Hoanib Valley Camp: Our full report
Located on the border of the old administrative districts of Damaraland and Kaokoland, Hoanib Valley Camp ...... is in one of Namibia’s most remote and untouched wilderness areas. The ancient mountains, gravel plains and dunes that define the area are home to some of the country’s most elusive desert-adapted wildlife, while the camp offers an oasis of luxury for its guests.
Not to be confused with Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, Hoanib Valley Camp is a joint venture between local communities and the most successful long-term giraffe conservation charity in the world – the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
Nestled relatively close together at the foot of a mountain, yet maintaining their individual privacy, the camp’s six tented rooms are built on decks of wood, bamboo and a composite of 70% recycled material. Wooden steps lead up to a covered veranda with a couple of directors’ chairs and a beanbag for soaking in the view across the valley floor to ancient mountains beyond. Inside, the large bedroom features comfortable king-size or twin beds as well as bedside tables and lamps, a small bamboo sofa and a writing desk with drinking water and a tea and coffee station. To the back of the tent, the en-suite shower room with twin basins and a separate toilet is also home to a large storage rack complete with fluffy towels, cool silk dressing gowns, a laundry basket and a small electronic safe.
As Hoanib Valley Camp is 100% solar powered there is no air conditioning, but a free-standing fan in combination with large mesh windows and air flow under the tent do a pretty good job of keeping things cool. If it is especially hot, as it was when we visited in April 2019, then a damp kikoi in combination with the fan (often called African A/C!) can really help to make things more comfortable, especially during your siesta.
The camp’s main area is a large open-plan tented structure, which opens up to make the most of the view and really invites you out into the wilderness. A central island doubles as both a bar and a breakfast bar, while to either side are dining tables and a couple of seating areas with comfy leather sofas, but we enjoyed most of our meals on the deck outside.
In front of the main area, a firepit surrounded by chairs is the camp’s pre-dinner focal point. We took part in several fantastic pre-dinner discussions here, including one that encompassed an excellent explanation of the southern stellar constellations – which are truly spectacular in this region.
A relatively steep sandy path takes you from the main area up to the camp’s small swimming pool. Surrounded by a partially covered deck that is dotted with sunloungers, this is a stunning spot to relax and cool off during the heat of the day.
Hoanib Valley Camp’s unique location allows for a fantastic range of activities, with other vehicles rarely seen on nature drives. In stark contrast to sightings of desert-adapted elephant in the area around Twyfelfontein, guests here will often find themselves alone with a relaxed herd of these gentle giants. As an added bonus, the area is also home to some of Namibia’s last remaining desert lion, made famous by several documentaries, books and long-running research projects. Nature walks, usually close to camp, offer the chance to step out of the vehicle and take a walk through the wilderness with a guide – and perhaps a sundowner drink.
With advance booking, it may be possible to spend a day tracking black rhino in the Palmwag concession or to visit the Giraffe Conservation Foundation’s base. These activities are usually recommended for stays of three nights or more as each takes a full day.
On a human note, the camp can also arrange a visit to local villages. These usually focus on Himba communities but can also be extended to Herero and Damara peoples as well, allowing you to learn a little more about their remarkable cultures.
Hoanib Valley Camp is too far from the Skeleton Coast National Park to offer trips there. However, if a stay here is combined with time at its sister property, Shipwreck Lodge, guests can take explore the Hoanib and Hoarusib river beds in detail on a full-day activity cum transfer, taking in the clay castles en route. This is a spectacular trip and a unique opportunity to get to grips with some of Namibia’s most remote landscapes.
Nestled in an untouched wilderness, Hoanib Valley Camp is an oasis of comfort and calm offering a uniquely varied range of activities. Wildlife can be elusive, but come for the wildness of the setting and the jaw-dropping scenery, and you might be lucky enough to enjoy some wonderful wildlife encounters along the way.
Country manager: Namibia
- Skeleton Coast & Kaokoland, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- Two to three nights
- Self-drive guests are met at Sesfontein, approx 60km east of the lodge, and transferred by 4WD. Fly-in guests will land at the camp’s airstrip before transferring to the camp, taking approximately two hours.
- Accessible by
- Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- In April 2019 we enjoyed a good variety of fresh and tasty meals. Overall the food was hearty and wholesome rather than fine dining, but it certainly hit the right spot for us.
We understand that with advanced notice most dietary needs can be catered for.
Breakfast is a buffet of cold meats, cheeses, fresh pastries or muffins, cereals, fresh fruit, tea coffee and fruit juices. Hot dishes are then cooked to order.
For lunch we enjoyed a delicious spaghetti carbonara served with green salad, followed by chocolate ice cream.
Our three-course dinner began with a spiced butternut soup with a home baked pesto roll. This was followed by a generously sized stuffed chicken breast, with rice, cauliflower and creamed spinach. The meal was rounded off by a crème brulée.
- Photography holidays
- With its broad range of activities, Hoanib Valley Camp offers photographers in Namibia an unusual diversity of subjects, from spectacular scenery to desert-adapted wildlife and traditional cultures. The opportunity to capture photos of the elusive desert lion is perhaps the biggest draw.
- See ideas for Photography holidays
- Cultural experiences
- Hoanib Valley Camp offers guest the option of a sensitive and welcoming interactions with Namibia’s some of traditional cultures. While these trips focus predominantly on Himba villages, they can be extended to take in Herero or Damara communities too.
- See ideas for Cultural experiences
- Attitude towards children
- The camp welcomes children of all ages.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- The camp can arrange for childcare by members of staff. Note, however, that they are not trained childcare professionals.
- Cots can be arranged on request.
- Generally recommended for children
- Given the remote location and long transfers to reach the lodge we think that Hoanib Valley Camp is better suited to older children.
- Hoanib Valley Camp is unfenced so children should be supervised at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Hoanib Valley Camp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Hoanib Valley Camp have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- There are low-volt charging points in the tents for batteries and cameras etc, but these cannot power items such as hairdryers.
- WiFi is available in the main area.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The fully plumbed bathrooms include flush toilets, with hot water provided by solar geysers.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The managers are trained in first aid. The nearest hospital is in Swakopmund, a transfer taking around 1 hour 45 mins by medivac.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- The camp’s managers and guides all sleep on site.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers in each tent and in the main area.
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is included, with – weather permitting – items returned the same day.
- Each tent has a small electronic safe.
- Accepted payment on location
- The camp accepts cash in Namibian dollars or South African rand, and card payment by AmEx, Visa or Mastercard.
Other lodges in Skeleton Coast & Kaokoland
Alternative places to stay in this same area.