Reviews of Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
The experience of a lifetime
We can't say enough about how amazing our time at Hoanib was. From the staff to the accommodation to the food to the guide (Elias) to the setting to the wildlife, it was all perfect. A must do.
The trip down to the Skeleton Coast was breathtaking and the flight back gave us a completely different perspective on the whole area. This was the perfect way to end an unbelievably great holiday in Namibia.
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp review
This is the poshest camp I have ever stayed in. The food was great, the camp was well run, the guiding was excellent. But the main area had no atmosphere and the restaurant was like eating in a library, whispering with over bright lights. Thank god for the camp fire.
I completely loved the trip to the skeleton coast, the desert elephant with their calf’s were magical to watch, against the yellow sand and white flowers , picturesque and moving. Huge expanses of desert, lots of wildlife, and birds, beautiful. Lunch by the sea. There are few safari experience that include elephants and whales.
Our guide was interested, knowledgably and tenacious. We spent 4 days looking for the brown hyena, and it was our guide’s idea to go out after dinner to the water hole, where we found the elusive brown Hyena
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp
Everything was excellent here – guide, staff, food, location, and travel to the coast.
Took short walk with guide, which was nice.
Perhaps our or at least my favorite camp.
Glam in the Middle of Nowhere
The Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is the newest property (opened in 2014) of the three in which we stayed per our itinerary and, save for its lack of internet and mobile access, it is modern in every respect. Our suite had lots of power points and a well-designed bathroom with double sinks. We're not totally sold on the architect's decision to locate the suite's lovely sitting lounge and minibar outside its sleeping space: their external locations effectively meant that we were unable to enjoy the lounge after night fall (a lion attacked a baby giraffe amongst the camp's suites a few days before our stay), and grabbing a nightcap from the minibar required leaving our suite's cozy confines.
We luckily were assigned a suite closest to the camp's public spaces and, if mobility is an issue, we suggest making that specific location request. Walking to the farthermost suites could easily take close to ten minutes.
HSCC's signature activity is the day-long excursion to the Skeleton Coast, and we loved every moment of that adventure . . . the unbelievably bumpy ride to the Coast amidst eye-popping varied terrain; our vehicle's dune descent; the spectre and smells of the Coast's wildlife; and our short but visually-stunning return flight to the camp. Other activities we enjoyed at HSCC included traditional game drives (two lionesses with three cubs; cheetah with two cubs; two elephant families; giraffes; springboks; oryxes; and ostriches), and watching the "Lion Man" video (a must!!!) with fresh popcorn.
Like the other Wilderness camps we visited, the food and service at Hoanib were outstanding in every way. Its cookies and other baked goods are divine!!!
Best camp for Skeleton Coast
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is new (2014) and very modern, with good lighting and electrical outlets in the eight tents. It’s very remote, located less than a mile from the Skeleton Coast National Park boundary, and close to the Hoanib River (sand most of the time). Access is only via aircraft from Doro Nawas airstrip. The Hoanib River valley has underground water, which means trees and bushes in this desert area, which in turn attracts the local wildlife. There’s not a lot, due to conditions, but we saw desert adapted elephants, black backed jackals, giraffes, black-faced impala, oryx, and ostriches.
Without doubt, the all-day excursion through the Hoanib River valley and along the sand dunes to the Skeleton Coast was the highlight of our stay. Don’t miss it, and I suggest you contact the camp (or your travel agent) to be sure it’s included when you are present. En route, we slid down a sand dune, spotting a Namib desert sidewinder at the bottom. We shot photos of Klein Oasis from a sand dune overlook. While the camp was dry and unseasonably hot, the coast was cold, foggy and windy. The huge Cape Seal colony was impressive, and is the largest in southern Africa with 40-60,000 members. The nearby shipwreck remains were interesting.
