While I was torturing myself on the treadmill at my local gym the other day, the kids swimming below with their dad, I thought: how lucky to be living in a city (Windhoek) where we can do this type of thing. My brain instantly retorted with a flashback of my kids frolicking in the brand new pool at Desert Rhino Camp a week before, while Hartmann’s mountain zebra grazed nearby. I then realised our luck was greater for that experience than any that your local gym could ever fabricate for us though.
Desert Rhino Camp is a place that you visit and then wonder why you have never been until now. This is where I admit to an important fact – kids younger than six are actually not allowed at this camp unless you book out the entire camp for your exclusive use. (We happened to be there doing training when the camp was closed for renovations – the ultimate privilege of working for Wilderness Safaris). So if you have the cash, take out the whole camp; if not, wait until your children are six and then immediately go.
The main attraction of this distant haven is rhino tracking, Wilderness partnering with Save the Rhino Trust to provide a unique and exciting experience for guests wanting to see these vulnerable desert beasts on foot. Most guests will spend the morning out tracking rhino with SRT, but as our kids are too young for this, we stuck to a game drive around the concession. We were not to be disappointed and nobody got thrown overboard – not that I would actually intentionally throw my children out of a landrover, but as we all know confined spaces with not much happening is kryptonite to any parent – entertainment is vital. And we had that in herds…
Shortly after leaving camp Nestor, our guide, decided on a short walk and fascinated the children with an explanation of the Euphorbia Damarana- a marvelousplant that resembles a bright green, large, upside- down Tangle Teezer (if you don’t know what that is you are not a proper parent and should not be reading this). Except, unlike a hair brush, it’s deadly poisonous and can kill you. And it can kill fish. Just by adding the latex to the fishes’ water. Immediate response from our son: “Can we try that?” (I don’t know where he gets this bloodlust from and I promise I don’t condone him feeding all manner of insects to the scorpion pet we don’t have). Apparently the only animals to risk feeding on these plants are oryx, black rhino and kudu and the males of the latter have had their beards burnt off for this particular dietary preference. On hearing this, said son stared at his father’s beard for a while and then thankfully let go of whatever thought he was having and we continued on our way.
We investigated a rhino skull which Isabella firmly decided was some kind of elaborate hat and Griffyn learned the difference between springbok poo and zebra poo. My kids were ecstatic about the game ‘bokdrolspoeg’ which directly translated is self-explanatory: Buck’s dung spit. Where else in the world do people let you spit dried animal poo? For fun?
Then on to another interesting plant (two words not normally associated with kids’ entertainment, I hear you, but bear with me) is the Welwitschia - once again the talents of our guide made this a stand-out event for the children. Apparently these bizarre plants can live as long as 2000 years but only grow one pair of leaves in that time…. except it looks like they have 20… weird!! And, according to our guide, they can also be seen on every Namibian banknote and coin and on every government official document, on the country’s coat of arms. He then produced a coin for both kids to keep as a memento… this is definitely flora made cool: impressive stuff.
At DRC there is actually an amazing amount of game as well (okay people, please don’t go there and expect the Serengeti after I said that and blame me when you don’t get it). But more on that next time…