Africa is a continent that intrigues. It is so large and diverse that if you took the whole area you would be able to fit most of the rest of the world into the space. Nothing gives you more of a sense of its vastness and space than being in the semi-desert regions of the Kunene (previously called Damaraland and Kaokoland) where you will find the Palmwag Concession, itself more than 5,800 km2 in extent.
This area is a complete and absolute contrast to the wetlands of the Okavango Delta in neighbouring Botswana. There has not been any significant rain in the Kunene or in Namibia generally since 2011. This does not bode well for its inhabitants even though they are naturally well adapted to extremely dry and hot conditions. There are large stretches of massive mountains that dominate the horizon and yet, because of the vastness they appear deceptively smaller than they actually are – just like objects in the rear view mirror are closer than they appear. A desert-adapted black rhino weighs 900 - 1400 kg (1760 - 3080 lb) and stands around 1.3 - 1.8 m (4.3 - 5.9') tall at the shoulder and yet, in this landscape, can appear as small as an ant in a sandpit, and sometimes as difficult to find!
In the expansive aridity, the majestic oryx reigns. One of the most spectacular antelopes, with beautifully designed black and white facial markings and two massive dead-straight horns that extend almost a meter in length make them extremely handsome. They are particularly striking when they are on the ridge of mountain silhouetted by a sunrise or sunset.
Other game species that can be found include kudu, giraffe, steenbok, springbok, mountain zebra, desert elephant, bat-eared foxes, lion and leopard – and much more of course. You won’t find them in the concentrations of the Lowveld of South Africa or in the Okavango Delta, or other bushveld areas of southern Africa, but rather spread out over this vast rough, tough, rugged and unbelievably beautiful terrain. Dotted around and from time to time you come upon an oasis. A trickle of water seeps out of the parched ground as a gift to the inhabitants. The most beautiful of which is Leeufontein (Lion Fountain) and which completely blew our minds – we drove through with our jaws hanging open at the contrast, the duality of miles and miles of dryness punctuated with small pockets of life-saving natural springs.
When you drive around this region in search of rhino or other game species, you have the opportunity to quietly take in the dramatic landscape that surrounds you. It is so quiet that if you stop to listen you can hear your own breathing and that can become deafening. It is a quietness that most people are not used to at all. It slows down your mind, allowing you to completely relax and unwind. You become contemplative and inspired. If you drift off into thoughts about your life, in the stillness the most amazing answers come to you. A wonderful opportunity for you to explore your creativity.
And when you return to camp, you realize too that the reason you come to visit the remote and extremely beautiful Kunene region is because of the warmth of the local people who host you in the most hospitable way imaginable. The camp becomes your oasis and you are safe.