When marrakech désert in your travel guidebook you will read about the vast open plains of the National Park, the small coastal resort of with its old colonial buildings or the red sand dunes surrounding . But rarely do you come across an article that explains in detail the different desert environments that make up the south of our beautiful country called Namibia.
Coinciding with the “International Year of Deserts and Desertification” Gondwana Desert Collection in partnership with Open Africa and other stakeholders have launched a wide-ranging tourism route through the 4 deserts of Namibia. This aptly named “Four Deserts Route, Namibia” covers the whole of southern Namibia from the Tropic of Capricorn down to the Orange River.
In the east is the Kalahari Desert with its red sand dunes that are partially covered in grasses, shrubs and old camelthorn trees. Even though surface water is a rarity the Kalahari is home to fast numbers of antelope, predators and a surprising number of birds. The Kalahari Anib Lodge, Bagatelle Game Ranch and the Intu Africa Game Reserve to name but a few, are located within the perimeter of he Kalahari and are an ideal first night stop-over en route.
The Nama Karoo is characterized by dwarf shrub and scattered grassland and has as its distinctive feature the well know quiver tree. The deep gorges of the Fish River Canyon fall within this desert environment as well as the canyons of the Zebra River. Animals such as the indigenous Mountain Zebra can be found here. All four Canon Properties; Canon Lodge, Canon Village, Caron Roadhouse and Canon Mountain Camp as well as Zebra River Lodge are ideal overnight stops en route through the second desert to visit.
Situated around the historic town of Aus and extending south into Namaqualand of South Africa the Succulent Karoo is the third desert on our route to be visited. This environment is unique in that it receives winter rains and as such has specially adapted plants to survive the dry summer months. This desert is known as one of the most plant diverse in the world and has been listed as one of the world’s 25 global biodiversity ‘hotspots’. After the rains this seemingly dry and arid landscape turns into a spectacle of color as the many different plants flower. Animal life is reduced to small antelope and rodents, but fascinating enough are the wild desert horses resident just west of Aus. Klein Aus Vista just west of Aus offers beautiful accommodation in bungalows at Desert Horse Inn and rock chalets at Eagle’s Nest. The newly renovated Bahnhof Hotel in Aus also provides a comfortable bed for the weary traveler.
The fourth and last desert on our Route is the most well known of them all – the Namib Desert. This desert comprises of just a narrow strip along the cold Atlantic Ocean with red dunes (the highest in the word) in the south, gravel plains and inselbergs in the central parts and blue mountains with deep valleys in the north. The Namib reaches as far north as southern Angola and is home to the pre-historic Welwitschia plant. Fog coming in from the Atlantic supplies the life-giving moisture to plants and animals. The Namib offers a whole array of lodges and guest farms for travelers to Sossusvlei and the Namib Naukluft Park. Desert Homestead, Tsauchab River Lodge and Hoodia Desert Camp are but a few establishments where guests can stay for their last overnight on the ‘Four Deserts Route’.