Travel News Namibia Autumn 2021

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Namibia Travel News Conscious the List Namibia’s most responsible lodges eco - community - conservation WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS The adventurous COAST Fresh air for the fear: Travelling in a COVID world Discover the Zambezi N$45.00 incl. VAT R45.00 incl. VAT VOLUME 29 No 1 AUTUMN 2021


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Elzanne McCulloch, Pompie Burger, Le Roux van Schalkwyk, Gail Thomson, Lee Tindall, Helga Burger, Rièth van Schalkwyk, Kelsey Prediger


Elzanne McCulloch, Pompie Burger, Le Roux van Schalkwyk, Paul van Schalkwyk, Lee Tindall, Helga Burger, Rièth van Schalkwyk, Kelsey Prediger

Travel News Namibia is published quarterly, distributed worldwide and produced solely on Apple Macintosh equipment. 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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Venture Media is the pioneer of Namibia tourism promotion. We are the leader in spreading the tourism word around the world. We distribute accurate, credible, up to date and regular tourism-related information on paper, in social media, on the World Wide Web, and on mobile apps. We have reached hundreds of thousands over almost three decades. Be part of our community and let’s do it together.

In 2021, we're focussing on telling and sharing STORIES THAT MATTER across our various magazines and digital platforms. Join the journey and share your stories with audiences that understand and value why certain things matter.

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.

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

21, we're focussing on telling and sharing STORIES THAT MATTER across various magazines and digital platforms. Join the journey and share your ries with audiences that understand and value why certain things matter.


t hat matt
W I N D H O E K | N A M I B I A Afrocentric
ethical How th tribute
T E L L , G R O W , S H A R E O U R S T O R Y W I T H U S I N 2 0 2 1

Honest travel and stories that matter.

It’s a daunting task stepping into the shoes of your mentor. For 28 years this letter has been written by the same extraordinary woman. A woman who, over the past 7 years, has taught me about the importance of living your truth. Not saying or writing one thing and existing another. Of being truly in love with life and with the world around you. They say that people with fresh eyes see things differently, sometimes more clearly… How then does Rièth to this day make everything she sees, hears and experiences seem like she’s living the moment for the very first time? There is no old news for her. No ‘been there, done that’. Every visit to any destination, though she has been there many times, seems like the very first. Every tree and bird and rhino and person seem new and exciting and undiscovered. Time and again she has shown me what true lust for life looks like. For adventures and for people. Sometimes it seems that she has met every person who comes across our path on our travels, or if not them she has met their mother. “Who are your people?”, she is prone to ask. And then more times than not she knows some of that person’s relatives. Remembers them from somewhere, somehow, many years ago. I may be three decades her junior, but Rièth teaches me on a daily basis how to be excited about the past, the future, and every second in between. When she or I are not out on an adventure, we’re in the office with our wonderfully inspiring team planning the next story to tell. And though I wi ll be attempting to fill her shoes (mine leaning more toward vellies and sneakers than her ever-present heels) she will always remain our compass. This issue is dedicated to Rièth, Travel News Namibia ’s Editor in Chief for the last almost three decades. You are everything we hope to be one day.

This last year has been a tough one. We’ve had to buckle down the hatches and make real survival plans. Resilience became the newest buzzword. COVID came at a time when the tourism industry in Namibia started to lose its shine for me, if I’m being quite honest. It was a scary notion for me to imagine operating a business in an industry that I had lost faith in. The size and scale and scope of the industry and some of its players was starting to rub me the wrong way. We were starting to lose focus of what makes Namibia one of the top global destinations. We were starting to chase dollar signs at the expense of what makes us unique. We were starting to lose our purpose. And then everything stopped for a beat. The beat became two and we had this wonderful opportunity to take a step back and reassess what is truly important. In life and work and relationships. In our relationships with each other as an industry and our relationship with our country itself. With nature and the way we were treating it. Treading not so lightly, extraneous hustling for that bigger Euro or US dollar tip.

Rieth and Elzanne in Damaraland during Venture Media's RMB Ride for Rhinos

I travelled a lot in 2020. Despite all odds. I was able to visit our clients and tourism friends all across the country and my misgivings were echoed by many of them. My travels gave me a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with what I now think of as honest travel . I rediscovered why travel matters. Why stories matter. People’s stories. Destination stories. Nature stories.

That’s what we will be attempting to do this year. Share stories that matter. You’ll find this issue, our first since COVID hit, to be filled with stories of purpose and hope. One of the most important in Namibia being the stories of communities who live alongside nature. Beguiling tales of fairies in the desert. The not to be overlooked north-eastern wetlands. The adventurous coast. And a list of lodges that we found to have retained the true purpose of Namibian tourism, and that know that what we do, say and how we act matters and that we should always be conscious of that.

I hope that you will find value in what we share. I hope that you will look, as Rièth does, with shimmering eyes at the beautiful natural wo rld around you. And most of all I hope that we can welcome you to our spectacular country soon. There are so many stories waiting for you.

Stay safe.

With love from Namibia,

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.
@namibsky | @wearewilderness ON THE COVER Elim
after the desert had an extraordinary bout of rain. Captured by our Director of Content and Production (and 'Photographer in
Schalkwyk SUBSCRIBE Visit to subscribe to our digital publication on Zinio or to order physical copies of the magazine. See p60 for our SUBSCRIBE AND WIN competition. FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM @thisis_namibia 5 TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA AUTUMN 2021
Hot air ballooning over the desert with Namib Sky during our visit to Little Kulala. See p58.
Dune near Sesriem
Chief') - Le Roux van


In this issue


Why the wet and wild northeast is worth exploring THE WATERHOLE PARADE p30

Lockdown in a national park


A collection of photographs from the rainy season


Namibia's most responsible establishments

A blue wildebeest enjoys the lush greenery along the edge of the Etosha Pan.

The next generation

We have always needed the wild. Now more than ever - for its energy, its inspiration and a sense of hope for the future of our planet. This is why Ongava exists - ecotourism for the next generation.

Namibia at its best.

Ondili Maeumbo originates from the Ovambo language and means: I am at home. Feel yourself at home. At home in Africa, the cradle of humankind. In five of Namibia's most impressive landscapesthe Kalahari, the Namib, the Erongo Mountains, the northern Damaraland, the Etosha Region - and in the capital Windhoek our hospitality awaits you. Within the infinite vastness of Namibia's bizarre landscapes you can experience the comfort and convenience of modern lodges. Inspired by the deep love of African nature, we offer our guests a unique experience. At every lodge Ondili offers characteristic short to multi-day activities to make your visit a most memorable experience.

 •  • 
Kalahari Red Dunes Lodge KALAHARI Teufelskrallen Lodge KALAHARI Desert Homestead Lodge NAMIB - SOSSUSVLEI Desert Homestead Outpost NAMIB - SOSSUSVLEI Hohenstein Lodge ERONGO - DAMARALAND Etosha Oberland Outpost ETOSHA Twyfelfontein Adventure Camp TWYFELFONTEIN

Also in this issue

10 FAIRY CIRCLES Are Namibian Fairy Circles Euphorbia Tombstones?

14 MOVING GIRAFFE In the Land of Sand and Freedom

22 THE ADVENTUROUS COAST Sea, sand, sun and lots of fun

24 MEET THE MOPANE Getting to know the trees of the northeast

27 CAMPING DIARIES Get kitted for your next adventure

28 COMMUNITIES, CONSERVATION AND COVID A good time to rethink before we restart

44 SLOW AND STEADY The interminable resilience of the people of the ≠Khoadi-//Hôas Conservancy

46 IT'S ABOUT TIME Namibia's only scheduled passenger airline

56 FRESH AIR FOR THE FEAR Safe travel through Namibia

58 WELLNESS IN THE DESERT at Little Kulala

62 BIRDING WITH POMPIE The life of birds in trees

70 MEET THE PANGOLIN An elusive creature

76 THE VIEW FROM HERE An ode to camping

28 16 48

Are Namibian Fairy Circles

Euphorbia Tombstones?

Fairy circles in the Namib Desert have fascinated people for centuries – from Himba traditions to more recent scientific theories, we have formed numerous different explanations for how these enigmatic circles of sand came into being. Several recent theories revolve around competition among plants or termites, or both. A scientific study this year went back to one of the original theories for fairy circle formation, and found some compelling evidence to support it.

Text Gail Thomson Photographs Paul van Schalkwyk

Fairy circles have several features that must be explained by any proposed cause – they occur at regular intervals, often they are almost perfect circles (although some big ones are more oblong in shape), the centre of the circle is totally bare, whilst it is ringed by denser stands of grass than the immediate vicinity. Water also behaves strangely in the circles – it disappears rapidly from the surface, only to settle at a greater depth and maintain higher soil moisture than it does in the rest of the landscape. The circles also seem to appear and disappear over time, although how long the circles actually last is debatable. Finding a cause that explains all of these strange qualities has had scientists scratching their heads for decades.

The leading theories thus far have relied on causes that are invisible to the casual observer – tiny, nocturnal termites living under the circles, or unseen competition among grasses living on the edge of the circles. By contrast, a theory that was initially proposed in the late 1970s involves a very conspicuous group of desert plants – Euphorbias.

These large succulent bushes are the ultimate desert survivors, often the only green thing to be seen in the red desert of western Namibia. Euphorbia stems and leaves contain milky latex, from which they have earned the Afrikaans common name melkbos – “milk bush”. These bushes are critically important for black rhinos and other desert-dwelling herbivores that can eat these plants without suffering ill effects (by contrast, the latex is extremely toxic to humans). Importantly, as far as fairy circles are concerned, Euphorbias have a circular growing area.

Despite their dominant presence in the desert and the early theory, Euphorbias have largely been overlooked in the search for the “fairy” that causes strange circles in the desert. Professor Marion Meyer of the University of Pretoria in South Africa, along with three of his students, recently revived the Euphorbia-fairy circle theory with some thorough investigations. They wanted to find out if Euphorbias could answer the most vexing fairy circle questions: Why does water behave so strangely in the circles? What prevents plants from growing in the circles? Why are fairy circles so regularly spaced in the environment?

The first two questions involve the soil, and the answer came from the characteristic milky latex produced by every species in the Euphorbia plant genus. The researchers ran numerous tests on the behaviour of water in soil laced with Euphorbia latex, and found that water disappeared quickly through the soil, or skimmed over the top (the latex-infused soil itself becomes hydrophobic and thus repels water – either forcing it further downwards or across the surface of the soil). Water that went down into the fairy circle seemed to follow paths that might have been made by the root system of the now-dead Euphorbia plant. The dense grass growth on the edge of the circle is caused by water moving across the surface of the soil. Just like the lush grass you see on the edge of tar roads – because water moves over the tar road it effectively waters the grass next to it. Yet in the centre of the fairy circle, water settles so far down that it is out of reach for the roots of small grass plants.

In another experiment with latex-coated soil, the scientists found that grass seeds did not germinate when very limited water was provided (simulating the usually limited rainfall in the desert), but managed to do so when more water was available. In unusually wet years, one can find a few young grass plants trying to grow in the centre of fairy circles, but they soon die due to the lack of water for their shallow roots. The influence of water on germination may also explain why fairy circles don’t occur in wetter areas, even though Euphorbia species grow there.

Finally, the research team found that the soil chemistry created by a dying Euphorbia bush interfered with the bacteria found in grass roots that are important for growth. In short, grass plants don’t stand a chance in the centre of a fairy circle, but have a great time of it at the edge.

To figure out why fairy circles are so evenly spaced in the landscape (rather than bunched together), the researchers mapped populations of Euphorbia bushes in three different parts of Namibia and compared these with sites where there were mixed live bushes and circles, and sites with circles only. They found that areas where the bushes were struggling to survive showed similar spatial patterns to fairy circles. The pattern is therefore a result of the bushes competing with each other for water in suboptimal habitats.


