Reviews of Schoeman's Skeleton Coast Safaris
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Marvellous adventure into the wilderness
I had been to Namibia previously and was keen to see more of this wonderful country, and it was great to view from the air as well as the ground - the scenery is absolutely stunning. There were 5 people on the tour and we were taken on 2 small aircraft. The tour was led by Andre Schoeman in one aircraft and assisted by the second pilot, Johann. Andre is a very friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable host, and is a mine of information. You are flown into areas which are otherwise inaccessible, landing in some unusual places and exploring fascinating environments. There is also touring in vehicles, including a couple of trips through dune fields while sitting (braced!) on top of a Landrover - a roller-coaster experience! (we only got stuck in the sand once, so had to help dig-out the vehicle). There were also some treks and also a boat trip. Other unusual experiences are sliding down the 'roaring' dunes, and visiting a Himba tribe settlement.
Accommodation is in individual tents, which have beds and linen (not sleeping bags on the floor!), and at bedtime you'll find a hot water bottle has been placed in your bed - nice touch, as it was chilly in the evenings. There are bucket showers outside each tent which are filled by staff with hot water evenings and mornings, and these are very effective. There are flush toilets on the sites. The accommodation at the Leylandsdrift camp is slightly more 'upmarket'. After showering, early evenings were spent having drinks around a fire (there's a 'help yourself' bar, which is nice!) followed by dinner - the group got on very well so these were enjoyable evenings. Food was good 'Southern African' style - Cape Malay curry, Oryx stew etc. Breakfast is about 7.30, after which the days adventures begin. This is a great way to experience the outdoor life, while being kept as comfortable as possible.
All-in-all this was a fantastic trip - only wish it could have been longer, and I'll be looking out for similar trips in future. While this is an expensive trip, I would urge anyone to go, and if you feel you're too faint hearted or prefer 5 star luxury - take the plunge and enjoy the adventure!
Schoeman's Skeleton Coast Safaris review
I wish there was a category better than excellent for this! It was wonderful and definitely the highlight of our trip. We stayed in three gorgeous and very different locations, which we had all to ourselves as they only take one group at a time.
The trip began with a low flight over the red sand dunes we had been walking in the previous day and we were awed by the size and beauty of the dune sea, which you can't properly appreciate from the ground. Several times throughout the trip we flew low over the coast, seeing the shipwrecks and hearing their stories from Bertus; startling flocks of flamingoes into flight; and passing great colonies of seals. On the ground, we walked on the beach and climbed the hills to see ancient bushmen rock paintings; and drove up and down the dunes, seeing the sand whip upwards along their surfaces in the wind.
Bertus is a knowledgable and considerate host; his explanation of the unique geology we were seeing was extremely interesting. He is also an amazing pilot; I'm normally a bit scared of flying but he made me feel safe. We felt privileged to have had this unusual and very special experience.
Schoeman's Skeleton Coast safari
I had a wonderful time on this trip, which was a 3-night, 4-day flying safari.
1. It was a small group, myself plus one other couple, all of whom spoke English, so no need for constant translations. Also, it was easy to ask a lot of questions and get answers without feeling you were monopolizing the guide's attention.
2. Our guide was Andre Schoeman, who is a native of these parts and is steeped in the lore of the coast. I thought he was fantastic. Even though he has been conducting these tours for decades, he made everything sound as if it were new, fresh and exciting to him as well as to us. He is very good at gauging the level of knowledge and expertise that will please his clients, and he talked geology, geography, history, botany, shipwrecks, airplane design, animal lore, local tribes and anything else he and we could think of in a way that we could all take in.
3.The combination of air and ground travel gave us the opportunity to see the amazing geological structures of the country from the air, which gave a very broad view, and then from the land, which is a difference perspective altogether. Mr. Schoeman flies the plane is if it were a part of him; I almost forgot I was in a plane much of the time. We were also able to travel across large distances in a short time.
4. We stayed at three camps. In each one, the service was impeccable - great ground staff. The food was amazing in its variety and quantity, and the selection of drinks left nothing to be desired. The tents were very comfortable and the bucket showers were sheer bliss after a long dusty day.
5. Each camp is built so that it has a view over the surrounding countryside and all three locations were spectacular. I appreciated the efforts that Schoeman's makes to keep rubbish and waste to a minimum, both in the camps and on the road, e.g. by having everyone re-use their water bottles.
5. We did not have to get up at the crack of dawn, so no bleary-eyed exhausted travellers unable to take anything in. Up at 7am, then breakfast and then out on the day's exploration - just right .
6. Each day was full and we did a lot, but the outings were not presented as "activities', which I appreciated very much in retrospect, when I was at places where "activities' abounded. I never felt either regimented or bored on this trip.
7. Andre (and his son) took all their meals with us, which made for some great conversations and the development of a more personal bond than might otherwise have happened, which added depth to the pleasure of the trip.
I can't think of any cons.
It has to be remembered that one is out in the wilderness for the duration of the trip. There is no internet or cell-phone connection (lovely!), and food and supplies have to be trucked into each camp at vast effort. Considering the circumstances and logistical restrictions, I think the Schoemans do a brilliant job of adding comfort and even luxurious touches to the whole experience. The trip brings you face to face with nature untamed, and it was awe-inspiring.
My daughter and I had a great time and it is a trip that neither of us will ever forget.
The highlight for me was seeing the dunes at Sossuvlei from the air. I do suffer from motion sickness and this is usually made worse when I am trying to compose pictures in my camera viewfinder. Andre was brilliant at getting the plane in the right positions and even landed the plane next to the dunes so that I could recover and then carry on afterwards.
