Palmwag, Namíbia

In Search of Rhinos

Unexpected Snack
The Palmwag Oasis
Young Baobab
The Palm Trees of Uniab
In search
Guinea fowl
UFO, Bushman tracker
Euphorbias on Mars
Terrain Study II
Terrain Study I
A somewhat Martian route
Black and Suspicious Rhino
Palmwag Sunset
We set off from the heart of the oasis generated by the Uniab River, home to the largest number of black rhinos in southwest Africa. In the footsteps of a bushman tracker, we follow a stealthy specimen, dazzled by a setting with a Martian feel.

We are already several days into our journey through Namibia.

As we travel from Windhoek to the north, the route that follows quickly makes it clear to us that we are approaching the most remote and wild area of ​​the country, the northwestern corner of Kunene province.

After we leave the Twyfelfontein Adventure Camp, we still enjoyed, for a few minutes, the new and smooth asphalt that served the area, its various lodges and the rock art stronghold of Twyfelfontein, heritage of humanity.

The road we were on was category C. In Namibia, with the slightest carelessness, certain C roads can mean Workload. In order not to miss the hours of best light either at the origin or at the destination, we completed the 1h30 route, with the sun at its peak.

Twyfelfontein to the Back. Towards Palmwag.

Both C39 and C43 are made of sand and gravel. As if that weren't enough, they plow through hills and valleys, along the dry bed of the Springbok River, in another arid, rugged setting, deep into the Namib Desert.

Along the way, even the names of the towns illustrate this dryness.

We pass Spaarwater. We have now progressed between two river beds, that of the Springbok and that of one of its distributaries. On the verge of Palmwag, the reason for the town's existence, especially water, becomes obvious.

Due to the action of gravity and erosion, a geological depression further concentrates waterways derived from a main ephemeral river that originates a little further north, in the Grootberg mountains.

The passage of the Uniab, renewed by successive rainy seasons, from November to April, gives rise to an oasis of fan palm trees and other plants that inspired the baptism of the village.

We arrived at a junction. A new road, the C40, bends northwest. We stay in C43, on a sandpaper floor, sometimes ochre, sometimes gray and with intermediate tones that contrast with the green in sight.

A few wattle and daub stalls on the side of the road display colorful minerals and some handicrafts.

As with so many others spread across Namibia, their owners are absent. They appear from humble homes, sometimes far away, in a rush and shouting, whenever a car stops.

A Break at the Namibian Veterinary Divide

A gate bars us. We are at the local checkpoint of the Veterinary Cordon Fence, the Namibian Red Line, created to control foot-and-mouth disease and other livestock diseases.

Two employees approach us with a curt manner. “Can you open back there? What do you keep in the fridge? Any meat or something?” “We open it, of course we do, but you will only find two suitcases almost buried in the dust. Fridge would have been great. We didn’t get any!” When we open the back door of the pickup, the agents get dusty.

They are discouraged from investigating what we were carrying in our bags. They give us a registration sheet to sign. They tell us to continue, without wishing us a good trip.

The Palmwag Lodge that was going to welcome us was only 6km away. It was five or six minutes away. It takes us longer to deal with the Himba and Herero saleswomen who surround us. We also vouch for the pick up.

For the umpteenth time since Windhoek.

Moments later, we stopped again. A few meters from the roadside, two giraffes nibble on moringa trees, sprouting like parched miracles from the stony soil.

Palmwag Lodge and Uniab River Oasis

We come across the lodge, almost on the river, integrated into the palm grove and the dense vegetation at its base, contrasting with the ocher and graphic elevations in the background, sharp hills and plateaus.

There, even in the dry season, Uniab preserved a few ponds and generous water tables. Unsurprisingly, water supports lush plant life. Both attract thirsty fauna.

The room in which we settled is just above the grass that fills the bed. Now, among the faunal extras that made Palmwag Lodge famous and popular are the frequent visits of herds of elephants.

The Uniab, the lowlands on its banks and the Etendeka plateau are habitats for mountain zebras, various types of antelope, Angolan giraffes, among others.


