Amazing plains, wildlife and skies in NamibRand Reserve

Posted by Melanie van Zyl on 27 August 2018 Tags:, , ,

It’s easy to feel like the only person in the desert here in the privately owned NamibRand Nature Reserve.

The rules of the reserve prescribe that the total number of guest beds is restricted to just one lodge per 1,000 hectares and a strict limit of 20 beds in any one location. The NamibRand is also one of just 12 Dark Sky Reserves in the world, and is the closest one to South Africa (try and plan your trip around the new moon for prime stargazing). This is arguably Namibia at its best.

After the rain, the plains here turn a soft green. Image by Melanie van Zyl

If you’re on a road trip to the Sossusvlei dunes further north, the reserve offers the best chance to see desert wildlife. The latest game census indicated there are 3,200 oryx and 12,400 springbok in the reserve. Other large mammals include giraffe, kudu, Hartmann’s and Burchell’s zebra, hartebeest, klipspringer, steenbok and baboon. While they’re more rarely spotted, there are predators too, including leopard, hyena, jackal, aardwolf and bateared fox. Plus, NamibRand is home to 150 bird species – and an extraordinary abundance of ‘fairy circles’.

There are just two campsites in the NamibRand that cater for eight people each. Image by Melanie van Zyl


While many scientists have researched the possible causes of these bare, circular patches of earth dotted amid plains of grass, no one can give firm proof of why they exist. One theory is that sand termites eat the roots of the vegetation to get moisture, leaving dead patches on the ground above. There’s freedom to walk around in the reserve, but if you’re looking for thrills, hire dune boards (R100 per person for your entire stay) or fat bikes (R300 per person per day). NamibRand has only three tourism concessions.

Family Hideout is the cheapest way to experience this exquisite private reserve, where you can set up camp in the dip of a low dune beneath a camelthorn tree. There’s a strongly enforced eco-friendly policy that includes solar lighting and geysers, and a recycling station in the outdoor kitchen. You also have to bring your own firewood.

Image by Melanie van Zyl


Family Hideout has two excellent, private campsites set far apart with a dune between them for total privacy. Each one caters for eight people and two vehicles. Reserve fees are R90 per person and it’s R150 per person to camp. There is also a self-catering farmhouse (sleeps 10), from R1,000 for up to four people.

Try plan your trip around the new moon for prime stargazing in this Dark Sky Reserve. Image: Melanie van Zyl.

Words and images: Melanie van Zyl.