Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is an ethereal mix of vast plains and dry riverbeds, haunting shipwrecks and Victorian ghost towns, enigmatic desert elephants and endangered black rhinos. A very remote part of Damaraland in northern Namibia, the Skeleton Coast is a natural curiosity shop for adventurous travellers: nowhere else can you can see preternatural welwitschias – at 2 000 years, the oldest living desert plants in the world – or follow in the ancient tracks of Strandlopers, the original beachcombing hunter-gatherer residents. The semi-nomadic Himba people still live in the region, and use thousands of years of accumulated wisdom to survive the sometimes forbidding terrain.
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is a 7-tent establishment in a rugged valley that is home to a surprising diversity of plant and animal life. Fogs off the Atlantic Ocean, formed when the icy Benguela Current meets the sun-baked desert air, ensure precious moisture that keeps this pre-historic environment alive. The transient Hoanib River supports a ribbon of vegetation that is the major source of food for desert-dwelling creatures, including giraffe, cheetah and springbok. Birders will be thrilled to spot a lanner falcon perched majestically in an isolated sheperd’s tree.
While 4x4ing through the Skeleton Coast National Park, enjoy a picnic lunch on the dunes, watch the comical antics of throngs of grunting Cape fur seals on the beach or scan the mesmerizingly stark landscape for the iconic, sword-like horns of a lone oryx standing sentry in the sand.