There is an elemental allure about places of great extremes. Dubbed “The Gates of Hell” by early Portuguese mariners, or “The place God made in anger” by the resident San people who inhabited this area long before that. Names chosen for good reason as the wrecked hulks of galleon, clippers, gunboats and even ocean liners dot this treacherous coastline. Being wrecked here must have been something of a hell on earth.
Image above - the wreck of the trawler the Zeile can be seen in the gap between the horses
The name, Skeleton Coast, is said to derive from the book of that name by John Henry Marsh in which he records the fate of the passenger liner Dunedin Star which ran aground here in 1942. The rescue mission was fraught with difficulties, not least of which was the war.
Almost constantly wreathed in fog, an icy relentless sea bombards the shore, and persistent winds make this one of the most arid, inhospitable places on earth. Link to a previous blog on the Skeleton Coast
In this place of extremes, so antithetical to life - it could suck you up and spit your bones out to lie here for a thousand years - and yet….horrific as it sounds, we ride in this utterly captivating place. In early summer, when the winds calm down and the fog subsides - despite still being seemingly inhospitable to any form of life - we find refuge.
The San people, ever self-contain, survived here because their needs didn’t outstrip to ability of their environment to provide. And so too can we, as long as we’re careful.
Our biggest consumption is water - without it there would be no safari . But water is both bulky and heavy - and 20 horses can consume 1000 litres in one go on a hot day! Then there’s showers, drinking water and water for cooking and washing up….all add’s up to a lot in a place where there is none.
Routes are painstakingly plotted to take advantage of easy access by vehicles bringing in water and feed, particularly so that we never have to drive off-road. EXACT quantities are calculated so we have ‘just enough’ - having learned to live that way, our guests almost always find our way of life liberatingly simple.
There is a mindset in which enough really does become enough - and even if it’s not quite enough, ‘what is’ becomes sufficient as needs are simply adjusted to match supply.
There’s a wonderful lesson in this for us all to live more sustainably in future. Come on a remote riding safari on Namibia’s Enchanted Coast and discover how enough really is just that, satisfyingly sufficient.