The San are said to be the original inhabitants of the arid south of the African continent. There is more genetic diversity between them than any population of people on earth. Their skills are honed for survival in the most unforgiving environments. They can tell you a story by glancing at the animal tracks in the sand, of what came by, what they did, where they went. They live in harmony with nature. One of Namibia’s three groups of San, the Ju/’Hoansi, live in the east of the country, centred around Tsumkwe. It is here that visitors can learn about the San culture and way of life through the “living open-air museum”. Experience traditional dances, music, habits and a real hunt in the wild with bow and arrow first-hand.
These photographs were taken by the late Paul van Schalkwyk at Nhoma Safari Camp north of Tsumkwe, where the //Nhoq’ma community live and work.
HELP CONSERVE BIG CATS
It’s not always possible to know that your actions have positive consequences. With the rise of overtourism it is more important than ever to be sure that travelling is for the greater good of a country. The advantage of Namibian tourism is that so many tourism activities are indeed to the benefit of the country. None more so than a visit to the big cats of Otjiwarongo.
Otjiwarongo is known as the “Cheetah Capital” of Namibia and that is most likely as a result of the efforts of two non-governmental organisations, the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and AfriCat. Both are located in the area and are committed to the conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores – cheetahs, leopards and lions.
The need for conserving these animals was evident in the continuous negative narrative surrounding big cats in the agriculture sector, which identifies them as vermin.
Both organisations set out to educate the agriculture industry, and the population at large, about how best to deal with big cats. Visitors to the centres have the opportunity to learn about these animals, about what makes them special, what sets them apart and why their cause is so worthy. If exhibitions are not for you, a more exhilarating activity is to visit rehabilitated carnivores at a feeding or on a tracking excursion on the large private reserve.
Spending an evening in the lap of luxury is not conventionally considered conservation, but in this case, it should be. A room at either AfriCat’s Okonjima or CCF’s Cheetah Ecolodge directly support both organisations and their initiatives. When tourism is responsible, it means taking the time to see what the underlying commitments of an establishment are. And why supporting them can make a difference.
KHAUDUM NATIONAL PARK – FOR THE EXPLORER
On the north-eastern outskirts of this vast land lies one of the last true Namibian wildernesses. Khaudum National Park is a remote, rugged and vastly unexplored utopia, teeming with herds of elephant and roan, with lions prowling about and endangered African wild dogs yapping in the early evening air. Khaudum, formerly known as Bushmanland, was proclaimed a game reserve in 1989 and a national park in 2007, which now encompasses an area of 3 842 km2. The mostly unfenced surroundings allow wildlife to roam freely beyond the park borders and into and through surrounding conservancies. Not for the faint of heart, this rugged park is for those looking for a truly off-the-beaten-track wild experience.
FALLEN STARS IN THE NAMIBIAN BUSH
THE HOBA METEORITE
A 50-tonne mass of iron and nickel crashed to earth many moons ago. Dated to be between 100 and 300 million years old, this “fallen star” is the largest known meteorite of its kind globally. Hoba lies on the farm Hoba-West, 20 km from the town of Grootfontein. Discovered by Jacobus Brits in the 1920s, the meteorite is estimated to have crashed to earth some 30 000 to 80 000 years ago. Now a protected natural heritage site under the National Heritage Council, the meteorite can be visited in its stone amphitheatre open-air exhibit.
A GAME DRIVE ON TOP OF WATERBERG PLATEAU PARK
It is hard to imagine Namibia submerged in water or smothered in ice but both have happened and Waterberg Mountain is the result. Made of harder material than the surroundings, the plateau has weathered the crushing forces of climate change and erosion. Today, thanks to its daunting cliffs, Waterberg Plateau National Park remains a highly biodiverse environment that is a world unto itself. Waterberg itself is not only an island of vibrant colour and biodiversity, but it also presents a natural opportunity for conservation. Guided game drives on the plateau, plus time spent in a hide lying in wait for rare species to approach a waterhole, give you the chance to learn more about this safe sanctuary for wildlife. It is recognised as a suitable breeding centre for rare and endangered species. This is one of only two places in Namibia where you can spot the African buffalo – one of Africa’s Big Five. Several species – black and white rhinoceros, tsessebe, roan and sable antelope – have all been reintroduced here. This mountainous area is also a birding delight! Over 200 species have been recorded in the park. In addition to hosting 33 species of birds of prey, including Black Eagle, the Waterberg has the highest density of Peregrine Falcon in Africa.