Our crew members have been to Namibia and some of them have seen the Fairy Circles with their own eyes. They are totally fascinating and also – unbelievable. The first thing anyone gets reminded of when seeing the Fairy Circles were the unexplained Crop Circles which are in the UK and unexplained.
The Fairy Circles are found in the Namib desert which is a completely magical place on its own. The landscape is desolate but magnificent. The ground is stony and rocky, the colours change from gray to gold to red to brown to yellow depending on the sunshine, and the magnificent Sossusvlei Dunes and Sesriem Canyon are nearby.
The Fairy Circles are perfect. There is not a single circle that is even slightly out of place. They make an exquisite pattern, especially if you are a romantic like me. They extend over a vast amount of the desert, are repetitive and – unexplained.
You can see the Fairy Circles from a long distance away because each one is huge. And if you talk to people in Namibia, you will get a few different stories.
Local Namibians will tell you that these circles are the ‘Footprints of the Gods.’ Namibians are very spiritual and have deep connections to Gods and Goddesses. They believe in things that are other worldly and they definitely believe in a God or more than one God. For the local people, there is no question. The Gods have been walking in the Namib Desert. And because new Fairy Circles appear all the time, the Gods keep walking. The area is blessed with beauty although water is not abundant and neither is food. It is the desert and temperatures are sweltering in summer. The local people believe the Gods have their back. They’re looking after them.
Scientists have tried to find other explanations. Of course the would, they’re scientists. It would be easy to believe that these are the work of bugs or termites, eating away at the grass, except for the sheer perfection of the circles. Each circle can grow up to 25 meters in circumference which is enormous, and each circle is pretty identical.
Mysterious? Definitely. Work of the Gods? Maybe.
Let’s look at the scientific proposals. There are two schools of thought.
Ecologists from Princeton University have been studying the Namibian Fairy Circles. Termites build colonies underground, way under the desert grasses. The termites eat the roots of the low vegetation, which leaves large dead patches of ground. How this dead ground is in such a perfectly formed circle is unclear except that the termites work in colonies and each circle represents a colony. So under each Fairy Circle there is not a God on top of it but a colony of termites underneath it.
If this was true though, the circles would at some point change. The grass would grow back. The termites move on to other areas and the circles should not remain exactly the same. But these circles, once there, are always there. Nothing changes.
Other ecologists and scientists think the circles are about the desert grasses working in such a way to protect their neighbors. This is a more complex theory but it is one that suggests the grasses are trying to help other grasses and plantlike to get water. Water is scarce in the desert, so perhaps this is a way of nature helping nature.
Let’s get back to the local people. When you tell them about ecologists and scientists in far off countries trying to solve the mystery of the Fairy Circles, the Namibians just smile. Namibians are an incredibly polite people. They always listen and they never correct you. But they have their own culture and traditions that are very different to those of the scientists and they ultimately believe 100% in their Gods. Their beliefs are not religious but they are spiritual.
There are many photographs that have been taken of Namibians in these fields of circles. Remember, this is the desert so it is hot. When our crew members saw the Fairy Circles in December and it was close to 50 degrees Celsius. That is hot for any tourist but the Namibians take the heat in their stride. Namibians in the desert use the Circles for gatherings. Are they spiritual gatherings, mystical or magical gatherings? They may well be.
This part of Namibia is completely remote. You can get to the Namib Desert by vehicle but it takes a lot of driving on very rough roads. What is clear on the drive is that the entire area is unlike any seen before. The outcrops of rocks, the sand dunes and the sand dune corridor are spectacular and in fact the Sand Dune Corridor is a heritage site. The desert changes color all the time. There is little life here. You find gemsbok, jackal, birds and a lot of snakes, as well as the many small Desert insects. Actually, you hear the insects you don’t see them. Perhaps this is because they spend their time underground. Perhaps this is because they’re building the circle.
Perhaps they are the mystery?
We have to be honest, we are not convinced that these circles are a natural phenomena. They are too perfect and too well placed. One could almost imagine a God pacing this beautiful landscape, one giant foot print after another.
Of course, there is one more theory which is not unlike the theories from the Crop Circles. These perfect circles could indeed be formed by UFOs. While there are no confirmed sightings of UFOs in the area, the Namib Desert would be a perfect place for them to land. Remote, undeveloped, quiet and – magical.
By the way, Fairy Circles like the ones in Namibia have been found in Western Australia. They only however popped up in 2014. We are leaning towards UFOs cause we are not sure that termites could work so perfectly well.