Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Dik-Dik of Namibia


The Kirk's dik-dik  is a small antelope native to Eastern Africa and one of four species of dik-dik antelope. It is believed to have six subspecies and possibly a seventh existing in southwest Africa. Dik-diks are herbivores, typically of a fawn color that aids in camouflaging themselves in savannah habitats.  They are also capable of reaching speeds of up to 42 kilometers per hour. The lifespan of Kirk's dik-dik in the wild is typically 5 years, but may surpass 10 years.  In captivity males have been known to live up to 16.5 years, while females have lived up to 18.4 years.

Dik-diks are some of the world's smallest antelopes, with the largest, the Kirk's dik-dik, standing between 14 and 18 inches tall and weighing no more than 7.2 kg. Female dik-diks tend to be 1 to 2 pounds heavier than males. Dik-diks are dainty creatures with a pointed, mobile snout, large eyes and ears, prominent preorbital glands, pipestem legs, hare-like hind limbs that are significantly larger than their forelimbs, and a vestigial tail. Their coats, depending upon their habitat, range from grey to gray-brown with tan flanks, limbs, and an erectile head crest and whitish eye rings, ear lining, underparts, and rump".


 














Similar to other dwarf antelopes, Kirk's dik-diks exist in monogamous pairs on territories. Territories are marked with dung and urine that are deposited in a ritual that is performed to help helps maintain pair bonds. During the ritual, the female will excrete, followed by the male, which samples the female's urine stream to check her reproductive capacity. He paws over and then marks his dung and urine over her deposit. Finally, the pair marks nearby twigs with secretions from their pre-orbital glands. Kingon 1982 states that, "The male courts the female by running up behind her with his head and neck stretched and his muzzle pointing out in front. Copulation begins with the male standing on his hind legs behind the female and waving his forelegs at an acute angle to his own body in the air over her back". Copulation typically occurs anywhere between three and five times within a 9-hour period.



Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Living Desert Adventures


The Living Desert Tour, originally developed in the 1990’s, is a unique 4x4 adventure drive through the dunes outside Swakopmund, Namibia. Just the drive in the dunes is an amazing experience, but it will show you a lot more than sand. The tour takes you from the vegetated, life-rich eastern side of the dunes, right through the dunes to the Atlantic Ocean on the western side of the dune belt. 

Introducing you to some of the fascinating, hidden life in this apparently barren landscape that is part of the Namib Desert. Here you can find creatures endemic to the Namib: the sidewinder (Peringuey's Adder), the Palmato Gecko with its transparent skin and beautiful colours - we dig into the dune side to find this nocturnal desert-dweller. We track the large Namaqua Chameleon, and watch it enjoy brunch. Then it's a dash to catch the swift sand-diving lizard. 

Finding out how the area's plants and small animals survive the harsh climate, and how they obtain water for life. You will also track a FitzSimon's Burrowing Skink across the dune face, in hopes of catching this legless lizard. Along the way, they will explain the variety of dune colours. At the end of the tour, weather permitting, you will experience a 'roaring' dune. 

Other characters to be found in the dune belt are the 'dancing' White Lady Spider; the Parabuthus Villosus black scorpion; the occasional horned adder or sand-snake; desert wasps, fish-moths, crickets and several beetle species, and many more. 

The Living Desert Tour is educational, fun and an unforgettable experience. You will see the desert and dunes with new eyes. The photographic opportunities are endless too: make sure those batteries are charged before you leave! 







Monday, February 19, 2018

David Livingstone's Camp

Mamili (Nkasa Lupala) National Park beautifully mirrors Botswana’s Okavango style wetland wilderness with an edge that is uniquely Namibian. In a vast arid country, Mamili holds the distinction of being the largest wetland with conservation status in Namibia.

The newly built Livingstone’s Camp borders the national park and features 5 exclusive camp sites providing visitors with their own private bathroom, hot showers and unrivalled camping facilities.

The camp sites all have incredible views of the Linyanti wetland with abundant birdlife and wildlife. Guests have a range of activities to experience, including Mokoro safaris through the pristine waterways, as well as guided walking and game drive safaris. 

Anyone with passionate enthusiasm for the wildlife of Africa and is equipped with a self-contained 4x4 vehicle will consider camping at Livingstone’s Camp, the ultimate escape.






