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21 May 2011: New camp at Leylandsdrift

We built a new camp at Leylandsdrift about 19 km west of our old camp Purros. Our safari itineraries stay the same, except we do not use our old camp at Purros anymore. Instead, we now use this new camp which afford better views and comfort. leylandsdrift02 leylandsdrift01         Leylandsdrift leylandsdrift04                   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA               leylandsdrift07 leylandsdrift09leylandsdrift06                

01 Jan 2010: Feedback from some of our guests...

Dear Bertus, Greetings from Los Angeles! John and I are back home for a few weeks and are quickly catching up on the mountain of work that greeted us upon our return. We are also busy preparing for our next set of tours which will take us to Rhodes & Cyprus, Syria & Lebanon, Morocco & France, as well as possibly India. We'll be leaving at the end of October and will be gone until January. Before we become too submerged in our upcoming travels, we wanted to drop you a note to thank you for an absolutely spectacular trip to the Skeleton Coast. We were utterly blown away by the raw beauty of Namibia, by the surprising and unexpected experiences you provided and by your complete professionalism as both a guide and as a pilot. We left Namibia much more educated about one of the planet's most spectacular corners, and for that we are thankful. Bertus, your family offers a unique product which has impressed us greatly. As we mentioned, we spend most of the year travelling and road-testing properties and various travel experiences. Skeleton Coast Safaris ranks at the top of our list as one of the most memorable and enjoyable travel adventures available anywhere. We will forever cherish memories of landing on isolated, shipwrecked beaches for afternoon tea, learning the provenance of incredibly contorted rock formations that blanket the landscape and of meeting the Himba people, whose way of life seems so strikingly different from ours. Again, thank you for a wonderful trip. It was a pleasure meeting Helga, Anita, Hank and all of your friendly staff. We look forward to working with you in the very near future. Warmly, Doug
We travelled to Namibia for the first time in Sept 2010 and were warmly recommended to try the Skeleton Coast Safari run by the Schoeman family. Our travel agent talked it up, but even that doesn't do the experience justice. We were picked up by Henk Schoeman at our dune lodge at Wolvedans in our trusted Cessna 210, seating 5 but it was just my wife and I (plus Henk as pilot). We crossed the desert, flew over the dunes of Sossusvlei, joined up another plane with 3 other guests and embarked on the 4-day journey up the coast. We covered so much ground that could never have been seen by car or on foot. Even though Namibia is self-drive friendly, if your budget can handle flying, this is the way to go. Each night was at a different private camp, each more remote and unique than the former (Purros, Kunene and Kuidas). Some might consider a high-end tent with camp beds (great embroidered linen) as roughing it, but it's our definition of luxury. Each camp has the best views, off a Cliffside, over a river valley or in total isolation. Travelling during the day, we generally flew at no more than 100 feet altitude, allowing for perfect picture shots of the most incredible scenery. We flew 25 feet over breaking waves along the Skeleton Coast, landed on the beach near the seal colonies, not far from flying over major shipwrecks. Words can't describe the beauty and sensation. We landed in the desert, between two valleys and explored geological formations with incredibly experienced and conversant guides (hats off to Henk and Andrew). Back at camp, which was bush-luxury personified, we sipped sundowners recalling the adventures of the day, and ate fabulous meals. We're told there are other companies flying along the coast, but we advise trippers to insist upon the Schoeman Skeleton Coast Flying Safari, the Original!! Email me if you want to know more. Xavier
Dear André, nachdem Dein Deutsch wesentlich besser als unser Englisch ist, schreiben wir diese Mail in Deutsch. Das machen wir auch deswegen, weil wir im Englischen noch weniger Wörter kennen die das mit Dir erlebte auch nur ansatzweise beschreiben würden. Als erstes wollen wir Dir und Deiner Familie ein friedliches Weihnachtsfest wünschen. Fürs Neue Jahr wünschen wir Euch viel Gesundheit und unzählige glückliche Momente und Erlebnisse. Zudem möchten wir nochmals Danke sagen. Danke für wunderschöne und einmalige Tage. Noch immer suchen wir all die Gründe zusammen, die diese Safari so besonders gemacht haben. Fast täglich fällt uns wieder etwas ein. Es war eine große Ehre für uns das erleben zu dürfen. Spüren zu können, dass Du mit Herz und Freude dieser grandiosen Landschaft und dieser Art des Reisens verbunden bist. Die ganze Reise war so unglaublich angenehm und unaufdringlich. So, dass die Natur stets im Vordergrund stehen konnte und niemals der Blick für's Wesentliche verstellt war. Es war ein grandioses Erlebnis und wir spürten jeder Zeit, dass wir mit dem Original unterwegs sein durften. Es gibt nichts was wir vermisst haben und es gibt nichts was wir als überflüssig bezeichnen würden. Wir haben schon einiges in unseren Afrikareisen erleben und kennen lernen dürfen. Diese Tage mit Dir André, waren absolute Weltklasse! Sie bleiben unvergleichbar in unserem Herzen und in unseren Erinnerungen. Danke André! Alles Liebe und Gute. Wir hoffen natürlich auf ein Wiedersehn J Bis dahin - Andrea und Christoph
Dear Bertus, As you may have guessed, it took us rather longer to return home than expected, due to the Icelandic convulsions - somewhat ironic after our recent discussions about past effects of volcanic eruptions! But as it turned out we had a wonderful week in J'burg, all expenses paid by Virgin in 5star comfort, catching up with several long lost South African friends. Anyway we just wanted to thank you for your wonderful unique adventure - without doubt the absolute highlight of our time in Namibia. What with the breathtaking landscapes and camp sites, the low level flying (sometimes a little too low for Jane!), fascinating geology lessons, and seeing the still traditional ways of the Himba people, our expectations were more than exceeded. So you can be assured we'll be giving you and Namibia a big plug to all our friends. With best wishes, Robert and Jane Farquharson PS Did you ever ask Andre about the rock armchair I discovered above Kunene camp?