We enjoyed lunch on the beach overlooking the South Atlantic, with a full service table setting, put together by an employee of the camp who stays here; we brought the food with us from the camp. Finally, we raced to the nearby airstrip to catch our flight back, made truly memorable by the pilot who circled points of interest, including Klein Oasis. Ten minutes later, and the plane would have left without us, due to the fog rolling in. It took our guide three hours to drive back.
We were fortunate that the principal researcher for a study of a resident pack of jackals was present. We thoroughly enjoyed her presentation about jackals, and her willingness to answer our many questions. We recommend you take advantage of her presentation, if she is resident in camp. She also showed us a film about a local lion pride, the subject of many years of research. Sadly, after we departed in mid-June, four of the five lions were killed by farmers for livestock predations, and the fifth was relocated to a distant area. So the chances of seeing lions are pretty slim.
The tents were very hot, with only two quite small windows that could be opened, as they had screens. More screens on some of the larger windows would be appreciated, so the windows could be opened to admit a breeze. Meals were served restaurant style, but we would have preferred family style, so we could more easily meet and chat with other guests. They are willing to push tables together, if requested. The vehicles were fully enclosed with a pop-up top which allowed guests good views. Unfortunately, the second and third rows of seats had to share a single door, which made entry/exit cumbersome.
Our guide Gerhardus did an excellent job throughout our stay at Hoanib Camp. He located a variety of wildlife, identified animals, birds, trees, bushes and flowers, and made the drive to the Skeleton Coast very interesting. The camp is run by Wilderness Safaris, which manages it efficiently , like their other properties. The staff was very pleasant and friendly, and made sure all our requests were promptly handled.
Overall, we are very glad we included the Skeleton Coast and this camp in our trip to Namibia. We would recommend a stay here, to experience a very different face of Namibia.
The owner's description on the Expert Africa website could stand to be updated.
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp review
This is the other highlight in regards to setting, people, and management of lodge. Physical location provides access to the vast tough terrain and the skeleton coast. Although it appears to be devoid of life, it is actually chock full of it. The faster you go, the less you see, so thankfully, our guide Gerhansen, was a master in all facets of our drives: expert knowledge, expert off road driving skills, and expert birder. Additionally, his incredibly keen vision and listening skills enabled him to grasp the subtleties of his clientele. When at the lodge, the staff was always one step ahead in making our experience top shelf. We actually now have a new drink, the Oryx (Amarula and Kahlua), created by Robby to serve our friends. Charming singing and dancing (shaking!) wait and kitchen staff...where else can one go and have such a musical staff who have never heard of Bob Marley? Clement oversees the camp with a remarkable unique finesse. Finally, anyone who stays there and doesn't go to the skeleton coast is insane: the dunes, the fog, the coast are so staggeringly wild...beyond cool!Read more about the whole safari
The highlight of our trip!
We spent three nights at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp and loved every minute. The camp is beautifully situated and comfortably luxurious. The food was fitting of any five star hotel, which is even more impressive given the remoteness of this camp. Our guide, Elias, was perhaps the best guide we have ever had throughout our five separate, month-long trips to Africa. Not only was he knowledgable, safety conscious, and respectful of the animals, he was a great conversationalist with a wry sense of humour. We enjoyed many excellent wildlife sightings - including two black rhinos and a cheetah with two cubs at a kill. We also really enjoyed the drive to the coast and the flight back was spectacular!
The camp staff are all excellent. Beauty exemplified finesse and professionalism as she masterfully handled a mix up that was the fault of our travel agent. What could have been a very inconvenient error turned out to be little more than a momentary ripple for us - even though it meant some complex juggling behind the scenes. Another potential problem - the fact that I was recovering from a recent quad bike accident and so couldn't walk far - was also very tactfully handled by Beauty when she noticed my limp and moved me to the closest tent as soon as it was available. By the way, when I say 'tent,' I really mean 'very luxurious tented chalet.'
Where Damaraland Camp made me feel like a constant nuisance for having a food allergy, Beauty mentioned to me upon my arrival that the kitchen was aware of my food allergy and would ensure my food was all safe. As should be the case, my food safety needs were completely and inconspicuously met and I was never made to feel like I was being a nuisance.
