Lithops - Living stones - Namibia Safari and Lodges - Gondwana Collection

Namibia with Heart and Soul: Take our hand and let us introduce you to this awe-inspiring country. Come and stay with us, experience Namibia.


Where the Namib Desert stretches languidly from the Atlantic Ocean and wild land extends into infinity, dreams become real. At this place where fantasy meets reality, you'll find the Gondwana Collection safely positioned.

Take our outstretched hand and let us introduce you to our extraordinary country, Namibia. From the massive chasms of the Fish River Canyon, the fossilised dunes of the Namib Desert and the red sands of the Kalahari Desert to the waterways of the Kavango and Zambezi, there are countless marvels to behold. Explore this awe-inspiring wilderness from the warmth of our lodges, created with conservation cognizance and ample character. And return to relax after an exciting day of discovery.

This is the Gondwana feeling: Namibia with heart and soul.

Come and stay with us, experience Namibia.

About us

Namibia Road Map 2018/19

Anyone touring Namibia should definitely take our road map along. It is available from Gondwana free of charge, or as pdf download. This map features fascinating experiences plus recommended accommodation. At the same time it is an ordinary road map with all the essential information of the official Namibia road map by Prof. Uwe Jäschke and the Roads Authority of Namibia.

The Desert Grace - Opening November 2018!

Treat yourself to desert elegance and an extra touch of grace! Graceful spaces and gracious hospitality imbue this modern lodge with its elegance of yesteryear, spirited character and refreshingly stylish interior. Sip on a pink gin while appreciating the expansive desert scenery from one of the 24 bungalows, each with its own plunge pool. Book now!

Self Drive Safari Packages - Expecially4You

Namibia 2 Go

Experience Africa like nowhere else. Discover what makes Namibia so special and as it should be, with Namibia2Go. Easy. Up close. Unforgettable. Explore Namibia your way with Gondwana Collection's new unbeatable self-drive safari package for two. Includes accommodation, 4x4 vehicle and a detailed on route map guide.

Go Big

Discover Namibia’s main attractions.

This package offers a four-wheel drive vehicle and a twelve day trip through the beautiful Namibian landscapes. Starting from Windhoek you will head south, into the Kalahari where your first night will be spent enjoying the sunset at the Kalahari Anib Lodge.


                         More Info & Availability

Go Active

Enjoy an active Namibian adventure.

Have an active adventure in Namibia with this ten day trip. See a new side of Namibia that includes a wide variety of activities. All from the comfort of a four-wheel drive vehicle that is included in the package. Starting in Windhoek you head west towards the coastal town of Swakopmund.


                           More Info & Availability

Go Wild

Track Namibia's awesome wildlife.

This self drive safari includes a four-wheel drive vehicle and stopovers at all major wildlife-viewing sites. Starting from Windhoek you will head towards the famous Etosha National Park, where 3 nights will be enjoyed at the unique Etosha Safari Camp.


                           More Info & Availability

Go Epic

Experience Namibia's famed locations.

Take ten days to discover Namibia in an Epic way. This self drive safari - which includes a four-wheel drive vehicle - will take you to the famous Namibian locations that will make you long for the vast open spaces long after you return home. Starting in Windhoek you will head south to the Kalahari Desert.


                           More Info & Availability

Gondwana's Newsroom

Lithops - Living stones

Avatar of inke inke - 17. March 2017 - Discover Namibia, Environment

Lithop: Flowering stone. Photo: Ron Swilling

In 1811, botanist, explorer and artist William John Burchell recorded finding a “curiously strange pebble”, which he discovered was a plant that “ ... in colour and appearance bore the closest resemblance to the stones between which it was growing”.

This “living stone” or lithops, derived from the Ancient Greek words lithos – stone and ops – face, has intrigued many people over the centuries, not least of all Desmond Cole. He was fascinated from the first time he laid eyes on this unusual plant in 1954, identifying the different species over the years together with his wife Naureen and eventually writing the definitive book on lithops Lithops: Flowering Stones, several decades later.

A real desert child, lithops favours arid or semi-arid areas that receive less than 100-150 millimetres of rainfall per year and in temperatures that often reach between 42-45 degrees Celsius, although it is also found in more vegetated grasslands with higher rainfall. In the coastal areas of the Namib Desert, it depends on the mist to obtain moisture. Only 38 species have been identified, most being found in Namibia and South Africa and one species in Botswana. It is usually located on well-drained stony slopes and ridges strewn with small stones and mostly occurs amongst the lighter-coloured quartzites, pegmatites, granites, gneisses, schists or calcretes. These provide a little shade, reflect the sun’s rays reducing its intensity and being the first to cool off at night attract condensation that drips down onto the plants.

Well camouflaged between stones and often speckled to break up its shape, the lithops plant is not easily seen. It withdraws into the soil in the dry winter months for a dormant or resting period. When it bursts into flower at the onset of the rains, responding to the moisture in the air, it can no longer pretend to be anything but extraordinary.

The bright and beautiful flower leaves a seed capsule of minute seeds that will germinate only in perfect conditions, even if that takes up to fifteen years. When a dry mature seed capsule is wet by rain, it will open up within a minute, exposing the seeds to the force of the raindrops for dispersal. When the rain stops and the capsule dries, it will close protecting the remaining seeds until conditions are once again suitable for germination. Extremely slow growing, the small, thick lobed leaves, fused at the bottom and divided by a fissure across the top, will only begin to replicate after two to three years. As with much desert-adapted flora and fauna, this genus of succulent plants in the Aizoaceae family has evolved to endure extreme conditions with a remarkable tenacity, yet still holds a fragile and delicate beauty.

Besides man and the odd nibble by animals like rodents, ostriches and francolins, the armoured cricket is the plant’s worst predator. Each lithops is precious, requiring protection and admirers are requested to look without touching and leave the sensitive species as is to preserve the few pockets that are scattered about the country. Plants rarely survive if collected and collecting depletes existing populations, placing the future existence of the genus at risk.

Hilde Mouton from the Alte Kalköfen Lodge in southern Namibia has realised that protection for these plants is of utmost importance. She holds the only permit to legally propagate and distribute lithops in Namibia and urges people to rather visit her for sought-after seed. She germinates the “flowering stones” in her lithops nursery or “lithoparium”, called the Cole Lithoparium in honour of the lithops experts, preventing hybridisation and maintaining conditions as similar as possible to those found in nature.

These fascinating plants are sometimes called “pebble plants” or “stone plants” and are also known by their Afrikaans name beeskloutjies – little cow hooves. Whatever the name, the “living stones” are a wild and wonderful plant genus, testament to the ability of nature to endure in all conditions and in the remotest of places.

Comments are disabled for this post.


Explore the Gondwana Blog

Subscribe to our blog and receive email notifications of all our latest articles & stories.

View the Blog

Canyon Klipspringer Trail

Hiking in almost pristine nature, this slack packing trail only runs from April to September.

Read more

Stay up-to-date with our monthly 'Gondwana Tracks' Newsletter Sign up Today