Monday, December 4, 2017

Happy International Cheetah Day!

Did you know that today, 4 December, is International Cheetah Day? Namibia's own Cheetah Conservation Fund hopes the day will "increase worldwide awareness about Africa and Iran’s most endangered cat.” Namibia's commitment to conservation has provided a healthy environment for studying about the cheetah population and how to strengthen its numbers. To help you mark International Cheetah Day, here are some FAST facts about the world's FASTEST land animal!

  • The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world. They can achieve speeds of 112 to 120 km/h (70 to 75 mph) in short bursts. 
  • Most car dealers would be envious of their acceleration skills - the cheetah can go from 0 to over 100 km/h (62 mph) in just three seconds! 
  • So how does the cheetah have to power to sprint so fast? Partly because of its ability to increase circulation of oxygen as a result of its unusually large heart, wide nostrils and increased lung capacity. 
  • A cheetah's breath will increase from 60 breaths per minute to 150 when moving at top speed! 
  • Other adaptations include a flexible spine and thin, muscular body with long legs - a bit like an olympic athlete! 
  • Despite moving at incredible speeds, the cheetah is able to make swift, sharp turns to keep up with its prey - thanks to its tail which it uses as a rudder. 
  • The cheetah's characteristic black "tear marks" that run from the inside of its eyes down to its nose help keep the sun's glare out of its eyes - aiding the big cat while it hunts.  




Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Famous Ongava Game Reserve..

Ongava Lodge    
     
The well-established Ongava Lodge is situated in the privately owned Ongava Game Reserve along the southern boundary of Etosha National Park. Placed as it is close to the top of a hill in the foothills of the Ondundozonanandana range, the vantage point is beautiful and overlooks a well-frequented waterhole and the plains beyond.
Ongava Lodge offers luxury accommodation in 14 rock-and-thatch en-suite chalets. There are impressive views over the camp’s waterhole from the main lounge and dining areas and there is also an inviting pool to cool off in the heat of the day. Meals are either served in the main dining area under thatch or on the dining deck under the stars.

Activities include game drives into Etosha, spending time in the camp hide, and nature drives and walks on the reserve. Ongava has resident white and black rhino, giving guests staying at Ongava the opportunity to see both species.














Little Ongava

Little Ongava is perched on the crest of a hill commanding magnificent vistas of the plains stretching for miles to the horizon, offering an extraordinary experience as the focal point of an Etosha journey.
This intimate camp has only three spacious suites each with its own plunge pool, en-suite bathroom, “sala”, and outdoor shower. The lounge and dining areas have wonderful views of a productive waterhole below the camp, the open deck allowing for relaxed, stylish dining under the African sky. Guests at Little Ongava share a dedicated guide and vehicle, ensuring the best possible nature experience at one of Africa’s great wildlife destinations. Day and night wildlife-viewing drives, visiting hides overlooking waterholes, walks and rhino tracking with experienced guides can all be enjoyed exclusively on this reserve. Game drives and day trips into nearby Etosha National Park are also offered.











Ongava tented Camp

The classic safari style camp is tucked in a hidden valley at the foot of a dolomite hill in Ongava Game Reserve bordering Etosha National Park.
Eight large comfortable Meru-style tents all have en-suite facilities, open air showers and private verandas; the family unit sleeps four. The main area, built of stone, canvas and thatch, fronts onto a much-frequented waterhole; watching wildlife coming to drink from here or from the swimming pool is a favourite pastime.
Ongava’s proximity to Etosha allows for game drives in the Etosha National Park and on the Ongava Reserve itself. Other possibilities include guided walks, birding and visiting hides. Ongava holds one of the largest rhino custodianships for the Namibian government in the country and is one of the few private game reserves in southern Africa where guests can see both black and white rhino.















Andersson's Camp

Nestled in mopane scrub on white calcrete soils, Andersson’s Camp is situated 4.5 km from Etosha’s Andersson Gate. The camp was named after Swedish explorer Charles Andersson – one of the first Europeans to “discover” Etosha, Africa’s largest saltpan.
The resurrected former farmstead that stands on the site now forms the centre of a charming camp fronting onto a productive waterhole. The 18 tented en-suite units (including two family suites) are raised on decks. The camp is an exciting example of sustainable construction; this model of eco-sensitive lodging provides an authentic, safe and down-to-earth experience for small groups, families and independent travellers to the Etosha region and is easily accessible by either road or air.
Activities include morning and/or afternoon game drives in Etosha National Park, and morning and afternoon/evening drives (on request in camp) and nature walks on Ongava Reserve. The sunken hide at the waterhole in front of camp is an excellent place from which to watch wildlife coming down to drink.

















