How does one summarise a week in Namibia’s rugged Kunene region, one of the wildest parts of Africa? It was just one wow moment after another! There was the cheetah mother with two cubs who killed a springbok male in the dry Hoanib River bed, the chameleon laying eggs at the Skeleton Coast, the drive through the dunes to the violent Atlantic Ocean where hundreds of seals frolicked in the crashing waves, meeting the traditional Himbas in Marienfluss Conservancy and of course, the desert lions (with cubs!) and desert-dwelling elephants…. And then there is those epic landscapes, so huge and awe-inspiring that you feel so small and incredibly humbled by it all.
It’s hard to sum up north west Namibia in one blog because it’s so much more than a holiday – it’s a life changing experience and a grand adventure! I think the photos tell the story so let’s start with that…. This week I’m sharing a few of my pictures from the Hoanib River and Skeleton Coast. Next week stay tuned for photos from Serra Cafema in the Marienfluss Conservancy, home to the Himba people. Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is a joint venture between Wilderness Safaris and local people in three conservancies, Sesfontein, Anabeb and Torra. Matson & Ridley Safaris also made a donation to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation from this safari. I want to thank Helen, Chuan Fong, Patricia, Maggie, Jo, Leonie, Tristan and Carina for being such intrepid desert adventurers and great company, and I really hope we meet again by the campfire soon.
Last year, Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp won Tatler’s “Most Out Of This World” award. I reckon it would have been a tough choice for this between Hoanib Camp and Serra Cafema, two of the most remote and wild-feeling places you’re ever likely to visit, both of them run by Wilderness Safaris. That’s why my May 2016 safari focuses on these very two camps. Because I reckon they’re both awesome and, frankly, I want to go back there! I want you to feel the magic of Namibia’s wild spaces with me and go home feeling like you’ve just touched the moon. The truth is, in the modern world there’s not many places you can go where you are truly away from it all, hundreds of kilometres from civilisation and the things that own us (television, smart phones, meetings, commuting…). You won’t get a better escape than among the desert-dwelling animals and plants of Namibia’s North West region.
Right now I’m recruiting for my safari there in May next year (2016), which is already half full (up to a maximum of 12). Read on if you’d like to know more and get in touch with me here to sign up.
If you’ve never experienced Namibia’s north west then you’ve got something special to look forward to! If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting the spectacular Skeleton Coast, meeting Namibia’s traditional Himba people, and spending time with desert dwelling elephants and lions in an environment that is wild, remote and pure adventure, then this is the safari for you.
Dates: 20- 27 May 2016
This luxury, conservation-focused safari kicks off on 20th May in Windhoek with a night at the Kalahari Sands Hotel, and then we’re off the next day by plane to Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp for 3 nights. On our second day, we’ll do a full day fly-in excursion to the Skeleton Coast itself, where we’ll see shipwrecks, desert dunes, seals and so much more. I’ll spend time telling you about the behaviour and ecological functions of the elephants and other species in this unique, fragile region.
On 24th May, we’ll fly to Africa’s most remote and my favourite camp, Serra Cafema and spend 3 amazing nights there. I don’t know how to describe this luxurious camp – it’s so much more than an oasis in the desert. You just have to see it to believe it. A community partnership with the local Himba community is one of the unique features, meaning it really makes a meaningful contribution to the locals and hence to conservation. You’ll see how the Himbas live and breathe in landscapes so big you will feel like the tiniest of insects in this vast landscape. Serra Cafema camp also made the Top 50 in “Africa’s Finest” for its contribution to conservation.
Finally on 27th May, we’ll all fly back to Windhoek and bid farewell.
Price: SING$10,000/person sharing (approx AUD$9350 at current exchange rate on 3/3/15)
All meals and drinks are included in these safaris (with the one exception of the first night in Windhoek on the Namibian safari), all luxury accommodation, all park and community fees, two activities daily, internal flights between camps, laundry, and donations to relevant conservationists we spend time with. Travel insurance is compulsory and can be added separately. International flights to and from your home town are not included.
Remember that the price also contributes to local conservation projects and keeps the wildlife and traditional communities you meet along the way afloat – so it’s really as good as a donation to charity. You’re also keeping my conservation work going, as my safari company is what pays the bills and allows me to do my conservation work for free.
Group size is limited to 12 people and this trip is currently half full. Family groups are welcome. Please get in touch with me now if you’d like to sign up for this amazing adventure!
First of all, just a quick reminder to book your spots on my 2016 safaris to Namibia and Zimbabwe if you haven’t already. I have very limited spots on these safaris, and they need to be booked a year in advance. For all the details of both safaris, please click here. Both are safaris that really make a difference in conservation and community development. In the Zimbabwean conservation safari in July 2016, you get to track rhinos with the pros, hang out with wild dog and hippos conservationists, and experience the amazing Hwange National Park, known for its large elephant concentrations & much more, and Victoria Falls. In the Namibian conservation safari, we’ll be visiting the north west of the country, focusing on the Skeleton Coast, spending time with desert elephants and the traditional Himba people. I can tell you from personal experience, both trips are mind blowing and life changing and the camps are as good as you’ll get in Africa!
Secondly, you may have heard that both China and Thailand are making some progress on clamping down on the illegal ivory trade. We’ve seen Thailand enforce a new law, the Elephant Ivory Act, which requires that all ivory be registered by the authorities by 21 April 2015 or face a penalty of 3 years in prison and/or a large fine. Some media sources are reporting that as a result the number of ivory traders has dropped markedly, as so many of them were unable to verify the origin of their ivory. I haven’t been able to independently verify this myself, and I believe there continues to be a major need for demand reduction in this country. Thailand has also instigated forensic technology to identify the source of ivory (Asian vs African) and will help police the trade.
China recently banned ivory carvings for a year, around the time of Prince William’s visit to Beijing, however this represents only a small amount of the ivory in circulation, and it’s really nowhere near enough to stop the problem. There’s a good article on this if you’re interested in learning more – click here. Prince William has become an outstanding advocate for stopping the demand for ivory and rhino horn and continues to speak out and use his influence for the cause. Check out his speech given recently in China by clicking here. But it’s going to take a lot more than is currently being done to reduce demand in China, the country most heavily driving the illegal ivory trade.
I’ve been working hard with the Let Elephants Be Elephants team this year to focus our awareness-raising efforts on Thailand this year – so watch this space for more information, coming up soon!
Finally, after a few lovely months back on home turf in Queensland, Australia, our family is relocating again, this time to Amsterdam in the Netherlands where my husband Andy is taking up an exciting new job in the environment movement. I’ll continue to update you on all things elephants and African safaris from my new base there.
As part of my travel agency, Matson & Ridley Safaris, I will be leading two safaris to two of my favourite parts of Africa in 2016. Based on my past safaris, the very limited spaces (maximum 12 people) book out very fast, so if you’d like to join please drop me a line now! These camps have to be booked now because they are so popular they book out a year in advance or more. And as with all my safaris, the camps are selected by me to ensure your tourism dollars make a difference on the ground. Trust me, these safaris will change your life! (more…)