Home to desert dwelling elephants, Namibia's highest mountain and rich cultural engagement, Namibia's central and west region offers a definitive conservancy experience.
This area is known for its vast expanse of desert, plains, and ephemeral rivers, with isolated mountains jutting into the sky. These are "inselbergs", which mean island mountain, a piece of land erupting from the earth to such a degree that it dwarfs the landscape around it. The communal conservancies in Namibia's central and central west are studded with inselbergs including two of Namibia's most remarkable examples – the Brandberg, Namibia's tallest mountain in the Tsiseb Conservancy, and the Spitzkoppe, a series of mountains dubbed Namibia's "Matterhorn" in the Gaingu Conservancy.
The island mountains provide stunning vistas, challenging climbs, rugged hikes and the chance to view ancient rock art, including the world-famous White Lady etching at the Brandberg.
Around Spitzkoppe there are a multitude of opportunities to admire and purchase locally sourced crystals and semi-precious stones from enterprising miners.
Closer to the coast is the Messum Crater, which is the result of a volcanic eruption some 130 million years ago. In its wake, an 18km wide crater was left behind. In the area, rock art points to early inhabitants, while lichen fields and Welwitschia plants reflect ancient adaptations and draw those interested in botany and landscapes to the region.
The conservancies in the central and central west are also incised by ephemeral rivers, dry river beds that are home to herds of elephant, the occasional black rhino, both spotted and brown hyena, lion prides and herds of springbok that come and go with the rains.
Because of these attractions plus the accessibility of good roads and numerous Joint Venture lodges and community campsites, the central and central west is a prime destination for self-drive tourists. Side Tracks – a series of brochures and maps produced for local conservancies – provides alternative route information including highlights of the flora, fauna and culturally significant sites found just off the beaten track in the central and central west of Namibia.