Joubert’s Ark

Once upon a time high in the central highlands of Namibia, there was a place of water. The Herero called it Erindi. A magical place of rock strewn mountains, steep canyons, vast plains, and hidden enclaves frequented by the early san people. Their campsites marked by rock and cave wall etchings of animals and people more than five thousand years old.

Enter the Joubert family, with a vision of future conservation. They purchased this vast landscape over several years, removed the domestic cattle and began to restore the land and wildlife to its historical condition. Nearly two decades later their dream was realized. Like Noah did more than several millennia ago, they brought a wide array of species and watched them flourish, establishing self sustaining herds of plains game, and the requisite predators necessary for a good management plan. They developed the water sources, including bore holes, impoundments both great and small, and enhanced the natural wet areas.

Today Erindi is the poster child for what African Eco-tourism should be. Almost all species of Namibian wildlife reside here with the exception of cape buffalo. Erindi leads the way in wild dog conservation and propagation projects. Ditto the cheetah conservation project. The global leopard project, add lions, elephant and more and you have a two hundred and sixty-eight square mile laboratory dedicated to the conservation of African wildlife. See http://www.erindi.com

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Lioness, will she come or stay?

The animals and the land are just one facet of the story. The other is the wonderful fifty room rambling complex they have built, complete with a large dining room, overlooking a seven hundred meter long waterway. The water draws all things to its edge, human and animal alike. Resident hippo and croc patrol the water and the surrounding dam wall. Late this afternoon we spied two very large elephant, with tusks of over seventy and one hundred pounds apiece, drinking from a small waterhole directly in front of the reception area. Wow!

Not to put to fine a point on it, but that act was followed by two separate groups of wild dogs, numbering about fifty total, with over twenty four pups coming to the water and doing a lap around the perimeter. These are simply the biggest wild dogs in Africa. Period. Giraffe, eland, zebra, steenbok, honey badger, anteater, hyena, kudu, and more came and went about their business.

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Alpha male

Our room was the Livingstone Room. The one and only, top of the Erindi accommodation line, with its own very special period décor. This room sits squarely on the dam wall, about forty-five meters from the dining area flush against the water, surrounded by its own enclave of walls on three sides and a fifteen meter long wall of glass overlooking the water on the fourth side. Window walls left open, but screened for the night, brought all the hippo noise into the room, loud and personal. Jackals and hyena called for hours and elephant came and went splashing and enjoying the wet reprieve from the days dust. Sleep came after an hour or two of enjoying the African night sounds at full volume.

A final voice welcomed us home to Erindi. The sound shaking all things before we dropped off to sleep. A series of deep throated roars – ngruma – from less than seventy meters across the water jumped the bass volume off the scale. The big male lion let it be known this was his territory, and his alone. The sweet sound of wild Africa that is too often absent today.

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Panthers Leo a force to be reckoned with

Thank you… and goodnight.

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