Namibia : Skeleton Coast and Kaokoland
The desolate Skeleton Coast gets its name from the bleached whale and seal bones which covered the shore when the whaling industry was still active, and the shipwrecks there caused by the unseen rocks in the fog. The vast, coastal wilderness of the Skeleton Coast and the rugged mountains of semi-desert Kaokoland at the northern tip are Namibia at its most remote. You can get a sense of this barren coastline from the south self-driving. If you want to conquer its remotest northern corners you need to fly in to Kaokoland to stay at one of the two exclusive camps there. The ultimate way to do it is to take an amazing 3-4 night flying safari which works its way up the coast in mobile camps to areas unreachable by vehicle.
This is accessible when self-driving from Swakopmund north to Damaraland and you can take a walk on the beach to get a sense of its wildness. If you look, there are signs of life with ancient desert-adapted plant species as well as wildlife including penguins, seals, snakes, insects and jackal. At Cape Cross, you’ll find an isolated stretch of rocky shore covered by a huge (and rather smelly!) Cape fur seal colony, which, in November, is swelled by young pups.
In the more northern reaches of Kaokoland, you will explore the soaring sand dunes, plains and mountains with your guide and have the privileged opportunity to meet the Himba people and learn about tribal customs and desert survival techniques of these indigenous semi-nomadic pastoralists.
Serra Cafema Camp is located in the extreme north-west of Namibia and has to be the most remote camp in Southern Africa. For those who appreciate truly wild places, the journey alone to Serra Cafema is one of the most exciting in all of Africa. The three-hour flight in takes you over some incredible scenery, then the drive from the airstrip through open grasslands and two high mountain ranges culminates in a dramatic and breathtaking descent into Serra Cafema Camp. The region is populated by the Himba people who are some of the last true nomadic people in Africa, and you will have the opportunity to learn about their lifestyles and traditions in a natural and sensitive environment.
Under shady Albida trees is a small, rustic and peaceful camp with eight fully furnished en-suite Meru tents raised up on decks. Mountains dominate the skyline to the north, while sand dunes roll out across the arid wilderness, and, next to camp, runs the Kunene River, creating a lush oasis along its banks in total contrast to the strikingly dry surroundings. Located just inland from the Atlantic Ocean and the Skeleton Coast the cool winds that blow from the ocean help to keep the camp cool even in summer, while the rapids in the river gurgle you to sleep after a day exploring one of the most starkly dry and beautiful corners of Africa. The camp has a small swimming pool, dining room and bar, and it’s easy to while away many an hour looking out over the landscape from a peaceful deck.
Activities include exploring the soaring sand dunes, plains and mountains with your guide. 4x4 safaris follow the breathtaking landscape of the Hartmann Valley in pursuit of springbok, ostrich and even leopard. You can boat or fish on the Kunene River, quad bike over the dunes (this is sensitively done to avoid damaging the fragile environment) and go on walking trails in the remote mountain and river valleys. You will also have the privileged opportunity to meet the Himba people and learn about tribal customs and desert survival techniques of these indigenous semi-nomadic pastoralists.