To celebrate Hoanib’s fifth birthday today, Josephine Bestic reminisces over a recent safari to this extraordinary desert camp…

This is Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, a pin-prick of luxury in a geologically astonishing landscape. You fly over it, marvelling at the idea that lions and other predators actually survive, given the paucity of sustenance for their prey. But they all do. The elephant, the giraffe, the oryx, the brown hyaena, springbok… and so many more birds than you could ever imagine.

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages

Two words explain the phenomenon of survival here. Coastal fog. Freezing cold when it softly cloaks the earth, it leaves behind dripping condensation eagerly draughted by a myriad tenebrionid beetles, and every other thirsty animal and plant eking out a living in this, the oldest desert in the world.

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Arnold, the area’s dominant bull elephant

Guests smart enough to book three or more nights are treated to an excursion to Möwe Bay, a three-to-four-hour drive to the west on Namibia’s infamous Skeleton Coast.

Rock of Ages

Our trip (shipwrecks, seals, quaint, tiny museum) along the dry Hoanib River bed included a thrilling sighting of Alpha and Bravo, desert-adapted lion sisters of Charlie (who lives closer to the camp with her aunt, XPL69). Strangely, the two pairs rarely meet any more.

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Charlie, niece of XPL-69

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Alpha or Bravo, one of the two sisters of Charlie, who live closer to Möwe Bay

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XPL-69 coming for a pre-dawn drink in camp

An unexpectedly lavish lunch is served in an isolated spot on a beautiful beach south of Möwe Bay, before flying back to camp – fog permitting.

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Lunch on the Skeleton Coast

This extraordinary day was topped off with an entertaining presentation in camp by brown hyaena researcher Emsie Verwey on her work with three clans in the Hoanib area. Expect fascinating, surprising information, woven through with Emsie’s delightful humour, as dry and withering as a desert wind on a winter’s afternoon.

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Emsie Verwey

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Happy birthday Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, you only seem to become more beautiful with age!

Post courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

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