The Rare and Endangered Species Trust is an organisation that operates in Central-Northern Namibia near the town of Otjiwarongo and the Okonkjima game reserve. REST was founded in 2000 by Maria Diekmann and has since gone from strength to strength. Originally Maria envisaged REST as playing a supporting role in the effort to conserve endangered species such as the Cape griffon vulture. As time went by, however, it became clear that REST would be better suited to playing a leading role in conservating severeal different endangered species from around Namibia.
The entrance to REST.
The Forgotten 5
Presently REST is concerned with protecting the so-called “forgotten 5”. These endangered species represent a cross-section of the rich and fragile biodiversity of Namibia. These forgotten animals of Namibia are the African wild dog, the Damara dik-dik, the dwarf python, the Cape griffon vulture and the Cape pangolin.
The African Wild Dog.
(photo courtesy of the NTB via Roderick MacLeod)
The Damarra Dik-dik.
(Image courtesy of REST)
The African Python.
(Image courtesy of REST)
The Cape Griffon Vulture.
(Image courtesy of REST)
The Cape Pangolin.
(Image courtesy of REST)
When we visited REST we were given a tour of the facilities and were shown the many species the trust helps to protect. Of particular interest to us was the the Cape pangolin. It is an illusive and little understood species of mammal that inhabits Namibia and is coming under increasing threat from poachers and black market pet dealers.
Problems facing Pangolins
Pangolin scales and pangolin meat are highly paid for commodities in several Southeast Asian countries. As a result of this the number of pangolins killed for either their scales or flesh is increasing every year. The pangolin is now the most frequently seized mammal in Asia's illegal wildlife trade. The majority of these pangolins are indigenous to Far-east and Southeast Asian countries but as the stocks dwindle in these regions poachers are beginning to look further afield.
One of the many pangolins found dead and en route to a black market destination.
(Image courtesy of Global Nation)
Little is understood of Namibia’s cape pangolins and as a result they are difficult to track and monitor. Their behavior and numbers are largely unknown and it is thus difficult to ascertain exactly how many are being taken out of Namibia. Once the pangolin flesh and scales have made their way to the far-east their value sky-rockets. However, within Namibia the value of a Cape pangolin can be as little as 20 US$.
Unfortunately there is a misconception in Namibian communities that a pangolin is a golden ticket to riches in-excess of tens of thousands of dollars. In reality though the punishments for selling pangolins are massive and the payout is very low. Whenever the conservationists at REST get wind of a local trying to sell a Cape pangolin on the black market they will try to intervene and prevent the sale and will usually take posession of the pangolin.
A baby Cape pangolin in Maria's hand.
His mother was rescued from black market traders.
(Photo courtest of Maria Diekmann)
How REST Helps
At the beginning of 2012 REST unexpectedly received a female Cape pangolin. The team at REST decided to release her into the wild but before they could do so she gave birth to a pangolin pup. The mother then made her way back into the bush leaving the pup behind. Motherless, this pup, affectionately called Baby Pang, now spends its time foraging around the surrounds of the REST grounds. It is currently being weaned off of human contact and is almost fully prepared for a re-entry into the wild.
So little is known of Cape pangolins and their habits that they need to be carefully monitored in unique situations like the one described above. One of the major successes at REST is their ability to care for pangolins. Usually, pangolins die when kept in captivity but at REST the gentle creatures flourish before being sent back into the wild. Baby Pang is one of two pangolins, world-wide, to survive after being born in captivity. Maria attributes this success to their methods. At REST the emphasis is always on limiting the stress an animal experiences thus increasing its chances of survival. The team at REST also makes every effort to keep these animals as close to their natural habitats as possible.
Baby Pang the Cape pangolin foraging near REST.
During our visit we were allowed to walk with Baby Pang and watch how it forages
in its natural environment.
