Tour explores Namibia's remote Skeleton Coast

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EL CERRITO, Calif. -- Clients interested in traveling to the remote reaches of Africa can do so on Mountain Travel Sobek's new Skeleton Coast itinerary.

A region of Namibia, the Skeleton Coast is known for its isolation and rugged terrain, according to Annie Birch, Mountain Travel Sobek's director of Africa operations.

Birch touted the Skeleton Coast's red-colored sand dunes and abundance of shipwrecks -- some preserved because of the region's arid climate.

"The Skeleton Coast is one of our planet's most inhospitable but hauntingly beautiful places," Birch said, adding that tour participants will visit a private concession area of the Skeleton Coast Park .

"The area is very remote, so we charter people up there," she said.

Activities include hiking to game drives, according to Birch.

"Unlike the traditional safari schedule -- which might have a morning and evening activity -- this trip has all-day explorations," Birch added.

The excursions include a nature drive to Rocky Point on the coast to see seals and dolphins; a visit to sand dunes that stretch a thousand feet into the sky, and possibly a visit to a shipwreck site.

Some areas are accessible only on foot, she said, and great care is taken by visitors to maintain the ecological balance of the region.

"There are clay geological formations that look like castles," she said, and freshwater, spring-fed oases that support such wildlife as elephants, ostrich, Cape fur seals, jackal and hyena.

Another draw of the region is the presence of the Himba people, nomads who color their hair with yellow ocher and interact with participants.

"This is one of the few African tribes that has retained its tribal and cultural ways without being polluted by Western influences," said Birch.

Accommodations are at the Skeleton Coast Camp, which is on an island about 12.5 miles inland from the coast.

The camp features five permanent luxury tents.

The tents hold up to 10 people and feature private bathrooms.

According to Birch, all of the meals are catered, so participants "don't do a thing. It's like being in a hotel in the wilderness."

Group sizes are limited to eight participants, and early booking is recommended.

The 16-night safari, with departures on June 9 and 30, July 21, Aug. 11 and Sept. 1, is priced from $3,950, land only, plus $600 for charter flights.

For additional information, contact Mountain Travel Sobek at (888) MTSOBEK.

Information also can be obtained via the operator's Web site, at www.mtsobek.com.

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