Namibia | Skeleton Coast Traverse

The Skeleton Coast is a 40 km wide and 500 km long coastal stretch of Namibia - a hostile and remote but incredibly fascinating area. It is here that the cold and unpredictable Benguela Current of the Atlantic Ocean clashes with the dune and desert landscape of north-western Namibia. It is a landscape apparently devoid of life but the incredible wealth of fauna will surprise you - from the elusive and beautiful desert-adapted elephants, rhinos, desert lions, brown hyenas, jackals, giraffes, seals, oryx, kudus and zebras.

tour duration 14 Days
from €5,125
next trip 26 Jul 2022
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From Windhoek our adventure takes us to the northernmost section of Namibia close to the Angolan border and the evocative mountainous wilderness of Kunene Mouth, which lacking in decent roads and largely devoid of people remains inaccessible to most, though provides an unforgettable experience for those who make it that far

Although you will not need any prior sand and rock driving experience, this self-drive adventure can get “exciting” and is sometimes not a “walk in the park”, our crew will at all times ensure safe off-road driving techniques and should you experience any difficulty our team does have the “know how” and recovery equipment to assist.

Highlights:

  • Skeleton Coast National Park
  • Skeleton Coast Concession Area
  • Kunene River Mouth
  • Skeleton Coast Dune Driving
  • Hartman’s Valley
  • Green, Red & Blue Drum Crossings
  • Puros
  • Hoarusib River
  • Palmwag Concession Area
  • Hoanib River Bush Camping
  • Desert Elephants, Rhinos & Lions

Included

All camp fees
All meals, cutlery and crockery
All park entrance fees
Camping Days, 3 meals a day
Camping sites with toilets and showers
Coffee & Tea – all day every day whilst in camp
Guide and Bush Chef
Rental vehicle with tent, bedding, fridge & chairs
Transfers to and from Airport

Excluded

International flights
Optional activities on route
Own Drinks
Your own border visas
Your own drinks and in-between snacks (we will stop and shop in town)
Your own medical emergency and evacuation insurance cover
Your own medicine and items of a personal nature

Tour Dates

26 Jul 2022 - 08 Aug 2022 - €5,125.00

Day 1: Arrival - Windhoek

Upon arrival at Windhoek International Airport a warm Namibian welcome from our team, we head to vehicle pick-up where the group is briefed on travelling in convoy and use of the two-way radios.  

We travel in convoy to our lodge where following check in we enjoy our first dinner together at one of Windhoek's finest, sampling the warm hospitality and delicous indeginous cuisine of the country.  This evening your tour leader takes everyone through the program for the next few days and answers your questions.

Day 2: Swakopmund

Today we make an early start heading west to the coastal town of Swakopmund approximately 350kms from Windhoek.  The town is situated in the Namb Desert and has its origins as the main harbour of German South West Africa - as evidenced by the architecture and colonial influences throughout the town.

After arrival, the day is spent finalizing logisitics, restocking supplies, refueling the vehicles, jerry cans and water containers. Nothing can be left to chance - from here the terrain we traverse is the true wildnerness where water is scarce and the land harsh. The evening is spent around the fire discussing the route itinerary and what to expect on our first day off the road before hitting the sack!

Day 3: Swakopmund to Terrace Bay North

Leaving Swakopmund after an early breakfast and radio check, the convoy heads north on the salt road to Cape Cross via Henties Bay. Much of the plant, insect, and animal life here has adapted to a continued shortage of fresh water because most of the coast is part of the Namib Desert. Many species have unique ways to harvest water from morning fogs, helping them to survive this harsh and dry environment.  The barren landscape bristles with the history of diamonds, minerals and guano mining as well as shipwrecks.

Despite the harsh conditions, life thrives along the Skeleton Coast. Cape fur seals have established colonies on the beaches and countless birds fish the rich coastal waters. Elephants, giraffes, zebras, chacma baboons, hyenas, and antelope also call the Skeleton Coast home, using the dried riverbeds as game trails and to hunt for food. Water along the riverbeds usually lies underground, within the reach of plant roots, giving inhabitants nutrition and cover. 