Zola the Pangolin
While visiting REST we were fortunate enough to observe the arrival of a new Cape pangolin that had been confiscated from black market pet dealers just outside a nearby town. This pangolin (now called Zola) was clearly distressed and disorientated in its new environment. As a result Devries (a game ranger on loan from the neighbouring Okonjima game reserve) and Maria wanted to get her back out into the wild as soon as possible.
Volunteers preparing Zola for her tagging.
Maria wanted to limit her exposure to humans and thus increase her chances of re-intergrating back into the world of the Cape pangolins. Before this release could be effected a non-instrusive tracker needed to be attached to one of Zola’s scales and we were allowed to document this highly sensitive and rare procedure.
Devries and Maria tagging the newly arrived pangolin Zola.
It was touching to see the amount of genuine concern and care that was lavished upon this strange and beautiful creature. The radio transmitter was attached with a minimum of stress and Zola was taken inside Maria’s house to recuperate in preparation for her re-release into the wild. When we left REST the next day Zola was notably more relaxed and comfortable. It seemed a fitting end to an experience that was both hopeful and inspiring.
When we left Zola was hanging out on an old wine barrel enjoying some afternoon sun.
How You Can Get Involved
The easiest way to help is by giving donations to REST either through websites like Rockethub or through REST’s website itself. Another great way to help out is to volunteer to work at REST. The three volunteers we spent time with: Simon, Thomas and Anna had only compliments and heartfelt commendations when asked about the program.
REST also offers day tours around its facilities and depending on what time of the day you arrive and how long you are willing to stay you may get a chance to see these curious little creatures. Limited accomodation is also available and must be booked in advance. Contact the REST team by email with any enquiries you might have.
In some parts of the world it may already be too late to save these gentle creatures but in Namibia we are uniquely positioned to lead the charge in the conservation and study of pangolins. The more we understand these animals the easier it will become to protect them from future dangers.
As we were leaving Baby Pang decided Maria's head looked like a good place to perch.
The Waterberg is a vast and tremendously steep plateau in Central Namibia near the town of Otjiwarongo. The Waterberg plateau has stood fast and has silently watched as the land around it has been submerged in water, choked in massive sheets of ice and eroded over the millennia. The plateau is made of a much harder rock than all that surrounds it and as result it now rises 200 meters above the surrounding savannah.
The symbolism of the Waterberg Plateau is important to note. It has stood against time’s greatest tests and remains steadfast. It is fitting then that this plateau and the national park that sits atop it now stand steadfast in the battle for the conservation of some of Namibia’s most endangered species.
The Waterberg Plateau seen from the savannah.
The plateau and 405km2 of the land around the plateau were declared a national park in 1972. The plateau’s steep cliffs make it an extremely difficult region to access so the government at the time decided to designate the plateau as a space for the preservation of endangered species. In this newly formed park it was felt that at-risk and endangered species could recuperate and eventually flourish safe from the threat of poachers and human encroachment.
A view of the surrounding savannah from the top of the plateau.
The government officials were right. In the Waterberg Plateau Park populations of black rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, and antelope such as tsessebe, sable and roan are all on the increase. These species are being brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to the geological features of the plateau and the never failing hard work and dedication of the park officials.
Black rhinos are some of the most endangered animals in Namibia and the world and their proliferation in the Waterberg is one of the major conservation success stories in recent times. There are only about 3,610 Black Rhino still left in the wild and thanks to programs such as those run in the Waterberg Plateau Park Namibia has 1,750 of them. The Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism does regular censuses in the Waterberg but keeps the numbers confidential to deflect any potential interest from high-level and well-organized poachers.
Black rhino taking a dip in the Waterberg.
(Image courtesy of Africa and Beyond)
You may not drive, but you can walk
Access to the Waterberg is strictly controlled and is only possible through a series of checkpoints. As a result one cannot simply hop in one’s car and drive around the Waterberg Plateau Park. If you want to drive through the park you will need to book a place on one of the twice daily safaris the park offers (see below).
