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Christmas Presents

Footprints in the sand

The past two decades have seen a steep rise in experiential travel. Fiona McIntosh sets off on an awe-inspiring trek in the NamibRand Nature Reserve. She describes the feeling of being immersed in this stunning desert region and encountering its smallest residents

Cresting a ridge we spy a rustic bush camp nestled in the midst of burnt red dunes.

“Welcome to camp one”, smiles Sebastiaan Kazimbu, our guide. As we’re led to our secluded ‘desert suites’, I stop in my tracks.

There on a hillock are two beds complete with linen and pillows. Our overnight bags are on a table and there’s a basin of hot water to wash away the heat and dust.

It’s all seductively colonial, yet the absence of a tent gives our sleeping spot a raw, exhilarating edge. We change into sandals, grab clean clothes and wander over to the bucket shower, luxuriating under the hot water before congregating at the bar for G&Ts. After dinner, a sumptuous three-course meal served at a communal table, Sebastiaan gives us a short tour of the night sky before we retire. It’s been a perfect day in Africa.

We’ve just completed day one of the Tok Tokkie Trail, a three-day, two-night luxury hike through the NamibRand Nature Reserve. One of the largest private reserves in Namibia, the NamibRand was created 25 years ago by conservationist Albi Brückner, whose vision saw struggling livestock farms combined to form a 170,000-hectare protected area that displays the extraordinary biodiversity of the Pro-Namib ecosystem.

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