Whale Sighting

Mr John and Mrs Jean Noble travelling with Henk Schoeman on a tour in November 2009, we very lucky to view whales along the coastline when travelling from Camp Kuidas to Terrace Bay. What a sight!

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                Henks tour on 06 September 2009: Purros - saw a Rooikat Kunene - Hyena between Cape Frio and Kunene mouth on the beach   Bertus' tour on 07 September 2009: Kuidas - archaeological research team working around Kuidas Purros - saw the same Caracal (Rooikat) that Henk saw, elephants returned to Purros after visiting the beach down the Hoarusib canyon Kunene - Flew over the Kunene waterfalls west of the camp to check if the river is actually still flowing - never seen it so low before - a trickle of water over the falls   Henks tour on 15 September 2009: Kuidas - archaeological survey still at Kuidas Purros - saw 5 lions, the elephant bull is still in the Hoanib and the rest of the herd is in the Gomatum Henks tour on 23 September 2009: Purros - saw elephant and lions Kunene - river is very low, could walk through Bertus' tour on 07 October 2009: Guests want to return, spending 2 nights Kunene and 2 nights Leylandsdrift Kuidas - dead whale near Meob Bay (looks like a fully grown Humpback) Henks tour on 10 October 2009 Purros - 7 elephants, lions moved to Leylandsdrift, Philip Stander of the Desert Lion Project was visiting Purros Kunene - Fish eagle at Kunene - hopefully nesting there   We've recently received some feedback from happy guests...your comments are always appreciated! To all who were involved in organising our trip, but especially to Henk who was a fantastic guide and host on our trip: a giant thank you. Our 4-day trip with you was the best the best trip of our lives and back in grey London, we have raved about it to friends ever since. I think we will live forever with the vivid memories of the dunes, beaches and mountains. Our many photos can never do justice to the enormity of the visual impact of what we saw and the experience of Henk's interest and enthusiasm about even the smallest detail of the trip. Thank you, and wishing you all a terrific New Year in 2008. Viv and Matth

