Natural Selection will open Hoanib Valley Camp in the remote and wild Kaokoland in northwest Namibia in May 2018.
This sophisticated new camp is a joint venture between Natural Selection, the local communities and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, Africa’s foremost giraffe conservation organization. Located in the Sesfontein Community Conservancy, the camp sits on the banks of the Obias River, just outside the 500 square kilometer Palmwag Concession and overlooks the ephemeral Hoanib River that is a favorite foraging area for the unique desert-adapted elephant. From camp, guests can track elusive desert-adapted lion, elephant and black rhino, enjoy cultural experiences and discover more about the desert-adapted giraffe that are the focus of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation’s work in Hoanib.
Hoanib Valley Camp’s six guest tents blend seamlessly into the rugged surrounding environment. Raised on large decks, all have views out to the Hoanib River valley beyond. The colors, textures and patterns used in the camp have all been inspired by the experience the Hoanib offers. The rich ocher of the surrounding sand dunes, Himba villages and the geometric patterns of the giraffe inspired the project and give the design of Hoanib Valley Camp a strong sense of place. True to Natural Selection’s ethos of making a difference, the camp has sourced locally wherever possible; working with local craftsmen from Rundu carpenters to Himba carvers and basket weavers via the Omba project in Windhoek.
Days at Hoanib Valley Camp will be spent exploring one of Africa’s most magnificent landscapes. An impressive 42% of Namibia is protected wilderness and the country boasts some vast, spectacularly beautiful landscapes of which Kaokoland may be the most incredible. It’s a land characterized by rolling dunes, rocky mountains and desert plains all criss-crossed by ancient, dry riverbeds – important passageways and resources for the wildlife. Temporary Himba and Herero settlements dot the landscape, and scattered herds of desert-adapted elephant and springbok are a common sight. With the second lowest human population density in the world, this is truly somewhere guests can forget the stresses of the modern world.
Guests will have the chance to explore the area on game drives with Hoanib Valley Camp’s expert guides. The wildlife here is perfectly at home in the arid environment and learning about their survival techniques makes for fascinating game drives. Herds of desert-adapted elephant, digging deep holes in the riverbeds to access water, desert lion seeking shade behind sand dunes, mountain zebra, kudu and the desert veterans such as springbok and oryx are all regular sightings.
As for giraffes, very few people are aware that they are endangered, as they are often over-shadowed by “sexier” species such as rhino and elephant. Dr. Julian Fennessy and Stephanie Fennessy set up the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and began pioneering genetic work that revealed there were 4 distinct species of giraffe across Africa, instead of what were formerly thought to be sub-species. This is crucial information concerning the future conservation of giraffe populations throughout the continent. Guests will have an opportunity to meet a researcher and learn about the critical work taking place in the very area they are staying. For those interested in a deeper experience, they can spend time in the field with the team for a donation of $500 USD per person. In the Hoanib area, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation is investigating the population dynamics and social structure of this unusual desert-dwelling population. Natural Selection donates 1.5% of their gross revenue to conservation, and the GCF is one of the partners who receives funds. It is crucial to Natural Selection’s DNA that each camp in the portfolio makes a difference in the area it operates.
Dave van Smeerdijk, co-founder of Natural Selection says, “I started building camps in Namibia in 1999 and I am thrilled to be building a responsible business again in Namibia. We believe our camp can not just deliver an outstanding safari experience but also make a meaningful contribution to the conservation agenda via our partnerships with the local communities, government and local conservation organizations’’.
Natural Selection believes that all camps should be “clean and green’’ – this means the camp will be entirely solar powered to ensure carbon emissions are kept to a minimum. The tents sit on top of composite decks comprised of bamboo and 70% recycled material. Grey water is properly treated and all waste is separated and recycled where possible.
Rates at Hoanib Valley Camp start at $580 USD per person per night, inclusive of accommodation, all meals, daily activities and local drinks. Hoanib Valley Camp is accessible by both road and vehicle.
BOTSWANA: Meno a Kwena, Jack’s Camp, San Camp, Camp Kalahari, Sable Alley, Hyena Pan, SkyBeds.
SOUTH AFRICA: Coming 2018
NAMIBIA: Hoanib Valley Camp and more to come in 2018