Namibian Endemics

Endemics are species of plants and animals that occur only within a certain area, habitat, biome, country (like Namibia) or region (like southern Africa). Species can be endemic to an area as specific as a mountain range, or over broader areas such as the Namib desert or the arid lands of southern Africa.

The proportion of endemic plants, insects, reptiles and frogs is fairly high in Namibia. Endemism in mammals, birds and fish is lower, as these species tend to be more mobile and are distributed over wider areas.
The majority of Namibia’s endemic species are distributed in a belt along the western edge of the escarpment (escarpment zone). This region is a transition zone between the desert, karoo and savanna biomes and represents a hotspot of endemism.

Namibia has a special responsibility to conserve endemic species as an essential part of its biodiversity, because these species occur nowhere else on earth. If we allow them to go extinct here, they are lost forever to the world. Endemic species are a unique biological heritage.

There are an incredible 708 endemic plant species in Namibia. A further 275 species are near-endemic (75 in the Namib extending into Angola, 200 in the succulent Karoo, extending into South Africa). Most of the endemic species are arid-adapted. The totally bizarre welwitschia is endemic to the Namib desert within Namibia and Angola and is thus considered a near-endemic of Namibia.
Furthermore, there are 71 endemic reptile species in Namibia – 28% of all species!. The majority are endemic to the escarpment zone, in particular the Brandberg and surrounding area as well as the succulent Karoo.

When it comes to mammals, there are 16 endemic species in Namibia, excluding marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and seals. 11 of the endemic species are rodents (e.g. mice) and small carnivores. Only one species of large mammal, the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, is endemic to Namibia.

Namibia actually only has one true endemic bird species, the diminutive Dune Lark. It occurs in western Namibia on the fringes of the Namib dune-sea between the Koichab River in the south and the Kuiseb River in the north. A further 15 species are considered near-endemics.

The only amphibians found in Namibia are frogs. There are 6 endemic frog species in Namibia. There are also 1541 endemic insect species in Namibia. It is predicted that less than 25% of all insect species have been recorded, with new species and endemics being described regularly.

For a chance to see some of these incredible endemics, come join us on one of our personalised Namibia tours. Go to www.naturetravelnamibia.com for more information on all the fantastic trips we offer, or get in touch on info@naturetravelnamibia.com and we will set up the perfect endemic-high itinerary for you!

Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon with Nature Travel Namibia

It is one of the most impressive natural beauties in southern Namibia.

Yes, we are talking about the spectacular Fish River Canyon, situated along the lower reaches of the Fish River.  With a depth of up to 550 metres/1800 feet, the Fish River canyon is the largest canyon in Africa and the second largest in the world. The enormous ravine meanders along a distance of 100 miles/160 kilometres and is up to 17 miles/27 kilometres wide in some places.

The Fish River canyon probably formed about 500 million years ago during the rainy pluvial times. The gorge was created by water erosion and the collapse of the valley bottom due to movements in the earth’s crust.

Because the Fish River is being dammed further north at the Hardap dam near Mariental, it only contains a small amount of running water. In winter the river bed is often completely dry or reduced to just some puddles here and there. However, after rainfalls in summer the river can, incredibly, become a raging torrent.

A trip to the Fish River canyon can also be combined with an Active Safari with our sister company, Nature Travel Active. This truly memorable experience includes paddling down the Fish River during certain times of the year.

Fish River canyon

The Fish River canyon has also become a popular hiking destination. However, the strenuous hike requires good physical health and can only be undertaken during the cooler winter months (between May and September). The hike is 86 km in length and takes about 5 days. Unofficial running through the canyon has subsequently evolved into the annual Fish River Canyon Ultra Marathon which held its inaugural race in 2011. This technical marathon follows most sections of the current hiking trail, testing the athlete’s capabilities to the extreme. The current 100 km record is held by South African AJ Calitz, at a shade over 8 hours!