One of the strongest pieces of evidence the scientists found for their Euphorbia-fairy circle theory was their ability to predict where else fairy circles could occur. The previously known fairy circle distribution is limited to a strip of land running parallel to the Atlantic Ocean from south-western Angola through western Namibia and into north-western South Africa. By applying their theory of ideal conditions for fairy circle formation (amount of rainfall, altitude, grassland species and soil type), they predicted that fairy circles could occur further east – across southern Namibia and into the Kalahari Desert in South Africa. Following their model, they studied these areas on Google Earth and, lo and behold, found previously unknown fairy circles!

Although fairy circles are well known in the sandy parts of the Namib where grasslands predominate, Prof. Meyer and his team noticed a similar phenomenon in rocky parts of the desert. Instead of grass-ringed circles, they found sandy circles surrounded by rocks. Following careful investigation, they concluded that living Euphorbia plants in rocky deserts trap sand that is carried in the air during windstorms; this sand accumulates underneath the plants over time. When a plant dies, it leaves a circular layer of sand on top of the rocky substrate that has very similar chemical characteristics to the sand found underneath living Euphorbia bushes.

A large portion of the Namibian strip of fairy circles occurs far from living Euphorbia bushes, which casts some doubt on this theory. The scientists, however, postulate that these areas could be Euphorbia graveyards, where conditions are no longer suitable for live bushes. If this theory is correct, extensive fairy circle formation could reflect past climatic changes that made Euphorbia plants die off entirely in this area. Given that climate change models predict that Namibia will become even drier in future, this finding is cause for some concern. If Euphorbia bushes die out, there will be almost no food left for black rhinos and desert-adapted antelope in the Namib Desert.

Given the nature of scientific discovery, there will no doubt be many more studies on fairy circles in future which will either strengthen or weaken this theory with new evidence. Termites are associated with fairy circles and it is possible that they are helping to maintain them by killing off any grass that manages to survive in the inhospitable soil. Or perhaps the termites are just capitalising on the high moisture content enabled by the dead Euphorbia root system? For now, let’s accept that nature’s fairies come in surprising forms.



In the land of Sand and Freedom

Back in June 2014 we got a call from a colleague asking whether the owner of our then workplace and home would be interested in purchasing three giraffes that were living on NamibRand, in an area that wasn’t the best place for them to be. The best solution at the time was to relocate them. A deal was done and the move needed to be planned. We spoke with experts and game capture vets. We researched best practices for building a boma and, as we did and do with most things, unleashed our enthusiasm onto the project.

Text and Photographs Lee Tindall

Murray started building the boma according to the specifications we had received, in the perfect spot. Shaded, surrounded by trees and with soft sand allowing for poles to be dug in easily. I left the manual labour to Murray and his team – i.e., one other guy, and dealt with the admin, keeping contact with the vet, communicating with the NamibRand team and making sure we were ready in every way. Finally, it was all systems go!

July 14th dawned. I packed snacks, cameras, nappies, milk and sunscreen – all the things necessary for a day out in the sun with a two-year-old, on the back of a bakkie. We met with the team from NamibRand, a passionate group of people, and a friend. This was not the lean and mean team the vet had hoped for! When he saw us and two-year-old Connor he raised his eyebrows, muttered something and said we can’t be slowed down. I think he let us pass because he knew my dad and had met me when I was the same age as my son, in Etosha, essentially doing the same thing, and I told him that Connor was an easy laidback kid. I can report that Connor was indeed the perfect model of a bush kid.

The vet briefed us, giving us a rundown of how this would go, managing our expectations and asked that we all cooperate with him and his team. Everyone piled into various 4x4 vehicles. Connor’s eyes were bright and his excitement levels were high. Not only an adventure, but also the fact that he was on the back of a bakkie

We had been told that once the giraffes were found, the vet crew would go ahead, dart them and then run in with two long ropes to ‘lasso’ each giraffe so it wouldn’t fall over and injure itself. Essentially the ropes are a way to guide it more gently into a lying position. Giraffes are huge animals – imagine being three metres tall, a little drowsy and suddenly collapsing. The goal is to guide the animal in its woozy state into the truck, with minimal disruption or panic.

The first giraffe was darted, and started running. As soon as it showed signs of slowing down and staggering, people with ropes and the athletic ability of Frankie Fredericks leapt off various vehicles and ran after it. Connor thought he could join in and was slightly bemused when I wouldn’t let him off the car.

While the unsung athletes were doing their thing, we were following in the cars. Bouncing over rocks and around trees,

as fast as we safely could. The giraffe was brought down, the truck and trailer got as close as they could. The giraffe was given a dose of medicine that reverses the first batch of drugs, then it was blindfolded and led into the trailer. Success.

As we know, nothing is ever the same and when catching the remaining two we had a few hiccups. One of them was that the baby giraffe, after coming down hard, had no heart rate. Giraffe CPR looks a little chaotic. While one guy is at the head, listening for breath and being cautious to avoid injury to himself or others, another larger and substantially heavier person bounces on the giraffe’s chest doing compressions. We waited and watched with bated breath and hearts racing. When the vet sighed with relief and the guy at the head jumped away we knew that this baby would be alright.

After this excitement we headed home, with three beautiful giraffes peeking out over the top of the truck. Murray and I drove ahead of the convoy to make sure the boma was ready, the road was clear and all the gates were open for smooth access. Remember – minimal stress for the animals!

The truck arrived late in the afternoon. The goal was to get the giraffes comfortable as soon as possible. The boma was inspected and tweaked. But then, on the shortcut about 100 metre from the boma, the truck got stuck. Not a little bit stuck, not even medium stuck, it was properly dig-for-days stuck!

Feeding 15 people in a hurry was not on the agenda, so our dear friend helped me cook 5 kg of mince and endless bags of pasta, while the team dug and dug. Eventually, what felt like years later, the truck was no longer stuck. By then it was dark and cold and the giraffes were released - into our spectacularly well-built and over-researched boma.

After a debrief, some much needed cold beverages and food, the vet looked at Connor, high fived him and remarked about how amazing this kid had been all day. I almost exploded with pride.

The next morning, while Murray and I were having coffee and a chat, he suddenly raced out of the house mid-sentence. Murray isn’t a runner. When he runs things are not right.

The giraffe had broken out of the boma, and were now loping off into the dunes, back to where they had come from, leaving us all in the dust! TNN



It’s time to explore the

Namibia as a travel destination has become known for cliché phrases such as ‘wide open spaces’, ‘desert vistas’, ‘rolling dunes’ and ‘desertadapted’, to name but a few. Yet, in the country’s oddly shaped north-eastern arm is a wild, natural playground that is surprisingly accessible considering its largely unspoilt wilderness. It is an area that contains winding waterways, wetlands, floodplains, forests, grasslands and the host of wonderful creatures big and small that inhabit these different ecosystems. Le Roux van Schalkwyk delves deeper into what makes this corner of Namibia unique and a must-see during your visit.

The Zambezi Region derives its name from the legendary Zambezi River. The river forms the northeastern border of the region, starting from Katima Mulilo. From here it flows southeast to the tip of the country and Impalila Island, its easternmost point. It is the rather unique intersection of four countries: Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. This is also the point where the Chobe flows into the mighty Zambezi. The Chobe straddles the south-eastern border of the region along with its preceding rivers, the Linyanti and Kwando. Two of Namibia’s five perennial rivers are found in the Zambezi Region, known for large populations of elephant and buffalo which congregate along these waterways during the dry winter months. Furthermore, thanks to the varied habitats, it is rich in other wildlife that includes leopard, lion and the endangered African wild dog. The lush vegetation and plentiful water attracts a myriad of bird species while the rivers harbour plenty of life that includes crocodile and hippo.

The region isn’t only a wildlife haven but it is also rich in culture, the heritage, traditions and customs of several ethnically different tribes. Most of the area is communal land which is dotted with villages and farms where the majority of the population are subsistence farmers.

The western Bwabwata National Park is the dry arm of the region and covers a stretch of more than 150 km between the Okavango River and the western bank of the Kwando River.


The park is unusual in the sense that most of the 6 274 km2 that it covers are zoned as a multiple use area. Three sections are designated for special protection and controlled tourism: the Kwando, Buffalo, and Mahango Core Areas. This means that 4 055 km2 of the park are designated for sustainable community-based activities such as tourism, and they contain the settlements of the local people.

Even though Bwabwata is a sanctuary to 35 large game species, including sitatunga and Chobe bushbuck, tsessebe and numerous small-game species, large numbers of animals congregate along the Okavango and Kwando riverbanks due

Nkasa Rupara National Park, the largest wetland area in Namibia that has conservation status, is a natural haven for wetland species.

Originally known as Mamili, it was proclaimed a National Park just before independence on 1 March 1990. In 2012, the 320 km 2 park was renamed after the two Kwando River islands in its boundaries: Nkasa and Rupara.

Nkasa Rupara is situated where the Kwando becomes the Linyanti River. The two rivers form the western (Kwando) and the south-eastern (Linyanti ) borders of the park and create a

to the lack of surface water throughout most of the park. The well-known Horseshoe Bend in the Kwando Core Area is popular among visitors. This u-shaped lagoon with its white beach on the western bank is a favourite drinking and bathing spot of elephants and attracts massive herds between midday and late afternoon.

Mudumu National Park is one of the lesser-known wildlife reserves and at 1 000 km2 one of the smallest parks in Namibia. It is nestled between the Mashi and Balyerwa conservancies, roughly 30 km south of Kongola, and lies on both sides of the main road that leads to Sangwali. Separated from neighbouring communal farmland by a graded cutline, wildlife can move freely into and out of the park. While it serves as an excellent corridor for wildlife migration between Botswana, Zambia, Angola and Zimbabwe, it can also cause problems with local subsistence farmers. Conservancies have, however, played a major role in mitigating human-wildlife conflicts, a fact that adds to making the park special.

Since its proclamation in 1990, and with cooperation from the surrounding conservancies, wildlife including a large elephant population has now returned to Mudumu. Where three decades ago very few animals were seen due to decades of poaching, wildlife has largely recovered.

To the west, the park borders the Kwando River for about 15 km. Thanks to the almost completely flat landscape, the track that follows the river and traverses the floodplain and associated grasslands makes for great game viewing. Whereas the western side of the park offers brilliant views of the scenic riverine area, the eastern side is the Mudumu Mulapo fossilised river course with extremely dense mopane woodland. Even though visibility is much more limited, visitors are more likely to see game such as eland, giraffe or zebra.

crooked V-shape. The park is a wetland of note: it consists of an array of channels and lagoons with lush marshes, dense savannah dotted with termite mounds and tall river reeds. The area is also extremely flat and therefore up to 80% of the park is swamped when the annual flood waters arrive from Angola via the Kwando. As a result, only Rupara Island is accessible, whereas the track to Nkasa Island is blocked due to deep channels.

The park is full of life and Namibia’s own Okavango delta, although on a much smaller scale. More than 400 species of birds have been recorded which, considering its size, makes it a rewarding hunting ground for bird-watchers. The area also attracts more than 1 000 buffaloes, the largest concentration in the country. Other species of wildlife are abundant as well, especially impala and lechwe, and the park is considered as a core breeding area for wildlife that can disperse into neighbouring conservancies. Boat cruises allow for amazing hippo sightings, apart from being a fantastic way to explore the Linyanti swamps.

Even though there are no proclaimed parks on the Namibian side of the Zambezi River, there are excellent accommodation establishments overlooking the river. With the large number of bird species that live along this life-sustaining river, the area is superb for bird watching. Boat trips on the river guarantee great sightings of African skimmers, kingfishers, fish eagles and for the lucky few, Pel’s fishing owl. Between late August and December, several breeding colonies of Southern carmine bee-eaters are active along the Zambezi River. One of the biggest colonies in southern Africa breeds on the main river bank close to Kalimbeza Island. Between 3 000 to 5 000 birds are estimated to congregate there during those months – a sight to behold!

The region isn’t only a wildlife haven but it is also rich in culture, the heritage, traditions and customs of several ethnically different tribes.

