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The Skeleton Coast: A Journey Through the Namib Desert

By Benedict Allen

The Skeleton Coast, where the Namib Desert meets the Atlantic Ocean, is named after the bleached bones and scattered remains of shipwrecks washed up on its shore. This coastline is one of the most desolate, yet hauntingly beautiful places left on earth. For three months, explorer Benedict Allen attempted to cross this remote desert landscape — the first time any government of Namibia permitted the journey.

Allen prepares for his expedition with the Himba people from the northern reaches of the Namib. Submerging himself among these resilient, cattle-herding nomads, he begins to see the severe land as a home. He then travels south to the Kalahari Desert for a gruelling three-week training period. There he attempts to mould his reluctant camels — Nelson, Jan and Andries — into a workable team.

At the closed diamond-mining town of Oraniemund, security personnel escort Allen through the Forbidden Zone. He then continues north past ghost towns and the wrecks of numerous ships towards the treacherous ‘Lange Wand’. There he confronts his biggest obstacle: a stretch of coast where the incoming tides meet colossal dunes.

Continuing alone through mile upon mile of unforgiving desert, Allen enters lion and rhino country where a prime concern is the risk of sudden attack. As he battles on to the last leg of the journey, he struggles to maintain control of his nervous camels.

Benedict Allen recorded his journey with a video camera for the BBC television series The Skeleton Coast.

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