The Waterbeg Plateau Park is however accessible in ways other national parks are not. A visitor to the park can choose from any of the many walking trails found all over the park. These trails crisscross the plateau and extend from its base to its summit. A map of the trails can be found at the NWR reception near the entrance of the park.
Map of the park's many walking trails.
(Image courtesy of African Reservations)
The big advantage of being able to walk through the park is that you are able to experience the wildlife in a way that is totally different from other national parks in Namibia. By foot not only do you get to get up close to some of the animals that live in this park but you also get to experience the varied and beautiful flora of the park.
Our guide Makondjo had an expert knowledge of the local flora.
Weeping Wattles, Kalahari Christmas Trees and the protected Leadwood Tree, can all be found in the park, growing alongside the trails and even on the face of the plateau.
Much of the plateau's face is dotted with trees like this one.
There is even a chance that on one of these walks you will come across some of the mammals that have taken up residence in the park. Kudu, cheetahs, leopards and water buffalo are just four of the 26 species of large mammals that can all be found in the park. If you are attentive (and quiet!) you may spot and/or hear some of these animals as you traverse the park on foot. Keep a look out for tracks in the sand as you make your way along the trails and you may get lucky.
This dik-dik was kind enough to pose for us as we made
our way along the Mountain View trail.
The bird life of the Waterberg is nothing short of astounding. With over 200 species of birds it is a birdwatchers dream. Numerous raptors such as peregrine falcons and tawny eagles are found in the park and chances are high that you will see one up close. Various vultures, including the critically endangered Cape vulture nest within the park's boundaries. According to our guide Makondjo the best walk for avid bird-watchers is the Fig Tree walk.
Follow these signs for the Fig Tree walking trail.
All the walking trails are all clearly marked by route markers and none of the trails require you to be an expert hiker. Being in good physical condition is advisable but many patrons of the park, young and old, can navigate most of the trails with ease. If at any point you feel the going is getting too tough then simply turn around and head back the way you came.
When on any of the trails up the plateau just follow these painted feet.
For those who are more adventurous (and are in better shape) than most check out some of the longer multi-day hikes that the reserve has to offer.
Getting to the top of the plateau is easy, leaving the views behind is not
If walking and hiking is not really your thing then fear not! You can take a guided safari drive led by the resident game rangers. There is both a morning and a late afternoon drive. All you have to do is let the NWR reception know that you wish to book a place on one of these drives.
Giraffe seen from the road whilst on the late afternoon safari drive
The drives include a visit to some of the park’s seven watering holes. These watering holes are specifically designed to be non-intrusive areas from which to watch animals in their natural environment.
Looking out of a watering hole hide deep in the park-
patience and silence are needed if you want to capture some of the rarer game
The Waterberg's multifaceted history
The Waterberg’s attractions are not limited to its flora and fauna. There are both anthropological and archaeological sites of interest as well. The Waterberg was the site of a major battle during the Herero uprising against the German colonial forces. There is a graveyard near the entrance to the park which commemorates soldiers lost on both sides of the conflict. The exact location of the park is on the map you can pick up from reception.
A little harder to find are the dinosaur footprints found in the surrounding area. You will need a guide in order to find these and enquiries in this regard can be made at the NWR reception.
(Image courtesy of Richard Desomme via Panoramia)
You can stay at the NWR lodge or the private Waterberg Wilderness lodge both these lodges have the advantage of being located in the national park. The NWR lodge also has a rich history closely associated with the early German settlement in the area and is definitely worth checking out. Many of the buildings found in the park are from the early 1900's. Besides these two options there are many other options that will put you within striking distance of the park as well.
The Waterberg Plateau Park's NWR run dining hall is a former police station that has been
reconditioned and aesthetically preserved
Why you should visit the Waterberg
The Waterberg’s unique blend of flora and fauna, and its sociological, anthropological and archaeological points of interest make it a must visit for anyone touring around Namibia. It is a bastion of conservation and relaxation. It is also a hideaway from the crowds of the bigger and more over-visited safari spots in Namibia. This park is suited for the traveller who is looking for something a little out of the ordinary on their journeys around Namibia.
