographs Pompie Burger

According to a dating website, Britons are the most ugly people in the world. Under the top ten most ugly people there are two women. Yes, you have guessed correctly, both had plastic surgery and Botox “surgery”. But obviously Google does not know everything and as a result does not rate the Marabou Stork under the top ten of ‘ugly’ as one would expect. Looking at the various names given to this stork I would differ: undertaker bird, old man in tailcoat, grim reaper, money in the bag around their neck and dreck bird. An African legend says that God ran out of animal parts and used left-over bird parts to make Marabou Storks. Unfortunately their habits do not improve their image.






heir scientific name Laptoptilos cruminifer comes from Arabic murabit, which means quiet – one of their least unfavourable habits. The only sounds they do make is bill clapping and a sort of grunting uttered from their gular sac during breeding. By contrast, most ugly people are very vocal, see Donald Trump. The other positive habit of marabous is that they often wash their food in the water. One can add that they tend to wait patiently for other carrion eaters (vultures) to finish their meal at a kill before they take over for their daily bread. That means they are extremely patient. Unfortunately the reason for this habit is not because they are nice, but because they cannot eat carrion that has not been cut into small edible pieces, which are usually leftovers from the vultures. Having probably the biggest bill of all birds also puts them at the top of this list. It can measure up to 35 cm. This again fits into the greater scheme of the lesser aesthetically pleasing human ones having the biggest mouth. Marabous use their large bills to snap at each other, i.e. they are ill-tempered when there are differences to be settled. Their wingspan is the widest of all land birds, four meters from tip to tip, putting them in the same category as flamingos and pelicans. The various albatross species have the largest, of more than four metres. This indeed enables marabous to glide on thermals up to 13,000 feet high. Fortunately they have a very graceful flight. What one would not expect is that their feathers are used by humans for dress making! Marabous dry their wings by standing in full sun with their wings spread out. The throat sac underneath a marabou’s neck is another feature of their exceptional appearance, and this is indeed just to add to their beauty. The sac can be retracted and when in full swing




Marabous have small beady eyes which are very strong, enabling them to see carrion from very high in the air and at great distances.




it can be up to 45 cm long. The fact that the sac is pink does not really improve its beauty. Apparently they can retract the sac at will or when necessary. Fortunately they have this sweet habit of feeding their chicks with only fresh meat – how charming is that! The adult’s diet often includes pieces of metal, shoes and, yes, poo. A relatively new ecological/ evolutionary habit is to hang around at garbage dumps and around human settlements eating hand-outs. One of the Marabou Storks’ exceptionally sophisticated habits is to defecate on their legs, giving them a white appearance. Apparently the reason is to cool down by urohidrosis, since they do not spend that much time near water. The other two stork species that share this habit are the Openbill and White Storks. My rugby coach used to tell us when you sustain a sprain you must urinate on the injured part, which now makes sense to me, because I saw an ad on TV advertising this wonderful skin product that contains urea. Another marabou way of regulating temperature is by keeping their bill open and tongue out. Marabous have small beady eyes which are very strong, enabling them to see carrion from very high in the air and at great distances. Their head and neck is devoid of any feathers. This is not for avoiding the need to comb their hair each morning, but to prevent blood and pieces of meat from sticking to the head when digging into a carcass. They are indeed very aware and particular about their appearance. Here are a few interesting facts about Marabou Storks. They are gregarious but can sometimes be seen solitary. They breed in colonies on top of trees, mostly in areas north of Namibia. They are seldom, if ever, found breeding in Namibia. They lay a clutch of up to three eggs. The young chicks take four years to reach maturity. Young, subadult birds have a smaller bill and downy feathers on their head and neck. They have black upper parts and white under parts. Marabous can reach a height of up to 1,5 meters and weigh up to 9 kilograms. In contrast to the rest of the stork family they fly with their head pulled in. Their lifespan is about twenty-five years but in captivity they can reach over forty years. A very interesting feature of some of the Marabou Storks is a reddish mass at the base of its neck. I tried to look for the function or meaning of this, but even Google did not come up with any satisfying solutions. On closer inspection one can also see red rings around the base of its legs which is not mentioned in any of the literature I have gone through. These colour changes might be related to breeding adaptations. Despite being part of the stork family, marabous do not bring babies, except perhaps the odd politician. They also do not have any natural enemies, which puts them in a totally different category from most politicians. Couldn’t they just as well be classified as vultures? Apparently their new scientific name is Politiciana vulgaris. TNN




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Namibia Travel News

SUMMER 2023/24 | Vol 32 No 1

Conquering the


Namibia Travel News


SUMMER 2023/24 | Vol 32 No 1

Conquering the


Khaudumand Nyae Nyae

The Last True Wilderness

VOLUME 32 No 1 SUMMER 2023/24





Khaudumand Nyae Nyae

The Last True Wilderness

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VOLUME 32 No 1 SUMMER 2023/24

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