There is life in the heart of the Namib Desert
Encountering Namibia’s wildlife while exploring the desert might not be something you expect, but a single excursion with our guides will quickly prove you wrong. At Zannier Hotels Sonop, nothing draws you closer to your environment and to Mother Earth than a walking trail. Discover the delicate life-pulse of the desert and immerse yourself into the fascinating fauna and flora of the Namib Desert, full of surprises and secrets.
Connecting with a million-year-old Nature
Estimated to be 50 million years old, the Namib Desert has been dry for as far as one can imagine. And yet, life is flourishing. While exploring the dramatic expanse of sand surrounding Zannier Hotels Sonop - either through horseback riding, electric biking or desert driving - life can be found in many various forms. With almost 70 reptile species, wild horses, jackals, leopards, snakes, endemic lizards, birds, rabbits, hyenas, zebras and scorpions, animals living in the Desert must adapt to all the hardships this environment puts in their way. Capable of surviving within extreme conditions and temperatures, these animals have developed ingenious ways of collecting water, resisting to heat and finding food in the infinity of the sand. Here are a few of these fascinating species you may encounter when visiting Zannier Hotels Sonop.
With its elegant horns and unique coat, the oryx - or gemsbok - can cope with high temperatures without batting an eye. When it is dehydrated and cannot cool its body by sweating, it allows its body to heat up to 45°C, a temperature it can withstand for 8 hours without succumbing thanks to its sophisticated cooling system. If you are lucky, you may observe an oryx herd passing through the desert right next to Sonop, coming to the five waterholes we installed to support the lodge's needs. Creating an oasis in the middle of the arid desert, these waterholes contributed to bring back many animals in these boulders.
To know more about the construction achievements of Zannier Hotels Sonop, click here.
The otocyon, also called battle eared fox, is a small mammal easily recognizable by its large ears and eye patch. Possibly named after the Egyptian slit-faced fruit bat, its ears are its most important peculiarity. Thanks to them, otocyons are able to detect the movement of insects in the ground (termites, beetles, small rodents...) that they capture by digging at the precise location. These small animals, always observed in couple and lying in the grass, are easily identifiable thanks to their large ears that stick out from bushes.
The world fastest chameleon can be found in the Namib Desert, racing after fast beetles and insects to survive ; the Namaqua chameleon. One of the largest species of African chameleon, it is less colourful than other forest chameleon, displaying earthy and brown colours to match the sandy desert. Its most remarkable ability is to change its colour to regulate its temperature, turning from almost black in the morning to absorb heat to white during the day, reflecting the bright rays of the sun.
At Zannier Hotels Sonop, our horses know the desert better than anyone. Our guests can embark on a unique riding experience through the mesmerizing landscapes of the Desert, even closer to nature and to Namibia’s wildlife. Expertly led by your horse guide, travelers depart from our state-of-the-art stables to one of our bespoke trails. Ascending the ridge of a red sand dune and walking its ridge, one can appreciate the cool breeze in its face whilst becoming one with the desert grandeur. Following our guides descending the dunes into an ancient river course interspersed with desert hardened ancient Acacia Erilobas, explorers will discover trees festooned with the World’s largest avian dwellings – the communal nests of the sociable weaver birds.
Living in such a hostile environment, some animals became experts at hiding and are more shy than others. Seing a zebra, an antelope or even a merkaat can be a true priviledge in the desert.