Don’t let the eerie name fool you. Namibia’s Hoanib Skeleton Coast, a 310-mile stretch of sand scattered with animal bones and shipwrecks, is home to plenty of life: the Himba bushmen, fur seals, and desert-adapted flora whose sole water source is the morning fog that rolls in off the Atlantic. Getting here, however, is tricky. The shoreline, which is a national park, fringes the Namib Desert—where some of the world’s tallest dunes can be found—and is accessible only by tiny plane. Willing to wing it? Stay at Wilderness Safaris’ new eight-tent camp where, when not relaxing on your own deck, you can take to the sky for a tour of the coast. From $565.
This appeared in the October 2014 issue.
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Flying Safari of Namibia
A multi-day flying safari of Namibia's Skeleton Coast is truly stunning.
Departing from the capitol of Windhoek, you fly over iconic Namibian dunes to the famed Skeleton Coast. Skipping above the waves at just a few hundred feet, you coast over massive seal colonies and pelican breeding grounds and try to spot whales and other marine wildlife. Some of the dunes are high enough for your pilot to easily fly lower than!
The skilled bush pilots of Namibia can easily spot natural landing strips, where they drop you near ruins of diamond mines and skeletal ship wrecks while waxing poetic about the natural flora and fauna. They also occasionally have a well-worn Land Rover hidden near some strips for quick trips into the desert. With these trusty vehicles, you can have the thrilling experiences of riding the 'Landy' down 34-degree sand dunes (sometimes you have the option of riding on a seat on the roof), learning about mysteries of the desert, and hear the ghostly, amazing 'singing dunes'.
The accommodations are extremely comfortable, often with electricity and flush toilets (if you want that). The food is ample and excellent, and the beer and gin & tonic sundowners are cold.
The final camp, near the Angolan boarder, is often near camps of nomadic Himba people, whose red-hued women cover themselves daily in a mixture of rancid butterfat and ochre powder.