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Namibia: Damaraland, Etosha National Park, NamibRand Nature Reserve, Ongava, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Windhoek
NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia: Protecting biodiversity.
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
The NamibRand Nature Reserve, located in southern Namibia, is a private nature reserve established to help protect and conserve the unique ecology and wildlife of the south-west Namib Desert. Conserving the pro-Namib, the area along the eastern edge of the Namib Desert, is critically important in order to facilitate seasonal migratory wildlife routes and to protect biodiversity.
It was a 90-minute drive from Little Kulala all on the gravel road. The last few kms. were really rough. For the next 2 nights The Wolwedans Dunes Lodge would be our home. We reached the lodge's base camp early evening. Our rooms were located atop a mountain. We left our vehicles at the base parking... thereafter we were in the hands of friendly lodge staff and informative field rangers. We were driven to our rooms in customised 4x4. These would also be our transportation for our drives in the wilderness.
Our rooms were actually wooden structures with large canvas blinds and windows that open to the desert. The lodge reflects the ambience of a tented camp but provides the comfort and protection of a permanent building. Each of the 9 en-suite chalets sport a private verandah, connecting the guests to vast stretches of untouched desert. Sleeping with the canvas blinds open is just like sleeping under the stars... but that was not to be as we were not brave enough to face the chill.
The reserve is certified as being home to the darkest night on earth... a boon to star gazers. The lodge has a few sundowner decks, lounges, library, bar and a swimming pool suspended above the sand with desert vistas all around. And yes, the lodge has its own private airstrip. When small private planes are expected, somebody from the lodge reaches the runway to shoo away grazing animals of the wild!
That evening, we were at ease. With drinks in hand, a campfire in front and starry sky above made for a relaxing setting. Those with tired bones, enjoyed massages out in the open verandahs.
The next morning, we were ready for the sunrise safari. Here I must make a special mention of our guide and field ranger Rudi. Like most of the safari guides on this trip, he was knowledgeable had a great sense of humour and a unique 'laugh aloud' style. He demonstrated a few Afrikaans phonetics making good use of his tonsils. We tried to emulate but failed miserably!
Tea and cakes were laid for us at the sunrise point. Sipping a hot beverage and seeing the sun pop out was a very cheerful experience. To our right was the NamibRand valley. It was miles and miles of wilderness.
The NamibRand Reserve is probably the largest private nature reserve in Southern Africa, extending over an area of 202,200 hectares. The Reserve shares a 100 km. border with the Namib-Naukluft National Park in the west and is bordered in the east by the imposing Nubib Mountains. Virtually all facets of the Namib Desert are represented on the Reserve – sand and gravel plains and stretches of savanna alternate with mountain ranges and vegetated dune belts.
The Reserve originated in 1984 as the dream of J. A. Bruckner to extend desert frontiers by integrating a large number of former livestock farms and developing a wildlife sanctuary. To date, thirteen former livestock farms have been rehabilitated into a single continuous natural habitat. Recognizing the importance of wilderness areas, the NamibRand Nature Reserve has exclusively set aside more than 15% of its total area for wilderness.
The next couple of hours we drove through designated mud tracks. The drivers took special effort to ensure that the vehicles do not leave the marked tracks. They are committed to keep the landscape intact, with minimum human intervention.
During the drive we saw grazing Oryx, a black cobra, tapping spider and an eagle majestically perched atop a tree… not to forget hundreds of Fairy Circles – a nature’s phenomenon to be seen only in this part of Namibia. Their formation still remains a mystery.
The fun continued in the evening safari too. Our spirits were raised high as a bar was laid out in the open overlooking the valley, the dunes and the mountains beyond.
Post breakfast the next morning, we left for Windhoek, 420 kms. away and our last stop of the Namibian trip. The long drive took us through the crossing of The Tropic of Capricorn. For lunch we visited Garnish, an Indian restaurant in Windhoek. The food did remind us that our homes were only a day away!
That night we were hosted at Hotel Heinitzburg – a castle, perched high above Windhoek, built on the turn of the 20th century by Count von Schwerin for his fiancé Margarethe von Heinitz. The romantic elegance continues.
NamibRand Nature Reserve Image Gallery Photo viewer
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