The Zambezi Region is often seen as a mere overnight stop on the way to neighbouring attractions like Victory Falls. But it is very much a destination in its own right. The perennial rivers and expansive floodplains, lush tropical vegetation and absolute abundance of game and birds creates a surprising contrast to the rest of the country. The more time one spends there, the more one can really experience all the treasures the Zambezi Region has to offer. Boat trips on the rivers provide exciting opportunities to view hippos, elephants and crocodiles, as well as scores of antelope. Fishing, especially tiger fishing, is a popular activity. Local villages and settlements are vibrant with life and visitors have the opportunity to take home baskets and wooden ornaments skilfully made by hand, or visit living museums to learn about ancient and modern traditions. This wild and adventurous destination is surprisingly accessible. Two tarred highways provide easy access to lodges and sights. The parks should only be entered with 4x4 vehicles. For guests without those, most lodges offer game drives which also means that you can enjoy the beautiful wildlife and scenery even more.

A dramatic contrast to the rest of Namibia, the wet and wild wilderness of Zambezi teems with life and exciting adventures. Now it’s up to you to go and experience it for yourself. TNN

Looking to explore the Zambezi? Check out The Namibian Wetlands Route for a wide selection of establishments across the region. 21 TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA AUTUMN 2021

Seals have various collective nouns. A colony, a rookery, a herd, a harem... but our favourite by far is a bob of seals.

The adventurous coast

Namibia’s eponymous Namib Desert lines the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean for more than 1 500 kilometres between South Africa in the south and Angola in the north. Almost right in the centre of this massive desert belt lies a cluster of towns: The port of Walvis Bay, quaint and historical Swakopmund and the retirement-slash-holiday resort of Henties Bay. These municipalities host some of the most exciting and diverse adventure activities to be found in the country. Whether you’re in the market for a relaxing excursion, getting in touch with nature, or for an adrenaline-fuelled experience that will get your blood rushing, you will be spoilt for choice along Namibia’s adventure coast.


A number of companies offer boat cruises from the waterfront in Walvis Bay. Usually a half-day excursion, these cruises are a great opportunity to view marine life, including dolphins and seals – and sometimes even the rare and elusive Mola Mola (sunfish) – from the comfort of a catamaran or other craft. Snacks and drinks, a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere, spectacular views and the feeling of freedom on the open water combine to create truly unforgettable memories.


The kayak tours offered at Pelican Point just outside Walvis Bay are certainly among the most fun excursions for the whole family to enjoy. Various operators, including Namibia Kayak Tours, pick you up at a designated spot in Walvis Bay and take you to Pelican Point where you are equipped with waterproof gear, a life vest and a kayak. After a short intro to the art of kayaking, you set off to explore the waters of the bay. Cape fur seals of the colony at Pelican Point frolic in the waters around your kayak, curious and excited. It’s hard to figure out who enjoys the excursion more, you or them, as they gambol in the water and sometimes jump over the nose of your kayak, giving you a nice taste of the cold Atlantic, with what seems to be a cheeky grin on their faces.


The new kid on the block in terms of activities at the coast, Ecogliding Tours in Swakopmund offers fun and informative Segway excursions. A short crash course is all you need to get the hang of this mode of transport, unfamiliar to some, before you set off on an hour-long expedition. Equipped with a headphone set that lets your tour guide impart wisdom and fun facts along the route, you will learn about the town’s origins and interesting waypoints as you cruise along the quaint streets.


The cold Benguela Current along Namibia’s coast makes for an exciting fishing experience. Known as a shore fisherman’s paradise, a ski-boat angling tour from Swakopmund is another exciting excursion that should definitely be enjoyed if you’re an angling enthusiast. Catch anything from kob (kabeljou) and black tail, to game fish such as garrick or sharks, all with the convenience of a skipper to take you to the best spots and a deck hand to help with the bait and clean-up.


Companies such as Charlie’s Desert Tours will take you on an excursion from Swakopmund into the Namib Desert. Your guide will show you the desert’s hidden microverse of plants and animals that survive in the harsh environment. These tours are an opportunity to see a range of interesting desert creatures, including side-winding adders, Palmato geckos, sand-diving lizards, the famous fog-basking Tok-Tokkie beetles, spiders, scorpions and chameleons.


Various companies along the coast, operating both fixedwing aircraft and helicopters, offer the unrivalled opportunity of marvelling at the spectacular landscapes of this part of the country from above. Shipwrecks, the Sandwich Harbour lagoon, the Moon Landscape and the incredible dune belt of the central Namib can all be explored from this wonderful vantage point. Some flights will take you on a round-trip to see Sossusvlei in the south, or all the way up to the Epupa Falls on Namibia’s north-western border. The barren hinterland of the Skeleton Coast, interesting geological formations such as the Kuiseb Canyon and Namibia’s highest mountain, the Brandberg, are all on the menu for this adventure. TNN


Got more time? Check out these thrill-inducing, intriguing and unique activities and adventures:

• Go cycling, sandboarding, surfing, quad-biking, shore fishing, windsurfing, sailing, skydiving or paragliding

• Take a stroll through the centre of Swakopmund and admire the historical buildings

• Climb Dune 7, or any of the countless dunes of the dune belt between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, and see the world from a different perspective

• Go on a cultural township tour through Mondesa or Kuisebmond

• Admire flamingos and other avifauna at the Walvis Bay Lagoon, a RAMSAR site for coastal birds

• Take to the dunes and beaches riding a fatbike, horse or camel on a guided tour just outside Swakopmund


Meet the Mopane

Getting to know the trees of the northeast

The silhouette of a mopane tree when they have enough water and form woodlands resembles that of a cathedral. The kidney-shaped, smooth mopane fruit turn from tan to straw-coloured as they dry. When split open by force, the fruit reveal furrowed seeds that look like tiny human brains. New leaves are a bright reddishbrown and soft, while old leaves are green and hard. The shape of the leaves resembles the spoor of antelope or butterfly wings, depending on the viewer’s frame of reference. Mopane leaves are hinged together and hang straight down on hot sunny days, thus providing almost no shade. You thought mopanes are boring? Think again.

My first encounter with a mopane was in Etosha where the mopane woodlands are endless, with no animal in sight. Then came the mopane worms, another rather impressive addition to characterise the tree, and a delicacy for many people. My final and best introduction was seeing a mopane forest in Mudumu Game Reserve around a seasonal pan. Massive trees towering above us, lots of new soft red leaves, lots of young sprouts appearing under the trees. Finally, when I open a dry fruit, I saw there was a tiny human brain inside.

Voracious mopane caterpillars

Eggs of the mopane moth

Butterfly-shaped leaves

Flat, kidney-shaped fruit

December 2019
March 2010 March 2010 November 2019 December 2009
In this latest series we explore the beauty of trees with our beloved local natureenthusiasts 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.


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Colophospermum mopane

AFRIKAANS: Mopanieboom

GERMAN: Mopane

LOZI: Mupani


• Butterfly leaves

• Often covers vast areas mopane forests

• Variation in size from shrub to tree

• Mopane caterpillars “mopane worms”


Tree density in various areas

Main road


Leaf season


• Trees have a shallow root system and occur in groups

• Depending on water and soil, the mopane is a shrub or a tree up to

• 15 metres high

• The flowers are whitish green with yellow-green stamens hanging down


• Leaves are butterfly-shaped with rays of veins extending from the base

• Leaves smell of turpentine when bruised

• Young leaves are reddish brown and soft, later turn green and leathery


• Eggs of the mopane moth are found under the leaves

• Voracious mopane caterpillars can strip a tree of all its leaves

• When fruit is open look for the crinkly ”brain”


• Flat, kidney-shaped fruit

• After early rain new growth often appears from fruit on the ground

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

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
ICON GUIDE Fruit season
Flower season
Where to find mopane in the northeast

My husband and I wanted to escape on a quick getaway a few years ago. A full moon was set to shine that evening, but we were at the coast and the typical evening mist doesn’t always allow for the best moon gazing. What better place to enjoy the splendour than in the Namib, we thought. Unfortunately, we didn’t have our camping gear with us, but a quick visit to the CYMOT branch in Swakopmund fixed that. We’re simple campers. We have all the gadgets, but more often than not everything we need fits into a single ammo box and the camping fridge plugged into the back of our car. For this specific trip we went even more basic. Grabbing some food (ready-made), drinks and a bag of wood on our way out of town, we set off into the desert wilderness and found a camping spot for the night. A quick tent pitch, popping out our shiny new camping chairs from CYMOT, and a lovely bush-telly fire later and we were ready to enjoy a completely silent, private and liberating night of staring at the magnificent sky as the moon slowly rose over the horizon. Sometimes simple is best. Sometimes you need to leave the fuss and frills behind and reassess life’s necessities. Just you and the one you love and nature all around. Sometimes all you need for an incredible Namibian experience is two chairs and a bag of wood…

Everything you need for your next Namibian adventure is available at CYMOT. Visit any CYMOT store countrywide or shop online. It’s incredibly easy and safe!

SHOP ONLINE. SAFE-SECURE-RELIABLE. Free Delivery for purchases of over N$ 1000.

Now is a good time to rethink and reset before we restart.

Communities, Conservation and Covid

Newton’s third law of motion states, in simple terms, that for every action there is a reaction. I’ve found this to be true for most elements of life. It’s a law that governs the universe, and the people that live in it. Sometimes the reactions are massive and obvious. A global pandemic hits and no one is allowed to travel anywhere. Everyone sits at home. Economies suffer. The world notices. But sometimes the reactions are not as obvious to the world. These “smaller” reactions often have a massive impact at grassroots level. An impact almost more debilitating than the actual threat of a global health crisis.

Rural communities in Namibia survive largely on economic opportunities related to their natural environment. Whether it is tourism, conservation hunting or sustainable use, their livelihoods are built on Namibia’s strong natural wealth. When one of the tools to monetise this wealth is removed, an entire industry may crumble.

Namibia’s conservation success to date stems, to a large extent, from the success of its world-renowned Communitybased Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programme. Established in the mid-90s, it gives rural communities rights to the natural resources they live among. Through the establishment of legal entities known as conservancies, communities organise and formalise systems of governance. These communal conservancies allow rural people to generate income, create jobs and boost their livelihoods through the sustainable use of their natural resources. Examples of such uses include photographic tourism, conservation trophy hunting, harvesting of indigenous plants and creation and sale of arts and crafts. These communities are in turn tasked with the protection of their natural resources. They are incentivised to do so. They are the first line of defence.

In 2019 alone, the CBNRM sector was able to generate around N$ 156 million in revenue. Between 1990 and 2019, CBNRM contributed more than N$ 9.7 billion to Namibia’s net income. This money has been used to not only support the communities living within conservancies, but has also been funnelled into a myriad of conservation initiatives, including projects such as community game guards, anti-poaching activities and humanwildlife conflict mitigation.


The pandemic poses a significant threat to CBNRM in Namibia. A lack of tourism, conservation hunting and free movement has debilitated a sector that has been thriving for almost three decades. It is sad to realise that a programme such as this could be completely dissolved as a result of the pandemic. What would this mean for Namibia’s communities and conservation?

The money collected from these sources goes towards operational costs and community benefit projects. If communities had to diversify their income sources, many may opt to turn to less conservation-friendly practices such

as larger-scale agriculture or illegal mining to replace the lost income stream. To expect communities to carry the burden of living with wildlife in regions where their economic options are limited, is too much to ask and not sustainable. If the choice is between animal life and human life, what decision do you think will prevail?


While the world took shelter at the start of the crisis, and in some places has gone in and out of various degrees of lockdown, Namibia’s conservation frontline workers could not follow the global trend. Out in the harsh terrains and vast landscapes of Namibia’s conservation spaces there were, and still are today, organisations and individuals who continue to protect natural resources for the good of the country and its people. Community game guards, rangers, anti-poaching units, government ministry and police officials, as well as support organisations continued their work in the field to help minimise the effects of the pandemic, and attempt to curb wildlife crime and the reactions that the worsening economy will have on desperate individuals.


