PHOTOS A small campground and unique tourist attraction is a surprising safe haven for fauna and flora in Namibia.
“Hunting season, that’s when the poachers come!”
Strange, I’d heard that trophy hunters keep the poachers away!
We needed a place to stay for the night as we headed south towards the Fish River Canyon in Namibia. As we turned off the B1 towards the campground some odd bicycle relics and handcrafted puppet figures beaconed us to follow.
This was an intriguing place and it looked like we were the only guests that evening. As we’d pretty much exhausted our food supply, (except for the canned beans, powdered soups and such emergency items) we accepted the offer for toasted sandwiches and started chatting with our hostess, Marian. Little did we know she was quite the wildlife conservationist and activist!
For 22 years Marian has protected a small piece of rocky, desolate yet unique Namibia. She doesn’t own the property, it belongs to the government (as much land does in Namibia), her family only leases it… on a month to month basis! Yes, the threat of loosing it is real, something she has to constantly keep on top of by staying connected with local and top level country officials.
Almost every day tour buses turn off the B1 for a couple of hours they’ll not soon forget.
Here amongst the rocks that look like Lego blocks stacked by a preschooler hundred year old Quiver trees reach their aloe like heads towards the cloudless blue sky. These protected sculptures can survive for two years without rain. They also take years to grow even a foot tall.
Besides the unique Quiver trees is the artwork… puppets of sorts that adorn the reception and campground area set in old cars and other creations. Each lovingly designed and made by Marian, her mother or father.
The structures, well buildings so to speak, themselves are works of art, made out of scraps of this and scraps of that, with the hot water for the open air shower being generated by an old paraffin contraption.
This harsh land is home to a herd of kudu, ardvark (whose holes engulf the unsuspecting vehicle axil deep) , skunk, rabbits, spitting cobras and numerous other creepy crawlies and birds who come for water at Garaspark. Most fascinating are the decade old social weaver nests, home to hundreds of their species, and surely where the idea for thatch roofs came from.
During the legal hunting months, May and June, when gun shoots are common poachers take advantage. Marian has no anti-poaching unit or staff, so many a night she and her dogs patrol the fence line. Fortunately the local Nature Conservation officers are very responsive. Though under the cover of dark and in these wide open spaces poachers are hard to catch. When they are they do get prosecuted, pay fines or serve time.
Marian’s heart lies in keeping this little piece of Namibia and its fauna and flora protected while providing her quests with a memorable experience…and this she almost single handedly does very very well.
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