The Austrian caving club in Bad Mitterndorf (Verein für Höhlenkunde in Obersteier, VHO) in cooperation with the University of Innsbruck carried out a speleological expedition to Namibia from March 24th to April 12th 2023. The expedition was supported by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), the Fédération de Spéléologie Européenne, and Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC – Namibia).
Expedition goals were twofold:
1. the exploration of the Kaokoveld caves located from the air in 2018. Reaching the entrances and accurate orientation (most entrances are via longer 4×4 drives and extensive ascents). Exploring and measuring the caves (floor plan, elevation, photo documentation, etc.)
2. speleogenetic and paleoclimate studies of the Namibian caves in Otavi including sampling in accordance with the permit issued by the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology of Namibia.
The group of 14 speleologists and geologists split into three teams. The first two teams carried out explorations within the Kaokoveld area while the third team focused on speleogenetic and paleoclimate studies in caves of the Otavi Mountains. Members of the teams came from six different nations.
Cooperation between the international team and the Namibian members included training in caving techniques and cave surveying. Caves discovered in tribal rural areas may help to provide a future eco-touristic perspective for the formerly nomadic Ovahimba and Herero people.
It is planned to publish the results of the expedition in due course within the VHO publications as a special edition bilingual in German and English. This will include all cave surveys, the expedition diary, photos and a selection of the scientific results.
Read the full report.