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Visit Namibia

Why you should spend your next holiday in Namibia!
Okonjima as part of the Namibian Kaleidoscope
by Dr. Hu Berry  (formerly Chief Biologist of Etosha & Namib-Naukluft Parks) 
 
Namibia is rated as one of Africa’s top travel destinations. That’s a claim requiring supportive evidence. Fortunately, there exists an abundance of examples to substantiate this assertion. Where else can the traveller stand atop a dune that towers well over 300 metres above the surrounding desert floor, and glimpse a fraction of 34 000 km2 of the dune "sea" that stretches westward to the fogbound emptiness of the Atlantic shoreline? To the south the so-called "Forbidden Area" (Sperrgebiet in German) invites exploration, invoking memories of times when diamonds lay in such profusion on the Namib floor that their collection was facilitated by searching for their brilliance under moonlight. The remnants of man’s habitation in this foreboding wilderness lie decaying under the relentless onslaught of wind and sand, their crumbling walls being stark reminders of the merciless forces of abrasive weather. Ghost towns of yesteryear crumble and dissolve into the desert sands.
 
 
 
East of this hauntingly beautiful area the Fish River Canyon beckons. Africa’s most amazing geological formation exposes 550 metres of water-eroded depth along a meandering 56 kilometres. The stratified layers tell a tale beginning 350 million years ago. Where ice glaciers once formed and later melted, the scene is now one of awesome desiccation, the eerie stillness relieved occasionally by the muffled rumble of the ephemeral Fish River in full flood. When this happens, eroded sediments are carried from as far away as its headwaters 650 kilometres to the north and discharged into the mighty Orange River, which in turn empties into the waiting Atlantic Ocean.
 
Finding a certain measure of relief from this harshness, travellers can wend their way northwards to relax in the bustling, cosmopolitan atmosphere of coastal Swakopmund, where the dour determination of early German settlers and modern innovative development has resulted in a unique combination of Euro-African flavour. First World comforts, in the form of excellent accommodation, restaurants, arts-and-crafts are to be found in the heart of the Namib Desert. Further north lies the Skeleton Coast, a place of desolation. A sense of loneliness accompanies all who venture in this domain of jackals and hyaenas as they ceaselessly scavenge the shoreline for offerings that the sea throws out.
 
Satiated with vistas of seemingly endless sand, sea and sky, turn eastward and inland. The emptiness gives way imperceptibly to sparse vegetation. Low bushes dot the landscape, becoming denser, and isolated mountain ranges jut their turrets into an azure, mostly cloudless sky. Enter the world of thorn savanna, an undulating land of seemingly endless bush, incised by dry riverbeds whose sandy beds hide the underground aquifers of life-giving water. These waterless washes may spring to life for only a few hours or days a year when flash floods transform them into brief torrents of swirling, sediment-rich watercourses. They are the life-giving arteries of moisture to many plants and animals, which could not survive this arid environment without these infrequent pulses of moisture.
 
 The mountains were born out of a much younger world when infant Africa separated itself from the parent landmass of prehistoric Gondwana. Millions of years passed, witnessing the effects of weathering and erosion by the natural elements of wind, water, heat and cold. Rock-cracking temperatures formed sheer cliffs where vultures now roost and launch themselves to glide on air thermals for hundreds of kilometres. Contrasting in their smoothness, huge granite outcrops provide a multitude of habitats for a rich diversity of wildlife. So specialized are the plants, insects, reptiles, birds and mammals found in the mountain chain that fringes the desert, forming the western Great Escarpment, that they occur here and nowhere else on Earth. These endemics invite many hours of observation for the ardent nature lover.
 
Continuing inland, we enter the giant Kalahari Basin, a scoured, natural depression that stretches across several southern African countries. Nestling in its northern extremity, is the Etosha Pan, a saline desert surrounded by a National Park of world repute. Few other African countries can equal its ability to provide the visitor with the visibility and viewability of wildlife at close quarters. Unforgettable scenes of animal concentrations jostling for water at the natural fountains and boreholes that dot the Park, provide unequalled opportunities for observation and photography. At night, patience is rewarded at floodlit waterholes next to each of three resorts, when the dry season entices the big and strong to drink and bathe. Hook-lipped rhinos join elephants, lions and hyaenas under powerful spotlights, to fascinate onlookers for hours well into the night. It is a celebration of African wildlife, which confirms that Namibia is a paradise for those who want to experience and enjoy Nature.
cheetah-africat-sunset 
 
To those journeying southwards to end their visit in Windhoek, another surprise awaits. About 50 kilometres south of Otjiwarongo lies Okonjima, home of the Africat Foundation. A gravel road takes you 24 kilometres further west, past some unique road signs – a stout warthog reminds you to drive with care; a diminutive dik-dik prompts you to remember that animals have the right of way; a leopard tells you that Okonjima is its domain. Entering a valley that lies within the Omboroko Mountains, you feel removed from the frenetic world outside. A 25 000-hectare sanctuary for wildlife surrounds you.
 


Okonjima Lodge 2016
Situated halfway between the capital Windhoek and the Etosha National Park, the 55,000 acre Okonjima Game Reserve has some of the best accommodation in Namibia, but the highlight has to be the cheetah and leopard safaris, as Okonjima is home to The AfriCat Foundation. A non-for-profit Organisation that rehabilitates cheetahs, wild dogs and hyaenas giving you the opportunity to see these beautiful carnivores in their natural environment. If it’s a luxury safari you are looking for, then Okonjima has a Villa and Bush Suite where you will be truly spoiled, with your own chef and safari vehicle. There is accommodation to suit all budgets, from a private camp site to real safari lodges, but wherever you stay on Okonjima, you will be guaranteed an African safari to remember.

 


The Okonjima Nature Reserve 2016
WHY YOUR VISIT IS IMPORTANT?!
Wildlife conservation and tourism naturally go hand in hand, and tourism remains the cornerstone of success and funding at Okonjima. All visitors to Okonjima contribute indirectly to the AfriCat Foundation by staying in the lodges and partaking in activities.

 

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