Namib Desert: Namib Rand

C. Fraser Claire

The World's Oldest Desert and Africa's Darkest Skies in Namib Rand and the Namib Desert

The Beauty of Ancient Nature in the Namib Desert at Namib Rand

Namib Desert Links:
Desert Namibia | Namib Naukluft National Park & Sossusvlei | Namib Desert and Namibrand | What To Pack For A Desert Namibia Safari | Quick Tips For The Namib Desert & a Desert Namibia Safari |

Namib Rand by The Safari Store

The Namib Desert and Namib-Naukluft National Park

If the great writers and travellers of the past are to be believed, the desert holds answers to some of life’s rudimentary questions: on survival, on solitude, on the power of silence. For scientists and geologists, it is a place alive with clues on better understanding the world.

For all of the certainty that exists around the science of this ancient land, the Earth’s mysteries are evident here too. Sossusvlei and Namib Rand are the best places in Namibia to observe fairy circles – craters in the ground that are equidistant from one another. They support very little plant life and, while there are many theories on what they are and how they were created, there is no conclusive answer. Rare and precious things are greatly treasured and these scarce universal unknowns are no different – questions sent to the cosmos that force us to be at peace with hidden truths and the limits of knowledge.

When it comes to questions about ourselves, there is no greater quiz master than the night skies – with generations of questions posed to the darkness beyond what is known. Today, in Namib Rand, the night holds some of the darkest skies ever measured. The reserve is Africa’s first Dark Sky Reserve, with gold tier status for having little to no impact from artificial light.

I have seen more shooting stars next to campfires in Namibia than anywhere else. However, there is something about the clarity of the stars in the sky - the brilliance of the twinkle and illumination - that is a celebration of starlight in Namib Rand. →

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Namib Rand Nature Reserve by The Safari Store

Connecting Dune and Sky
The dunes are hunting grounds for raptors. They soar over the silence, becoming part of the silence - dipping down to hunt or perch like the motion of a needle connecting dune and sky.

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Namib Desert winds by The Safari Store

In the silence of this desert landscape, the rise and fall of the dunes are the pulse of the Earth’s life story. As the world has changed around it – as forests grew and fell, as watercourses developed and changed, as humankind evolved – this desert land has remained stable.

Desert literature often echoes a universal trope: to move is to live and the migratory stand a higher chance of survival. From our comfortable campsite at Namib Rand Family Hideout, the yard arm for the day was the shift of shadow on red sand. Markings in the sand told vivid stories of insects and rodents, grass circles in the wind, the bloom-like lairs of buck spoor spiders.

Every member of our travel party looked to the distance and planned to move. That dune can’t be that far away! I set out at first light with my camera and a bottle of water, casting my tracks alongside the dots and dashes of campsite regulars and hyena tracks. I soon realised that what appears to be flat land is actually deceptively undulating.

In the dips, I stumbled upon herds of oryx that ran like bandits into the distance. Bat-eared foxes tumbled over the ground in an act of almost comical escape. As midday hit, it became clear that my distant dune marker wouldn’t be reached in a day – a practical lesson on the true meaning of the Namib’s ‘open spaces’. I turned and followed my tracks back to camp – barely visible. →

Namib Rand Family Hideout by The Safari Store

Whirling Campaigns
The campsites at Namib Rand Family Hideout are the perfect base for a Namib Desert escape. In scenery like this, they have no option but to be tucked away - a place to plan the days or soak up the peace.

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We all set out on walks of a similar kind – testing the space. We all remarked on how little we managed to cover on our solo pilgrimages, but we were all invigorated by the purity of the exercise. Walking alone in the silence, the space is filled with something else – meaning, perhaps. It is said that, for the first years of their lives, the nomadic San of the area carry their children on their backs through these landscapes – and that they have no choice but to become poets as a result. It seems to have the same effect on modern-day adults.

As our time in Namib Rand came to a close, I filled my camera with ripples of sand, the hush of birds as the immensity of the sky embraced the immensity of the earth. Mahmout Punja once said his greatest fear was ending up on a beach. For those who fall in love with the desert, the depth of experience celebrates intimations of life in a land that tests very limits of what we consider hospitable.

Having explored the wonders of Namibia - from more classic safaris in Caprivi to the coastal wasteland of the Skeleton Coast, including the Namib Desert in the form of Namib Rand, Namib-Naukluft National Park, and Sossusvlei, is the trip of a lifetime and a cross-section of an unforgettable part of the world. →

Falcon in flight at Namib Rand by The Safari Store

We all set out on individual desert walks - testing the space.
Buck Spoor Spider Namib Rand, Namib Desert - by The Safari Store

Burrowing Spiders
The doorway of the burrowing buck spoor spider is beautiful graffiti in the sand. With fossilised sheet webs dating back 16 million years in the Namib Desert, these ancient inhabitants have left their mark over ages.

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Namib Rand Dark Sky Reserve - by The Safari Store

The darkest skies make the stars shine even brighter. Namib Rand is a Dark Sky Reserve - a place where little interference from artificial light dilutes the illumination of the stars.

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Gemsbok in the Namib Desert by The Safari Store

The Point Of It All
Big city life gives way to big scenery. Watching wildlife in these landscapes is something special.

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Sociable weavers, Namib Rand - by The Safari Store

Colonies in Trees
The ingenuity of a sociable weaver's nest is a thing to behold - and the desert glow casts these great thatched marvels in golden light.

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Namib Desert dunes by The Safari Store

Red Desert Dunes
The Namib Desert dunes are wrinkles on the face of time. With winds that breathe life into these sometimes hostile landscapes, there is life in extraordinary abundance among these exquisite sand castles.

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Bat-eared fox at Namib Rand, Namib Desert - by The Safari Store

Bat-Eared Bandits
Watching the seemingly empty and endless view, the landscape suddenly came alive with bat-eared foxes. Sometimes stealthy, their antics are always entertaining.

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Tracks in Namib Rand, Namib Desert - by The Safari Store

Headlines in Sand
The tracks in the early-morning sand tell stories of nighttime visitors, which appear to take a well-worn path at times rather than going their own way.

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Desert Namibia Safari Links:
Desert Namibia | Namib Naukluft National Park & Sossusvlei | Namib Desert and Namibrand | What To Pack For A Desert Namibia Safari | Quick Tips For The Namib Desert & a Desert Namibia Safari | Damaraland: Hobatere to Palmwag | Damaraland: Twyfelfontein Along the Khowarib Schlucht | Damaraland: The Skeleton Coast and Ugab | What To Pack For Damaraland | Damaraland Quick Travel Tips |

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