01 Jan 2006: Update

01 January 2006: Henk and I started off in different directions this morning, Henk flew over to Windhoek international to meet up with 2 of his guests, from there he headed via the coast to Swakopmund where the remaining two guests awaited his arrival. I flew over to Witwater on my own to pick up my 4 guests, as it was still early the flight was quite smooth. 03 January 2006: André started off in Windhoek for his 4 day safari with 4 guests. Windhoek to Swakopmund: Weather: 03 January 2006: It was cloudy and cool, but at the sea patches of open sky teased the eye and sparkled on the still waters below. Animals Sighted: 03 January 2006: Oryx: At the Kuiseb Canyon André and his guests saw a herd of 30 – 40 oryx grazing on the plains. Hyena: Just south of the Eduard Bohlen ship wreck a Brown Hyena was spotted scouting between the seal colonies, scavenging for some carrion. Fish: The ever increasing size of fish schools were clearly seen from the air.

Wolwedans/Sossusvlei to Swakopmund:

Weather: 01 January 2006: It had heated up quite some by the time I had arrived at Witwater, by the time we were airborne the temperature had already reached 38°C. It turned out to be a bumpy and warm flight, but we opened the window for some fresh air. Once at the coast a more pleasant temperature of 24°C was awaiting us with no fog. Coast/Sea: 01 January 2006: The ocean was calm and quite clear, allowing us to view schools of fish from the air, in some of these schools we spotted seals feeding. Animals Sighted: 01 January 2006: Seals: We saw plenty of seals basking on the sand and leisurely floating in the water. Now after the breeding season, there were plenty of yearlings who had joined the juvenile colonies. As is experienced every year a large number of these yearlings are too week to make it on their own, so the beaches are littered with their carcases. South of Swakopmund and north of Meob Bay the colonies are primarily juvenile non-breeding colonies, though occasionally a newborn pup will be spotted amongst these colonies. Jackal: There were quite a few Jackal (black-backed) roaming within the seal colonies, scavenging on the dead yearlings. Birds Sighted: 01 January 2006: Flamingos: We were surprised by a flock of about 70 flamingos flying in a southerly direction, we saw them south of Conception Bay. They boasted bright pink colours. At Sandwich Harbour we sighted the normal large flocks of Flamingo, the juveniles still not as pink as the fully grown Flamingo.

Swakopmund:

General: 01 January 2006: I landed with clear skies, and warm temperatures for our refuelling stop. We all made use of the new facilities now available at Swakopmund airfield, while the aircraft was being refuelled, then hurried to join Henk who was waiting for us at the Ugab Formations. Interesting Sightings: 01 January 2006: As we were waiting to board our aircraft, the Skydivers provided us with their usual entertainment, filling the skies with their colourful canopies and the air with their excited shrieks.

Swakopmund to Kuidas :

Weather: 01 January 2006: Still clear and barely any wind to talk of. 03 January 2006: André noted that there was quite a rain shower falling at Gaiais (southeast of Kuidas). At the coast there was quite a wind, which took some of the lettuce laid out for lunch and added some of the famous "Desert Spice" to the food. Coast/Sea: 01 January 2006: The Sea was still so calm it resembled a lake, the flying also very smooth. Animals Sighted: 01 January 2006: Seals: The breeding colony at Cape Cross proved to be exactly that, with large numbers of new-born seals dotted around in the colony. Birds Sighted: 03 January 2006: Strandloper: (White-breasted Plover) When André landed on the beach for lunch he found a nest with 2 eggs in it, a little too close to the aircraft, so with the help of the guests he moved the airplane away to a more acceptable distance. To prevent any future mishaps, André discreetly placed some rocks round the area of the nest. The adult Sanderling, who had been playing injured to divert the danger away from the nest now promptly returned to its brood and sat on the 2 eggs. Plants and Flowers: 01 January 2006: Hoodia: At the Ugab formations the Hoodia was covered in little flower buds, waiting for possible rain so they can bloom. One bold but small flower had already completed the cycle, and was dried out. Sometimes, even without rain the Hoodia will allow one flower at a time to bloom, though smaller than when there was rain. 03 January 2006: Hoodia: At the Ugab formations the Hoodia was still covered in little flower buds, but all signs of any flowers had already been swept away by the wind. Welwitschia Mirabilis: The Welwitschia at the Ugab formations were in full bloom. Interesting Sightings: 01 January 2006: Ugab Formations: After meeting up with Henk and his guests, with some afternoon cake, we flew over this amazing geological sight enjoying the diversity of colours, even though the sun was hidden behind some clouds. 03 January 2006: Spring: At the Ugab Formations the small spring boasted a large quota of water, probably from rain in the previous 2 days.

