8-Day Save the Rhino Walking Safari
Conservation is ingrained in Namibia and this safari gives you the chance to track one of the most endangered African Mammal species, get involved with the conservation efforts and witness the country’s innovative conservation measures first hand.
In Namibia’s far northwest Kunene region (also known as Kaokoland) Black Rhinos were almost extinct thirty years ago. Today, Kunene has the largest number of free-roaming Black Rhino in the world – the only Rhino worldwide living on communally and traditionally-owned land without formal conservation status. Namibia created a culture of good human-wildlife interactions by involving communities, employing locals in anti-poaching patrols and generating income from Rhino-related tourism.
Group Safari Departure dates: 2022 (fully booked) / 2023 Bookings open
Full Itinerary: Save the Rhino Walking Safari
Windhoek to Palmwag Concession
Our exciting Save the Rhino safari will start in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. It is a very interesting small city, located at 1,700 metres (5,600 feet) above sea level (12th highest capital in the world) in the Khomas Hochland plateau area of the centre of the country. It is home to about 400,000 people and has over 300 sunny days per year.
After breakfast at your hotel or guest house we will depart Windhoek and make our way north to our lodge for tonight. It is a drive of about 6 to 7 hours, but it will be spectacular!
Our lodge is situated on the Palmwag concession in dramatic Damaraland. The concession covers around 5,000 km2 (500,000 hectares) of pristine semi-desert wilderness. It is home to a number of rare, desert adapted species, such as Lion, African Elephant, Giraffe and of course the target of our trip, the Black Rhinoceros.
The concession currently holds the largest free-roaming population of Black Rhinoceros in Africa and is one of very few places where the numbers of these animals are steadily increasing. This is thanks to the vigilance, monitoring and conservation work of the Save the Rhino Trust (http://www.savetherhinotrust.org/), an organisation which was founded in 1982 to protect these desert rhinos from poachers. Today there are fewer than 5,000 Black Rhinos left in the wild, and, with poaching sweeping across the continent, this critically endangered rhinos’ last stand may well be in northwestern Namibia.
On the way to our destination you will receive a briefing about the exciting trip ahead and about Namibia in general, and we will also enjoy lunch en route and arrive at our lodge just in time for a sundowner drink. We will have dinner that will include some local delicacies, and then enjoy a good night’s rest. Tomorrow the action starts!
After breakfast we will leave our lodge and make our way to the campsite in the concession itself. This is the base from where we will start out every day. Each day we will follow a different route, depending on what sightings we are looking for and where the animals are. These decisions will be made with the help of the local trackers and rangers in order to maximise our time in Palmwag.
Palmwag is a private concession, run in collaboration with a number of conservation and local community organisations. It is a beautiful area, with boulder-strewn hills, golden grassland savannah and twisting canyons with dry riverbeds.
We will be walking in an area where other tourists don’t get to go and the only people operating here are the Save the Rhino Team scouts patrolling. The itinerary and the exact route will be flexible as we will be tracking the desert adapted wildlife that roam in this area and the distance covered each day will depend on the fitness of the group. We will start our days with coffee and breakfast, and then walking and tracking for the rhinos and other fauna and flora. We will have a break for brunch or lunch, and after a siesta period we will be driving in open 4×4 safari vehicles in the afternoon looking for wildlife and enjoying the spectacular scenery.
The Damaraland area of Namibia is arguably one of the most scenic places in Africa and one of the few places where there are still areas where people have never set foot. The area is famous for its several important geological rock formations, 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). Damaraland is also home to the Brandberg (literally “fire mountain” in Afrikaans), Namibia’s highest mountain, with its peak at 2,573 meters (8,441 feet) above sea level. Another attraction here is the Spitzkoppe (“sharp head” in German), one of Namibia’s most recognizable landmarks. Its shape has inspired its nickname, “The Matterhorn of Africa”. It was first climbed in 1946 and is now a popular climbing destination with local and foreign mountaineers alike.
We have a full back up team that will take care of all our camping needs (setting up and breaking down of camp, cooking, cleaning, etc) so you just have to bring yourself, some comfortable clothes and shoes, and your camera and binoculars to Namibia! The group size will be limited to 6 to ensure an exclusive experience and a better chance of getting close to the wildlife. Our tents are sturdy items with comfortable bedding.
Some of the wildlife that we hope to see are of course the desert adapted Black Rhinoceros, African Elephant, Giraffe, Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Springbok, Greater Kudu, Gemsbok and hopefully some of the predators that roam this spectacular area – Cheetah, the famous desert adapted Lions, Leopard, Side-striped Jackal, and Spotted and Brown Hyaena.
This concession is also rich in reptiles, including Kaokoland Sand Lizard, Namaqua Chameleon, and Anchieta’s and Namib Rock Agama. There are also some strange-looking but fantastic flora, including Welwitschia, Toothbrushtrees, Bottle Trees, euphorbias, Leadwood Trees, Shepherd’s Trees and more. Birding in the area is surprisingly productive, with some special species and near-endemics occurring here. The list includes Rüppell’s Korhaan, Benguela Long-billed Lark, Herero Chat, Verreaux’s and Booted Eagle, Lanner Falcon, Greater Kestrel, Monteiro’s Hornbill, Namaqua Sandgrouse and Burchell’s Courser. We will on the lookout for all these species of fauna and flora during our time on foot and on game drives. This seemingly lifeless part of Namibia is indeed a treasure trove of incredible species!
