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The rocky hills and gravel plains of Damaraland are home to more arid-adapted wildlife than we could ever have imagined.

Hartmann’s mountain zebra
Hartmann’s mountain zebra

We spent three nights at Desert Rhino Camp, which sits within the 450 000-hectare Palmwag Concession in northwest Namibia. In this desolate environment live animals that we are more used to seeing on the savannah, rather than the desert sands.

On safari we spotted southern giraffe, gemsbok, springbok, kudu and herds of Hartmann’s mountain zebra. We were at the camp to go rhino tracking on foot and came close to a black rhino mother and her calf in a grassy valley. We didn’t get as lucky with predators, seeing no signs of lions or hyenas, although we did catch sight of bat-eared foxes coming out of their den at dusk.

The most special sighting for us was a desert-adapted elephant walking slowly amongst the dry scrub. Desert elephants roam far and wide, often going days without drinking, and are known to dig holes, or gorras, in dry riverbeds to find water. Animals have adapted to desert survival in amazing ways and a surprise seemed to await us under each rock and around every corner.

Hartmann’s mountain zebra
Hartmann’s mountain zebra
Gemsbok
Gemsbok
Springbok
Springbok
Desert-adapted black rhino
Desert-adapted black rhino
Desert-adapted elephant
Desert-adapted elephant
Bat-eared fox
Bat-eared fox
Hartmann’s mountain zebra
Hartmann’s mountain zebra
Gemsbok
Gemsbok
Desert-adapted elephant
Desert-adapted elephant
A female black rhino and her daughter take off after catching our scent
A female black rhino and her daughter take off after catching our scent
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Marcus & Kate

Marcus and Kate are a freelance writer/photographer team, contributing stories on travel, conservation and human interest from across east and southern Africa. They just completed a year in Kenya's Masai Mara where they conducted a research project on wildlife tourism and community-based conservation, including working on projects such as Elephant Voices and Living with Lions. They are a Swedish-Australian couple with itchy feet and a love for Africa, adventure and discovery. To see more photos from Marcus and Kate, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.