The Schoemanns are incredibly hard-working and passionate about the area. I have seen some amazing things in Africa and, although I find it impossible to rank things that are very different, this was very much up there with the best
Schoeman's Skeleton Coast Safaris review
This is a truly special experience, at times certainly not for the faint-hearted, but uniquely memorable.
All camps are in unique locations and very well thought through - one finds everything one needs, despite there being no luxury. As Bertus Schoeman says, it is all about the journey (safari), rather than creature comforts. Both the flying and driving parts of the journey provide an excellent introduction into Namibia - the scenery often being simply spectacular!
This was an adventure not to be easily forgotten:)
A great safari
We thoroughly enjoyed our 4 day flying safari with Andre Schoeman - an excellent guide with great flying and driving skills.
We were also very fortunate in getting on very well with our fellow travellers, another English couple. We stayed overnight in tented accommodation at three different locations each with their own speciality.
Schoeman's Skeleton Coast Safaris review
An unbelievable experience, varied, continuous & adventurous although the faint hearted might get the "jitters" from time to time.
The settings of the camps were spectacular & the staff friendly & attentive.
We loved it. Bertus was a great guide and pilot.
We were lucky enough to be only 2 on the safari & secondly to be guided by Andre Schoeman. He is an amazingly well informed guide & gave us a host of experiences we shall never forget. This included some very interesting driving in the dunes & down to his Kunene camp.
His knowledge of the geology , & both animal & plant life is remarkable & he shared it in a very positive way.
He was particularly helpful to my wife who was very concerned about her ability to scramble up & down some of the more rocky areas after the major knee surgery she had subsequent to an accident 3 yrs ago. In fact the experience was so positive that she now feels more capable than before.
Kuidas & Kunene camps were simple but superbly located. Leylands Drift is also well located but has larger well appointed tented accomodation. To land in a narrow valley, an interesting piece of flying, & be guided around this apparently desolate area by someone who clearly knew a huge amount about its flora, fauna & geology was a fascinating experience.
Skeleton Coast Adventure
Our flying visit to the Skeleton Coast was a wonderful experience.
We had visited Namibia previously and this year had been in Namibia a while before beginning our safari. We had seen a lot already but what we saw from the air and in remote areas of the Skeleton Coast Park was breath-taking. I think we could not have had such an awe inspiring trip other than by air.
Our guide's knowledge of, and love for, the area contributed to our overall experience and we certainly learned lots. Each of the camps had its own character and we were more than comfortable at them all. The whole experience gave a new meaning to the word "remote".
Schoeman's Skeleton Coast Safari - stunning!!
This is a trip unlike any other - 4 days staying at 3 separate camps on the Skeleton Coast in the company of one of the Schoeman bothers who have a lifetime's knowledge of the area and a passion for explaining it.
Our trip, with Andre Schoeman as our pilot/guide started with a flight from Windhoek to Swakopmund via Conception Bay (via shipwrecks, seals and flamingos) and on to Kuidas Camp, including a landing on a deserted beach for lunch and a further landing in a seemingly inaccessible canyon for a geology and botany lesson. eaching Kuidas Camp. The overriiding memory of that first day is the sheer variety of the terrains, from rocky uplands to sandy dunes - often simultaneously.
Like the thrird camp (Kunene), accommodation at Kuidas is in comfortable 3 metre dome tents, with full beds, chemical toilets and buckets showers (far more effective than they sound). There are separate flush toilets. Meals are good home cooking - remarkable considering the logistics. Drinks are included (although our group had an affinity got gin-and-tonic which nearly caused a tonic shortage throughout the Skeleton Coast. After dinner, Andre brought out his telescope to give us a fascinating astronomy session against the clear starlit sky.
The morning of the second day was spent in exploring the area on foot (including old bushman habitats and petroglyphs) and by landrover, before flying on. The afternoon stop was at Terrace Bay for a drive into the roaring dunes. When Andre tells you to step off the top of a seemingly precipitious dune, it seems a natural thing to do - and, as the "roaring" starts as we slid down, it was a marvellous experience. Andre then found some even steeper dunes to take the landrover down, to the delight of all concerned, for more roaring.
The second camp at Leylandsdrift is new, having opened earlier this year to replace Purros (20k away). With a ten year lease on the site (the others are renewable one year leases), this is much more comfortable camp with much bigger tents with flush toilets. The location on top of a cliff overlooking a river valley is spectacular. The next morning is a memorable drive to expore the area, ranging from the open grazing to rocky plateaux and valley, the river valley, "clay castles" and massive dunes - giving Andre further opportunities to demonstrate that 40-year old landrovers can defy gravity.
From Leylandsrift, we flew on to the Kunene River on the Namibia-Angola border, where the final morning was a boat trip to see the river life (was it coincidence that all the crocodiles were on the Angolan side?). Some other reviews have suggested that this was a long way to go for a boat trip - perhaps, but this is also about the continuing changes in the terrain, scenery and habitats and tabout he Himba people - ie the sheer variety of this region.
From Kunene, we started the journey back to a more normal world - we dropped off at Outjo to be met by our guide for the rest of our holiday (after a minor problem when it appeared that there was no fuel at our refuelling stop).
This was a superb trip - just seeing this vast and varied region would be an experience and adventure, but the Schoeman's have a personal knowledge of and passion for the Skeleton Coast which brings it to life in an exceptional way. The journey is by no means luxurious but is extremely comfortable - and creates memories that will remain forever. Chris McIntyre said that this trip was "potentially lifechanging" - I don't know about that, but we do want to go back if the Schoeman's laucn a programme next based on 3 nights at the new Leylandsdrift Camp and its surrounding area.