Unsupported explorers conquer the skeleton coast

By | Category: Travel destinations

A team of novice and experienced explorers alike recently became the first people to walk the Skeleton Coast of Namibia – one of the most inhospitable places on earth. Jason De Carteret, one of the 14 explorers, tells us about the trip…

“Survival was at the forefront of our minds as we walked for 500km battling temperatures of 35°C, climbing 1000 feet high sand dunes, staving off jackals, seals and scorpions. Carrying half our body weight in equipment and food rations, we even had to make our own drinking water from the sea as there was not a drop of fresh water during the whole expedition.

We depended on grit, determination and teamwork to see us through the relentless daily routine of 10 hours of walking and five hours of collecting 700 litres of sea water which was then pumped through special filters to provide 70 litres of fresh drinking water each day.


Each member of the team carried the equivalent of two holiday suitcases on their back to ensure we had everything we needed to survive in the wild. Personal luxuries weren’t just kept to a minimum, they weren’t allowed at all. Clothes were strictly limited to allow room for all the equipment we needed to stay alive.

Burning an average of 4000 to 5000 calories each day but surviving on two dehydrated ration packs that provided 1600 calories a day, we were slowly starving on our 20 day expedition. One team member lost over half his body fat, falling from 19 per cent to just eight per cent while each member lost, on average, between five and 10 kilograms in under three weeks.

This stretch of coastline between Luderitz and Walvis Bay is impenetrable by vehicle, air or sea. It has earned its name from the number of shipwrecks that scatter the sand dunes and the amount of animal bones that serve as a constant reminder of why so little life can be found there. It’s one of the world’s most dangerous places to be – as one team member found out when she got knocked to the ground (with her pack) and almost dragged into the roaring ocean by a crashing wave.


As the founder and Managing Director of Voyage Concepts – a forerunner in the adventure challenge arena – I came up with the idea of walking the world’s most inhospitable coastline totally unsupported, along with independent film producer Andrew Miles, and led the team in their successful attempt. There were no food parcels, no water drops and no vehicle support to back us up. Not even radio contact with the outside world. We were on our own. The plan now is to walk the entire coastline of Namibia, and again it’s an expedition that is open to experienced and novice explorers alike.”

For more information on becoming a member of the next expedition, please contact Leonie Hinkley at leonie@voyageconcepts.co.uk. To find out more about the adventures, events and expeditions that Voyage Concepts organises, visit www.voyageconcepts.co.uk.

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