With temperatures climbing as high as 38°C (96° F) and even 41°C (112° F) we have been eagerly awaiting the rains – this is exactly the right time and a spike in temperatures like this often signals the onset… With towering formations of clouds building up in the northern skies almost daily, we try not to let our disappointment show when they dissipate into the vast blue desert sky without so much as a single drop falling. The fact that the Tsauchab River has not yet flowed tells us that there has been no rainfall between here and the source, and so we all wait.
Many species of desert animal are blessed with far more patience than we possess, and are incredibly well-adapted to these arid environments. The arid environs of the lodge may support only relatively low densities of wildlife, but each and every species that is found here is a survival expert and more than up to the task of eking out a living from the unforgiving Namib Desert.
A universal truth of safari life is how quickly the local wildlife first gets used to the presence of these strange structures and then begins to exploit them, taking advantage of every facet of the world they inhabit and continuously looking out for any opportunity that will give them the edge. The latest recruit to the Kulala Desert Lodge staff is a Cape fox who has taken up residence under the main deck and patrols the length and breadth of the lodge, even venturing close to the fire pit where we enjoy drinks with the guests before and after dinner, retelling the tales of the day’s events and enjoying the coolness of the night.
With his bushy tail, out-sized ears and curious, pointed face he has quickly become a firm favourite with the guests and seems to be the embodiment of curiosity as he explores the night, on the look-out for small rodents and insects. His hearing and sense of smell are so acute that he is detecting a thousand signals lost to our clumsy human ears and noses, and sometimes seems to quiver with excitement at the sheer volume of information carried to him on the evening breeze.
The permanent waterhole in front of our main area assumes increasing importance when the rains are delayed, and this year has been no exception. So magnetic does it become that we have recorded some unusual visitors this month, in the shape of warthogs and some magnificent kudu bulls with their corkscrew horns and stately gait. The water, and the lure of the last few green plants in the riverbed, has kept them coming back.
New life often begins here with the rains, but the New Year could not wait for the tardy showers and so in the absence of water, we celebrated the beginning of 2014 with a different element: fire. A bush dinner in the riverbed was illuminated by the flickering light of camp fires and candles and we all imagined the stresses and worries of 2013 being carried away with the rising smoke, while the coals glowed with the promise of a brand new year. This was an unforgettable way to usher in the year… Now all we need is some rain!
"We loved the warm hospitality of the staff. We really enjoyed our dune experience and canyon trip. The sundowners were appreciated. We appreciated the hot water for coffee with wake-up call."
"Scenery is amazing – Namibia is beautiful. Jonas, Agnes, Hilaria, Elwert, Petronella, swimming pool – lovely. The staff are great – friendly & professional."
"Dead vlei and the walk on the dunes – marvellous. And also the brunch between the dunes. Very good atmosphere amongst the staff, love the singing!"
Staff in camp this month
Atisari, Petronella, Bradwin, Stella, Dios and Brecit – Management
Jonas, Joas, Kristoph, Richard, Everest, Stephanus – Guides
Newsletter compiled by Ilze Phillipson