Animals, Birds, Insects, Namibia
Many Swakopmund tour operators offer "Little Five Desert Tours", as the Namib desert starts right a Swakopmunds doorstep. Basically it works like this: The aim is to see as many different small desert species as possible. You join a tour, the guide takes you into the desert with a 4WD car and looks for signs and prints. Once he discovers an animal, he points it out to you and explains the lifestyle and habits of the animal. We were very lucky in having a small group and a very competent guide from close-up-Desert Tours: he was able to show us White Lady Spiders, Palmato Geckos, Desert Lizards, Chamaleons, a Horned Viper and even a Sidewinder Snake.
I recommend to look out for tour operators with small group sizes; if the group is to big it spoils the fun and you won`t see much of the animals. I am not sure if other operators outside Swakopmund offer Little Five Tours, but possibly in Sossuvlei.
The Ostrich is a huge, ungraceful and flightless bird which is common in Namibia. They are the largest birds in the world. For some reason they seem to thrive in arid (dry) areas like the desert. They are usually seen in groups, so be careful when you drive! During the breeding season they go off in pairs or maybe even 2 females with 1 male. When they see you, they usually run off – very fast. They can obtain speeds of more than 40 km/h (24.8 mph). Females lay 10-20 eggs at a time making sure there are plenty of Ostriches out there!
I can assure you that if you do decide to drive in Nambia, they will be in the road waiting for you to damage your car. Never drive at night. This is one of the many reasons.
Coming from Luderitz to Aus, at the main road, we stoped in a little waterhole in the middle of the desert, call Garub waterhole, where wild horses where resting and drinking water.
Nobody knows the origin of these horses, beautiful animals in the middle of the desert.
There you will find a wooden stand where you can sit and observe the horses.
This is a must if you are near the zone.
One of the most beautiful animals throughout Namibia are the graceful springbok. Like small deer, these hooved creatures roam throughout the country, from Etosha in the north to the southern desert and grassy areas.
One especially entertaining phenomenon of springbok behavior is "pronging". When these creatures are excited or startled, they spring straight into the air as if launched on tiny pogo sticks or rockets. It's almost a seizure type of behavior, and it's both funny and very pleasing to see. You'd better look fast, though....they don't do it for long. Within a second or two, they regain their composure and simply run away.
Seeing springboks is a treat, but if you're NOT a vegetarians, I'll suggest another treat.... Springbok is also a tasty meat, served in many Namibian restaurants. It also finds its way into many bush menus. Beefy in taste, yet a bit more lean, it is a most satisfying main course, especially when barbecued.
All over rural Namibia, you can find the world's largest bird, the common ostrich. These gangly birds generally travel in small or larger groups, and seem to prefer the dustier scrub areas of the desert area.
Now, you can find ostriches on the menu of many Namibian eating establishment, and they're a welcome sight there, as well. But, that's another story.
So, like they used to say on "Sesame Street".....follow that bird!
Another lovely animal that you'll see in great quantities on your visit to Namibia, and especially near Etosha, is the magnificent and graceful kudu. Somewhat "deerlike", this hooved animal possesses an interesting pattern of subtle vertical stripes on its side. Older adult male kudu do have large, spiralling horns.
These animals are able to blend into a grassy or bushy environment, almost disappearing before your eyes. They're quite fast, too.
And, although it may bother some folks, kudu DO appear on many menus in Namibia. The meat is quite tasty, and prepared in a variety of ways. It's a lot like a very lean beef.
We were very lucky to see the wild horses. My children went there after us, and they did not see them.