The Skeleton Coast area, North of Terrace Bay, in Namibia, has been declared a "wilderness area" and has been banned from visitors, with one exception: they arrive in the air, on small aircrafts, and participate in organized activities, self drives are not allowed.
So for those who want to visit this remote area, there are only two possibilities, both not very cheap, but considered among the most exciting travel experiences of the African continent: the first is to participate in a flown safari, or fly-in safari , the second consists in staying in the only existing structure in this area.
Both ways make it possible to explore these remote and fascinating places, the territory here seems impervious and the climate is harsh, the landscape is desolate with sand dunes and a stony expanse where only the welwitschia and stretches of lichens that have hundreds, if not thousands of years, grow.
This is an adventure for those who are not in their first African experience or in the first safaris, but for those who can appreciate a place so bleak, where spotting animals is challenging.
The fly-in Safaris in the Skeleton Coast Park in Namibia
The fly-in safaris leave from Windhoek and foresee different itineraries, only a part of these trips is carried out inside the Skeleton Coast Park, in fact they provide stops in other remote parts of this area of Namibia.
For this type of travel small aircrafts are used, usually the 6-seat Cessna; trips last 4 or 5 days, depending on the itinerary chosen.
The trip starts from Windhoek and flies to the West, where the Escarpment of Conception Bay is located, south of the Sandwich Harbor; then it continues to Swakopmund, where it makes a technical stop, then continues North for a picnic on the beach and to visit the Cape Cross seal colony.
The flight goes to the North and includes camping in the Huab River Valley, East of the Skeleton Coast Park border; this is a rocky and arid territory, typical of the Western part of Damaraland.
Not far from the camp there are some carved rocks that can be visited the following morning with a short walk, it is also possible to go to a huge gravelly plain where there are many plants of Welwitschia mirabilis.
The journey continues towards Terrace Bay, where, on a Land Rover, you explore the beaches and the dunes that roar; Terrace Bay is the Northernmost point of the Skeleton Coast Park where it is possible to arrive by car, to the North of this point the park is inaccessible.
From here the journey proceeds and you go to the heart of the Kaokoveld, near the Himbacommunity of Purros; the camp is located near the Hoarusib river, that is almost always dry.
The following morning you can explore the valley, with the opportunity to spot the elephants that have adapted to live in this arid environment, as well as visiting a village of the Himba.
The journey proceeds by flying North along the coast, where you can spot some shipwrecks of some ships that have stranded here in past centuries; you reach the most Northerly point of Namibia, where the mouth of the river Kunene is located, from here you continue inland and you land in the Hartmann valley, where you spend the afternoon, while the following morning you do a stretch of the Kunene river by boat.
From here you return to Windhoek in the afternoon with a long scenic flight along the coast and over the arid Skeleton Coast.
To this basic trip you can add a scenic flight over the Namib Desert, with a visit to Sossusvlei, or one day in the Etosha National Park or you can extend the journey to Luderitz.
The lodge in the Skeleton Coast Park
Inside the Skeleton Coast Park there was a single lodge of the Wilderness Safaris that, in December 2011, caught fire; as the government concession is renewed annually, Wilderness Safaris has decided to build a new lodge just beyond the border of the concession, in order not to run the risk of losing its lodge, if the government concession was not renewed.
In 2014 the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp was opened, it is located near the Hoanib River and offers an exclusive travel experience in a remote location; the camp has only 8 tents and can only be reached by small 13-seater aircrafts departing from Windhoek.
Once you reach the camp, you will spend your days on board an off-road vehicle to explore the wonders of this area of the Skeleton Coast and appreciate its solitude and silence.