Our group bid farewell to Ongava Lodge and our guide Johann, and we enjoyed the most scenic flight over Damaraland with its Martian landscape of red rock, barren land and jagged mountains. Our expert Wilderness Air pilots landed us on the most remote airstrip I’ve ever encountered, and we were whisked away by our friendly and knowledgeable guide, Nestor, though the most remote and unique land. We spotted the endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebra, along with more oryx, springbok, and giraffe. Nestor also explained the unique euphorbia and ancient welwitschia plants. We were warmly welcomed by the most gregarious staff at Desert Rhino Camp, located in one of the most remote settings in the Palmwag Concession, surrounded by the Etendeka Mountains and endless skies.
We spent the next two days on nature drives, optional nature walks and the coveted rhino trekking on foot. Despite the sparse wildlife and hot sun, we enjoyed special sightings of desert-adapted elephants, spotted hyena outside our tent at night, and two mighty black rhinos. Our surprise bush dinner under the stars was one of the most romantic boma set-ups, and the staff pulled out all the stops with singing and dancing both nights, as well as a clicking language lesson of the tribal Nama dialect, which does not roll off the Western tongue too easily!
The highlight of our stay was meeting our elusive black rhino, Kongombe, after patiently waiting for 3 hours while our trusty trackers hiked for miles across the rocky hillside in search of these well camouflaged beasts. It was humbling to be in the presence of the rare black rhino that was alert and well aware of our presence! We even spotted his female partner as we left the site – two black rhino in one day, amazing!
After our victorious sighting, Nestor and staff found what seemed to be the only shade tree for miles and set up a delicious lunch during which we learned all about the successful efforts of the Save the Rhino Trust (SRT), who collaborate with Wilderness Safaris to preserve this once extinct species.
Desert Rhino Camp is a special gem that offers so much beauty, distinct desert-adapted wildlife, and education on rhino conservation – a real treat on any Namibia itinerary.