Ujuzi is offering a new, 7-day Namibian safari with daily departures. It is a shorter, more economical version of our other Namibian safaris but with all the standard perks, including light aircraft flights between major destinations that allow you to experience a bird’s eye view of the stunning Namibian landscape.
On the seven-day safari, you will experience the towering sand dunes of Sossusvlei, the amazing history and geology of Damaraland, and the abundant wildlife of Etosha National Park. The safari also includes visits to a remote Himba village and to the renowned AfriCat Foundation, which runs the largest cheetah and leopard rescue and release program in the world:
- Damaraland is home to a variety of wildlife and hidden desert treasures, including elusive desert-adapted elephants, the world-famous Twyfelfontein prehistoric rock engravings, Burnt Mountain and the geological curiosity of the Organ Pipes (named so because that’s what these dolerite columns look like).
- Etosha National Park covers 8,600 square miles. It is famous for its saline depressions or ‘pans,’ but also comprises grasslands, woodlands and savannahs. The park boasts some 114 mammals and more than 340 bird species. One might see elephants, lions, giraffes, blue wildebeests, elands, kudus, oryxes, zebras, rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, honey badgers, warthogs, and endemic black-faced impalas.
- Sossusvlei is the most-visited section of the 19,000-square-mile Namib Naukluft National Park. Its red sand dunes stand up to 1,000 feet above the surrounding plains, ranking them among the earth’s tallest dunes. Half a mile away is Deadvlei, a salt pan full of striking camel thorn trees that died about 900 years ago when the sand sea blocked water from occasionally flooding the pan. The trees still stand as erect as when they grew.
- The Himba people have lived a relatively isolated existence for many centuries in scattered settlements throughout the Kunene Region. They are noted for their intricate hairstyles and traditional adornments – particularly otjize, a mixture of red ochre and fat that protects skin and hair against the harsh desert climate.
- AfriCat Foundation has rescued more than 1,000 cheetahs and leopards, releasing more than 85 percent back into the wild. See these animals up close and learn about their crucial role in the ecosystem. The foundation is also home to rescued lions as well as wild porcupines, caracals, and honey badgers.
- Andersson’s Camp, a comfortable base for your explorations of Etosha National Park’s unique landscape. The resurrected farmstead fronts onto a waterhole teeming with wildlife, and the twenty tented guest units with en suite bathrooms are raised on decks for an enhanced view. This model of eco-sensitive lodging provides an authentic, safe and down-to-earth experience.
- Camp Kipwe, nestled in an outcrop of giant granite boulders above the ephemeral Aba Huab riverbed where desert adapted elephants often traverse. Each comfortable thatched bungalow is simply but tastefully furnished and has an en-suite bathroom. A refreshing swimming pool and sunset lookout with lovely views complement the camp.
- Kulala Desert Lodge, providing magnificent views of Sossusvlei’s famous red dunes, mountainous scenery and vast open plains. The camp comprises 15 stylish, thatched-and-canvas rooms built on wooden platforms with en suite bathrooms and verandas. Each room has a deck on the flat rooftop where bedrolls can be placed for guests to sleep under the stars.
Contact us to learn more about this amazing safari!
I’ve been waiting with anticipation ever since it was announced a few months ago that Netflix had acquired Virunga, a documentary about Africa’s first national park. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Virunga is one of the last remaining homes of the world’s mountain gorillas, but it’s been threatened by war and oil exploration. It’s just across the border from Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, where Ujuzi often leads gorilla tracking excursions.
I got a chance to watch Virunga last night and highly recommend it. It offers incredible insight into the intelligence and emotional lives of the gorillas, and the commitment of park rangers, scientists and local residents who work to protect their habitat.
Some of the film’s most touching moments take place in the park’s mountain gorilla orphanage. Poachers killed these mountain gorillas’ parents – not for meat, but in hopes that they could sell the babies on the black market. On at least one occasion, poachers massacred almost an entire gorilla clan as part of an effort to drive the gorillas to extinction. Their thinking is that if there are no more mountain gorillas, the park will open up for mining and other ventures.
The orphanage offers safety to four young mountain gorillas, as well as an opportunity for them to grow up healthy and strong. You can see the great amount of love among the gorillas and their human handlers. But the handlers are aware of a bitter paradox. The baby gorillas needed human helpers in order to survive, but now they have learned not to see humans as a threat. What does this mean for their possible re-release into the wild?
It was also heartbreaking to witness the funeral of one of the park’s rangers, and to hear rangers talk pragmatically about the possibility of death. Rangers are often injured or killed in conflicts with poachers or with armed groups that want to claim park land. But many of those in the film echoed the assessment of Andre Bauma, who heads the gorilla orphanage: “You must justify why you are on this earth – gorillas justify why I am here, they are my life. So if it is about dying, I will die for the gorillas.”
- Official website for Virunga
- My other children, the orphan gorillas of Virunga – BBC World Service
- How Africa’s Oldest National Park Can Benefit Both Gorillas And Locals – National Public Radio
“Despite clear geographical limits to the Ebola outbreak, many Americans seem confused,” Washington Post reporter Adam Taylor wrote yesterday. “Frustrated by this, Anthony England, a British chemist who earned a doctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has spent a significant amount of time in sub-Saharan Africa, decided to make a map to help explain what countries currently have Ebola cases and which don’t.”
Westerners’ lack of geographical understanding could lead to sad consequences for countries that rely on tourism to fund wildlife conservation and keep their economies going. On the Daily Beast, reporter Brandon Presser wrote about how Ebola fears are affecting Kenya, even though the country has had no reported cases of the disease – unlike the United States.
More vital … than the alarming reduction in tourism dollars is the direct impact that the impaired economy will have on wildlife conservation—fewer visitors means fewer rangers and conservation funds. The Ebola pandemic has led to an increase in poaching in Eastern and Southern Africa, where there’s a palpable and immediate link between traveler funds and park protection.
“Conservancy money goes directly to the land and ranger’s wages. Without visitor income, there are simply insufficient funds to support this,” explains Jake Grieves-Cook, who runs the Porini safari camps and was the first chairman of the Kenyan Tourism Federation.
In many regions throughout Africa, the monetary value of a wilderness reserve is continuously pitted against the potential revenue that the land could earn when it’s used for agricultural or livestock purposes.
This negative impact is a great irony, considering that Kenya is farther from the Ebola zone than major European cities such as London and Paris. Kenya is further protected because there are no direct flights there from the Ebola zone. One must go through the United States or Europe to travel between the two areas.
- Map: The Africa Without Ebola – Washington Post
- Ebola Could Deliver a Death Blow to Africa’s Wildlife – The Daily Beast
“Pride of Namibia,” a short film by the World Wildlife Fund, recently won first place in the 2014 Adventure in Motion film competition. In just a few short minutes, it tells a compelling story about the resurgence of biodiversity in one of Africa’s most starkly beautiful countries. Enjoy!
This month, a new documentary about the Gorilla Doctors – a nonprofit group of veterinarians in Rwanda who treat sick and injured mountain gorillas to ward off extinction – was released in Canada. The film is not available in the United States yet, but you can listen to a fascinating interview with the filmmakers and the Gorilla Doctors’ head veterinarian about the risks and rewards of these efforts.
- A new documentary follows the Gorilla Docs in the Rwandan jungle – Gorilla Docs follows the efforts of vets to save gorillas through “extreme conservation.”