For once, we’re off to a lazy start before our Desert Rhino tracking experience, biding our time enjoying numerous cups of coffee from our ring side seats overlooking the river bed at Fig Tree Community Campsite. Zebra and kudu grace us with their presence but the elephants seem to have retreated far out of sight today.
Back on Track
Eventually, we motivate ourselves enough to brave the rough road back towards the Palmwag Concession for what we anticipate to be the highlight of our trip.
We’ve managed to secure a booking at the exclusive Desert Rhino Camp for one night and booked a desert rhino tracking adventure for tomorrow.
Desert Rhino Camp
Desert Rhino Camp certainly lives up to our expectations. It’s a real treat to be glamping amongst these gorgeous scenes of euphorbia trees, savannah and welwitschia plants, with the Etendeka Mountains hugging us in their loose grip.
Our tent is raised, Meru-style and filled with the little extra touches one would expect from a resort of this stature. After a morning of gazing out in awe from our private deck we sink into the onsite pool which does a fine job of erasing dusty-road detritus from our minds.
Next on the agenda is lunch in the tented dining area which reveals more stunning views and a meal of lasagne and salad.
Typically, midday meals are served out in the field at Desert Rhino Camp, run by Save The Rhino Trust. Being latecomers, we had the dining area all to ourselves, except for the super-cordial wait-staff and a lone hyena indulging in a midday drink at the waterhole just a few meters away.
Our afternoon consists of whiling away the time watching this waterhole and ambling around camp. The birdlife is bustling and we get to see a hawk eagle soaring above as well as ostriches and a korhaan a little way off. An assortment of more common Namibian birds complete our overhead sightings.
As we wander around, other guests start arriving back from their day-long game-drives and afternoon guided walks.
Needless to say, the conversation during pre-dinner drinks revolves around their incredible sightings and experiences against the fitting and familiar aroma of the evening fire being lit.
Darkness descends quickly and the tales continue around the fireside, interrupted only by the lilting strains of the camp-staff’s evening song which heralds the serving of dinner.
Fresh air, crisp white linen and a late evening around the fireside ensure a sound night’s rest for all back at our tents.
Desert Rhino Tracking
It’s still dark when the familiar sound of game vehicles chugging in the darkness awaken us as they set out to find us some rhino.
Bleary eyed and chattering excitedly, our group convenes for a quick continental breakfast before rushing to board our open-side game vehicle – they’ve found a desert-rhino and we’re on our way to see it.
The animal is a way off and roaming free so we are still relying on the skills of our (un-armed) ranger to lead us on foot to see it. I’m as nervous as the proverbial cat as we alight from the vehicle and set off in hot pursuit of the black rhino – they aren’t exactly known for their social skills.
Our guide assures us that the bull we are tracking goes by the name of ‘No Worries’ and is a particularly placid specimen (as rhino’s go). We hear his munching and crashing movements before we see him – munching away contentedly among the rocks and shrubs in an open thicket.
Standing there unarmed and on his turf, evokes a range of emotions fluctuating between stark terror to overwhelming awe even though he is quite a distance away. They’re a lot bigger than they look on the National Geographic channel, or from a vehicle.
Fortunately, ‘No Worries’ lives up to his reputation and we leave as silently as we came. Our outdoor picnic lunch is a splendid al fresco affair, with the chefs whisking up a pasta dish, salads and rolls, seemingly out of thin air.
All Good Things…
We make our way back to camp, stopping to admire zebra, a distant elephant and a few gemsbok.
Our departure a few hours later is a tear-jerking affair, made more so by the melancholy farewell song of our hosts and deep regret for having not booked a longer stay.
Did you catch the last episode in our “Cape Town to Namibia” series, Road Tripping Around Namibia – Koakoaveld ? If not, hit the link and join us as we explore this premier Namibian destination. Follow our travellers as they end their Desert Rhino Tracking adventure and head off to The Caprivi Strip and beyond.
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