New Method of Touring in Kaokoland

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By Michael Liswaniso OPUWO Residents of Opuwo were highly excited last week with the arrival of two camels that roamed the streets for the first time. The gelded male camels, that will be permanently stationed here, were brought in from Grootfontein by truck recently. The camels, a joint venture project between the Mopane Camp of Opuwo and a Swiss company tour operator of “time.out.door”, will be used for tourism. According to the venture duo, tourists wanting to discover amazing unfenced-in amimals of Kaokoland will be required to pay a levy of more than N$300 for a four-hour trek. Given the fact that most parts of Kaokoland are mountainous and have poor road infrastructure, the camels will be useful for impassable routes, owner of “time.out.door”, Robert Schraner has assured. The two camels, whose names were given as six-year-old Blitz and five-year-old Tango, were trained at a camel farm in Grootfontein. Although Schraner would not divulge the purchase price of the two animals, those in the know claim they are very expensive creatures that can even cost as much as some vehicles. Schraner, who has so far specialized in trekking with camels, has travelled to about 22 countries in Africa and the Arab world, using horses, mules and camels. In October last year, he travelled through Kaokoland when he discovered the potential of camel safaris. “Kaokoland camel safaris offer a new environmentally-friendly adventure of trekking in Kaokoland. Why drive when you can camel!” he noted. He said camels will be helpful to tourists by carrying water, food and tents over long distances. “Four-wheel-drive impassable routes can be discovered with camels. The unique mix between meeting Himbas in a natural way off the beaten track, discovering the beauty of the Namib Desert and seeing unfenced-in wildlife, speaks for camel-trekking in this area. Local people and tourists are going to experience an amazing creature in the camel,” stated Schraner. Camels can also serve as a livestock alternative for the overgrazed areas, he said, adding that their milk is lower in fat and lactose but higher in vitamin C, potassium and iron than cow’s milk. He said camel meat tastes like beef but is tougher, and it is a delicacy in Arabian cuisine while the skin – or leather – can be used for clothing and tents. “A camel is an important animal. It can endure what no other animal can and provide so many of the needs at the time,” the tour operator enthused. However, Schraner has bemoaned the fact that although camels are useful creatures, there are only a few of them in Namibia, with the country boasting only over a hundred compared to over a million in Kenya and other Arab states. “I know of Sudan, Somalia and even Egypt – they have millions of them.” Most residents welcomed the animals and are adamant that this would boost tourism in the area, and the region in particular. “This is good for tourism. I was very happy to have direct contact with these creatures for the first time and to even pose for a picture with them because previously I only used to see them from a distance in Otavi. It was really a great experience for me. I will even file the picture I took for my kids, and it was also my first time to learn that camels store water in their humps” said a visibly thrilled Jore Uaisiua.