The Skeleton Coast Flying Safari in Namibia
Namibia is one of those amazing counties that you can lose yourself in, somewhere you never seem to stop discovering hidden gems and with new jaw dropping views over every new horizon. Ranging from the fertile farmland of Ovamboland to the sand seas of Sossuvlei and the Namib desert, the contrasts of this vast and beautiful landscape will keep you entranced and always wanting more.
During my time in Namibia I was lucky enough to experience one of THE travel experiences. Along with adventures such as trekking with Gorillas or witnessing a Wildebeest river crossing, the Skeleton Coast Flying Safari is without question one of the premier safari experiences in Africa. Run by the four Schoeman brothers and set up almost 50 years ago by their father, a notable adventure and one of the founders of the Skelton Coast National Park, the flying safari is a rare chance to experience Namibia from a truly unique perspective.
My four day safari with the Schoeman brothers started early one April morning. Just as the seasons turned from winter to summer and after three months of good winter rain the air was beautifully clear and as we as slowly rose up the true extent of Namibia's size became apparent for the first time.
Vast tracts of land stretched away in all directions and with only the merest hint of human habitation visible. Almost four times the size of the UK but with just 4% of its population Namibia is a rare example of a truly unspoiled and largely uninhabited landscape.
Before long the rugged mountains that surround Windhoek gave way to the ever moving sand seas of the Namib-Naukluft National Park and our first destination, Sossuvlei. Home to the UNESCO world heritage site, DeadVlei and some of the tallest sand dunes on the planet. Flying high above theses dunes lends a true perspective as to size of these slowly moving giants. Stand at 335 meters there really is no better way to see them than from above.
Flying directly west from Sossuvlei in what seemed like the blink of an eye we found ourselves flying low over the Skeleton Coast. Home to some 650,000 Cape Fur Seals who live their entire lives sandwiched on a tiny strip of beach between the towering sand dunes of the Namib and waves of the South Atlantic. There is something incredibly captivating about this stark and almost desolate landscape, scattered with the wreaks of old ships and abandoned diamond minds you never seem to be sure what is going to come around the next corner.
For the next three days we found ourselves making our way up the skeleton coast and stopping periodically to stretch our legs and discover some new seemingly undiscovered secret. From Bush man rock art to lush oasis's there never seemed to be enough hours in the day.
To describe each and every highlight would take a tombstone of a novel, but there was one moment that will stay with me forever. It happened just south of the Angolan border, in the incredibly remote Serra Cafema region, and on our last day, far below us walking steadily through the sand dunes was one of the rarest mammals in Africa. A desert adapted Elephant. Living only in Namibia these uniquely adapted giants take years to learn the hidden oasis and wells that dot the landscape, passing that knowledge down from generation to generations. As we circled up high looking down at a five ton cow Elephant and her calf sliding down sand dunes and leaving an dead straight line of tracks that stretched off into the desert it seemed to defy logic that something so huge could survive amongst the dunes and vast emptiness.
But it is not just this amazing country that makes these trip so special, but the unique blend of passion, knowledge and adventure that the Schoeman's bring to their safaris. Changing the desert from what could just be a beautiful picture to a living breathing creature with a lifetime of experience and a passion for this hauntingly beautiful country. Without question one of my favourite experience to date and and something that I will never forget.
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