No Half-Measures at Hoanib

Aug 15, 2014 Trip Reviews
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Extraordinary scenery and rich diversity abound at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp. As Birgit Bekker discovered after attending our newest camp's exciting opening… 

“I spent four nights at Hoanib Skeleton Coast to assist with the opening and hosting of guests, and other than a few small details that needed attention (window blinds for one or two of the rooms, some decorative pots missing), we had a wonderfully smooth launch. Camp staff members were eager, enthusiastic and very proud to be part of such a very special place in Namibia.

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp landscape

It’s well known that Namibia delivers on the landscape front, and that the wildlife is a bonus. So I loved the scenery, the gravel plains, the green ana trees in the Hoanib River surrounded by barren mountains, the sand dunes – however, even I was surprised at the rich diversity we encountered in this harsh desert landscape.

Desert-adapted elephant in the Hoanib River

What it shows is that you need time if you really want to have special experiences, and I was lucky to have four nights at Hoanib – and had I stayed just one more night, I might have also seen black rhino! After seeing giraffe and giraffe and more giraffe on the first two days, plus some lone elephant bulls, I had all but given up on more animals and just relished the scenery, having a lot of fun atop a Land Cruiser, as well as on our Skeleton Coast excursion… only to be surprised on the third morning by 14 elephants, comprising three different family groups and many lone bulls… to the point where we ‘struggled’ to find an elephant-free zone within the riverbed to have coffee and cookies haha!

Desert-adapted elephant in the Hoanib River

On the first morning, we encountered a brown hyaena which had grabbed the leg of an oryx carcass killed by lions that night, and on the last morning, we had a very special moment with seven lions, which are well-documented on Desert Lion Conservation’s Dr Flip Stander’s website as the Musketeers. Seeing them in our desert environment was incredibly lucky – we knew they were in the area when we found their tracks in camp that morning, having visited our waterhole that night. Yes, that’s right, they walked through our camp that night…!

Brown hyaena at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

Considering there is really only a 30% chance of seeing these lions, I know that this sighting was very unique, and honestly wasn't sure if I should even talk about it. I even met with Flip, who was fortunately in camp one night to share some of his research stories with us. I also met with Emsie Verwey, the brown hyaena researcher, and heard exciting stories about the den and the one surviving brown hyaena cub (first there were two, and suddenly only one – who was apparently given the delicious oryx leg later that day). I also met the Steenkamps who are currently filming the seven lions I had seen that last morning.

Desert-adapted lions in the Hoanib River

Flip also showed us some pottery shards, left by humans thousands of years ago, right next to camp, including some stone remnants of possible buildings, and an archaeologist will visit the camp later in September to analyse these.

Weather-wise, we had afternoons of sand storms, morning fog, clear sunny days, cold nights – literally, every day was different.

What an adventure… so much so, it took much longer than usual for me to get back into the routine of Windhoek and civilisation. Oh yes, and the rooms are stunning. I really could spend a week there – I miss it so much already!”

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp


By Birgit Bekker, Sales Manager - Wilderness Safaris Namibia 

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