Kent’s Adventures in Namibia – Part I – NamibRand

November 12, 2013  By: Rob Howard

Silence.

When’s the last time you ‘heard’ it?

For me, it was on my recent visit to Wolwedans Dunes Camp in the NamibRand Nature Reserve in southern Namibia. At first, it was disconcerting.

“What’s wrong?” I wondered.

It was the absence of sound that felt odd. Suddenly, my ears filled with a white noise, like you hear on an airplane or when you put a shell to your ear and it sounds like the ocean. Then, my ears adjusted and I experienced the sound of true silence. I felt my pulse slow, and I began to relax.

Had I come half way around the world to relax? No, relaxation wasn’t on my list of preferred activities for my stay, which included a go-go-go schedule of game drives, nature walks, sightseeing, and maybe a hot air balloon ride.

But once I began to really relax, my to-do list became a “let’s-see-what-the-day-brings” list. I started with a nap. Yes, a nap! Then, I took a peaceful game drive, watching the gemsbok (oryx) and springbok nibble at the brown grasses sprouting from the dunes. I enjoyed a beautiful sundowner, sipping a Tafel lager as the sun disappeared below the horizon. I ate a delicious dinner of game meat and fresh salad, much of it grown on the property, and listened to the small staff thank us for visiting with a song. I chatted with the small group of international guests—Namibian, Swiss, German and this sole American—while sipping an aperitif around the campfire. Then, when I walked away from the small amount of light produced by the main area of camp toward my comfortable and roomy tent, I noticed a night sky filled with so many stars, that the idea that we are alone in the universe seemed preposterous.

When not napping or reflecting or enjoying a fine meal, I did enjoy learning about the NamibRand Nature Reserve. At nearly 500,000 acres, it is one of Southern Africa’s largest private nature reserves. Situated just south of famous Sossusvlei in Namib Nakluft National Park, it offers visitors a glimpse of the vast, remote and beautiful red sand deserts and mysterious fairy circles found in the region, without the crowds enountered inside the park. (Still a visit to Sossusvlei is a must-see stop on any first visit to Namibia.)

The NamibRand Nature Reserve was founded in 1992 by J.A. (Albi) Brückner “ to extend desert frontiers by integrating a large number of former livestock farms. To date, 13 former livestock farms have been rehabilitated into a single continuous natural habitat. The result is a sanctuary free of fences allowing the wildlife to once again roam their habitat unhindered.”

A non-profit private nature reserve, the NamibRand Nature Reserve is financially self-sustaining mainly through high quality, low- impact tourism. Its aim is to conserve beautiful land on a self-sustainable basis. It’s home to Wolwedans Dune Camp, Wolwedans Dune Lodge and the more active Tok Tokkie Trails mobile walking safari operation. Each lodge or operation on the Reserve is limited to 20 beds each. On 24 May, 2012 NamibRand Nature Reserve expanded its conservation role to include preserving the star-filled nighttime skies shining above its dunes and mountains. These efforts in night sky conservation have earned the reserve high honors as theInternational Dark-Sky Association designated it an International Dark Sky Reserve.

So, for huge red sand dunes, uncountable stars, stately gemsbok, mysterious fairy circles, beautiful sunsets and great naps, I highly recommend Wolwedans in the NamibRand Nature Reserve.

Next stop Swakopmund and beyond.