Ongava Wildlife





Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Skeleton Coast of Namibia...

A little about the Skeleton Coast

The Skeleton Coast is the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia and south of Angola from the Kunene River south to the Swakop River, although the name is sometimes used to describe the entire Namib Desert coast. The Bushmen of the Namibian interior called the region "The Land God Made in Anger", while Portuguese sailors once referred to it as "The Gates of Hell".

The name Skeleton Coast was coined by John Henry Marsh as the title for the book he wrote chronicling the shipwreck of the Dunedin Star. Since the book was first published in 1944 it has become so well known that the coast is now generally referred to as Skeleton Coast and is given that as its official name on most maps today.

On the coast the upwelling of the cold Benguela current gives rise to dense ocean fogs (called "cassimbo" by the Angolans) for much of the year. The winds blow from land to sea, rainfall rarely exceeds 10 millimetres annually and the climate is highly inhospitable. There is a constant, heavy surf on the beaches. In the days before engine-powered ships and boats, it was possible to get ashore through the surf but impossible to launch from the shore. The only way out was by going through a marsh hundreds of miles long and only accessible via a hot and arid desert.

The coast is largely soft sand occasionally interrupted by rocky outcrops. The southern section consists of gravel plains while north of Terrace Bay the landscape is dominated by high sand dunes. Skeleton Bay is now known as a great location for surfing.

The Shipwrecks at the Skeleton Coast








Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dunes of Namibia!

     

The Namib is a coastal desert in southern Africa. The name Namib is of Nama origin and means "vast place". According to the broadest definition, the Namib stretches for more than 2,000 kilometres  along the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia, and South Africa, extending southward from the Carunjamba River in Angola, through Namibia and to the Olifants River in Western Cape, South Africa. The Namib's northernmost portion, which extends 450 kilometres  from the Angola-Namibia border, is known as Moçâmedes Desert, while its southern portion approaches the neighboring Kalahari Desert. From the Atlantic coast eastward, the Namib gradually ascends in elevation, reaching up to 200 kilometres  inland to the foot of the Great Escarpment. Annual precipitation ranges from 2 millimetres in the most arid regions to 200 millimetres at the escarpment, making the Namib the only true desert in southern Africa. The Namib may be the  oldest desert in the world and contains some of the world's driest regions.


The desert geology consists of sand seas near the coast, while gravel plains and scattered mountain outcrops occur further inland. The sand dunes, some of which are 300 metres high and span 32 kilometres long, are the second largest in the world after the Badain Jaran Desert dunes in China. Temperatures along the coast are stable and generally range between 9–20 °C (48–68 °F) annually, while temperatures further inland are variable—summer daytime temperatures can exceed 45 °C (113 °F) while nights can be freezing. Fogs that originate offshore from the collision of the cold Benguela Current and warm air from the Hadley Cell create a fog belt that frequently envelops parts of the desert. Coastal regions can experience more than 180 days of thick fog a year. While this has proved a major hazard to ships—more than a thousand wrecks litter the Skeleton Coast—it is a vital source of moisture for desert life.


The Namib is almost completely uninhabited by humans except for several small settlements and indigenous pastoral groups, including the Ovahimba and Obatjimba Herero in the north, and the Topnaar Nama in the central region. Owing to its antiquity, the Namib may be home to more endemic species than any other desert in the world. Most of the desert wildlife is arthropods and other small animals that live on little water, although larger animals inhabit the northern regions. Near the coast, the cold ocean water is rich in fishery resources and supports populations of brown fur seals and shorebirds, which serve as prey for the Skeleton Coast's lions. Further inland, the Namib-Naukluft National Park, the largest game park in Africa, supports populations of African Bush Elephants, Mountain Zebras, and other large mammals. Although the outer Namib is largely barren of vegetation, lichens and succulents are found in coastal areas, while grasses, shrubs, and ephemeral plants thrive near the escarpment. A few types of trees are also able to survive the extremely arid climate.