The Black Rhino is obviously the star of this safari, and rightly so! It is a rare, exhilarating and unforgettable experience to approach these giants on foot. Black Rhinos (Diceros bicornis) are native to eastern and southern Africa including Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The southwestern subspecies is restricted to northern Namibia and southern Angola, and it is this subspecies that our safari focuses on. Although the animal is referred to as black, its colour actually varies from brown to greyish.
Unlike other Black Rhino populations, the ones of this region of Namibia tend to live in small groups. A mother will remain with her calf for around two and a half years; enough time for the youngster to obtain all the vital methods of surviving in one of the toughest habitats on the planet!
These specially adapted individuals can withstand scorching heat – in excess of 40°C (100°F) but can also cope with the below freezing temperatures common after dark in Namibia’s arid regions. Black Rhinos are least active during the heat of the day (between 10am and 3pm) when they take to the shade of large rocks. This will also be the time that we will rest up back at camp. The animals become more active after dark when the temperatures drop, but they are also active in the early morning and late afternoon.
Adult males can weigh up to 1,350 kg, and the smaller females up to 900 kg. Birth weight is around 40kg. Adult rhinos stand about 1.6 metres tall, which is a LOT when you encounter one on foot! They only have hair on the tips of their tails, ears and eyelashes. The size and shape of the horns vary depending on where the rhino lives and also differ between male and female. Males have thicker horns. Females tend to have longer and thinner horns. Black rhinos will live up to 35 years in the wild.
Black Rhinos are browsers (i.e. they eat trees, bushes and shrubs), as opposed to their White Rhino cousins, which are grazers. When they bite off woody plant parts, they often leave a clean-angled edge, unlike African Elephants who tend to shred the ends of branches like a toothbrush. This is achieved by the shape of the rhino’s hooked lip, and in fact some people still refer to this species as “hook-lipped rhinoceros”. Traces of this neatly bitten, woody material can be clearly seen in their dung.
Remarkably, the Namib desert Black Rhino has evolved to survive without water for 2 or 3 days! And further adaptations of this subspecies include eating usually-deadly plants (such as the Euphorbia shrub).
Dung piles are a common scent marking method. The Black Rhino will excrete in one spot repeatedly or create dung piles to mark their home range. They will also rub a scent gland against a tree or rock leaving a distinctive scent to mark a territory. This is a feature that the trackers use to try and pinpoint the rhinos’ whereabouts, making it easier for us to find them.
Black Rhinos have poor eyesight struggling to focus at a distance of as little as 30 metres. Thus they rely mostly on their superb sense of smell and sharp hearing. With recorded speed of up to 55 km/h, they are astonishingly quick-footed and with sharp turns they run around or even right through bushes and scrub.
The population density of the Black Rhino in the desert plains of this area of Namibia, is about one rhino per 100 km2, and still the Black Rhinos in Namibia make up to one third of the world’s remaining rhino population! That is a scary statistic. Unfortunately therefore, the Black Rhino is currently listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN (the southwestern Namibian population is listed as Vulnerable). The biggest threat towards the Namibian subspecies is illegal poaching. Hunting and poaching had totally eradicated their populations in the arid regions, but since the 1980’s thanks to the work of organisations like the Save the Rhino Trust the population of these national treasures has increased five times!
Your safari in Palmwag will help the plight of these incredible animals immensely. Supporting anti-poaching work through consistent patrolling and monitoring of Black Rhino in the desert of northwestern Namibia, particularly within the tourism concessions like Palmwag, funds from tourists are instrumental in keeping staff active on the ground. Teams of trackers patrol the region and monitor the rhinos from vehicles, on foot and in the air. In response to poaching incidents security operations are undertaken which include fitting transmitters and satellite collars as well as taking DNA samples of all the rhino processed during the capture operation.
Involving local communities is vital to the protection of the black rhino and its habitat. The Save the Rhino Trust and its affiliates provide support including training, monitoring equipment, field gear including uniforms and camping kit and logistical support to enable the concession ranger teams to effectively monitor the rhino on their lands.
On the final full day of the walking safari we will return to the lodge where we stayed the first evening. We will have a farewell dinner together after a fantastic trip and enjoy our final night under the brilliant African night sky in the Namib Desert.
Palmwag Concession to Windhoek
Unfortunately today our safari ends. After breakfast we will make our way back to Windhoek for your onward journey.
We can easily extend this safari to include some of the fantastic parks in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana or South Africa, or we can extend your stay in wonderful Namibia in Etosha National Park, Sossusvlei, Fish River Canyon or Swakopmund/Walvis Bay. Please enquire with our team and we will gladly assist.
Do you have a quick question about this Namibia Safari? Speak to a specialist at