From Cape Cross we enter the Skeleton Coast Park at the Ugab River, stopping on the road for lunch.The Ugab River stretches for 450 kilometres providing a valuable water supply for the rare desert elephant as well as giraffe and mountain zebra and the largest population of free-roaming black rhinos in the world. 

We venture past Toscanini and on to Terrace Bay where we refuel one last time and pitch camp north of Terrace Bay.

Day 5: Angra Fria Agate Mountain to Kunene mouth

After breakfast we depart for Kunene River Mouth.

This expedition involves pure beach driving past the remote town of Angra Fria (a headland overlooking the south Atlantic Ocean) and the famous ‘Dunedin Star’ wreck site.  Further along the route we encounter the salt pans which appear at first as a white shimmer on the horizon.  As we drive closer, the landscape around the Agate Mountains salt pans becomes beautiful blending into the surrounding space naturally.  Truly a must see!

Once we have passed Bosluis Bay and the constant heavy surf on the beaches we reach the Kunene River mouth with its famous wetlands, prolific bird life, Nile crocodile and soft-shelled terrapins. It's a fascinating area where interdependent dune-dwelling insects, reptiles and small mammals survive against all odds getting sustenance from frequent sea fog and wind-blown detritus.

After a long day of driving, we relax around the fire discussing the challenge of crossing the dunes into the Hartman’s Valley the next day

Day 6: Kunene Mouth to Hartmann Valley

Today will be spent dune-driving all the way to Hartmann’s Valley.  Our route will stay as close to the the thundering Kunene River as possible so we are able to stop and enjoy some of the many scenic spots along the route. Birdlife is abundant – including the localized endemic Cinderella waxbill and rufous-tailed palm thrush – and a walk upriver  is likely to yield sightings of watchful crocs half submerged in the shallows, or lazing on the riverbanks.  The drive eastwards is starkly beautiful allowing us to disconnect, unwind and relax

Located in the extreme northwest of Namibia, the Hartmann Valley is a desolate yet entrancing moonscape of sand and rock that offers a profound sense of wilderness and unusual juxtaposition of habitats - the lush vegetation of the Kunene River amidst one of the driest deserts on earth!

The valley is home to the Himba, one of the last true nomads in Africa and probably also one of Africa's most photographed – indigenous peoples.

At the end of the day, we will set up camp next to the Kunene River and enjoy the rock pools for swimming and the cool of a nearby waterfall. Crocodiles, hyena and leopards have been spotted here so we try and arrive early to allow for as much time swimming as well as sightseeing.

Day 7: Hartmann's Valley

We have another whole day in our river bush campsite with much needed down time giving us the opportunity to take in the beautiful scenery where the Dunes meet the River and the wondrous Hartmann’s Valley.  This area constitutes one of Namibia’s most remote wilderness landscapes, receiving few visitors beyond the semi-nomadic Himba with their cattle and goats, alongside herds of springbok and oryx.

The early morning light in Hartmann's is spectacular and for photo enthusiasts, an early morning drive is a must.

Back at camp the crew has prepared a relaxed brunch at our campsite and the remainder of the day is spent swimming in the pools and getting ready for the next stage of our journey - travelling south on the eastern border of the Skeleton Coast National Park.

Day 8 & 9: Puros Campsite

Today our route takes us down the border of the Skeleton Coast National Park today and through Hartmann’s Valley towards the small Himba village of Puros. 

It is a long day driving but we travel at a leasurely pace to make the most of photo opportunities along the drive that takes us through sandy riverbeds and rocky jeep tracks. Wildlife en route - zebra, giraffe and possibly elephants as well as plenty of gemsbok and springbok.

Nestled next to the Hoarusib river, Puros is a true gem of Kaokoland albeit small and with little infrastructure. There are two local shops that sell basic food items, beer and cold drinks in the little village and our camp for the next two nights is nestled under the welcome shade of the huge Camelthorn trees next to the Hoarusib River.  Our arrival in the village is late afternoon in time for sundowners, a warm shower from the donkieboiler and a hot meal under the night skies.