Kuidas:

Weather: 01 January 2006: We arrived at our Kuidas Camp well before sunset, with a fair amount of wind from the coast to welcome us. Towards the East the clouds were building up. 02 January 2006: We woke up to a grey sky, bringing a promise of rain. Actually not only a promise, while walking and driving we were constantly reminded of the impending rains, only a few drops, but it was wet. After lunch, just as we were ready to leave we experienced a cloudburst, which of course delayed our departure. It only lasted about 20 minutes, and gave us nearly 2mm (YES 2mm). Janson, our camp manager reported that an additional 9mm of rain fell after we left. 03 January 2006: André arrived at camp in the late afternoon, it was cloudy and humid. Animals Sighted/Heard: 01 January 2006: Oryx: Our "resident" Gemsbok were there to greet us as we arrived at the camp, they lifted their heads for a second and then carried on grazing. Springbok: From our dining area we watched as few Springbok slowly make their way over to a water hole to drink. The evening sunlight breaking through the clouds painting the Springbok with an evening glow. Lion: Henk heard a lion roaring during the night, but we were unable to locate it in the day. 02 January 2006: Oryx: On our drive we encountered a few Oryx sporadically spread out. Jackal: We saw one black-backed Jackal quite close to the camp as we set out on our drive. 03 January 2006: Lion: André heard a lion roaring during the night, though it seemed to be quite distant. Oryx: Our "resident" Gemsbok with 2 of their young (about 2-3 months old) stole the show when André drew into camp. 04 January 2006: Lion: On the southern side of the Huab River some fresh lion tracks were spotted, but no sighting of the lion. Jackal: The black-backed Jackal was still about, it appears there may be a den close by. Plants and Flowers: 02 January 2006: Grey desert bush: All these bushes have been and are still in bloom, also known as a Black Storm bush and used as a laxative by the local inhabitants. Euphorbia Damarana: The plants are starting to bud. Euphorbia Verosa: These plants are currently showing signs of new growth, and will soon be in bloom. Welwitschia Mirabilis: The Welwitschia in this area are all in the early stages of blooming, and there are only a few mature Welwitschia bugs present at this time. Interesting Sightings: 04 January 2006: The Huab river had come down in flood, but was only knee deep, so it was still crossable with a landrover. A green shimmer has started covering the red lavas of this area in response to the rain received. Activities: 02 January 2006: At lunch time we celebrated a birthday the true Namibian way, using the Bushman Candle on a cake on a plate of Basalt.

Kuidas to TerraceBay:

Weather: 02 January 2006: It was still pretty overcast as we left Kuidas, but it was a smooth flight to the clear coast, though we did encounter some rain drops on the way. 04 January 2006: The sun was breaking through the cloud-enshrouded coast, throwing its rays into the sea, reflecting them back onto the heavy grey clouds, lighting up an otherwise eerie shadow. Coast/Sea: 04 January 2006: The sea was still quiet and clean. Animals Sighted: 02 January 2006: Seals: The colony at Palgrave Point seems to be increasing in numbers and it appears it is becoming a breeding colony. There were quite a number of new-born pups there. 04 January 2006: Oryx: An lonesome Oryx was standing contemplating the ocean when André flew past, just south of the Henrietta ship wreck. An active imagination could come up with all sorts of stories, from such a unique occasion. Interesting Sightings: 04 January 2006: André flew along the Huab river for about 20km from the camp when they reached the front wave of water which was heading towards the Atlantic ocean. It is rather an exciting experience to watch the water swallow up the dry riverbed on its journey to the sea.