To see this incredible natural wonder, join us on a Southern Namibia safari. This safari also includes visits to the Quiver Tree forest near Keetmanshoop, the Sperrgebiet with its incredible sunrise photo opportunities, the historic town of Luderitz and the iconic Sossusvlei.

For more information, visit www.naturetravelnamibia.com or get in touch with one of our safari experts at info@naturetravelnamibia.com

Kunene

We here at Nature Travel Namibia love our country and its stunning landscapes. One of our favourite areas to visit is the pristine and remote Kunene region.
Travel to Namibia and visit Kunene with Nature Travel Namibia

Kunene is one of the fourteen official regions of Namibia and is located in the far northwestern corner of the country. It is roughly 115 260 square kilometres (44 500 square miles) big, with a population density of only 0.75 people per square kilometre (2 per square mile)!

Kunene’s western edge is the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In the north, it borders Angola’s Namibe Province, and in the far eastern part of its northern edge, it borders Cunene Province. Compared to the rest of Namibia, it is relatively underdeveloped. This is due to the mountainous inaccessible geography and the dryness that significantly hinders agriculture.

It is home to an abundance of wildlife. A wealth of African Elephant, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Spotted Hyaena, Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Springbok and Gemsbok roam here. This is also home to the largest population of free-ranging Black Rhinoceros in the world.
Gemsbok in Namibia, Kunene with Nature Travel Namibia

The region’s name comes from the 1050 kilometre (650 miles) long perennial Kunene River, which forms the northern border with Angola. It flows from the Angola highlands south to the border with Namibia, and then west along the border until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean. The dramatic and beautiful Epupa Falls lies on the river and is a popular tourist attraction. There are all sorts of exciting activities to enjoy on and along the river, from boat cruises and canoeing to white-water rafting and fishing.
It is also a birdwatching hotspot, with many localised and highly prized species occurring here.

The largest town and capital of the region is Opuwo. It is the only bigger town to be found in the Kunene region and is an ideal stopover when travelling north to the Epupa Falls. The only airport in the region is found here, offering the option of fly-in safaris.

The Kunene region is home to the Himba tribe who seem to thrive in this stark desert landscape. The Himba people, one of the last true nomadic tribes on Earth, is a highlight on any visit to the area, with their intricate customs, ochre-covered bodies, jewellery and skins.

There are many other attractions in this fascinating region to enjoy, from dedicated wildlife conservancies to informative cultural museums and thrilling 4×4 adventure trails. We offer trips to the dramatic Kunene region as part of our self-drive or guided Namibia safaris.
Travel to Namibia and visit Kunene with Nature Travel Namibia

For more information on these trips or to customise your itinerary, get in touch at info@naturetravelnamibia.com

Namibian Coastline Experience

A visit to the Namibian Coastline includes a bit of everything, from the Cape Cross Seal Reserve, visits to Henties Bay & Swakopmund and birding in Walvis Bay.

“You need to lose yourself and disappear in the depths of the repetitions? Find a coast and watch the repetitive waves! Soon your mind vanishes away and when your mind disappears you disappear!” (Mehmet Murat ildan).

But waves are not only what the Namibian coastline can offer. On some of our Nature Travel Namibia safaris, we visit the Cape Cross Seal Reserve, stop over in Henties Bay, see shipwrecks, stay over in Swakopmund and watch birds in Walvis Bay.

The Cape Cross is the largest Seal Colony in the world and there are 24 colonies on the Namibian and South African coastline. When one gets here, some visitors find the smell not so pleasant hence wear mouth covers whereas some like myself have become immune to it! Very interesting is the remoteness of the area and thousands of Seals. Their vocals range from goat-like bleating, high pitched cackles to half human and braying laughs. Males have these deep voices sort of a bass developed from years of a combination of smoking, drinking whisky and yelling! However, it creates quite an awesome experience as one gets pretty close to them. A couple of times I have seen guests laughing at the vocals and its best to take a video for memories!

