Namibia. Her coastline is isolated and dry, interspersed by small towns and coastal cities and the vast dunes spreading north, east and south, beautiful in their apparent desolation
It’s the meeting place of extreme landscapes on Africa’s West Coast – on one side the Namib desert, the oldest desert in the world, and on the other a massive lagoon and harbour flowing from the Atlantic Ocean.
You would be forgiven for assuming that nothing much exists in this land of sand, when in fact the ‘little five’, as they are affectionately called by the locals, make their home there – these treasures of the desert use the sand, sun and seasons to preserve their species and bring the desert to life.
What are the ‘little five’?!
If you choose to explore the dunes – whether by tour guide, quad bike, four-by-four or on a guided walk – you are sure to spot one or more of these fascinating creatures, from a dancing white lady spider cartwheeling down a dune to escape the enemy to the transparent Namib dune gecko with its webbed feet that are used to walk through and dig in the soft dune sand.
Follow the track of a legless lizard or learn about the different beetles and insects and how they survive in the desert. Observe sand-diving lizards dancing on the hot sand, sidewinder snakes meandering their way across a dune, desert chameleons and many more treasures of the desert.
The easiest access to the ‘little five’ is from Swakopmund, a small picturesque coastal city situated along the Namibian coastline; with your back to the sea you can see an endless vista of sand and dunes beckoning.
General Manager Conni Lyners from BON Hotel Swakopmund says that her favourite weekend activity is to take her children to explore the dunes.
“No two days are the same, with every moment yielding something new and interesting,” she says. She adds that the awe and smiles from her guests after a trip to the desert never fail to warm her heart.
1. Dancing white lady spider (Carparachne Aureoflava)
2. Namib dune gecko (Pachydactylus Rangei)
3. Legless lizard (Fitsimmon’s burrowing skink)