Skeleton Coast – Namibia

Haunting Beauty and Unconfined Space

When the world is too much, this is the safari to consider – not to view game (which is a bonus) but to experience the strange solitude of one of the world’s most unusual and scenic areas.

Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is a little-explored desert par­adise of wide-open spaces, undeveloped, unpeopled, and far from civilization. Its name refers to the treacherous, barren shoreline where shipwrecks and whale bones litter the fog-shrouded beaches.

The Cape Cross Seal Reserve is a breeding ground for tens of thou­sands of Cape fur seals; they lounge on the rocks and beaches, and their blue-eyed pups arrive in late November or early December. Light aircraft is the ideal way to visit much of this desolate land, which at times resembles a harsh moonscape, at other times a vast sea of shifting sand dune mountains, reputed to be the highest on earth. This is the Sossusvlei area of the Namib Desert, one of the world’s oldest and driest, whose 1,000-foot-high apricot-colored dunes are shaped and driven like waves by the sea winds.

Especially mag­nificent at sunrise or sunset when the colors of the dunes shift kaleidoscopically, the vastness of the region is best experienced by climbing a dune and listening to the roar of the sand grains spilling over the surface. You may even spot a rare desert elephant.

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