In response to the threats posed to the CBNRM sector as a result of the pandemic, Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism launched the Conservation Relief, Recovery and Resilience Facility (CRRRF) in May 2020. The fund was established by MEFT through funds raised by the Environmental Investment Fund, the Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and with pledges of support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Nedbank Namibia. The aim of the facility is to provide relief to the CBNRM and conservation sectors in Namibia to ensure job security, the continuation of human-wildlife conflict mitigation projects as well as wildlife crime prevention initiatives and conservation projects.

While these efforts will help conservancies weather the storm, true recovery will only occur once Namibia’s successful and crucial industries such as tourism and conservation hunting regain their footing.

Perhaps there is a silver lining in the grey storm clouds that loom, though… The pandemic might make room for some pause for thought.

COVID-19 has provided the sector with an opportunity to step back and take a look at the industry’s reliance on international visitors and donors. Now is a good time to rethink and reset before we restart. To reassess priorities and find ways of diversifying and building resilience so that the reaction to global crises will not entail the risk of bringing one of the countries greatest success stories to its knees again in future. TNN


The waterhole parade

Text Rièth van Schalkwyk Photographs Louis Wessels

This story was written by Rièth van Schalkwyk during the lockdown in August 2020, when no foreign tourists were able to enter Namibia in what is normally the tourist high season. It was also the end of the dry winter –exceptionally dry after four years of below normal rainfall throughout the country. Since then, the pandemic has caused subsequent lockdowns in most of Namibia’s source markets, prolonging the economic devastation of the tourism sector and everybody who depends on it.

Iam sitting at a waterhole near Namutoni in Etosha National Park. It is the dry season and in the distance the clouds of smoke from veld fires rise up to where at this time of year we normally hope to see plump rain clouds. It is bone dry in the park. The only green are a lone Shepherd’s Tree or the green reeds at a natural spring. It is the season when the park normally would be bustling with visitors in buses, overland trucks, self-drive vehicles and game viewers. At the waterholes the spectacle is glorious at the end of winter and all you have to do is watch the animal parade from your car. Normally you share this pleasure with game viewers packed with day visitors from lodges around the park.

But this year, because of COVID, the park is almost empty. Hardly another soul in sight, not a car on the road. Let alone an audience of people who travel from all over the world to enjoy the abundance of wild creatures on the plains, at the waterholes or resting under trees in the heat of the day. Thousands of animals on their way to or from food and water form a constant procession in this century-old park.

If you find action at a waterhole, with the parking area at the right angle for the sun and the season and you are first to park, you can actually stay there for the entire day. That is, if you are a photographer or with a photographer and if you can change your position as the sun moves. When we arrived at Chudop in the late afternoon there were thousands of doves. They were perched on the seemingly dry branches of thorn trees, looking like exotic Christmas decorations silhouetted against the sun. From the trees they fly to the edge of the water to drink and then back to their perch. This constant movement was eagerly observed for hours by opportunistic jackals which actually succeeded in catching a few doves for a late breakfast. Less successful were the two tawny eagles trying in vain to snatch a dove in flight. Their efforts, though, made for beautiful photographs and great excitement.

Never before have I seen so many hyenas coming to drink at a waterhole. Not in a pack, but one by one slouching through the yellow grass down to the natural fountain as springbok, black-faced impalas, kudus and giraffes sprint away. It never before crossed my mind that hyenas would go right into the water and actually try to catch a fish. Never imagined something edible would be hiding in the dark mud.

At the same natural spring early the next morning we were so glad the hyenas came to drink the day before, because now a baby springbok was stuck in the mud. Hyenas feasting on a baby springbok is definitely not a sight we wanted to see. It was fascinating to observe how the kudu cows and the

black-faced impalas, even an eland cow, came close up as if to check on the little one in need. There was nothing any of them could do. Only when three old bull elephants arrived I thought at least they would be able to help pull it out with their trunks. But of course they were bulls. And elephants. For all my “don’t interfere with nature” principles I did consider some intervention. If only one were allowed to get out of the vehicle.


The animal activity is like a parade in progress. Thirty beautifully striped zebra. So photogenic with their graphic patterns forming an artwork when they stand in a perfectly positioned line to drink. And to be photographed. Then something spooks them and in a cloud of dust they storm up the embankment. It is most probably the west wind that causes the jitters every few minutes, which is also great fun to watch. The poor giraffe always have to use their strong neck to pull up an entire body from the most awkward drinking position every time the zebras get spooked. And then it takes two rounds of other thirsty visitors getting in their way before they are back in position. Just to get spooked again when a jackal is successful in getting more than feathers. Nothing seems to bother an eland – certainly not the wind. They appear in huge numbers at a perfect angle through the tree line, with the sun on their silky camel-coloured bodies. Slowly, elegantly like old ladies, they saunter down to the fountain. Unperturbed by the goings on. They choose the opposite side of the embankment, disturbing only the flock of guineafowl as they lower their massive necks. Maybe they did not even notice the guineafowls because they are exactly the same colour as the mud in the shaded side of the waterhole – a very unattractive background for a good photograph. The light is deteriorating, which means it is time to move on.

It is the middle of the day now. And hot. We are sitting on the edge of the pan in the harsh midday light. The pan is shimmering in the heat and the mirages are stunning. Hopeless for photography, but great to watch three elephant bulls, white from the salty clay of the pan, drinking a little, then snoozing like old men taking a power nap. They lift one hind leg and cross it ever so slightly over the other. Totally relaxed. Their eyes seem closed but with the binoculars I see through their long lashes that their eyes are in fact open. But no blinking. They are fast asleep with open eyes. All their movements, if they move at all, are in slow motion.

On the grass plains a secretarybird lifts his wings for us and a kori bustard puffs his feathers as I have never seen before.

Kori bustard Western barn owl
Nature as natural as it can be. And us, the observers, privileged to still have places where nature continues about its way.


Onwards to a little-known waterhole, just to check if the resident leopard is still on duty. We were tipped off that the leopard was there. It was an out of the way waterhole that I could not remember ever visiting. As we approached I marvelled at the beautiful old leadwood trees with doves on every dry branch. Hundreds of them. This was obviously an ancient natural spring. Coming closer we noticed a great deal of feathers. Something was feeding on the doves, but there were no jackals in sight. The strangest rock formation, calcrete or perhaps even tufa, formed a cave-like backdrop.

We were still discussing this phenomenon when we spotted the leopard. Perfectly camouflaged in the shade of an overhang with an unobstructed view of the small puddle among large rocks. I knew that this would be our day. Not only had we seen two cheetahs perched on an anthill soon after sunrise, but after all these years I was actually watching a leopard in broad daylight in Etosha. He was so close to us and yet so sure of his secret hiding place. He must have felt quite safe and unthreatened, and we were an audience with time and patience. No distractions and no movement on our side of the grandstand.

First came a zebra. Then a big black-faced impala ram. For an hour we watched the doves and guineafowl. The leopard just lifted his head but did not move an inch. Then a young impala ram entered the scene. Watching the leopard through my binoculars I just knew this was the one. The leopard was fixated on the ram. I could see his eyes and I saw the muscles in his shoulders move as he adjusted his forelegs ever so slightly. Lifting his head just a little higher. The zebra moved out of the way and the older ram left the arena.

My heart is beating fast. How on earth can I be wanting the leopard to make a kill? Willing it to be patient and hoping the guineafowl won’t spook his prey. The muscles in his entire body contract as he pounces. Right there in front of my eyes. Perfectly in focus through my binoculars. A strange strangling sound and then quiet.

I was still in shock when the leopard appeared in full view dragging his prey up from the embankment into the bush and up a dead tree. For the first time in my life I watched the scenario play out for real. Nature as natural as it can be. And us, the observers, privileged to still have places where nature continues about its way.

As we light the fire back at camp, the barn owl sits in his hiding place in the buffalo-thorn tree and the moon rises in all its magical splendour. TNN


Namibia celebrates the rain The end of a drought era?

With the exceptional rain most of Namibia has received since the beginning of the year, the environment has been resuscitated after years of drought. The countryside is decked out in the greenery of wild grasses and the canopies of thriving trees, while wildflowers add subtle hints of colour. Insects are buzzing about and birds sing their songs of joy. Emaciated wildlife has returned to its normal physical state, and clouds overhead hold the promise of some last rains before the end of the season.

To celebrate our wonderfully green Namibia, here are a couple of images from around the country to showcase nature in all her glory. TNN

Photographs Elzanne McCulloch & Le Roux van Schalkwyk
@thisis_namibia 37 TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA AUTUMN 2021

Lilies on Farm Sandhof near the southern town of Maltahöhe were in full bloom toward the end of January. This only happens after exceptional rainfall and the phenomenon lasts for less than a week.

Damaraland was severely hit by several years of drought, but a few rain showers have brought the Etendeka Mountains and their valleys back to life.


Insects are buzzing about and birds sing their songs of joy.

The only part of Sossusvlei area that resembles the Namib Desert, are the red dunes sticking out from the water-filled pans.

Knee-deep in the usually bone dry Etosha Pan. Taken at the pan’s lookout point, one of the few places where you are allowed to exit your vehicle in Etosha National Park, on Valentine’s weekend.

Rhinos at Kifaru Lodge and Bush Camp struggling to see over the tall grass. Chuffed with all the greenery in Etosha, a rather wet kori bustard puffs out his neck feathers, trying to dry them.
An elephant browsing in the Klip River, Damaraland.

Slow and steady

The interminable resilience of the people of the ≠Khoadi-//Hôas Conservancy


We met Lorna at the ≠Khoadi-//Hôas Conservancy office. Tucked into the dry mopane woodland of Namibia’s north-western Damaraland, the office looks like just another house in the region. Slightly dated, but with all the necessities. There’s a fence that keeps wildlife out and, parked under a roof, a Land Cruiser bakkie to get around. My quick glance at the bakkie doesn’t answer the question of whether it actually runs or not. For their sake, I really hope it does. This is tough country. It's tough on the back of a bakkie, but even tougher on foot.

We find a spot in the shade and Lorna and I catch up on what’s been happening since the last time I had the pleasure of visiting the conservancy. The answer: not much. Not much of anything has happened in this slowpaced part of Namibia. Not much rain, even less tourism. But life goes on. It ebbs and flows at the pace of nature. Slow, but steady. That’s how the communities who live in these far-flung rural areas tackle life. Slow and steady. It’s how they tackle their challenges and how they tackle the enormous conservation tasks that have been placed in their capable hands as well.

After our shaded catch-up session we set off for the nearby settlement of Anker. To call it a town would be a bit overzealous. Perhaps village is the most apt description. It is here, in the small village of Anker, that the ≠Khoadi-//Hôas Conservancy has taken up its latest task. After an earthquake left some parts of the school and the hostels of Anker’s Edward Garoeb Primary unfit for habitation over three years ago, the local children were sent to school near Fransfontein, almost 150 km away. The community suffered at the loss of the school and the added burden of having to send their kids so far away. Transport is not an easy thing to come by in these parts, and something as simple as sending your daughter, who suddenly lives 150 km away, a new bottle of shampoo can sometimes prove too costly.

Now, the conservancy, with support from Grootberg Lodge and Journeys Namibia, has teamed up to build temporary housing for the children from nearby farms so that they can once again return to Edward Garoeb School, until such time that the government is able to rebuild the hostels damaged by the earthquake.

I watch a young mother, with a baby strapped to her back, carry bricks back and forth at the construction site. Another lady, at least 6 months pregnant by my uneducated guess, shovels a large heap of sand through a sieve before it is put into a concrete mixer. Men and women of all ages are busy laying bricks, mixing cement and with other construction-related activities. They are local residents building a new home for their community’s children… by hand. They are undertaking this task completely free of charge, with only the cost of the building materials being covered by the conservancy and sponsors’ tremendous input into the endeavour. Slow and steady, they are solving their own problems.

