What’s so amazing about Desert Rhino Camp – located within the Palmwag Conservancy deep in the vastness of arid Damaraland in northern Namibia – is how beautiful it is. So different from what you expect when you fly over this landscape, formed by successive volcanic events over a period exceeding a billion years. In the dry season, when there is virtually no ground cover, it looks like a landscape that has came about by some enormous explosion.
This is certainly not a place you’d expect to find rhinos. However, with the demise of black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) over the past few decades, the desert-adapted sub-species (D b bicornis) that lives here enjoys the highest level of protection as well as the best survival option for the species across the continent.
It just seems so unlikely that these prehistoric-looking creatures, great big mammals with great big appetites, could exist – let alone survive – out here. What people forget is that rhinos are pretty good survivors. The only thing that can get the better of them is a large elephant, or a high-velocity bullet.
What is equally surprising about Desert Rhino Camp is the camp itself. At the approach it looks so unassuming. But the longer you stay there the more it grows on you. It is, like Mama Bear’s porridge, just right: not so Spartan that you feel you need a good bath and a good meal, or so luxurious you wonder how many things are dying to provide all the excess.
But during the course of your stay it will dawn on you that the most outstanding thing about the place is the staff. They are all “locals” – Herero, Damara, Nama, Himba and Ovambo. Before the lodge came about most were living in villages or on subsistence farms. Now they are running one of the best little safari lodges in one of the best places in Africa.
Desert Rhino Camp is, in every way imaginable, one of the treasured icons of the African wilderness.
Words: David Bristow
Pictures: Roger de la Harpe
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