TerraceBay Dunes:

Weather: 02 January 2006: There was a very slight north-westerly wind, but barely 2 knots. The sun was shining on the dunes. 04 January 2006: The sun was able to make its mark on the dunes in places, but the still wind and dry sand made for ideal playground conditions. Fun was had by all as the dunes were made to roarrr. Activities: 02 January 2006: Henk and I had great fun with our guests in these fascinating dunes, a sandpit for all ages. TerraceBay to Purros Camp: Weather: 02 January 2006: We flew to Purros in the late afternoon, through some rain and under some pretty thick clouds. 04 January 2006: The low clouds forced André to take the "low road" to camp. Which proved very fruitful, with many animal sightings. Animals Sighted: 04 January 2006: During the late afternoon flight to Purros André showed his guests a variety of animals, spread out on the plains in response to the rains that wet the desert earth. Oryx, Springbok, Giraffe and plenty of ostrich. Purros : Weather: 02 January 2006: The skies were full of clouds and in the distant west as we watched the sun setting, it peeked through the black clouds washing the skies with a golden-red halo, while to the east the electric air was flashing its lightning, dancing between the clouds bringing a promise of rain. During the night we had a few drops. 05 January 2006: Still overcast. Animals Sighted: 02 January 2006: Elephant: As some of us were still having our sundowners and others were taking their evening showers, our big bull (Skewe Tand) came into our camp, followed by the younger juvenile. Using the "bush telephone" all were informed to stay in their tents, and to indicate when they were ready. Henk then introduced a "taxi" service, transporting all members of the group to and from their tents as was required. The elephant slowly, rather unperturbed, moved through the camp peacefully grazing between the tents. 03 January 2006: While I flew over to Opuwo to refuel the aircraft, Henk went on a game drive along the Huarusib River valley. Elephant: Henk was fortunate enough to be the first to show his guests the latest addition to our Elephant herd. He said the calf was still very dark in colour and the herd was very protective of it, allowing only a brief viewing. Henk did however catch the footprints of the calf on camera. 05 January 2006: Elephant: The big bull (Skewe Tand) once again laid on a visit, but this time he waited till all were in bed in the early hours of the morning. On the game drive later on Skewe Tand made a show of bathing, then dusting himself after which he took to the cover of the dense bushes. A cow and her 3-year old calf also made a pass, before disappearing into the thicket. Giraffe: Three of the seven resident male giraffe were seen browsing on the acacia pods. Activities: 02 January 2006: Tonight we celebrated the birthday with a bottle of Champagne – YES the real thing. 03 January 2006: Henk showed off his driving skills when he managed to plant the Landrover in some mud, just as the elephant were on their way past them. All evacuated the Landrover and moved to higher ground, while the elephant suspiciously eyed the obstacle in their path. After careful scrutiny they moved on their happy way leaving the party of beings to their next ordeal of freeing the Landrover from the grasps of the muddy Huarusib. 05 January 2006: At the Himba Village the ladies decided to dance an "Aeroplane Dance" for André, they gave no further explanation.

Purros to Hartmann Valley Kunene Camp):

Weather: 03 January 2006: We left the clouds at Purros and flew on to clearer skies at the coast, with a gentle wind helping us on our way north. 05 January 2006: It was mainly cloudy at the coast, but where sunlight broke through it lit up the clear waters. Coast/Sea: 03 January 2006: The sea was clear and calm, a rare treat for us on this treacherous coast . Animals Sighted: 03 January 2006: Sharks: We searched the waters and were rewarded with quite a few sightings of sharks in the shallows, where the white water breaks. Fish: Schools of fish could be seen from the air, casting dark shadows in the clear waters. Dolphins: Henk saw a pod of dolphin hanging in the water alongside a school of fish, feeding blissfully. Seals: The colony at Cape Fria is also increasing in size, and as at Palgrave Point, appears to be now breeding. Many seals were scattered in the water either feeding or lazily floating and basking in the sun, always with one fin in the air as if waving to us. Turtles: We did see some of the Leather-backed Turtle round the Kunene river mouth. Crocodile: Flying along the Kunene river we spotted a few crocodile on the sand banks. 05 January 2006: Fish: Schools of fish dotted around the coastline made for interesting viewing. Turtles: André was fortunate to see about 12 - 15 Leather-backed Turtles at the mouth of the Kunene River, ducking and diving for food in the muddied water. Birds Sighted: 05 January 2006: Vulture: A Lappet-faced Vulture was seen feeding of a seal carcass at Cape Fria, an unusual sighting.