Clement, one of the camp managers, was entertaining. His enthusiastic personality might be a bit overwhelming at first but we came to really appreciate his passion for the wilderness and wildlife photography as well as his very clear devotion to ensuring Hoanib delivers on every front.
Another thing we really appreciated at Hoanib was their ability to ensure guests mingled and met one another but also had time alone with their travel companions. Before dinner, guests mingled freely around the campfire or bar but during meals, each party had a private table. We were close enough to other groups to engage in lively conversation (or even join tables) if we so desired but far enough apart to enjoy a sense of privacy and luxurious dining. A perfect balance.
The things I have mentioned so far are really details. The true stars of the Hoanib experience are the amazing scenery and the wildlife sightings. Both surpassed our very high expectations. The details, however, are what elevated our stay at Hoanib from amazing to truly exceptional.
Hoanib was definately the highlight of the eight different lodges/facitlies that I visited duirng a four week safari!
First, the location of the Camp is tucked against a hill background at the head of a long valley which is overlooked by surrounding mountains. It is simply a spectacular view along the valley. The individual lodges are reasonably separated from each other and are of a very clever "box" style construction with well place opening windows underneath a broad canvas tent which encourages a breeze way effect both within your lodge and on the comfortable verandah.
There is an artificially supplied water hole about two hundred metres from the lodges and this does attract a variety of wildlife, including lions walking though the camp, but is a bit of a distance away for all but the most enthusiastic and well equipped photographers. A good zoom lens is a definate asset.
The central guest areas are extremely well presented and very comfortable and provide good lounge facilities and a very nice dining area which is based on individual tables. A feature I like!
The Camp is managed really well by Beauty and she has an excellent staff with Elias and Clement being standouts as guides and sources of information. Their professionalism and competence is matched nicely by all other staff. This is a very, very good Wilderness Safaries establishment and well worth the fairly long trip to get there.
There are excellent wildlife and scenic opportunities and the range of animal life and spectacular scenery is simply unexpected as much as it is outstanding.
Surprises on the Skeleton Coast
Dramatic location with huge rooms that look like Bedhouin tents from the outside but with all mod cons in sleeping and living "pods". High-octane camp manager Clement is totally on everything! You really do need three nights here. We spent several hours with two lionesses and three cubs at very close quarters and tracked a small herd of desert-adapted elephants (of all ages, including very small) along the river bed. Also saw a rare brown hyena. The trip to the coast, including lunch on Garnet Beach, is full of surprises which we won't spoil for future visitors. Just make sure you go on it! Special thanks to all the staff for making a birthday celebration extra special - everyone had to get up and dance! Food again average for vegetarians (vegetable curry the first night and vegetable biriyani the second doesn't show a great deal of imagination).Read more about the whole safari
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp - Unforgettable!
In short, the place took our breath away!
The Camp is beautifully situated and maintained to a very high standard. With just 8 tents, the Camp felt not too big and not too small, in other words, it felt just right!
The staff was outstanding, our guide, Elias, in particular, and we, of course, spent the most time with him. When a place operates so well, virtually every member of staff contributes to its success, and unfortunately many of them we never meet. But those whom we did meet and were clearly in part responsible (please forgive any misspellings): Clement, Brigit, Kenny, Stanley, and Beauty. We listed others on our feedback from at the Camp.
The main tent was beautiful and fitting as was our tent. Our tent was very spacious and everything was well maintained.
Our activities will never be forgotten. We spent a lot of time driving through the river bed, and the scenery was stunning. And our drive to the Coast was unforgettable as was the flight back. We were very luck, too, it seems, in that we saw so much wildlife, including two lions and an elephant.
Once again, our guide, Elias, was outstanding. He has an easy way with people and is very knowledgeable about the place and the animals, so we learned a lot!
I would recommend Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp to anyone and without any hesitation. We've travelled a lot, and we have stayed in many of the world's "best" hotels, and the Camp ranks right up there!