In a country jam-packed with vast, spectacularly beautiful landscapes, Kaokoland may just be the most incredible of them all. Deep in north-western Namibia, the area is a melee of towering sand dunes and huge expanses of desert, scattered with unique wildlife and nomadic Himba settlements. It’s also one of Namibia’s most remote and wild environments, and one that not many will get the chance to discover in a lifetime.
And that’s exactly why we’ve decided to build Hoanib Valley Camp. A joint venture between the local communities and Dr Julian Fennessy, Africa’s foremost giraffe expert, the camp is an elegant, intimate affair that immerses you into the wilds of the desert. The six rooms blend seamlessly with the environment, offering a simple aesthetic that matches the rugged landscape down to a tee. Days are spent tracking endangered rhino and desert-adapted elephant, before retiring to your private veranda to marvel at the magnitude of your surroundings (G&T in hand, of course).
Hoanib Valley’s six guest tents blend almost perfectly into the rugged environment. The colours, textures and patterns are inspired by the experience of the Hoanib; the rich ochre of the dunes, the geometric patterns of the Himba people and, of course, Dr Fennessey’s giraffe that inspired the project. True to the ethos of Natural Selection, we’ve sourced materials locally, and you’ll find furniture shaped by the local Rundu carpenters and Himba carvers, and baskets weaved by the people of the Omba Project in Windhoek. The whole camp is a clean and green sort of place, leaving virtually no footprint on this fragile eco-system. It’s entirely solar powered to ensure carbon emissions are kept to a minimum, and the tents sit on decks made of a wood, bamboo and 70% recycled-material composite.
The wildlife of the Hoanib Valley is perfectly at home in the arid environment, and learning about their survival techniques is fascinating. Game drives will reveal herds of desert-adapted elephant, digging deep holes in the riverbeds to access water, as well as stately giraffe, and, if you’re very lucky, desert lion. Zebra, klipspringer and kudu move freely through the mountains, and you’ll find hardy herds of springbok, oryx and steenbok picking their way across the dust-blown landscapes. Black desert rhino can also be found in the area, and a day (or even a morning or an afternoon) tracking the magnificent beasts is an absolute must. Bird watchers, keep your eyes peeled for Monteiro’s hornbills or Ruppell’s korhaans in the valleys, and the imperious Verreaux’s eagle in the hills.
Opening: April 2018
Text & Photos: © Nature Selection, www.natureselection.travel