What is it about these deserts that bring our guests back year after year with something akin to longing? Is it that they remember something ineffably profound in these quiet, beautiful places? That in our frenetic lives we squander some treasure only recalled in these quiet places devoid of the distractions we appear to be so fond of. The word remember derives from the Latin for mindful…perhaps here lies the answer. No wonder the wise sought solitude in the desert.
That we are drawn to its minimalism is not doubted, but why we are quite so captivated, enchanted even, by the majesty of bare gravel plains devoid, it seems, of any life, is the delicious mystery.
This is the mystique of the desert, this 'seeming'. Despite appearances it is a place of enormous potential - given the right conditions. When the distant weather drums of the mid pacific beat out the rhythm of a La Nina system, animals and plants alike already seem to know of the coming rains. And when it does come, the explosion of life in this ‘seeming’ aridity is spellbinding.
These huge gravel plains are resilient ecosystems – although recovery between events of drought and plenty can be slow - but ever opportunistic, life recovers.
Desert adaptations continue to confound scientific assumptions – and this much-studied desert even supports a permanent research station (Gobabeb) - image left, which plays host to scientists from all over the world.
Studying everything from climate, flora and fauna to dune systems and weathering - an enormous body of work has emerged from this little station not 80 km from our Kuiseb lookout campsite, Aruvlei (Namib Desert Safari).
But does all this knowledge enhance our experience of the desert, or does it distract? We are warned by the wise to be aware of premeditated approaches to experiences; that perception is but in the eye of the beholder.
When these mesmerizing experiences occur in an environment that still holds an element of the mysterious, is it not wise to simply be present to it without the chatter? To surrender to the quiet pace of camp life as we follow the sun from horizon to horizon in an environment deliciously devoid of unnecessary clutter. The potential restorative capacity of experiences such as these are priceless.
Freed from the reactive cycles we tend to live in, the sheer simplicity of not having to decide what to do next, is intoxicating. We become acutely aware of the rhythmic ebb and flow and there is no duality between observer and observed, no filter, no pretence.
Leaving the mystery to its mysteriousness and allowing it to take us hostage, for a while anyway...
An enchanted world is waiting to be discovered…if you let it.
Namib Desert Safari
Damara Elephant Safari
Wild Horses Safari
Desert Canyons Safari