When I lived in Namibia a long time ago, one of my favourite regions was Damaraland and again on this trip, I was reminded why every traveller should include it on their trip to Namibia.
Top of my list is conservation safaris – the intelligent kind – where it’s a mutual collaboration of both give and take. You donate – and for that privilege, you then get a behind the scenes where you might be able to spend time with a giraffe scientist – understanding how unique this species is, its behavioural patterns, how they differ from their savannah dwelling friends and getting under the skin information you would never in a hundred years receive from any guide. Have the opportunity to track and perhaps radio collar these incredible creatures. A massive 45% of the country is under conservation management.
Or – travelling out and having some time with a lion scientist – whose passion is to find a balance between the human wildlife conflict that exists everywhere in Africa and if you are lucky enough, see one of the desert adapted lions he has dedicated his life to protecting, learning again from a completely different perspective. This takes safaris to a completely different realm – where you are immersed in the reality - gaining access to people that most tourists have never heard of, let alone have the privilege of spending time with! And finally, knowing that you personally have made a tangible contribution to the survival of tourism and assisted with the survival of that particular species. Surely that makes much more sense?
So – you spend time in a beautiful, luxury mobile tented camp, just for you - which is erected in these beautiful, breath taking regions where they are doing their research, devoid of other tourists – and absorbing the silence and the space which is quintessentially Namibia.
Then, spend time going rhino tracking on foot in Namibia – in the magnificent Damaraland region – where we have the good fortune to stay at a wonderful, funkily designed semi mobile camp, situated in an enormous conservancy. This camp is also exclusive use – so again, it is closed just to you and your party. The views again were wonderful and the evenings were spent either having a bush dinner beneath the stars or on the dried up river bed. This is one of the most forward thinking concessions in the country, which works hand in hand with the local communities, employing them as anti-poaching wardens, but the reality is that this is privately funded and in order to keep the anti-poaching as secure as possible, they require more funding. But it was extraordinary – I witnessed two separate sightings of two different black rhino mothers and their calves – and we spent some time with them, simply watching, observing, feeling privileged – and not another person in sight. They also offer sleep outs – where you can go star gazing for the night! Great for family adventures!
Learn about the geology of the country – how minerally rich it is as you see the striations of mica, quartz and granite running through the rocks. Look at fabulous trees and smaller mammals such as the elephant shrew and of course, extraordinary birdlife! But it’s a place of exploration – of fun – and of privilege, realising how small we are on this exceptionally beautiful planet of ours!