After a long day of driving, the next day is a slow day: you have the option to drive with the guide in search of desert elephants in the Hoarusib River or to simply enjoy the vast bird and animal-life that visits regularly. What is better than sitting next to your camp-fire with a cold one watching the elephants or giraffes stroll by....

We will make use of the down time to empty our jerry cans into our vehicles and refill our water containers in preparation for the drive to Mudarib via Sesfontein

Day 10 & 11: Mudarib via Sesfontein

This morning we make an early start driving to the town of Sesfontein situated in the transition region of Damaraland and Kaokoveld in the Hoanib Valley.

Sesfontein is a dusty but photogenic spot, set between mountains in the Hoanib Valley. The local vegetation is dominated by umbrella thorns, the adaptable mopane, and the beautiful, feathery real fan palms. Expect to be offered the 'vegetable ivory' seeds of these palms, carved into various designs, as souvenirs by the local people – which are highly recommended, as often the sellers are the carvers! 

In the afternoon there are always a few people about and there's no better way to immerse yourself in local village life than sitting with a cold drink on the steps of one of the shops.  The informal Cuca shops are useful for restocking snacks if necessary and there is a petrol station where we refuel our vehicles and fill our jerry cans for the last stage of our journey. 

As we leave Sesfontein behind, we enter the Ganamub Riverbed Trail which leads us to the Hoanib River Trail.  Elephants and other wildlife use the valley as a migration route and so the afternoon spent driving the Hoanib River provides plenty of gamespotting possibilities. 

We reach our bush campsite in the late afternoon in the Mudarib River, our crew has set up camp and our evening meal is cooking on the fire.

The next day, we're up early to maximize our chances of spotting Rhino in the area. Black Rhino have been known to frequent this area and they generally operate during the evening and early morning and after our morning game drive we head back to camp for brunch.

In the late afternoon we drive back down to the Hoanib River and enjoy a sundowner looking back towards the Skeleton Coast one last time before indulging in a sumptuous dinner prepared by our bush chef.

Day 12: Palmwag

After breakfast, we head to our final destination - Palmwag, in northwestern Damaraland where all the amenities are available including a swimming pool, hot showers and a bar with ice-cold beverages!

Our drive today is a slow one as the driving is along fiercely rocky 4x4 routes that present every possibility of spotting desert adapted Black Rhino. We have lunch en route spotting under the shade of some lovely trees near a waterhole and after lunch, we take on the road for the last stretch to Palmwag that quite unexpectedly pops up like a surprise oasis in the dry, sizzling heat and red sand.

Palmwag is an ideal destination at this juncture of our adventure and the swimming pool and hot water showers are enormously welcome. As civilized the hot showers may feel, the local elephants, drawn by the water in the river and who have been known to venture through the campsite grounds at night - serve to remind us that we are merely visitors in this ruggedly beautiful country.

Day 13: Windhoek

It's a long road from Palmwag to Windhoek so we depart early to avoid the dust and the heat as far as possible.

Upon arrival in Windhoek, we check into our guest house and dust off the remaining vestiges of sand and salt - a reminder of the roads less travelled, before enjoying our last dinner together, as friends and adventurers who have shared experiences and made memories.

Day 14: Farewell

We return our trusty 4x4’s to Windhoek International Airport and catch our connecting flights.

The adventure has come to an end. We have travelled the wilderness of this remote land together and her beauty has touched our souls - until next time....

Day 4: Terrace Bay North to Angra Fria Agate Mountain

Today we proceed to Möwe Bay where we have a chance to view their little museum and finally enter 4x4 country, taking on the challenge of the dunes, beaches and jeep tracks. We stop at the Ventura bomber crash site and cross the great Hoarusib River towards Rocky Point. From Rocky Point we travel inland and stay in the hills for the remainder of the day.

Once we pass Sarusas crystal mine, we set up camp between some salt bushes for the night.