In August we will be launching the much anticipated Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp. And so with construction underway, and as the sustainability coordinator for Wilderness Safaris, together with some of my Namibian colleagues (including the camp developer and architect), I undertook an adventurous 12 hour drive up to the new camp site.
Whilst on the road, especially once we entered the Palmwag concession, we saw plenty of wildlife in the very dry landscape of north-western Namibia – this included Hartmann’s mountain zebra, oryx, springbok, giraffe and even elephant. Once on site however, we were astounded by the number of elephant that regularly visited the camp (sometimes up to three times a day). Although not seen while we were there, tracks of brown and spotted hyaena were found every morning, as well as Cape fox and signs of the resident pride of lions.
My focus once at the camp site was to have a look at our plans to ensure that the environmental footprint of the camp is as low as feasibly possible. The camp has been designed to be 100% solar powered with the Namibian desert climate providing much in the way of sunlight. At 50kW the solar plant is quite large, powering all aspects of the camp from the main areas and guest rooms to staff accommodation. Careful attention has been paid to the efficient use of solar to maximise the power generated from our solar plant, while individual solar geysers are used for water heating.
Moreover, the design of the guest rooms takes into account natural lighting and air movement to maintain comfortable temperatures in the rooms, with double layers of canvas throughout to improve insulation. In terms of waste water, we are using a vast number of septic tanks to ensure breakdown as well as large quantities of evaporation and transpiration pits to ensure our waste water can be used by plant life.
Finally, a carefully designed fuel storage area will be built to prevent any potential spillage of fuel or oil into the sensitive desert environment. Water meters will also be added to keep an eye on water usage at the camp in this arid desert environment.