A massive tree that has grown into the rock and formed a natural slide
All photos and Text by guest blogger, Piara Strainge
Namibia is a richly captivating destination full of hidden gems and unassuming tourism amidst the holiday hotspots. You can self drive it or join an overland safari, either way the experience will be one you won’t forget in a hurry. From the safari thrills in Etosha to the empty moonscape wilderness of the Skeleton coast, this African country is as beautiful as it is diverse.
On arrival in Windhoek, as is considered tradition, I dined at the famous Joe's Beerhouse in Nelson Mandela Avenue and sampled local delicacies such as Gemsbok fillet and Kudu loin steak. There is always an abundance of good food and good beer to be had here whilst you look on in admiration at the range of memorabilia housed in and around the bar and lapas.
Elephant in Etosha
Once I was suitably watered and fed at Joe’s, Etosha beckoned. This is where many people start their safari experience and being a complete game-driving junkie myself, I was itching to get going. Joining a local safari company for three days, I travelled through Okaukuejo, Halali and Namutoni. I remember the black backed jackals accompanying us at dinner around our campfire and much later in the night we would observe black rhinos at the watering holes.
My safari gang in Etosha
Every safari is different and no matter how many times you do it, there will always be that one special experience you remember above all others. Mine came at the end of Etosha. As we were leaving the National Park, the African sky turned a bluish black, thunder rumbled around us in surround sound and we spotted a male lion padding towards us. We could feel his dominant presence as he got closer and closer and suddenly he began to roar. Was he competing with the thunder, calling for his mate, or warning us off? The atmosphere was charged. Another crack of thunder, another flash of lightning illuminating the sky, and still he kept coming, relentlessly roaring louder and louder. The heat was immense but he didn’t seem to tire. When he was within shooting range, I started snapping my camera and eventually he came so close I could look into his eyes. That one-on-one turned a great safari into an awesome safari.
Male lion in Etosha
Whilst getting out of the vehicle is strictly prohibited in Etosha and most other National Parks in Africa, if the true wilderness safari experience is what you’re really after (as I was), a visit to the Palmwag concession is a must. On this journey through Damaraland to Palmwag Lodge, it was just my guide and myself and the scenery was so breathtaking, I was utterly mesmerised. The drive into the concession area was even more stunning with timid zebras and desert elephants giving the vehicle a wide berth as we made our way over rough tracks deeper and deeper into the wilds, heading for our mobile tented camp which ups sticks and moves every time the game moves, so you’re always guaranteed sightings of these wary animals. That night, when I lay down to sleep in my luxury tent, I felt as if I was the last person on earth. The remoteness engulfed me and thrilled me all at the same time.
"I felt as if I was the last person on earth. The remoteness engulfed me and thrilled me all at the same time"
Palmwag concession scenery
Sightings on the game drives were privileges and I needed a lot of patience... but I was rewarded tenfold when lions, leopards and cheetahs came out to hunt, or stalk, or simply to watch. There were no jostling vehicles, no strict rules and regulations to adhere to (only common sense of course) and the opportunities for quality wildlife shots were readily available. The constant change in lighting made for very special photos. Even going to the toilet was exhilarating and never a problem. I just found myself some shrubbery, took one last check over my shoulder and away I went. And at the end of a satisfying day in the bush, my driver and guide always knew the exact spot for that perfect sundowner.
Palmwag concession from the vehicle
Namibia has some great conservation ventures like Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) and the Okonjima project. Tracking the rare black rhino on foot is an experience that will stay with me forever, as will being able to get just a few feet away from cheetahs and leopards at Okonjima. I loved my spacious, well-equipped rondaval in Okonjima and sitting out on the step feeding the birds (each room had a bowl of feed - a nice little touch) was magical at any time of the day.
