This region is typified by the Succulent Karoo. The distinctive climatic characteristics of the Succulent Karoo make it different from all other deserts in the world. Rainfall is reliable and predictable, falling mostly in winter, and prolonged droughts are rare. The Succulent Karoo’s botanical diversity is unparalleled by any other arid region on earth and is the world’s only plant hotspot that is entirely arid.
This ecoregion is home to greater than 5,000 higher plant species, nearly 40 percent of which are endemic, and 18 percent of which are threatened. It has the richest succulent flora in the world, harbouring about one-third of the world’s approximately 10,000 succulent species. Other unique features include the diversity of miniature succulents (435 spp.) and geophytes (bulb-like plants 630 spp.). The ecoregion is also a center of diversity and endemism for reptiles and many invertebrate taxa, especially monkey beetles (Rutelinae: Hoplinii).
The Namib Desert ecoregion to the north is characterized by extremely low and variable summer rain (less than 50 mm per year), and extremely sparse plant cover, dominated by ephemerals. To the east lies the Nama Karoo ecoregion, a low open shrub-land with variable grass cover and highly variable rain that falls mainly in the late summer months.
Luderitz – Aus (125 km) (FB) (camping)
There is time to join an optional extra excursion, a marine trip, take a cruise around Luderitz bay and, weather permitting, to Halifax Island to see the Jackass Penguins. N.B: The boat cruise is subject to availability and, if undertaken, will be for the clients own risk and expense.
Time to explore Luderitz Town with its traditional German architecture and later we will take a drive out to Diaz Point to see the bird life, hopefully a few seals and the stone cross replica, originally erected by the Portuguese mariner Bartholomew Diaz.
Straight after the marine trip we drive out to Kolmanskop, a desert ghost town about 20 km out of Luderitz. It was built in the 1920's during the diamond rush and was abandoned when bigger and better diamonds were found further along the coast. The area is still abandoned and the desert has encroached over the entire town, giving an eerie feeling and real meaning to the word “ghost”.
We sleep tonight at Klein Aus Vista, a private reserve, beautifully located in the Aus Mountain Range, (Huib-Hoch-Plateau region). The road takes us through the “forbidden Zone” so named because in years gone by, the alluvial diamonds found in Namibia were simply scattered across the desert and we again have time to enjoy sunset over the mountains.
Overnight: Klein-Aus Vista - Desert Horse Campsite
Large old camel thorn trees greet camping guests at the Desert Horse Campsite in a small valley of the Aus mountains. Each of the ten sites is equipped with a tap, table, grill and windbreak. Neat shower and toilet facilities are within easy reach of each site. Barbecue packs are available at the reception of Desert Horse Inn (1.5 km); those who like to skip cooking for a change are more than welcome at the Inn's restaurant (subject to space available, please enquire upon arrival). Several hiking trails run through the valley; the Sundowner Trail leads to a lookout point where you can watch the sun disappear behind the distant horizon at the far end of vast desert plains. The Desert Horse Campsite is just 20 km away from the habitat of the Wild Horses.