Kunene Camp:

Weather: 03 January 2006: The clouds were ever-present, and in the early evening started spitting a few drops, just a taste, later during the night they gave us 2mm at the airfield. 04 January 2006: In the morning we were greeted by a dark low cloud, slowly releasing its weight into the parched desert. 05 January 2006: André reported a few drops of rain, but certainly not enough for germination of seeds yet. 06 January 2006: This morning all woke up to a brightly shining sun with clouds hugging the nearby mountain tops, far enough away to look beautiful yet cast no shadow. Animals Sighted: 03 January 2006: Oryx: On our route via the dunes to the camp by Landrover we saw some Oryx patiently waiting for the rains they anticipate. 04 January 2006: Crocodile: Henk and his guests were startled by a crocodile as it surfaced with a fish in its mouth then slowly sank away into deeper waters to enjoy its catch. 05 January 2006: Oryx & Springbok: Most of the animals seem to be moving away as there has been more rain further east, so they will be looking for greener pastures. A few "diehards" were still in the Hartmann Valley. André noted one fresh Oryx carcass, we believe the Oryx to have been older and unable to cope with this dry season. 06 January 2006: Crocodile: On the morning boat ride André reckons they saw just about ALL the crocodiles in the area, probably as a result of the sun shining after a few days of cloudy conditions. Sweetheart was close to the camp with a younger crocodile sharing the sandbank. Further upstream they even saw one of the larger specimen feeding on a dead goat. One Crocodile was sharing his sand bank with a Water Monitor Lizard, apparently quite a large one. Baboon: While on the water quietly cruising along André and his guests observed two baboons halfway up a cliff face cavorting and playing. On the peak of this same cliff was a third Baboon, who was obviously not impressed with the two jokers, so he promptly picked up a rock and threw it at the two below him, causing quite a ruckus as this rock initiated a minor rock slide. The rumble woke up more baboons who all voiced their disdain in high pitched shrieks. Birds Sighted: 06 January 2006: A number of birds were sighted as they went on their merry way feeding – Paradise Fly Catcher; Pied Kingfisher; Goliath Heron; Augur Buzzard; Olive Bee Eater; Osprey. The more common birds were also present doing their thing. Activities: 03 January 2006: Henk and I negotiated the valley of a thousand dunes. The vista is quite breathtaking with the background of dark clouds hanging over the desert sky. Hartman Valley to Windhoek: Weather: 04 January 2006: Henk flew of in an easterly direction towards Etosha to drop off two of his guests at Ongava. He then had an interesting time dodging the thunderstorms scattered in the interior, to get the other two guests back to Windhoek in time for their connecting flight. I took the more friendly path skirting to the west of all active storms, landing back at our Kuidas camp for coffee and cake, then on the final leg the aircraft was washed in a few showers. 06 January 2006: The entire route back to Windhoek proved to be a dodging game as scattered thundershowers were distributed over most of the interior, just a few miles from the coast. Interesting Sightings: 04 January 2006: RIVERS in FLOOD. Kumib: There was just a little more than a trickle as we flew over. Huanib: A gentle rush of water was on its way to the delta. Huab: It was in "flood" but not a full flood, more of a stream than a river. 06 January 2006: RIVERS in FLOOD. Kumib: There was still some water, but it was not strong enough to reach the sea. Huarusib: was now in full flood, and would more than likely reach the sea by nightfall. Huanib: The water had reached the delta, and a second boost may well send it to the ocean. Huab: Still flowing but somewhat receded. MARTIN KASAONA Martin will be leaving for Durban on the 23 January to start his new endeavour of a Masters degree in Nature Conservation. Should anyone be interested in offering a sponsorship, could you please contact Tanja Dahl at the Skeleton Coast Safaris Office. Tel: +264-61-224248 Fax: +264-61-225713 E-Mail: info@skeletoncoastsafaris.com P.O. Box 2195 Windhoek NAMIBIA