Swakopmund gives one the real beach Three Rs (Rest, Relax and Reflect) feeling. It’s best to spend 2 nights here and get time to go for a morning jogging along the beach and explore the area on foot in the afternoon. The Strand Hotel and Swakopmund Sands Hotel are normally our preferred accommodations, which gives one the town feeling after some time in the real African wilderness offered by Namibia’s remote areas.
Walvis Bay has a lagoon that is a must for enthusiastic birders. Here one could see thousands of Flamingoes showing off their beautiful and contrasting pink, black and white feathers in flight or doing their dance while feeding in shallow waters. Great White Pelicans can be seen resembling an amphibious aircraft taking off and landing both on conventional runways and water. Various other species of water birds can be observed as well depending on the season.

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At Walvis Bay, the Catamaran tour is definitely worth it. On one of my safaris with Nature Travel Namibia, we were taken out by a local guide, Peter, who is well versed in the history of Walvis Bay and marine life. We had uninvited guests on the catamaran as well: Seals and Great White Pelicans. We made a turn to the Oil Rig before enjoying our lunch on the boat, which comprised mainly of sea food. What an experience!
Join Nature Travel Namibia on safari to experience the beautiful coastline and so much more! Visit www.naturetravelnamibia.com for more information.  (Written by Previous Tsvigu (Nature Travel guide))

Damaraland

Nature Travel Namibia offers tours to most parts of the wonderful country of Namibia, but most of our tours go to the area known as Damaraland, and with very good reason!

Damaraland is a region in the north-central part of the country, bounded to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the east by the Kalahari desert, to the north by Kaokoland, and to the south by the Great Namaqualand. It is a visually dramatic area, with rugged rocks, prehistoric water courses, open plains and grassland, massive granite koppies and deep gorges. Get your cameras ready!

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Damaraland is alternatively known as Hereroland, both names being derived from the local people inhabiting the region. The so-called Damara consist of two probably distinct peoples, known respectively as “the hill Damara” and “the cattle Damara,” i.e. those who breed cattle in the plains. The term Damara (“two Dama women”) is of Hottentot origin, and is not used by the people, who call themselves Ova-herero, “the merry people”. The name Damaraland is still commonly used in tourism circles, although the entire region has now been renamed; the southern section now lies in the Erongo region while the north forms part of the Kunene region.
This beautiful mountainous region is home to an assortment of scientifically important desert-adapted wildlife such as Elephant, Rhino, Zebra and Lion, which somehow survive and thrive in this near-barren landscape.

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We offer tours that focus specifically on these incredible animals, tracking them on foot, with our sister company Nature Travel Conservation.

Another not-to-be-missed attraction of the Damaraland area is the picturesque Brandberg (fire mountain), Namibia’s highest mountain at 2573m, which is home to thousands of ancient rock paintings, most notably the White Lady.

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The rocky outcrops of Twyfelfontein is another top-notch attraction, and one of Namibia’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, featuring exceptional Bushmen engravings, which are considered to be some of the best-preserved etchings on the continent.
The Spitzkoppe (sharp head) is one of Namibia’s most recognizable landmarks. It’s shape has inspired its nickname, “The Matterhorn of Africa”, but the similarities begin and end with its sharp peak. It is actually the remnant of an ancient volcano, formed in the same way as the Brandberg and Erongo massifs. It was first climbed in 1946 and is now a popular climbing destination with local and foreign mountaineers alike, with plenty of technical climbs available.

There are several other important geological rock formations nearby that are not to be missed, including the “organ pipes” arrangement (a distinctive series of dolerite pillars that have been exposed by erosion), the petrified forest (believed to be more than 200 million years old) and the much-photographed “burnt mountain” (a flat-topped mountain that derives its name from the piles of blackened limestone at its base).

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Join us in beautiful Damaraland to see all these attractions and make indelible memories on one of our Namibia safaris here at Nature Travel Namibia.