Due to these herbivores, there are also leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and even lions, to mention just the most familiar species.

Around four-thirty in the afternoon, we went out to explore the river and its surroundings. We also asked, at reception, if there was a trail that would allow us to climb to the highlighted elevations beyond the opposite bank.

“There will be. But the idea of ​​coming here was never to serve as a meal for leopards or hyenas!

So, stay on this side of the river and don't even go down into the woods. You never know what you might hide there.”

We surrender, once and for all, to the evidence. We move away.

We went down just enough to photograph a few newborn baobabs, shaped like stunning bottle trees.

Resplendent Sunset and an Early Awakening

As the sun set, the risk of wandering around there intensified. We took refuge near the lodge’s garden and pools.

From there, the fan palm grove was between us and the sunset.

It generates silhouettes that we enjoy framing and combining.

Part of the diverse fauna we describe, Palmwag has become special as a starting point for sightings of one of Namibia's and the World's rare and endangered creatures.

Palmwag and the Endangered Black Rhinos

We are talking about the black rhinoceros of southwest Africa, a subspecies of which, until recently, Angola kept one to four specimens. Much more abundant in Namibia. It was also recently introduced to South Africa, part of an international conservation effort.

They are, in either country, under threat from poachers paid to remove their horns, long considered therapeutic or miraculous by traditional Chinese medicine and, despite China's social and technological evolution, still in huge demand.

It is estimated that 70% of these rhinos that survive in the wild are in the Palmwag concession. They are – much more than the prolific elephants – the main attraction of the area.

Well, the next morning, even before dawn, we were going out in search of him.

Palmwag Trip to Torra Conservancy

We set off heading south, on the same C43 that had taken us from Twyfelfontein to Palmwag. At the start of winter in the southern hemisphere, it is cold, which the wind generated by the speed of the open jeep makes worse.

Caught off guard, we wrapped ourselves up as best we could, in a fuzzy poncho that the guide had given to the participants.

We suffered more than an hour of brilliance in the pitch black.

Occasionally, the driver leaves the main road onto a poorly defined route that takes us to higher lands in the Torra Conservancy, one of several Namibian domains tasked with preserving animal life.

The sun begins to rise.

Little by little, an orange martian domain which trivialized some of the strange things we had witnessed in Namibia:

undulating, covered with oxidized rocks, dotted with green euphorbia bushes, in whose poisonous sap the bushmen soak the tips of their arrows.

Above, other giraffes feed on their favorite moringas.

We left the jeep.

Armed with binoculars, three guides survey the landscape.

UFO, Tracker San Takes Action

One of them is Ovni, a young bushman, as is the prerogative of bushmen, an expert at following tracks and finding animals.

UFO leaves the remaining guides. He begins his investigative work, with his eyes firmly focused on the ground.

We still see him disappear behind the slope where the giraffes grazed.

The duo of Namibians who remain make us form an Indian file. One of them goes ahead, the other, in the tail.

We walked, climbing, towards the highest mountain around and a herd of springboks, lined up sideways instead of lengthwise, like us.

We stopped there. On the irregular brick-colored cobblestone, among several euphorbia trees that we avoided touching.

The guides once again use binoculars.

Out of Nowhere, a Lonely and Suspicious Rhino

We finally noticed, in the direction they were looking, that a large rhinoceros was coming down a vertex between slopes, and scaring away the springboks in its path.

The UFO follows it, at a good distance, until the rhino stops and probes us, with its nose in the air, trying to smell whether we pose a threat.

We all squatted. With his mission accomplished, the UFO rests on a small diagonal slab that almost offers him a sofa.

The rhino maintains its position. It allows us to observe and photograph it for a long time.

The Palmwag Lodge guides dictate the retreat.

And a providential breakfast, in the shade of a few trees around a spring and its pond.

Os Rinocerontes are on a tortuous path to extinction. With that expedition, we had admired one of them.

And made a small contribution to your salvation.


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