The first is aesthetically unusual Shipwreck Lodge, on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast which is opening in June.
Here you can go on:
The Skeleton Coast is a very important park and at first glance it looks like you have just landed on another planet where surely nothing could possibly stay alive, however if you take a closer look you will find an astonishing variety of endemic desert species.
The Namib Desert is the second driest desert in the world and also thought to be the oldest, so the species here have had a lengthy time to evolve into the unbelievable creatures that they are today. Just as you come to terms with the lunar landscape with its concealed creatures, quite randomly an elephant or a kudu appears on the beach, having followed one of the ephemeral rivers that seasonally flow into the Atlantic.
There’s nowhere in Namibia quite like Shipwreck Lodge, which is uniquely designed around the mysterious shipwrecks that line Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. In fact, there’s nowhere in Africa quite like the Skeleton Coast. It’s a rugged, raw and remote part of the African wilderness, where soaring dunes and wind-swept plains go as far as the eye can see, pommelled by the icy Atlantic seas.
Shrouded in mist, the jaw-droppingly beautiful National Park begins at the Uqab River and runs approximately 500 kilometres up the Atlantic Coast to the Kunene River. The beaches are scattered with bleached whale bones and the wrecks of over a thousand ships and the interior is a desolate desert of undulating and never-ending sand.
However it is truly magical and incredibly picturesque, which makes it an absolute must-see. Shipwreck Lodge itself is located in a superlative spot in the Skeleton Coast Central Concession Area on land between the Hoanib and Hoarusib rivers. The lodge is within the Skeleton Coast National Park and approximately 68 kilometres from Mowe Bay.
The area contains vulnerable and irreplaceable wildlife habitat for species which are of the highest conservation importance, including black faced impala, black rhino, elephant, and the Hartmann’s mountain zebra. Significantly, it also hosts the only other viable lion population in Namibia outside of Etosha National Park.
In terms of activities you can go on game drives within the Skeleton Coast National Park, sip sundowners on drives to the dune fields, go on 4×4 excursions to the Clay Castles, the Hoanib River Delta and the Mowe Bay seal colony and visits to the Suiderkus and Karimona shipwrecks.
The second is Hoanib Valley Camp, which is opening in May, in Kaokoland. This is also set in a spectacularly beautiful landscape. Deep in north-western Namibia, the area is a melee of soaring mountains, sand dunes, and vast expanses of desert, dispersed with unique wildlife and nomadic Himba settlements.
It’s also one of Namibia’s most wild and remote environments and one that not many will get the chance to discover in a lifetime. Hoanib Valley Camp is a joint venture between the local communities and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the world’s only Africa-wide giraffe conservation organisation. The camp is a sophisticated and intimate affair that immerses you into the wilds of the desert.
The six rooms blend seamlessly into the environment, offering a simple aesthetic that matches the rugged landscape. Ones days are spent tracking desert-adapted elephant, endangered rhino, and of course desert-adapted giraffe, before returning to your private veranda to marvel at the stunning surroundings.
Deep in the north-western corner of Namibia, Kaokoland is one of the most wild, remote and wonderfully unique areas of Namibia. It’s a land characterised by rolling sand dunes, rocky mountains and desert plains all intersected by ancient, dry riverbeds, which are the roads of the area.
Transitory Himba settlements mark the landscape and dispersed herds of desert-adapted elephant and giraffe are a common sight. Hoanib Valley Camp is located in the Sesfontein Community Conservancy. The camp sits on the banks of the Obias River, just outside the private 500 square kilometre Palmwag Concession and overlooks the passing Hoanib River which teems with resident giraffe, elephant, oryx and springbok.
Hoanib Valley Camp is a joint venture with the local community and with the NGO the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). GCF are the longest running giraffe conservation charity in Africa and are the leaders in cutting edge giraffe research. In Hoanib, their research not only focusses on the desert-adapted giraffe in the area, but also helps to monitor general game and elephant.
Not many people realise that the giraffe are endangered and they are often over-shadowed by the bigger species such as elephant and rhino. Through their genetic work, Dr. Fennessy and the GCF have discovered four distinct species of giraffe across Africa, instead of what was formally thought to be sub-species – which is vital information concerning the future of the giraffe populations across the continent.
When staying at Hoanib Valley Camp there is the possibility to meet the researchers and learn all about the critical work that they are doing in the area and it’s also possible to spend time in the field with the team for a donation of US$ 500.
The wildlife of the Hoanib Valley is totally at home in the arid environment and learning all about their survival techniques is completely fascinating. Game drives will reveal desert elephant, as well as stately desert giraffe and, if you’re incredibly lucky, desert lion. Kudu, Zebra and klipspringer move freely through the mountains, and you’ll find hardy herds of oryx and springbok, as well as steenbok picking their way across the dusty landscapes.
This region is home to the largest population of free-ranging black rhino and a day tracking the superb beasts is an absolute must. For bird watchers, you might spot Ruppell’s korhaans or Monteiro’s hornbills in the valleys and the commanding Verreaux’s eagle in the mountains.
Then, there are the thousands of insects and plants that prosper in the sand, surviving from the moisture of the cold fog that wafts inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Marine life here certainly thrives, feeding off the nutrients in the Atlantic and the most iconic species are the Cape fur seals which line the rocky shoreline in their large colonies.