The Skeleton Coast conjures up mysterious visions of mist-enshrouded beaches strewn with bleached whalebones and rusted shipwrecks. Stretching from the south of Namibia up into Angola, the Skeleton Coast and its hinterland is a landscape of haunting beauty, a vast area of rolling sand dunes, expanses of uninhabited desert plains, fossil beds, unique geological formations, desert-adapted animals and strange vegetation.
Louw Schoeman, a lawyer by profession and pioneer of ecotourism in Namibia, came to know and love the Skeleton Coast and surrounding areas. This led him to take a leading role in its conservation and in the proclamation of the Skeleton Coast National Park in 1971. He then started the well known Skeleton Coast Safaris, the enterprise that we – his children – shared, continued and expanded upon, retaining his high standards and personal attention to details.
As members of the Schoeman family who grew up here, we have the very secrets of the Skeleton Coast etched on our souls and we would like to share with you the uniqueness of this remote wilderness. Everything is planned to surprise and delight adventurous souls. We use our own aircraft as a safari vehicle to transport you from one place of special interest to another, flying at “see” level to give you a breathtaking view before we land and explore by Land Rover or on foot.
We invite you to reflect on the beauty and solitude of the surrounding desert while relaxing in comfortable, fully equipped tented camps. This is an experience you will always remember…..
During the course of a safari with us, you will experience fascinating bird’s-eye views of shipwreck remains along the coast, diverse and ever-changing geological formations and the refuges of desert-dwelling animals such as the endangered black rhino and desert-adapted elephant. As our guest, you are taken on excursions by Land Rover to be introduced to the scenic and ecological aspects of the environment with its wide diversity of flora and fauna.
A few of the highlights are:
A desolate coastline with adjoining roaring dunes
Ugab rock formations
Colorful red lava and yellow sandstone of the Huab environs
Ancient Bushman rock engravings
The living “fossil” tree, Welwitschia Mirabilis
Visit to a settlement of the nomadic Himba people
Panoramic vistas of the Hartmann Valley, which extends to the Kunene River on the Angolan border
Accommodation consists of three fully equipped tented desert camps, which nestle into the natural environment. The first of these is in the lower reaches of the Huab River in the Erongo Region (Damaraland), the second under Camel thorn trees and Makalani palms in the Hoarusib Valley in the Kunene Region (Kaokoland), and the third on the north-western Namibian border overlooking the Kunene River.
Where it all started
Louw Schoeman, an attorney by profession, initially came to know the Skeleton Coast through his clients who were involved in prospecting, and researching the feasibility of a new harbour in the area. Plans for the latter thankfully fell through, by which time Louw knew, and loved, the area very well. His thoughts turned to conservation, and he was instrumental in the proclamation of the Skeleton Coast Park in 1971. The Schoeman offspring spent their childhood days (early sixties) exploring and playing among the remains of old wooden ship wrecks and natural wonders of the Skeleton Coast. When Louw officially started Skeleton Coast Safaris in 1977, the now teenaged Schoeman offspring often accompanied safari groups. From their father they learnt to love and understand the complexity of the desert, its fauna and flora. They also gleaned from him the more practical skills of driving in the roaring dunes, and how to introduce the wonders of this amazing desert to perfect strangers.
The Schoeman children, who in the intervening years acquired and expanded on their father’s expertise and vast background knowledge of the Skeleton Coast and adjacent regions, took over management of the enterprise in 1994. The late Louw Schoeman’s enthusiasm and passion for the desert rubbed off on the youngsters.
Today, middle-aged and wiser for it, the Schoemans are rated as experts on the Skeleton Coast and semi-desert areas of Namibia. They have followed in the footsteps of their father who, at the time, was considered the pioneer of ecotourism in Namibia. They all fully believe that the future of country not only rests with tourism and the preservation of wildlife, but also in protecting the natural resources and wilderness areas of Namibia. They take great delight in sharing their intimate understanding and knowledge of the Skeleton Coast with their visitors.
