I had come to the Namib to shadow Stander in his research on a trip organized by Wilderness Safaris as part of the outfitter’s Travel with Purpose program of small-group itineraries, which emphasizes conservation and community engagement.
Our base was Wilderness Safaris’ Damaraland Camp, a collection of ten bungalows on a rocky slope overlooking the Huab River Valley, with rooms that were luxurious by desert standards, excellent food, and attentive service. But the greatest privilege was the chance to see Stander at work. For more than two decades, Wilderness has provided him with financial support and lodging, but this was the first time it had collaborated with him on a trip—”an experiment,” as Stander called it—that gave guests the chance to witness his efforts firsthand.
The opportunities Wilderness’s Travel with Purpose program offer don’t just satisfy a growing demand for deeper and more exclusive safari experiences—they support a greater mission to build community-based conservation. “Tourism gives value to wildlife,” Stander told our group of four over dinner the first evening. “It provides income and job opportunities and a whole range of other benefits to the communities. Without tourism, we would not be able to justify lions in this area.”
- Travel with one of Namibia’s most reputable and well-known naturalist guides.
- Visit the world renowned AfriCat Foundation and learn more about conservation initiatives involving Africa’s large cats.
- Sleep under canvas in the tree tops overlooking one of the most productive waterholes on the Onguma Private Game Reserve.
- Memorable and exciting guided game drives within the renowned Etosha National Park, from the vantage point of a specially modified, air conditioned 4×4 with pop tops.
- Explore the Damaraland region whilst staying at the exclusive-use //Huab Under Canvas.
- Search for desert adapted elephant in ephemeral river systems.
- Track for the endangered black rhino in conjunction with Save the Rhino Trust.
- Visit and explore Namibia’s central coastal region with canyons, dunes and lagoons.
- Explore the private Namib Tsaris Conservancy on exploratory nature drives and guided walks whilst staying in the exclusive-use Sossus Under Canvas.
- Climb some of the world’s highest free-standing sand dunes at Sossusvlei and enjoy a magic box picnic in the Namib Naukluft Park afterwards.
- Enjoy spectacular star gazing of the Milky Way on the Namib Tsaris Conservancy.
- Enjoy refreshing moments in desert pools on the Namib Tsaris Conservancy.
1. A Landscape Like No Other
Maybe this is true of any place, but there is nowhere on earth like Namibia. In population density, it ranks right there between Iceland and Mongolia.
The Atlantic’s north-flowing Benguela current brings 180 days a year of fog to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast which is dotted with whale bones, shipwrecks and lions. Meanwhile, twenty mile long dunes crest at 1000 feet above the vast sand seas of the great Namib Desert. From gravel plateaus and bushveld to fossil forests and quivertrees, Namibia is a fascinating world of contrasts and extremes.