Leopard in Okonjima
There is no better way to reflect and ponder on your travels thus far then when you are driving down the Skeleton coast. We had the tunes on as we cruised through the lunar landscapes and sheer barrenness. There’s a whole lot of nothing out there - but it’s beautiful. Stopping the 4WD, it’s worth a short walk over the dunes to the beaches, which are studded with shipwrecks as the waves relentlessly crash in. You appreciate the physical force of Mother Nature when you look along that coastline.
The time for thinking was over as we drove into Swakopmund. Sitting on the edge of the Namib Desert, this German colonised seaside resort has plenty to keep all types amused. The quaint guesthouses, art galleries, museums and fascinating shops selling 19th Century artefacts are all worth a visit as you meander across town. The craft market near the lighthouse is a definite priority to pick up something a little bit different to your usual souvenirs. Swakop is the adventure capital of Namibia, so as expected there are a range of activities on offer. You can sandboard, quad bike, sky dive, take a microlight flight or hot air balloon over the desert, or simply go for an exploratory walk over the dunes.
When the day is done and the adrenaline has ceased pumping through your veins, it’s time to take a break. We ate at a great restaurant situated in the jetty called the Tug. It’s an actual tug complete with sea views and is a perfect way to unwind and relax after a brilliantly hectic day.
I stopped off in Okahandja for some last minute shopping as we headed east back to Windhoek. Visiting every single shack shop, I bartered like crazy and between each one, the banter never ceased.
I saw and did so much during my visit to Namibia, but there is still so much more to explore. That’s why I’ll be heading back to get another fix of this incredible country.
Palmwag concession zebras
About Piara Strainge
Piara Strainge is a writer and photographer based in the South East of England. In the summer of 2001 she began working for an adventure tour operator and, becoming quickly smitten with the travel bug, she was fortunate enough to travel all over the world for the next ten years. Now she combines her passion for globetrotting with her love of writing and photography.
For more information about Piara’s life and work, visit her website at www.piarastrainge.com or follow her on Twitter @piarastrainge
Professional photographer Richard Bernabe has set foot in some of the most fascinating destinations on earth. Find out what drew Richard to Namibia, and why he's returning in 2014 with more photographers in tow...
All images © Richard Bernabe
Tell us about your most unforgettable moment while shooting in Namibia.
There were so many unforgettable experiences that it’s hard to choose only one. However, having not been to Africa before, the first glimpse of elephants, herds of zebras, and giraffes wandering across the expansive pan at Etosha was one that gave me a serious case of goose bumps.
All images © Richard Bernabe
How does Namibia compare to other places you’ve photographed?
The primary reason why we chose Namibia over some of the other Africa destinations was the diverse photography opportunities. Namibia offers jaw dropping, surreal landscapes as well as the wildlife that most of us associate with Africa. It is truly unique in that regards. I’ll be leading a photography workshop and tour in Namibia in 2014 and I love how my students can photograph and learn how to capture a variety of subjects and techniques in the process.
Which photos shot in Namibia are you most proud of?
All images © Richard Bernabe
I really like this particular image because it’s something very different than the other images you see from the Sossusvlei dune area. I also like its graphic nature and how it makes the viewer think and have to look deeply into the image.
All images © Richard Bernabe
This image depicts exactly how it felt to be in the quiver tree forest as the sun went down and twilight set in. The moon was out and the clouds raced across the sky overhead. It was an amazing evening to be sure.
All images © Richard Bernabe
This photo was created at the water hole just outside the Okaukeujo Rest Camp at Etosha National Park. The lights from the camp illuminating the elephants combined with the deep blues of twilight make this simply magical.
What is your equipment of choice for your Namibian expeditions?
I use Canon digital SLRs and a wide variety of lenses. For this past trip I used lenses from 16mm to 500mm and each was just as important as the other. The quiver tree forest, for example, required wide-angle lenses most of the time while at Etosha I needed long, telephoto lenses for the wildlife.
For Namibia in particular, I would never leave home without sunscreen.