Bertus Schoeman, the oldest of the Schoeman brothers, involved in Skeleton Coast Safaris together with his father since the company’s inception in 1977. He assisted Louw as a guide for a year before joining the South African Air force for military service in 1978. After completing his service in 1981, he went to the University of Stellenbosch where he took a degree in Geology. The knowledge gained at varsity is used extensively in this geologist and archeologist’s paradise when entertaining guests, and educating other guides. Bertus has been flying since the age of 17 and completed his commercial pilot’s license a few years later. His other company responsibilities include handling accounting matters, assisting with all computer related issues and managing the staff.
Hobbies and interests: photography, mountain biking, diving, computers, electronics, astronomy and Science Fiction.
Bertus is married to Helga, an IT specialist and keen pilot in own right, joining tours occasionally.
the second eldest brother, André joined the company just after finishing his BCom degree at the University of Stellenbosch in 1987. He spent a number of years serving in the SA Air Force. His flying hours and experience are extensive and versatile. Similar to Bertus, he obtained his private pilot’s license before obtaining his driver’s license at the age of 18, completing his commercial license a few years later.
André’s love for the desert is evident in his extensive knowledge of the Flora and Fauna of the area. As a combat pilot during the bush war in the late 70’s, he had the opportunity to intensively explore the Northern areas of Namibia, as well as bordering Angola.
This experience proved very useful at a later stage of his life when he joined Louw in the
business. Together they could discover areas that had most likely never been explored by modern man. His experience together with knowledge he gained at University is put to good use as he plays a major part in the operations and strategic planning of the business.
His wife Jeanita manages our Uisib camp close to the Etosha National Park.
Hobbies and interests : Caving and farming.
André and Jeanita have two sons, Kyle and Garlomel and two daughters, Cindel and Jurieanke.
the third eldest of the Schoeman siblings, and a Fitter and Turner by trade. He obtained his flying license at a very early age, and joined Skeleton Coast Safaris officially in1994.
Prior to joining the company, he operated a successful workshop part-time, whilst working full-time for a big distillery in the Cape.
Léon is brilliant with people, and often helps out as a guide, testing our fleet in “operation”. Although much of his time is occupied by his other company commitments, he has a keen passion for the desert, being the one who discovered the rock paintings at Kuidas camp.
His main responsibility is our very large, efficiently run workshop in Windhoek.
This fully equipped workshop maintains a fleet of more than 30 vehicles, mainly Land Rovers, and builds specialized structures for the different needs of the camps.
Land Rovers are stripped to the ground, and rebuilt to Leon’s stringent specifications to suit our unique needs in the desert. Due to the nature of his responsibility, he spends a great deal of time driving to the various camps, checking the fleet and helping with the rigging of structures. He’s the practical designer of the family, and has a solution for every problem.
Hobbies and interests : reading and sketching.
Léon is a married to Ute, who is the Stock and Quality Controller for the three camps.
the youngest of the Schoeman clan, joined Skeleton Coast Safaris in the early 90’s. Although the youngest, he benefitted tremendously from all the mistakes his brothers have made over the years. All of them were in charge of his “guide-education”.
Due to the end of the political struggle in Southern Africa, he was exempted from military service, thereby giving him some extra years early in his life for his education and service with Skeleton Coast Safaris. Louw insisted that all the Schoeman offspring should have some after-school qualification, so Henk qualified and worked as a motor mechanic for a few years before joining the business.
Although he is a full-time guide, he is also indispensable to Leon with helping to maintain the fleet on site.
He completed his private pilot’s license at a young age, followed by his commercial license.
Henk is the artistic one in the family. He helps with color schemes, and creating interesting menus when needed.
Hobbies and interests : photography (special interest in the flora and fauna of the desert), computers, model aircraft, entertaining people and cooking.
Henk is married to Anita, who occasionally accompanies her husband on trips to the Skeleton Coast.
Future Guides, hopefully Michael, Jacques, Kyle, Garlomel, Cindel and Jurieanke the third Schoeman generation, will soon follow in the footsteps of their grandfather and parents on the Skeleton Coast.
Kyle (André’s oldest son) has already started taking flying lessons and we are holding thumbs, he will obtain his private pilots’s licence in no time.
Our Office Manager, Elizabeth, responsible for the smooth running of the office especially during the many times when the rest of us are away on safari.