When: May/June 2019, 6 weeks
Sand cycling along the notorious coastline from the Kunene River (on the Angolan border) south through Walvis Bay, Luderitz and on to Oranjemund at the mouth of the Orange River (on the South African border).
The San of the Namibian interior called the region The Land God Made in Anger, while Portuguese sailors once referred to it as The Gates of Hell. The coastline is littered with a thousand shipwrecks and whale bones. The cold Benguela ocean current circulates straight from Antarctica, enshrouding the shoreline in fog until the strong on-shore winds disperse the haze.
The Namib Desert is the oldest, and one of the driest deserts in the world, receiving about 10mm of rain a year. The people and animals of the sparsely populated Kunene Region in Namibia’s far north-west, undergo constant struggles for water. A lack of clean, safe drinking water affects the lives and wellbeing of many local cultures; it compromises school students’ ability to learn effectively and the ability of farmers to care for their livestock.
The Kunene Nature Reserve is home to the Kunene Desert lions, an endangered species, due to the conflict between the needs of local inhabitants, who see the lions devastate their livestock and threaten the region’s communities, and the necessity for the species to survive. The lions have adapted to exist in such inhospitable conditions, able to draw moisture from the blood of its prey to rehydrate and has many special adaptations to minimise water loss.
Namibia, however, is the first African nation to formally adopt the need to preserve its environment into its constitution. During Kate’s Breaking the Cycle in Africa expedition, while in the West Caprivi Strip, she met with the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), a world leader in its field, and learned of many of the conflicts between humans (the Kwe and the military) and the environment.
This expedition will be an opportunity to learn about and support some of the development needs of the local people. Kate will endeavour to highlight the fragile ecology of the desert coast and the work of Namibian institutions to manage the ongoing conflicts between humans and the natural landscape.
Kate has teamed up with local adventure specialists, Karibu Safariand Indian partners, Global Himalayan Expedition to set up a pilot project and expedition to provide light with solar power to the remote community of Purros in the Kunene Region and, in time, develop education and economic empowerment initiatives. The village electrification project will happen in September.
No one has ever cycled the Skeleton Coast from the mouth of the Kunene River/Angolan border to Oranjemund/South African border. This expedition has the potential for many curriculum themes and stories that need to be told.
Like with the Finke River expedition, cycling in sand is excellent physical and mental preparation for Antarctica. Negotiating soft, unstable surfaces requires immense core strength and concentration. Different techniques are used compared with cycling on regular paved and gravel surfaces.
We will look for opportunities to include stories, culture, artwork and present-day issues of the KhoiSan, Himba and Herero people into the story. She will present to students in Windhoek, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay and relate to students around the world.
Find out more: The Skeleton Coast expedition brochure