All images © Richard Bernabe
A photographer friend is desperate to capture the best of Namibia. What top 3 tips would you give them?
#1: Plan the trip carefully to avoid too much driving time. Namibia is a big country and to see it all requires a lot of travel. By planning and prioritizing what you want to see and photograph, you can spend much more of your time behind the camera and not the steering wheel of a car.
#2: Be open to all sorts of photo opportunities and don’t go out with blinders on. You have coastal landscapes, deserts, dunes, mountains, birds, and large and small mammals. Be prepared for just about anything.
#3: Have fun. Photographers tend to focus only on “getting the shot” and sometimes forget about taking a deep breath, looking around, and enjoying the experience. Namibia is an amazingly beautiful country and it would be a shame to limit that experience to only what can be seen through that tiny viewfinder of the camera.
All images © Richard Bernabe
About Richard Bernabe
Richard Bernabe is a professional nature, wildlife, and travel photographer from the United States. His travels have taken him from Africa to the Amazon to the Arctic and many wild places in between.
To see more of his work go to his website richardbernabe.com or follow him on Facebook or Twitter @bernabephoto
If you'd like to join Richard on his 2014 Namibia photography workshop, you can find out more about it here
More Photographer Tips
This part of a series of blog post interviews with professional photographers on how to Capture Namibia. Every week we'll be posting tips, tricks and amazing photographs from these impressive photographers.
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Damaraland demands a certain level of respect. Beautiful, but arid and unforgiving, attractions near this area have names like Burnt Mountain, the Petrified Forest, the Skeleton Coast – all aptly named and an indication of the drama found here.
||Occupying a huge, harsh stretch of landscape to the northwest of the country, even the people and wildlife have adapted accordingly.
Desert adapted elephants have special behavioral characteristics, large annual and seasonal ranges and a social structure and daily activities to cope with the environment. If you’re lucky, you could even find the elusive and magnificent desert adapted rhino and desert lions can also be found in the area.
But it is the contrast to the rest of Namibia that makes this landscape so magical; a real treat for the avid photographer, the wildlife lover and the traveller in search of some peace and quiet.
Perhaps the best description of Damaraland can be quoted from Dominique le Roux on TravelNewsNamibia.com:
“It was the nakedness, really, that surprised me: the sheer, decadent, unrestrained sensuousness. Why had nobody told me how beautiful this land was? Or had I really been so deaf to their description? The beauty lay all around us; the black rock basalts of 132 million years ago, the tantalising active sand dunes, the knowledge of petrified dunes beneath them, the thought of 55 million years of drought ... Other places are good for soul-searching, but Damaraland is a place for soul-finding”
The view from Grootberg Lodge
The drive to the Himba village
An aerial view of Damaraland on a flying safari
Giraffes pause for a photo opp in the afternoon sun
Springbok scattered across the rugged terrain
The majestic kudu
What to do in & around Damaraland
Take in the breathtaking views and endless landscapes (download our photography travel guide and look at our Capture Namibia blog series for tips on getting the best of Namibia)
Catch a glimpse of desert adapted elephant
Go tracking desert adapted rhino with Save the Rhino Trust
Visit Twyfelfontein, home to the world’s largest concentration of rock art
Climb the highest point in Namibia at 2,573 meters, The Brandberg (burnt mountain) also famous for The White Lady rock painting
Stop over at the artist’s town of Omaruru
Go in search of the Himba for an enlightening cultural experience
Ask your lodge about excursions to find the desert-adapted Elephants that roam Damaraland
Tracking the desert-adapted rhino is an unforgettable experience
Where to stay
Thankfully for visitors, there are many great desert accommodation options, which means you don't have to rough it in Damaraland in the slightest:
Damaraland Camp (recently voted one of the best ecolodges by National Geographic)
Doro Nawas Camp
Desert Rhino Camp
Mowani Mountain Camp
Etendeka Mountain Camp
Khorixas Rest Camp
Damara Mopane Lodge
Imagine floating around in this pool, Grootberg Lodge
Breakfast doesn't get better than this, Damaraland Camp
ATTA President in Damaraland
Read more about the Adventure Travel World Summit in Namibia October 2013
The Koës Pan is located in the remote and arid South East of Namibia and is home to one of the strangest and most unique DIY motorsports events on the African continent. In the wet months the pan presents amazing opportunities for nature photography but it is in the dry months that this flat pan in the Kalahari gets really wild.
