Who or what is causing the bare circles in the grasslands on the eastern edge of the Namib? These and many other exciting questions about the mysterious fairy circles will be pursued on an excursion offered by Gondwana Collection Namibia at the end of March.
The excursion will be led by Namib and fairy circle expert Prof. Norbert Jürgens, who has been systematically researching the phenomenon since 2008 and published his much-discussed explanation in the renowned scientific journal Science in 2013: sand termites create, use and maintain the fairy circles as sustainable desert farms, with underground water reservoirs and grass "fields".
Together with termite specialist Felicitas Gunter from the University of Hamburg, Jürgens introduces the Namib Desert ecosystem and explains fascinating aspects of the fairy circle phenomenon. Where do you find moisture in a dune landscape? Why are the fairy circles often surrounded by a ring of tall, strong grass plants - the so-called luxury belt? How is a fairy circle created, how does it grow, how does it "die" and how old does it become?
With a bit of luck, participants of the excursion can observe sand termites in action. Norbert Jürgens and Felicitas Gunter will try to lure them to the surface with a trick. Participants will also visit one of the nine fairy circle sites in Namibia where Prof. Jürgens has been systematically collecting data since 2008.
Namib and fairy circle expert Professor Norbert Jürgens downloads data in a fairy circle in Gondwana Namib Park, which the measuring instruments have collected and stored since his previous research visit. Photo: Sven-Eric Stender
At the end of the excursion, everyone can decide for themselves who is the world champion among the landscape engineers who play a decisive role in shaping their habitat: the beaver or the fairy-circle termite?
Details of the excursion
The excursion to the fairy circles in the Namib Desert will take place on Saturday and Sunday, 25 and 26 March 2023, in the Gondwana Namib Park south of Solitaire, with dinner, bed and breakfast at the Namib Desert Lodge. In Gameviewers with nine seats each, participants will travel to the Namib dunes on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning to explore the fairy circles.
From Windhoek and Swakopmund, Go2 Traveller Transfers offers a relaxed journey by coach: the 22-seater coaches offer comfortable seats and comforts such as on-board WiFi. Departure is at 6.30 am from the Truck Port in Windhoek or from The Delight Hotel in Swakopmund. You return on Sunday between 17.30 and 18.00 hrs.
Of course, it is also possible to arrive in your own car. Those who wish can stay longer, for example for an excursion to Sossusvlei, on their own or as part of a tour with the lodge. Families with children under 6 years of age are also welcome.
More information about Gondwana's excursion to the fairy circles of the Namib can be found here. For bookings please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Fairy Circle Lectures in Windhoek and Swakopmund
Immediately before the weekend Norbert Jürgens and Felicitas Gunter will give lectures on the fairy circles: On Wednesday 22 March at 19h00 at the Namibia Scientific Society in Windhoek and on Thursday 23 March at 18h00 in the museum hall in Swakopmund.
Afterwards, the publisher Klaus Hess will present Prof. Jürgens' new book "Fairy Circles of the Namib Desert". It is already available in Namibian bookshops, at the Namib Desert Lodge and even in Gondwana's online shop The Narrative Namibia.
Extensive new book by Prof. Norbert Jürgens on fairy circles and fairy circle research. Also available here.
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