The next morning we set off on what feels like a back-cracking journey down Grootberg into the Klip River valley. Each time

my body complains of an ache or cramp brought on by a particularly bumpy stretch of jeep track, my mind replays the image of that lady carrying bricks with an infant on her back. Four or five hours later (I lost track) and many kilometers of driving and then hiking over the rugged terrain, I sit on a rock next to a game guard employed by the conservancy. We’re peering through our binoculars at a young rhino cow as she stands beneath the shade of a large mopane in the dry ephemeral Klip River. We’ve been tracking her most of the morning, and the sun is beating down with a scorching vengeance from its noon position overhead. My companion does this most days. For shifts of up to 21 days at a time, these community game guards track and monitor rhino activity in the area, always on the lookout for signs of twolegged insurgents that are looking to take what does not belong to them. No-one needs a rhino horn other than a rhino.

That’s the way of life here on the Grootberg. The Big Mountain. A conservancy, a community, banded together to protect their natural heritage and each other. It’s not an easy life, but it's theirs. And what I find each time I return, and with each conversation I have around a campfire, is a sense of ownership and immense pride. Pride that they are incredibly worthy of. TNN

More Journeys inspiration:

The ≠Khoadi-//Hôas Conservancy was one of the first four conservancies established in Namibia in the mid90s when the government implemented the Communitybased Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programme. The other three are Nyae Nyae in the east near former 'Bushmanland’, Salambala in the Zambezi Region and Torra in the Kunene Region.

Grootberg Lodge was the very first lodge in Namibia to be fully owned by the local community. With the help of donor funding and loans, the community has set up a completely unique ownership model within the Namibian tourism industry framework. Unlike other joint-venture tourism projects, where investors build lodges and pay a levy to the community, the entire infrastructure and all the fixed assets of Grootberg Lodge are owned by the community. Journeys Namibia participates in the capacity of lodge management and marketing, for which a management fee is paid.


It’s about time.

Namibia’s first privately owned scheduled passenger airline soars.

Time is such an interesting concept. Depending on our mood, our experiences, the current rhythm of our lives, we either have too much time or too little. We never seem to have just enough. During lockdown last year we seemed to have nothing but time on our hands. When we started returning to some semblance of normal workdays, time seemed to be something short at hand. And what a time it’s been!

One of the biggest COVID casualties in the travel sector has certainly been the airline industry. Large ships turn slowly. As a result, most airlines tumbled under the pressure of the pandemic. Even here in Namibia, our national carrier could not withstand the tidal wave of disruption.

Despite all odds, a young and dynamic private airline in Namibia has somehow survived. Having launched only a few months before the start of the largest global crises to hit the aviation industry since the Wright brothers first took off (quite literally), this small airline’s wings are holding strong. FlyWestair is Namibia’s first privately-owned scheduled passenger airline. Its first official scheduled flight took place in June 2019, a mere 10 months before lockdown and extreme travel restrictions hit southern Africa. Despite the upheaval, the company has made it through what seems to be the worst of it (knock on wood). During the height of lockdown, FlyWestair conducted multiple repatriation flights to help get Namibians home from various parts of the world, while also taking foreigners back to their home countries.

Once travel started to re-emerge from hibernation, FlyWestair promptly resumed its suite of domestic and regional flights. As of going to print, the airline flies to destinations such as Ondangwa and Cape Town from Windhoek, with the imminent introduction of Rundu and Katima Mulilo and the reintroduction of Oranjemund to follow suit.

The young and dynamic team, priding themselves on being incredibly agile and on the speed at which they make and implement decisions, has been heralded as the source of the airline’s success. A proudly Namibian company, FlyWestair continues to grow from strength to strength, rolls with each and every punch thrown its way, and remains utterly dedicated to providing Namibia and the flying public with exceptional on-time service and a home-grown option to choose for their travel needs. It was about time for Namibia to welcome a private airline. And about time for the region to have another option when it comes to travel in SADC. In the maelstrom of uncertainty, rapid changes and continuous upheaval, travel should be easy, efficient and aware of our precious time. It should be safe and adaptable to change. Keep an eye on this exciting player in southern Africa’s aviation league. With more regional routes to roll out soon, they are definitely the team to watch… It’s about time. TNN

More FlyWestair information:




21 March 1990

Secular state

824,268 km²

NATURE RESERVES: of surface area

freedom of religion


CURRENT PRESIDENT: Hage Geingob Multiparty parliament Democratic constitution Division of power between executive, legislature and judiciary Christian

MAIN SECTORS: Mining, fishing, tourism and agriculture 46%




Diamonds, uranium, copper, lead, zinc, magnesium, cadmium, arsenic, pyrites, silver, gold, lithium minerals, dimension stones (granite, marble, blue sodalite) and many semiprecious stones


to and on par with the SA Rand The South African Rand is also legal tender

Foreign currency, international Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club credit cards are accepted



17% 14 120 200


OTHER PROMINENT MOUNTAINS: vegetation zones species of trees

Spitzkoppe, Moltkeblick, Gamsberg

PERENNIAL RIVERS: Orange, Kunene, Okavango, Zambezi and Kwando/Linyanti/Chobe

EPHEMERAL RIVERS: Numerous, including Fish, Kuiseb, Swakop and Ugab

ENDEMIC plant species 100+ species of lichen

LIVING FOSSIL PLANT: Welwitschia mirabilis


BIG GAME: Elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo, cheetah, leopard, giraffe

20 antelope species

240 mammal species (14 endemic)


50 reptile species

5,450 km tarred 46 airstrips

37,000 km gravel

HARBOURS: Walvis Bay, Lüderitz

MAIN AIRPORTS: Hosea Kutako International Airport, Eros Airport


6.2 telephone lines per 100 inhabitants

2,382 km narrow gauge

TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Direct-dialling facilities to 221 countries


GSM agreements with 117 countries / 255 networks


4 medical doctor per 3,650 people privately run hospitals in Windhoek with intensive-care units

Medical practitioners (world standard) 24-hour medical emergency services

2.5 million DENSITY: 2.2 per km²


All goods and services are priced to include value-added tax of 15%. Visitors may reclaim VAT

ENQUIRIES: Ministry of Finance

Tel (+264 61) 23 0773 in Windhoek

Public transport is NOT available to all tourist destinations in Namibia.

There are bus services from Windhoek to Swakopmund as well as Cape Town/Johannesburg/Vic Falls.

Namibia’s main railway line runs from the South African border, connecting Windhoek to Swakopmund in the west and Tsumeb in the north.

bird species

frog species 15%

ENDEMIC BIRDS including Herero Chat, Rockrunner, Damara Tern, Monteiro’s Hornbill and Dune Lark


Most tap water is purified and safe to drink. Visitors should exercise caution in rural areas. GMT + 2 hours


There is an extensive network of international and regional flights from Windhoek and domestic charters to all destinations.

220 volts AC, 50hz, with outlets for round three-pin type plugs

400 000 inhabitants in Windhoek (15% of total)


English 85%

14 regions

13 ethnic cultures

16 languages and dialects


EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS: over 1,700 schools, various vocational and tertiary institutions


ww w t r av e ln ew s namib ia c o m Freedom of the press/media GENE
Namibia Dollar (N$) is
M o r e t h an 50 c o un tri es h a v e Na m ibia n co n su l a r o r e mb as s y r e pre s e n tation i n Wi nd h oek

the Conscious List 2021

Our selection of the most responsible lodges in Namibia.

Text Elzanne McCulloch
A ranger keeps watch over rhinos at Ongava Game Reserve.
by Ongava

The year 2021 dawned through a sort of murky haze. As smoke still rose from the fires of global disorder, a thick fog of uncertainty lay in the air. For many, the dawn of this new 365-day trip around the sun was a wake-up call. Our problems did not stay behind in the dreadful 2020. There was no clean slate. No fresh start. No blank page. But, despite chaos in the northern hemisphere and second waves we, here in Namibia, turned our hopes toward the possibilities that a new dawn may bring. Dawn on the plains of southern Africa is often a murky affair. The early morning mist lingers on the ground and slowly crawls along the grassy savannah. Along perennial rivers the soft white wisps of fog and campfire smoke swirl in the most beautiful patterns on the water’s surface. In the desert, fog from the cold Atlantic lies like a heavy blanket across the dune belt. Everything is calm and peaceful, despite the eerie atmosphere.

Soon enough, the warm sun breaks through the mysterious shroud and the wilderness wakes. That is how we see 2021. And we’re incredibly excited for it.

Sustainability, eco-friendly, green. These buzzwords have been streaming through the collective global travel dialogue for many years now. We have seen a worldwide turn toward being more environmentally friendly when it comes to daily living and travel. In Namibia especially, due to the nature of our surroundings, the tourism industry has had to conform to these norms since its very inception. In recent years a new age of travellers has emerged. Those who want to be assured of the fact that their visit, their dollar spent, will in some way affect their destination positively. They are aware of their carbon footprint, aware of the impact that their air miles and long-haul travels have made, and they want to off-set that in some way.

And thus we have entered an age of Conscious Travel.

It is no longer acceptable for accommodation establishments, tour and activity operators to think of themselves as “green” or “eco-friendly” just because their lodge or operations use solar energy. To see so many wield this as a marketing tool often leaves a sour taste in the mouth. If you’re making this shift only now, it is not something to be proud of; it's a little embarrassing to be quite honest. No, consciousness goes beyond the obvious (like having solar power in a country with 90% sunny days). It goes beyond the cookie-cutter version of “eco”. It delves into the heart of being aware of what is happening around you. Being “woke”, as millennials would say, goes beyond just knowing you should do something. It means stepping into the realm of taking responsibility and willfully designing your existence in a way that will bring about positive change.

We recently came across a post by Toby Jermyn of Pangolin Safaris where he said: “In recent years we have witnessed a luxury arms race between safari lodges to provide guests with ever more elaborate and frivolous embellishments to what should be a very simple offering at its core - a chance to reconnect with nature.”

We’ve had a thorough and conscious look at Namibia’s most responsible lodges and compiled a list of those who meet more than just the standard expectations. These establishments not only conform to the norms and tick the boxes of being eco-friendly, but have also gone beyond. They have taken responsibility with relish. Among other things they are all recipients of awards that celebrate their ecological standards, they have joint-venture agreements with the local communities in the regions or in the conservancies in which their lodges operate, or where they are on private land they have established it as private nature reserves. All of them are involved in conservation projects in some way, they have a good track record among their peers in the industry and each one has very deliberately structured their story, their purpose, to advocate for this next level of tourism existence… consciousness.

Conscious (adjective) ... awake, thinking, and knowing what is happening around you; capable of or marked by thought, will, design, or perception.

Anderssons at Ongava

After a complete refurbishment in 2019, Anderssons at Ongava opened its shiny new doors to much celebration from industry and visitors alike. Beyond the beautiful interiors, the excellent service that always accompanies a visit to any of the camps on Ongava Game Reserve, and the incredible wildlife experiences that are synonymous with this reserve on the border of Etosha National Park, Anderssons took a flying leap into the future of sustainable tourism. The main lodge area sports antireflective UV coated glass so that birds don’t fly into it. Just a minute example. Everything has been carefully thought through and applied with precision. The reserve is home to all the megafauna you could wish to see on a Namibian safari, protected within this 30,000 hectare sanctuary. Also based at Anderssons is the Ongava Research Centre (ORC), headed by Dr John Mendlesohn. His team’s aim is to tackle the bigger picture of conservation, how the natural world interacts and the way in which every link in the chain affects the next. The cleverly laid-out Visitors Centre acts as a bridge between the ORC and the lodge where visitors can pour over information and marvel at the wonders that have been learnt on the reserve and at what has been achieved through the various conservation projects. The lodges on Ongava Game Reserve, i.e. Ongava Lodge, Little Ongava, Ongava Tented Camp and Anderssons at Ongava, are set to reopen in June 2021 after more than a year of COVID-hiatus.