On the first weekend of July every year motoring enthusiasts come together to compete in the Koës Pan Rally. The rally is a wild and wooly collection of DIY motoring madmen and rapt spectators. Contestants can take part in a 150km five-lap rally, test their skills on an obstacle course or dare to go dune diving in their vehicles. The most popular event, for drivers and spectators alike, is the drag racing. As is the case with all drag racing the only thing that matters is straight-line speed. It is during this high-octane event that the age-old questions of our time can be answered: Can an Isuzu KB 320 outrun a Nissan Patrol? And will a Toyota Hilux best both in a straight race? The appeal of this event is that anyone can bring their own vehicle to take part in the dusty fun out on the pan.
Photo by Jacobus EnLandi Blaauw via Facebook
The Koës Pan Rally is not only for amateur car enthusiasts with a need for speed and bragging rights. DIY car enthusiasts who build their own custom models of various off-road vehicles are the rally’s core group of participants. Last year over 65 brave souls raced a combination of Baja Bugs, modified bakkies, Uri’s, quadbikes and off-road motorbikes in a sometimes chaotic but always exciting calendar of events spread out over the weekend. The events are grueling, uncompromising affairs and collisions of various manners are not uncommon. What is common, however, is the spirit of the rally’s participants. The Koës Pan Rally is as much a rally as it is a community of like-minded individuals spending time together and doing what they all love to do. Whether it is a cracked radiator hose or a fractured forearm, help is always on hand.
Photo courtesy of Rickus Vermeulen via Facebook
The town of Koës has motoring in its blood and everyone living there comes out to support and ensure the rally’s continuing success. Without volunteers and the enthusiastic support of the people of Koës the rally could not take place. The rally brings much needed attention to this small town in the middle of nowhere and funds raised from the event are used to help support schools and other public interest projects in the area. The Namibiese Vrouevereniging (Namibian Women’s Society) sells boerewors rolls, vetkoeke, and anything else with enough red meat stuffed inside it to satisfy even the hungriest rally driver. Other locals also set up small shops and concession stands offering a variety of local fare and some tasty traditional Namibian beverages like Windhoek Lager and ice-cold, stomach-warming Jägermeister.
Photo by Jacobus EnLandi Blaauw via Facebook
As with all the best adventures this rally is far off the beaten track. Leaving from Keetmanshoop, you will need to take the C17 heading North East. It is a drive which includes over a 100km of dirt road, so it is not a trip for the timid driver.
However, once in Koës there are several places to shower the dust away. Call the Koës Hotel on (+264) 63 252 716 for clean rooms and friendly help. Dune Song Breathers is self-catering accommodation and Elogia Lodge is a game lodge and B&B that offers a quiet place to rest weary limbs and explore the remote outreaches of this faraway desert region.
Photo courtesy of Rickus Vermeulen via Facebook
If you can’t make it to Koës then fear not; Namibia has several rallies and driving challenges throughout the year and all over the country. For biking enthusiasts the Live to Ride Motorcycle Club organizes the annual Big Five Rally and the President’s Run. Those who prefer their motoring adventures on all fours can take part in the Vasbyt 4x4 rally or the Bank Windhoek Namibia Motorsport Federation Enduro Championship Series. If a more relaxed and less competitive rally adventure is what you are looking for than the Namib Desert Run is the event for you. It is a non-competitive and social event for both motorcycles and off-road vehicles.
Photo by Annette Erasmus Schoeman via Facebook