Desert Rhino Camp lies amongst rolling, rocky hills with scattered euphorbia, ancient welwitschia plants, scrubby vegetation and isolated clumps of trees of the 450 000-hectare Palmwag Concession. This region is marked for its tranquil, minimalist beauty, surprising wealth of arid-adapted wildlife and the largest free roaming black rhino population in Africa.
Desert Rhino Camp functions as a collaborative effort between Wilderness Safaris and the Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) - an NGO that has been has been instrumental in the preservation of these rare, desert adapted black rhino. Having barely survived the slaughter of '80s and '90s throughout other parts of Africa, the black rhino population has doubled since the formation of the SRT.
Set in a wide valley sometimes flush with grass, accommodation at Desert Rhino Camp is in the form of 8 Meru-style canvas tents that sleep up to 16 guests. Raised from the ground on a wooden deck, each tent features an en-suite bathroom with a hand basin, flush toilet and shower. Beds are made up with crisp, white linen and have two dark wood bedside tables with wicker reading lamps. An extension of the deck functions as a front verandah where guests can relax in director's chairs to take in the magnificent vistas of the surrounding desert and Etendeka Mountains. Extra duvets are available for the sometimes frosty nights.
Desert Rhino Camp Amenities
The tented restaurant and lounge area of Desert Rhino Camp is also raised on a wooden deck in a single tent which is open plan and has partially open sides offering panoramic views. To one side there are couches and to the other a large, simple dining table. Evening meals are taken around the fire pit, in front of the lapa, where guests can relax and socialize.
The Palmwag Concession is a 450 000-hectare conservancy in Damaraland in the Kunene Region of north-west Namibia. Considering the proximity of the concession to the Skeleton Coast Park and true Namib Desert, this area is home to a rich diversity of wildlife.
Early morning fog generated by the icy Benguela Current in the Atlantic Ocean meeting the warm desert air of the Skeleton Coast drifts inland over the Namib Desert providing precious water to the flora and fauna in this incredibly harsh environment. Adaptation to the desert environment is the miracle of all that survives here in the Palmwag Concession.
The Etendeka Mountains dominate the scenery - impressive flat-topped outcrops coloured ochre-brown. Dry river-courses like the Uniab River cut through the landscape and occasionally fill with water. The terrain is rocky but often covered with fine golden grasses and interspersed with large Euphorbia damarana bushes, which are endemic to the area. Other fascinating plants in the Palmwag Concession include the odd-shaped bottle tree, shepherd's trees, ancient leadwoods, salvadora bushes and unique welwitschias.
The Palmwag Concession's freshwater springs support healthy populations of arid-adapted wildlife. Good numbers of Hartmann's mountain zebra, southern giraffe, gemsbok (oryx), springbok, kudu, dwarf antelope (such as steenbok and klipspringer), scrub hare, comical meerkats (suricates), inquisitive ground squirrels, black-backed jackal and small spotted genet can be seen.
A major drawcard to the region is that the Palmwag Concession supports the largest free-roaming population of desert-adapted black rhino in Africa, as well as a healthy number of desert-adapted elephants. The Palmwag Concession also holds the core of the rarely seen desert-adapted lion population of north-west Namibia. Cheetah and leopard also sometimes seen in this area.
Birding enthusiasts are sure to enjoy the diverse avifauna found in the Palmwag Concession. Raptors include Greater Kestrel, Lanner Falcon and Booted Eagles, spotted in the sky or perching on a lonely shepherd's tree. Out on drives, it is possible to see Namaqua Sandgrouse, Burchell's Courser, the colourful Bokmakierie, Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Monteiro's Hornbill and White-backed Mousebird. Other regular endemics include Rüppell's Korhaan, Benguela Long-billed Lark and possibly Herero Chat with some focused searching. Verreauxs' Eagle is often sighted around rocky hillsides.