African Monarch Lodges

In the Zambezi Region in the far north-eastern reaches of Namibia, in an area that used to be known as the Caprivi Strip, riverine woodlands form the backdrop to one of Namibia’s most excellent safari experiences. In roughly the centre of the ‘strip’, the Kwando River creates a border between communal conservancies and Bwabwata National Park. It is there that African Monarch Lodges runs two very special establishments, Nambwa Tented Lodge and Kazile Island Lodge, within the park. They cater to luxury and adventure tourist profiles and offer the most spectacular escape for those who want to truly enjoy the natural treasures of the region. Beyond the luxury, African Monarch Lodges, owned and managed by Dusty and Tinolla Rodgers, employ staff exclusively from the neighbouring communities. The lodges themselves were built to support and not obstruct the flow of nature, with the wooden walkways at Nambwa Tented Lodge raised high enough to allow the multitude

of resident elephants right of way. The Rodgers have taken responsible tourism a step further with the founding of The Sijwa Project in collaboration with the Mashi and Mayuni communities who live along the park. The Sijwa Project is a sustainability enterprise that empowers the communities through skills training for numerous purposes, including recycling, repurposing, arts and crafts, sewing, using plastic bottles for construction, melting glass bottles to make beads and jewelry, an indigenous tree nursery, permaculture systems and much more. The aim of The Sijwa Project is to empower the local community and sustainably utilise waste from the lodges, as well as produce fresh produce for the lodges and the local people. With African Monarch Lodges the Rodgers see it as their responsibility to proactively preserve the natural haven they call home, and they’re doing it very well indeed.

Large herds of elephant often congregate at Horseshoe Bend in Bwabwata National Park.

Wild Waters

Also situated in the beautiful and lush Zambezi Region, the Wil d Waters group comprises four award-winning camps. Their remote locations offer that crucial new element that has become even more sought-after in the last year - exclusivity, privacy, low-density. Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge and Rupara Restcamp are located just outside Nkasa Rupara National Park. As successful joint ventures with the Wuparo Conservancy, the lodges support the community and the residents of nearby Sangwali village. Wild Waters has even built a school for the children of Sangwali and provides meals for the students daily. Within the park is Jackalberry Tented Camp. With only four rooms, and an incredibly low carbon footprint, this camp is social distancing by default. Its location, the limited guest and vehicle numbers, allow for a personalised and catered-to sojourn like few others can offer. Further afield, on the far eastern edge of the Zambezi Region, Serondela Lodge can be found on the floodplains next to the Chobe River. The lodge, which is in a joint venture partnership with the Kabulabula Conservancy, adjoins Chobe National Park in Botswana across the river. Wild Waters is part of the WWF Namibia and IRDNC (Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation) joint venture programme and one of the pilot tourism establishments implementing the new Wildlife Credits project that financially rewards communities for tangible results in conservation.

An elephant and her calf feeding on the floodplains of the Chobe River.

Hoanib Skeleton Coast

Found in one of the most remote areas of Namibia, the far northwest known as Kaokoland, Wilderness Safaris’ Hoanib Skeleton Coast camp boasts all the merits of sustainable tourism. This eco award-winning establishment is part of the greater Wilderness family, which runs lodges across Africa. It is one of seven in Namibia, all equally mentionable on this list. The reason why Hoanib stands out for us is its effectiveness-to-cause. Low density, with only eight tents, the camp has for many years been host to researchers Dr. Flip Stander, who monitors the desert lions of the region, and Emsie Verwey, who conducts research on brown hyena populations in the area and along the Skeleton Coast. Made famous by the two-part documentary films The Vanishing Kings, the desert lions are an intriguing addition to Namibia’s wildlife menagerie. Another long-term project conducted at Hoanib is Laura Brown and Rob Ramey’s Desert Elephant Conservation Study. With the Hoanib River and adjoining valley as well as the Skeleton Coast as their playground, visitors to this camp are encapsulated in the sheer wonder, and the thought-provoking and often confounding charm of nature at its simplest.

Grootberg Lodge

Situated on the edge of the Etendeka Plateau, with the most spectacular view of the Klip River Valley spread out beneath it, Grootberg Lodge is managed by Journeys Namibia. It is the very first lodge in Namibia to be wholly owned by the community in which it is located. The ≠Khoadi //Hoas Conservancy covers more than 3 000 km2 and is mainly inhabited by Damara people, who before the lodge was opened, mostly relied on subsistence farming or had to find work in other parts of the country. With its role as income and employment generator for the community, the conservancy’s involvement in rhino conservation and community game guards who protect the wildlife of the region, the lodge’s very existence supports both people and conservation in an absolutely crucial way.

Read more about spectacular Grootberg on p44.


Shipwreck Lodge

About as far-flung as it gets, the magnificent Shipwreck Lodge in Skeleton Coast National Park, is the only high-end establishment in the area. This one, too, ticks all the boxes. Situated inside a national park, sustainably built and operated, a joint-venture with the local communities, incredibly aware of the natural surroundings. Shipwreck Lodge takes ‘exclusive’ to the next level. It’s tough to get there, but the journey is most certainly worth the destination. Partnering with the Puros and Sesfontein conservancies, the lodge’s focus is on nature, and the guest experience mirrors that beautifully. Recruiting staff from the local communities within these conservancies also means including individuals in the lodge team who know the land, the animals, the weather and nature like no other.


Etendeka Mountain Camp

“Where man treads lightly and nature is respected”, reads their mantra. When Dennis Liebenberg took over the Etendeka Concession 28 years ago, the now celebrated CBNRM programme did not exist yet and there was little experience of joint ventures, both on the side of the concession holder and the community. Dennis created a tourism business that would benefit the community, provide jobs and training, but most precious of all, protect the land and the delicate balance which is necessary to truly conserve nature. Etendeka Mountain Camp lay nestled in the rocky foothills of the Grootberg massif in Damaraland. The camp is built from the rocks of its surroundings and is about as low-impact as it gets. The focus is on nature, not the frills. You will even fill up your own bucket shower. The luxury lay in the joy of being so completely entrenched in nature, surrounded by it. The overnight walking safaris, where you sleep on raised platforms beneath the grandeur of the starry night sky, are an adventure like few others we’ve experienced in Namibia. There is an authenticity to your encounters at Etendeka that is almost unparalleled. Nature reigns supreme and it gives a wonderful rounded-out experience of disconnecting to reconnect. Finding the true understanding of how nature heals, will reinvigorate you and help you remember how to breathe.

One of the true trailblazers, the standard-setters, the pioneers. The Wolwedans Collection was built on a dream. The Brückner family found sanctuary for their love of nature and living sustainably in the creation of the Wolwedans Collection of camps on the NamibRand Nature Reserve. Today, Stephan Brückner is taking this world-renowned collection, which has already paid its dues in terms of both luxury, sustainability and conservation, to heights not yet reached for in this arid country. To name every project Wolwedans has created and undertaken over the past 25 years would take more pages than our publication allows for. Suffice it to say that if you can think of something wonderfully sustainable, they have done it. Their pillars of Community, Commerce, Conservation and Culture have been expanded to also included Consciousness, which perhaps catapults them to the very top of our list, though truth be told they may have been there already. Subtly and quietly launched a few months ago, Wolwedans' The Arid Eden Project aims to refine the balance between people, planet and profit. Their aim is to create “a blueprint for more sustainable, resilient and inclusive tourism/conservation economies - both in Namibia and globally.” They’ve been a shining example to their peers for many years, and it seems they will continue to carry the torch and light the way for an industry as a whole, toward a more aware, a more nurturing, a more engaged and a more conscious future for tourism.

Wolwedans Collection


Fresh air for the fear

Text Elzanne McCulloch Le Roux van Schalkwyk

In my dreams I feel a gentle wind rustling through my hair. The sun on my face. I hear the call of a francolin as he ushers in the day… and all around me is space.

Those are the memories nature lovers cling to during times spent indoors. On our Netflix screens we have been able to enjoy virtual safaris and have listened to Sir David Attenborough insisting that the end is in fact nigh. Despite the beautiful episodes of Planet Earth or rewatching Our Planet ten times, nothing quite hits the spot like actually being outside. I shiver at the thought of a future where the “new normal” of a safari occurs through an artificial interaction on a screen. Some are advocating for it. For those virtual experiences that will let you escape your fourth floor walk-up flat in London and delve into the wilds of Africa. But it's not the same, is it? It’s not authentic. By its very definition it's not real. What we need during and after this time of uncertainty and fear, is to truly experience the real world again. To escape the enclosures and step free.

So are you ready? To travel again? To feel the fresh air on your face and the wind rustling through your hair?

There may be no better place than Namibia to experience your first taste of true freedom again. Of all the medical advice dispensed over the course of the pandemic, isolation may be the most consistent. And where better to experience nature, freedom and space than in the second least densely populated country in the world? With only 2.2 people per km2 Where social distancing has been a natural state of being long before all this madness started.

Namibia has been applauded for its swift and successful response to the pandemic. We currently have a low infection rate, we have implemented effective testing methods and have recently launched a nationwide vaccination plan. Beyond all this, what we have in absolute spades... is space and fresh air. Fresh air and freedom to help you conquer the fear and reconnect with nature, the outdoors and yourself.

Namibia offers you the true experience. Not a short-lived dopamine high from watching another influencer reel on Instagram. An opportunity to create lasting memories. Truthful ones. And do so safely. We have had the perfect opportunity to reset our priorities, both as a travel industry and as travellers. So come get your dose of fresh air here to dispel the fear.

Here are some tips for safe travel through our land of magnificent wide open spaces:


Pick your destination wisely and opt for longer stays at your places of choice. A self-drive or private guided vehicle will

allow you further peace of mind as this will decrease the amount of time spent in enclosed spaces with others.


Most transmissions of respiratory viruses happen indoors. When outdoors, especially if the air is moving, risk of transmission is low to non-existent. Hiking, biking, open game viewers, nature walks – these are great low-risk activities. Nature is the ultimate battery recharger, so allow yourself to slow down.


When you choose your accommodation, opt for small and more private lodges with lower guest ratios. Be sure to check the lodge’s COVID protocols and assert whether they are following the government’s guidelines for tourism establishments (which you can find on our website.) Most lodges in Namibia are designed to allow for the safest stay. They have terraces and balconies and are laid out in a way that air can circulate through the room. Tented camps are especially good in this regard. Or stay outdoors – camping is always a great idea.


Don’t forget to follow the safety guidelines that should by now be ingrained in our global collective psyche. Wash your hands, wear a face mask correctly in public spaces (this is also required by law in Namibia) and keep a safe distance from fellow travellers. Be extra vigilant during your flights. If you follow these steps, there is no reason that you wouldn’t be able to safely enjoy the wonderful freedom that spacious Namibia offers.

We can’t wait to welcome you to Namibia! TNN


What are COVID vaccine passports?

As the name suggests, this would be proof that the holder has been vaccinated against COVID, once again allowing them to move freely between countries. With the growing number of people being vaccinated across the globe, it’s a concept that is quickly gathering momentum and might well be introduced worldwide soon enough. In March 2021 the EU proposed a digital green pass in order to reboot European tourism by the end of June. Let’s hope that those documents can be extended further afield to help promote long-haul travel so that our source markets may more easily return to their favourite African destination - Namibia of course!


Wellness in the Desert at

Little Kulala

When Wilderness Safaris reopened their much loved Little Kulala lodge in November last year, not only did it boast a stylish revamp but also introduced a new holistic approach to the guest experience. Wellness now goes hand in hand with conservation and appreciation of the fragile arid ecosystem.

Little Kulala is ideally located to explore the wonders of the Sossusvlei area while enjoying the luxurious offerings of the lodge. With the eye on capitalising on the healing energy that the Namib Desert naturally bestows upon visitors, health and wellness are the latest addition to the services offered at the lodge. The new spa, where massages and other treatments are available, affords beautiful views of the dry Auab riverbed and the tall red dunes of Namib-Naukluft National Park in the distance.

