Tommy’s Living Desert Tours – education, respect & a whole lot of fun! - News - Gondwana Collection


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Tommy’s Living Desert Tours – education, respect & a whole lot of fun!

Avatar of inke inke - 26. septembre 2017 - Discover Namibia, Tourism

A highlight of a visit to Swakopmund is a guided 4x4 trip into the Namib dunes with someone who is familiar with the ancient desert and its creatures. An area that looks barren to the untrained eye soon becomes home to an array of intriguing creatures. Tommy Collard will also ensure that you have a good laugh along the way.

A shovel-snouted lizard becomes a ‘Ferrari of the desert’, a legless lizard (or FitzSimons burrowing skink) becomes ‘mobile spaghetti’ and a fog-basking beetle - able to absorb 40% of its body weight in water by sticking up its posterior in the cooler hours to catch the droplets that roll down into its mouth - becomes a ‘6-wheel-drive mobile water-bottle’. 

It’s all about sharing his knowledge with people – and his love.

It comes naturally to Tommy, who from a young age was fascinated with the natural world. His mother was always afraid to bath him at night, never sure what she would find in his pockets. 

The living desert tours, which he started in 1997, were a natural progression from his career in farming, nature conservation and tracking. He was inspired by a friend, who suggested he start taking tours after Tommy took him out into the desert, reading the Busman’s newspaper (ie. reading tracks in the sand) and sharing its solace and beauty. For Tommy, the desert is both his office and his sacred place. “My time with the Lord has always been in the dunes,” he says sincerely.

Tommy focuses on ‘the desert’s little 5’: the Namaqua chameleons, Palmato geckoes, shovel-snouted lizards, side-winder snakes (Peringuey’s adders) and white lady spiders – as well as all the small stuff that you only see when you get out of the vehicle and onto your knees. Tommy jokes that’s why you see so much when you go to the bush toilet.

But, it’s all about respect. With fifty years’ experience with reptiles, and almost as many with insects and arachnids, he says that it is important not to hurt or threaten them. “Snakes, scorpions, spiders and chameleons are just like women,” he says and laughs, “if you treat them with feeling and respect, everything is fine.”

The living desert tours also offer insight into the plants, minerals and dunes of the Namib Desert. More than that, they’re loads of fun. You know you’re in for it when Tommy says “Welcome to my office” as you arrive in a wonderland of curvaceous golden sand dunes – and then laughs sinisterly as he accelerates cresting the dunes and children squeal in delight.

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