Namibia Branding and Standards Officer Jennifer Fourie spent a few days at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp where she discovered that the pilot in camp was Dr Conrad (“Nad”) Brain, our Environmental Manager (as well as Wilderness Air pilot, qualified vet and renowned researcher)... Jenn picks up the story:
Nad told me about a new project he is heading up with Gert Tsaobeb, affectionately known as ‘Papa G’, one of Hoanib’s camp guides. I’ve known Gert for many years myself; he worked at both the old Kulala Wilderness Camp as well as Sossusvlei Wilderness Camp before moving to Little Kulala where I met him. He subsequently moved to our old Skeleton Coast Camp, then Serra Cafema and now he is at Hoanib, where he has famously said he doesn’t know if life as a guide could be any better given the area’s amazing variety of landscapes, birds, geology and game.
He’s been with Wilderness Safaris for some 16 years and one thing is consistently apparent: Gert is an explorer and naturally curious. He had barely saddled up at Hoanib before he started exploring the valley in which the camp is built, as well as neighbouring valleys. What he has found is spectacular– stone shelters, grain stores, pottery shards, stone tools and what is either a grave or a ‘communication post’ of sorts made by a forgotten tribe long ago – all in the very valley where Hoanib Skeleton Coast now stands.
Gert and Nad
When Gert and Nad went for a late afternoon walk, I ambled along with them and I was blown away at what a rich archaeological site our Hoanib valley is! Gert said he had explored the neighbouring valleys and hadn’t found evidence of earlier settlements in any of them. The only evidence he had found in the other valleys was of hunting posts situated next to animal paths. Nad explained that the Khoi would set up these shelters right next to a game path and lie in wait for an unsuspecting antelope to walk past.
John and Jill Kinahan are experts on archaeology in Namibia, so Nad is planning to get them to come to Hoanib on a camping trip to look at the sites and field test the items. Nad himself is bubbling over with excitement after showing me photos in Jill Kinahan’s book on their excavations in the Kuiseb Delta. The markings on the pots in their photos are the same as those we found around Hoanib… and these pots are dated at approximately 2 000 years old! This adds a tremendous new level of interest to an already fascinating area!
We explored the valley and at sunset, ended up at the base of the little hill next to Tent 1, overlooking what we jokingly called the ‘Headman’s Hut’, since the circle* at the foot of this hill is noticeably larger than the others.
Some serious pause for thought ensued as we realised Wilderness wasn’t the first to earmark this valley for a camp…
Scroll on to see further images of their findings:
* Read about Namibia Guide Trainer Johan Fourie’s exciting discovery near Doro Nawas late last year http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/blog/posts/discovering-ancient-artefacts-on-a-namib-safari