Other additions include running and e-biking trails in the new Eco-Zone. The trails are perfect for keeping active in these remarkable surroundings. The Eco-Zone forms part of the Kulala Wilderness Reserve and is an area specially set aside for low eco-footprint activities. It allows not only for the conservation of a fragile ecosystem but also for guests to have an intimate experience with nature ,free from distractions.

Located on the doorstep to one of Namibia’s most visited destinations, a visit to Little Kulala would not be complete without seeing picturesque Sossusvlei. After an early morning wake-up, a guided drive takes guests through Wilderness’ exclusive gate into the Namib-Naukluft. Heading along the Tsauchab Valley, the towering dunes on either side of the road come to life with the first rays of the sun.

The highlight is the famous Deadvlei with its bleached white clay and sun-blackened dead camel thorns surrounded by the dunes bathed in the beautiful light of the early morning sun.

The refurbished Little Kulala blends in seamlessly with its surroundings, thanks to bleached wooden decks, thatched roofs and earthy green coloured walls. While the Kulala Wilderness Reserve allows guests to experience the freedom which only the wide-open gravel plains of the Namib can give, the lodge’s interiors are stylishly decorated with patterns and textures inspired by the nearby dunes and desert landscape and subtly hinting at their lines. The dusty pink and other desert pastels and darker colours come into their own when the sun sets and the sky mirrors the same soft hues as those found throughout the lodge.

Each of the 11 air-conditioned rooms has a private plunge pool and a set of exercise equipment for guests to keep fit and active in the comfort of their suite. The highlight of each unit is the ‘star bed’ on the roof to lose oneself in the glittering night sky of Namibia’s south.

At Little Kulala you can allow yourself the luxury of time. Be pampered, stay active, and reconnect with nature in one of the most extraordinary landscapes in the world. TNN

More Wilderness inspiration:

Le Roux van Schalkwyk


a weekend for two at Shipwreck Lodge

New Year. New Normal. New Travel News. As from 1 April 2021, Travel News Namibia magazine will be available on subscription basis on the world’s largest newsstand – Zinio! Subscribe to our quarterly issues on Zinio and you will be entered into the draw to win two nights for two at the spectacular Shipwreck Lodge.

To enter visit:

Competition in partnership with

Nature Reserve south of Sossusvlei, Wolwedans is more than a Collection of Camps. It’s a collection of dreams. Out here in the Namib Desert we are tweaking the rules of ‘business as usual’, aiming to inspire a new way.

Situated in the heart of the NamibRand Nature Reserve south of Sossusvlei, Wolwedans is more than a Collection of Camps. It’s a collection of dreams. Out here in the Namib Desert we are tweaking the rules of ‘business as usual’, aiming to inspire a new way.

Situated in the heart of the NamibRand Nature Reserve south of Sossusvlei, Wolwedans is more than a Collection of Camps. It’s a collection of dreams. Out here in the Namib Desert we are tweaking the rules of ‘business as usual’, aiming to inspire a new way.

We used the recent months of forced reflection to actively prepare for the future and properly reboot. Shifting into 5th gear by adding a new ‘C’ into our sustainability mix, all our actions going ahead, will be guided by the interconnectedness of Conservation, Commerce, Community, Culture and, now, Consciousness.

We used the recent months of forced reflection to actively prepare for the future and properly reboot. Shifting into 5th gear by adding a new ‘C’ into our sustainability mix, all our actions going ahead, will be guided by the interconnectedness of Conservation, Commerce, Community, Culture and, now, Consciousness.

We used the recent months of forced reflection to actively prepare for the future and properly reboot. Shifting into 5th gear by adding a new ‘C’ into our sustainability mix, all our actions going ahead, will be guided by the interconnectedness of Conservation, Commerce, Community, Culture and, now, Consciousness.

Mid 2020 marked our 25th Jubilee. To honor this historic occasion, we quietly launched the ambitious Wolwedans Vision 2030, themed “The AridEden Project”. Underpinned by a philosophy of balancing people, planet and profit in everything we do, The AridEden Project provides the framework and identity for our journey ahead.

Mid 2020 marked our 25th Jubilee. To honor this historic occasion, we quietly launched the ambitious Wolwedans Vision 2030, themed “The AridEden Project”. Underpinned by a philosophy of balancing people, planet and profit in everything we do, The AridEden Project provides the framework and identity for our journey ahead.

Mid 2020 marked our 25th Jubilee. To honor this historic occasion, we quietly launched the ambitious Wolwedans Vision 2030, themed “The AridEden Project”. Underpinned by a philosophy of balancing people, planet and profit in everything we do, The AridEden Project provides the framework and identity for our journey ahead.

year plan, guided by the 5C’s, has what it takes to become a blueprint for more sustainable, resilient and inclusive conservation/tourism economies - both in Namibia and globally. As we all know, the time to walk the talk has never been more relevant and pressing than now.

Wolwedans feels confident that this tenyear plan, guided by the 5C’s, has what it takes to become a blueprint for more sustainable, resilient and inclusive conservation/tourism economies - both in Namibia and globally. As we all know, the time to walk the talk has never been more relevant and pressing than now.

Wolwedans feels confident that this tenyear plan, guided by the 5C’s, has what it takes to become a blueprint for more sustainable, resilient and inclusive conservation/tourism economies - both in Namibia and globally. As we all know, the time to walk the talk has never been more relevant and pressing than now.

In addition to driving positive change and building a sustainable enterprise, Wolwedans is also about the Pursuit of Happiness. Happy people – including guests, team and stakeholders alike –a happy and healthy environment and importantly, a happy bottom line.

In addition to driving positive change and building a sustainable enterprise, Wolwedans is also about the Pursuit of Happiness. Happy people – including guests, team and stakeholders alike –a happy and healthy environment and importantly, a happy bottom line.

In addition to driving positive change and building a sustainable enterprise, Wolwedans is also about the Pursuit of Happiness. Happy people – including guests, team and stakeholders alike –a happy and healthy environment and importantly, a happy bottom line.

Wolwedans invites you to go slow, and disconnect to reconnect. With yourself, with nature, and with humankind. Going forward, we endeavour to steer away from the passively consumptive tourism paradigm of the past, and rather strive towards a more engaged, active and participative way of travel - crafted by a wide range of experiences and activities which nurture the head, hand and heart.

Wolwedans invites you to go slow, and disconnect to reconnect. With yourself, with nature, and with humankind. Going forward, we endeavour to steer away from the passively consumptive tourism paradigm of the past, and rather strive towards a more engaged, active and participative way of travel - crafted by a wide range of experiences and activities which nurture the head, hand and heart.

Wolwedans invites you to go slow, and disconnect to reconnect. With yourself, with nature, and with humankind. Going forward, we endeavour to steer away from the passively consumptive tourism paradigm of the past, and rather strive towards a more engaged, active and participative way of travel - crafted by a wide range of experiences and activities which nurture the head, hand and heart.

our Jubilee year to bring a fresh look to the entire Wolwedans Collection, with Dune Camp, Boulders Camp and the Dune Lodge undergoing extensive renovations. When you experience Wolwedans today, it’s hard to imagine where it all began in 1995, with just four igloo tents pitched on elevated wooden decks on the crest of a dune.

We also used the recent pause and our Jubilee year to bring a fresh look to the entire Wolwedans Collection, with Dune Camp, Boulders Camp and the Dune Lodge undergoing extensive renovations. When you experience Wolwedans today, it’s hard to imagine where it all began in 1995, with just four igloo tents pitched on elevated wooden decks on the crest of a dune.

We also used the recent pause and our Jubilee year to bring a fresh look to the entire Wolwedans Collection, with Dune Camp, Boulders Camp and the Dune Lodge undergoing extensive renovations. When you experience Wolwedans today, it’s hard to imagine where it all began in 1995, with just four igloo tents pitched on elevated wooden decks on the crest of a dune.

As we have been challenging ourselves to achieve new heights, one thing has not changed: this land of endless horizons and striking blue skies, where travelers find beauty to feed their soul, tranquility to clear their mind and space for their imagination to soar. Wolwedans looks forward to welcoming guests back in March 2021.

As we have been challenging ourselves to achieve new heights, one thing has not changed: this land of endless horizons and striking blue skies, where travelers find beauty to feed their soul, tranquility to clear their mind and space for their imagination to soar. Wolwedans looks forward to welcoming guests back in March 2021.

As we have been challenging ourselves to achieve new heights, one thing has not changed: this land of endless horizons and striking blue skies, where travelers find beauty to feed their soul, tranquility to clear their mind and space for their imagination to soar. Wolwedans looks forward to welcoming guests back in March 2021.

and Wolwedans exists
to inspire a new way.
Our purpose is the pursuit of happiness, and Wolwedans exists to inspire a new way.
Our purpose is the pursuit of happiness, and Wolwedans exists to inspire a new way.

birds in trees The life of

It might sound like a bit of a cliché to mention the importance of trees for birds and vice versa, although there are unfortunately people who still cannot see that importance, and probably not the importance of trees for humans either - so how in hell would they ever see the importance of trees at all.

Text and Photographs Pompie Burger
Chestnut Weaver in a Ana tree

Probably there is a bit of a hidden agenda in writing this article, but once I have explained, it might make sense to some people (those who know the importance of trees?). The main reason is that this is part of a marketing/ promotional stunt for a book on trees of the Zambezi and Kavango regions published on the 1st of September 2020. Ever since the tree book made its appearance in our hearts, the Burger life-style has changed dramatically. We eat trees (or parts of them), we sit and sleep in trees, we buy trees, we take pictures of trees. Fortunately no hugging, burning or chopping. The reason why this needs to be mentioned is that in the process of getting pictures of trees, fruit, pods, leaves, thorns, dust and bark, I became a multi-tasker, a driver, butler, teaboy, reliever and waiter - a waiter as in waiting for the above to take place.

Other than smoking, I realised that apart from all of the above I could indeed make a contribution to this artistic masterpiece on trees. While sitting and releasing myself (stress) under one tree after the other, I came to the conclusion that each tree species looks different at the bottom (down under), be it seeds, fruit, leaves, shit or skeletons. Seeing an opportunity to become notorious, I started taking pictures of above mentioned paraphernalia to become part of the success story. Most of my efforts were rejected (“looks too much like a still life”). I must confess I did move the odd pod or leaf to improve the

artistic value of the shot. My last chance to enter the hall of fame for trees, was offering my pictures of birds sitting in various important trees utilising the different entities available, but they were discarded even quicker. My only remaining option to get the discarded pictures in was to write an article on trees and birds.

Looking through my “discarded” pictures of birds in trees (not the “still lives” this time) I again come to realise that birds and trees are almost synonymous. Apparently, bird species are divided into tree and none-tree birds, and the importance of this is so enormous that they even gave these two bird groups fancy names: Passerines and Nonpasserines. Passerines are also known as perchers, having a foot/toes structure that sets them apart - three forward pointing toes and one toe pointing backwards. This means (maybe) you will find them in trees, or not.

Trees are for birds what a bedroom is for humans, a place to sleep, sit, mate and eat. Although nowadays there is a tendency to watch TV in bed instead of mating. So, let’s talk about eating, nesting, procrastinating and sleeping. Looking at the different eating disorders in birds, it seems as if trees and their by-products can supply almost any dietary need any bird can think of. Whether they are fruitarians, vegans, lacto vegetarians, flowerarians, or insectivorous and carnivorous (birds from Gobabis).

Black-collared Barbet in a Natal Mahogany tree
Green Pigeon in a Jackalberry tree
African Grey Hornbill in a Woolly Caper Bush tree Marico Sunbird in a African Wattle tree

Once the tree has reached maturity, flowers will start the vicious circle, attracting bees, insects and sunbirds. From here onward the traffic in and around trees becomes hectic with the subsequent arrival of fruit and pods with seeds, after the flowers have moved on. The essence of the story is that at different stages different birds line up at different parts of different trees and at different times of the year for flowers, fruit, pods and insects. So, round and around they go, keeping everybody happy. Even the odd raptor can come for a bite (weaver) or just to eat his lizard or snake in peace and quiet.

