Field Journal: Namibia Safari 2015 from Hoanib River to Skeleton Coast and Sossusvlei
Posted by Giovanna Fasanelli
in Africa and Expeditions
As extraordinary as the first chapter of our Namibia safari was, we were blown away by what was to follow with many of us rating the Hoanib and Skeleton Coast as our favorite of the places visited on our Namibian expedition. We left the stirring beauty of Mowani’s granite wonderland on a day’s drive northwestwards towards the start of the ephemeral Hoanib River. As our land cruisers ventured 60 miles down the dry riverbed, surrounded by ever-increasingly spectacular geology, we were hit by a profound sense of just how remote we were. This was something very few have the privilege of experiencing, the mystique and loneliness of this part of Namibia’s desert make itself felt with each turn. The riverbed was bursting with life from desert-adapted elephants, herds of Gemsbok and Springbok to dozens of Southern Giraffe craning their necks to feed on the green leaves of the Ana Trees that lined the sandy boulevard. Hoanib camp, set amongst a precipitous mountain landscape, was utterly divine with stretch canvas tents beautifully positioned overlooking the riverbed. Style and luxury in the middle of nowhere!
Our two days of exploration gave us a brief insight into the brutal beauty of this remote environment as we admired these desert-adapted animals wandering through ancient rocks and sand dunes. The day’s trip to the Skeleton Coast was incredibly fun especially as we hit the dune belt where we played like children in the vast sea of sand. After experiencing the roaring of the sand as we tumbled down the dunes, a beautiful, side-winding Peringuey’s Adder was found hiding under a small rock. The colony of Cape Fur Seals, twenty thousand strong, sent wafts of acrid air up our nostrils as we finally arrived at the loneliest of the world’s shores. Our picnic lunch was enjoyed in utmost style on a beach colored deep maroon by a thick layer of garnet stones that formed gorgeous ripples over the white sand. Pieces of shipwreck, strewn haphazardly around the beach, reminded us of the unforgiving nature of this hazardous coastline, where many a life has been lost to the elements. Our flight back to camp revealed the true majesty of this landscape where forever seemed to find a new meaning and soul-stirring beauty reached new dimensions. A foggy morning delayed our departure to Walvis Bay which turned out to be a wonderful gift as it allowed us time to find the two female desert lions that are featured in the new documentary ‘Vanishing Kings’. What a finale!
A truncated catamaran cruise in Walvis Bay was just enough time to be assaulted by half a dozen hungry Pelicans that were landing on people’s heads to get closer to the bucket of fish. Even the fur seal was intimidated by these rapacious giants. Playful Bottlenose dolphins and feeding flamingoes added to the morning’s highlights but the champagne and oyster picnic might have topped the lot! With our plane waiting for us, we took to the skies once more and flew inland over the red dune sea towards Sossusvlei where we landed amongst fields of mysterious fairy circles within the vast NamibRand Nature Reserve. After taking some ATV’s into the dunes, we enjoyed refreshing sundowners, our little party dwarfed by the endlessness of the landscape. Our day’s experiences ended with star-gazing at the lodge’s own observatory, the resident astronomer revealing worlds within worlds buried within a sea of twinkling stars.
The morning exploring the famous Sossusvlei reserve had us all filling our memory cards as the mighty, rust-red dunes stood proud and statuesque in the morning light, the shadows creating eye-catching patterns. The scenic splendor continued to amaze and inspire as we made our way further south to our final camp in the dunes. The views over this endless rolling landscape, set alight by a glorious array of pastel pinks, terracottas, yellows and blue grays, peppered by greens of the characteristic gnarled camelthorn trees, had us all marveling in delight. The guides revealed some of the unique animals that call this extreme habitat home, characters such as the Dancing White Lady Spider, the flightless dung beetle and several species of speedy Toktokkie beetles. The hardest part of this trip – saying farewell. Namibia truly is one of the greatest African destinations where wildlife meets breathtaking landscape, and is enjoyed from the comfort of some of the continent’s most exquisite lodges. What more could you ask for from an African safari?
Read more about this expedition on our Namibia Safaris page.