Why you should spend your next holiday in Namibia!
Joost and I are very proud to present to you the Thika Travel Namibia film which has been compiled by our filmer Gertjan Straalman during our journotrip last December.
The film is 20 minutes and although the narration is in Dutch we invite you to watch this. The interviews we did are of course in English.
We both think the film gives a very good impression of what we had in mind: sustainable tourism in a beautiful country. Shorter clips will be edited for use on social media.
We only could make this film with your great support and we are very thankful for this. We believe it is a fantastic promotion for Namibia and our preferred lodges. Thank you very much again for all your efforts to make this trip possible.
We look forward to your feedback on the film: "Namibie, wildparken en Natuurbeheer" http://www.straalman.nl
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.
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. Whether you stay at Main Camp, Bush Camp or the luxuriously appointed Villa or Bush Suite, you will remember the staff’s helpfulness and experience AfriCat’s dedication to the cause of long term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores. Sightings of free-living leopard, rehabilitated cheetahs and "welfare" lions provide you with lasting memories of how these graceful cats live under natural conditions. Internationally renown for its service to guests, Okonjima is often fully booked. Consequently, it is advisable that you make timely reservations in order to obtain the accommodation of your choice.
The places described here are but a few of what Namibia has to offer you. Okonjima fits perfectly into this kaleidoscope of unique experiences. Many more destinations and landscapes await your first or your return visit to a country that can truly be described as a Gem in Africa’s crown.
DID YOU KNOW!?
The World Cup 2010 in South Africa has now come to a close and we are left with a legacy of Africa having staged one of the greatest World Cups of all time. The spotlight was on Africa and Africa delivered a world class event. If it wasn’t apparent before, it is clear now that the expertise and infrastructure that was used is as good as it gets anywhere in the world.
Success stories like this are to be found all across Africa, but one which is currently going largely unnoticed is “the greatest African wildlife recovery story ever told” taking place in Namibia. The Namibian wildlife conservation success story stands out in sharp contrast to most African countries where wildlife populations and habitats are declining at a worrying pace.
As Ultimate Safaris we are privileged to be operating in some of the most pristine and delicate wilderness areas on earth. We are dedicated to the protection and conservation of these areas and to the improvement in quality of life for the communities who are living there. We believe that the future of these areas lies in the hands of these communities, making them pivotal in the custodianship of the natural resources there.
In effect this means that our guests, jointly with our safari company, give tangible assistance to the Namibian people and to their environment. We support their efforts to achieve economic viability without harming the natural habitats and wildlife where they live.
This allows them to utilize both on a sustainable basis for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.
As a proudly Namibian company, we have decided to tell the world this remarkable story in the form of a ‘DID YOU KNOW’.
Please forward this message on to anyone you think would be interested and help us to make this story better known. More importantly, help us to encourage the growth of sustainable and responsible tourism to Namibia, which is clearly directly contributing to the well-being of all Namibians.
So, DID YOU KNOW ??:
- Namibia was the first African country to incorporate protection of the environment into its constitution. The Government of Namibia has reinforced this by giving its rural communities the right to manage their wildlife through communal conservancies. These conservancies are clearly defined tracts of land, registered with government, where local communities manage their natural resources through a democratically elected committee and approved management plans.
- The conservancy movement works with over 230 000 rural residents. This means one in every eight Namibians, or one in four rural area residents, lives within a conservancy. These conservancies have been proven to be a valuable factor in conservation strategy as evidenced by the substantial increase in wildlife in the areas they control.
- The conservancy movement has also proved to be an effective rural development strategy, generating income for local communities, bringing new jobs and providing new skills and expertise.
- Economic value to communities has increased dramatically since 1998, when there were 4 registered conservancies, to today when there are almost 60. Income and benefits have also grown from around USD 80 000 to USD 5.7 million annually. Almost all of this growth has come from sustainable eco tourism and the regulations from government’s commitment to the devolution of rights over local natural resources.
- There are now 31 formal joint-venture (JV) lodges, camps and campsites that work with their host conservancies. USD 19 million has been invested in tourism JV’s by private sector since 1998, representing 789 new full-time jobs and over 250 seasonal positions. The number of JV agreements has doubled since 2005.
- Almost 39% of Namibia’s land is protected by government as National Parks, or by local communities as communal conservancies.
- Namibia is the only country in Africa where black rhinos are being trans- located out of a National Park to communal conservancy areas.
- Namibia has the world’s largest population of black rhino which is managed through a custodianship programme with land owners and farmers.
- Namibia is the only country in Africa where free roaming lion populations are increasing, and the levels of poaching have decreased dramatically to almost negligible levels today.
- Namibia is the only country in the world with 100% of its coastline under some form of protective status.
- Namibia undertakes the largest road-based wildlife count in the world.
- Namibia is moving wildlife from protected areas onto farmland through the Wildlife Breeding Stock Loan scheme aimed at assisting upcoming commercial farmers restock their farms with wildlife so they can develop viable wildlife-based income.
- Namibia has the largest population of free ranging cheetah in the world, with more than 50% of the global population.
- Namibia has a transparent permit system which allows for the sustainable off-take of wildlife in a coordinated manner to stamp out over-harvesting and to safeguard populations for future generations.
On February 4th 2010, the World Travel and Tourism Council announced the finalists for the 2010 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. From more than 160 applications from over 45 countries, Namibia’s Communal Conservancy Tourism Sector was chosen as one of the three finalists in the Community Benefit category. Although Namibia didn’t win the top prize, being selected as a finalist was global recognition of Namibia’s achievement... and hellip; and Ultimate Safaris is proudly helping to spread the word.
THE ULTIMATE SAFARIS TEAM
View the most stunning VIRTUAL TOUR of NAMIBIA on the Ultimate Safaris WEBSITE: http://www.ultimatesafaris.na/vt/