Nesting in trees can be anything between a few sticks and stones for the raptors, and, at the other end of the scale, the massive architectural masterpieces of the Sociable Weavers. To optimise the housing potential of trees, some birds even build their nest inside the trunk (barbets, woodpeckers), while the rest hang around in their nests on the outside. Luckily some birds even share their apartments in highrises with the Hamerkop Real Estate.

As for resting and sleeping, fortunately the owls and owlets leave the scene of crime during the night, leaving the trees open for diurnal birds, while they go out to do their share of hunting. For some wonderful reason (their toes?) the geese also do their roosting in trees, contrary to ducks who stick it out in the water.

There is also an additional mutual advantage that birds offer to trees. They spread the seeds, pollinate flowers, add some manure to the ground below, remove unwelcome insects and worms from the bark and, last but not least, beautify trees with their presence (ever seen a group of Carmine Bee-eaters changing a Silver-leaved terminalia to a Purple-pod terminalia?)

If you think the pictures in this article are spectacular, you can imagine what the pictures in a book on trees look like if these ones did not make the cut! TNN

Southern Carmine Bee-eaters in a Silver Cluster-leaf tree
Trees are for birds what a bedroom is for humans, a place to sleep, sit, mate and eat.
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Starting from as low as N$ 400 per person per night Inclusive of Meals. WANDERLUST FEED YOUR SUNSETS LIVE FOR THE ULTIMATE CAMPING EXPLORE OUR RESORTS EXPERIENCE OUR BOOK ONLINE OR CONTACT US! +264 61 285 7200 Valid from 1 September 2020 up until 30 June 2021. T’s & C’s Apply. #myfriendsarecoolerthanyours Namibia Wildlife Resorts presents Etosha and Sossusvlei packages Explore and venture with your friends at the legendary Sossusvlei with it’s monumentally high dunes or the wonders of Etosha National Park and it’s wildlife. CONTACT THE MICE DEPARTMENT +264 61 285 7167/7169/7188 N$1950 p.p for 2 nights Package includes: Accommodation, Meals, Activity & Transport, Min 4 pax. Route: Departure from Windhoek – Okaukuejo and Sossus Dune Lodge (return) Departure every Wednesday & Friday T&C’s apply

An elusive creature:




Pangolin species around the world are under severe threat due to the demand for their scales and meat, mainly by consumers in China and Vietnam. In Namibia, the Temminck’s ground pangolin occurs across much of the country (excluding the extremely arid west and south) and is increasingly targeted by poachers, yet its status and ecological requirements are poorly understood.

Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, are covered in scales which consist of keratin. Despite their primeval or reptilian-like appearance, they are in fact placental mammals. The first fossil records originate from over 60 million years ago. Despite this long history of survival, pangolins were the most trafficked mammal worldwide in 2014. Two years later, all eight species were given the highest level of protection listed under CITES (the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species), Appendix I (CITES, 2016). Appendix I status prohibits the international trade of said species as they are deemed to be threatened with extinction.

The eight species of pangolin are split between Asia and Africa. All pangolins belong to the genus Manis in the family Manidae, which is the only family within the order Pholidota. Although pangolins share similar characteristics with Xenarthrans (anteaters, armadillos and sloths), they are in fact more closely related to the order Carnivora (cats, dogs, bears, etc.). The traits they share are an example of convergent evolution rather than relatedness.

Text & Photographs Kelsey Prediger

Listed below are the species and their IUCN status:


Chinese pangolin Manis pentadactyla Critically Endangered

Sunda pangolin Manis javanica Critically Endangered

Indian pangolin Manis crassicaudata Endangered

Philippine pangolin Manis culionensis Critically Endangered


Cape or Temminck’s Ground pangolin Smutsia temminckii Vulnerable

White-bellied or Tree pangolin Phataginus tricuspis Endangered

Giant Ground pangolin Smutsia gigantea Endangered

Black-bellied or Long-tailed pangolin Phataginus tetradactyla Vulnerable

As most species are predominantly nocturnal, they spend their days resting in burrows or trees and become active when conditions are ideal for them. The Temminck’s ground pangolin does not dig its own burrows but prefers aardvark burrows and moves to new ones often.

All pangolins are myrmecophagous, which means they exclusively eat ants and termites. They don’t have particularly good vision, but they have an amazing sense of smell with which they are able to sniff out ant and termite nests. They use their long sticky tongue, which is as long as the body and extremely flexible, to collect their prey. Pangolins do not have teeth but rather a strong, gizzard-like stomach with keratinous spines which aid in grinding up the ants

and termites. While feeding they also ingest small stones and sand which also help grind up their prey.

Pangolins are important for the ecosystem because they eat a large number of pests. It is estimated that each consumes so many ants and termites, it would provide enough food for 30 cattle or 430 springbok per year. Preliminary research in Namibia demonstrates a preference for very specific species, and since mostly they are harvesting ants and termites, the pangolins’ presence reduces damage to crops and organic matter which serves as food for livestock and wildlife.

Pangolins are solitary animals. Usually they are only found together when fighting over territory, when mating or rearing their pups. It is believed that there is a mating season and pups are born early on in the rainy season. The gestation period can range from 65 – 139 days, depending on the species. Offspring will stay with their mother for about the first year and then disperses.

Other than trafficking, threats to pangolin are vehicle accidents, electrocution on electric fencing, habitat loss and poaching for bushmeat, traditional medicine and spiritual rituals. It is estimated that one pangolin per year dies for every 11 km of lowlying electrical fencing. They don’t have many natural predators as their scales are very protective when rolled into a tight ball. Pangolin have been witnessed being played with by leopards and lions alike, but have escaped unharmed.


The only pangolin species that occurs in southern Africa, the Temminck’s ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii), is adapted to live in an arid environment with a minimum of 250 mm of


annual rainfall. It is the most studied of the African species but research was only conducted in South Africa and Zimbabwe predominantly from the 1990s onward. Kelsey Prediger, founder of the Pangolin Conservation and Research Foundation (PCRF), focused her MSc thesis on Pangolin Ecology in Namibia. It is the first in-depth glance in Namibia into the secretive life of pangolin and the data gathered provides valuable details to help conserve the species.

In recent years in Namibia, the annual figure of cases registered for pangolin specific crimes has surpassed that of rhino and elephant. In 2019 alone, the authorities confiscated 123 pangolins of which only 49 were still alive. Namibia increased the penalty for pangolin possession or trafficking in 2017, to a fine of up to N$ 25 million and up to 25 years in prison, the same as for rhino trafficking.

The protection and conservation of pangolins in Namibia is a complex and urgent matter that requires linked-up collaboration from many organisations. In response, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) identified the need for a Namibian Pangolin Working Group (NPWG) as part of Namibia’s five-year national security strategy to address wildlife crime. Established in April 2020, the NPWG was tasked with coordinating and driving pangolin conservation and research in Namibia.

The current priorities of the NPWG are:

• Develop a concise National Conservation Management Plan for pangolin;

• Prepare guidelines and protocols for the handling of confiscated pangolins by first responders, getting them quickly into rehabilitation and veterinary care, and the procedures for selecting good release sites;

• Guide priority research to better understand key areas specifically related to pangolin conservation, diet, status and release;

• Raise awareness and help educate target groups about pangolins, particularly their ecological role and importance to ecosystem functioning;

• Promote international collaboration and information sharing.

Pangolins seized from illegal traffickers are often emaciated, dehydrated and traumatised. These animals require first aid from the time of seizure and specialised care until their release to give them the greatest chances of survival. A key part of the NPWG’s National Pangolin Conservation Management Plan establishes clear guidelines for pangolin transport, care and rehabilitation along with contact lists for veterinary clinics and other relevant organisations.

Priority research conducted by NPWG members is focused on topics that will improve the chances of survival for trafficked pangolins and assist those working on wildlife crime to understand local threats to the species. A survey of public sightings combined with suitability models has become the first reliable national distribution map for pangolin. You can contribute your sightings here to assist us in this process. All sightings are kept strictly confidential. Combining this knowledge of pangolin distribution and known hotspots for trafficking, we can identify and select potential release sites in each region of Namibia. Other important aspects of pangolin releases are the survival rate of released individuals and their impact on the resident population at the release sites. TNN

You can help pangolin by spreading awareness about their plight! Share this article and other pangolin posts online to gain a wider reach. Please contact the MEFT wildlife crime hotline at 55555 if you have any information on illegal capture, trade or trafficking in pangolins or their parts.

The protection and conservation of pangolins in Namibia is a complex and urgent matter that requires linked-up collaboration from many organisations.

With less than 3 million inhabitants spread out over an area three times the size of Britain, there is space to keep safe. Incredible landscapes and diverse wildlife make Namibia the perfect self-drive destination.

Namibia Car Rental looks forward to assisting you with your vehicle rental requirements.

Historic Solitaire, at the edge of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, has something for everyone. Delicious food and wine, fresh pizza, draft beer, and our famous apple pie. A General Dealer, petrol and tyre repair will get you sorted.

Stay-overs include popular Solitaire Lodge and secluded Solitaire Desert Farm. Take a guided scenic drive, or relax by the pool. Enjoy our desert vistas and free-roaming wildlife habitat on foot, by fat bike or from a hot air balloon.


DO | Office: +264 61 249239 | Mobile: +264 81 122 2500
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SHARE YOUR STORY +264 61 232 457 | | A Great Escape So much more than just another restaurant. For people who still dream of truly great escape. S W A SAFARIS NAMIBI A SWA - 87mmx57mm - March 2021.indd 1 3/16/21 1:35:32 PMCornerstone Guesthouse is a small privately run B&B, an easy walk to the seafront and the town centre of Swakopmund. Tel: +264 64 462 468 | +264 81 292 9338 +264 81 418 4743 WE EXCEED YOUR EXPECTATIONS Contact us at publishing | content creation | content marketing | design & layout | photo & video PLAN YOUR TRIP Tel: +264 64 463 979 | 75 TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA AUTUMN 2021


An ode to camping

It is autumn in Namibia - the best time for camping. It is the season of dramatic rain clouds and unexpected showers, or clear blue skies, crisp early mornings and the most glorious sunsets. They say that when the sun dips in Namibia you can just open a camping chair wherever you are and you will have a perfect setting for a spectacular photo. Or if you are more into simply appreciating the moment, it will be the perfect setting for a toast to life and the good fortune of being free and in nature.

Namibians are spoilt. We grow up taking camping for granted. It comes so naturally. It is quick and easy. What more does one need than a bedroll on the roof rack, an extra fuel tank, and time? No matter which direction you drive out of the capital, you will find a “free camping” spot in a riverbed or on a mountain pass within an hour or two. Admittedly, I have spent some nights inside the Land Rover instead of on the roof, because of a rainstorm in autumn. And slept next to the road near a flooding river when I had

expected to sit around a fire on the soft sand in that same riverbed.

Adventures do happen when you go camping in Namibia, which is probably one of the reasons we love it so much. I cannot recall any place in Namibia where I have slept under the stars over many decades that did not give me that sense of absolute satisfaction. One night maybe in the Ugab River when the mosquitos were so overwhelming that we lit a fire and spent the night talking. Also the first time I missed a tent.

After many road trips through southern and eastern Africa, as far north as Ethiopia, my unbiased opinion remains that Namibia is by far the best value for time spent camping. It certainly is camping for beginners in terms of what you get for the effort you put in.

In this series I will tell you about secret places and interesting routes off the beaten tracks. But just to start the conversation, let’s make it clear why I say

Text Rièth van Schalkwyk
2021 Tour 1: 23 - 27 June Tour 2: 28 June - 2 July Join this life-changing four-day mountain-biking safari through Namibia's enigmatic Damaraland Only 18 spots available. Contact elzanne@venture com na to book or visit for more info.
+264 83 937 8247 Whether you’re discovering Namibia’s natural beauty, flying home to family or exploring beyond our borders, FlyWestair gets you there with comfort and convenience. Visit to discover your next destination. It’s about time. It’s about the journey as much as the destination AOC: NCAA/010/2013

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