On a world-first Land Rover journey to track the outline of the African continent, with special persmission and a lot of red tape, the Kingsley Holgate Foundation team follows the stretch of Namibian coastline through the Sperrgebiet, the vast area that's been off-limits to visitors for more than a century. Then on to the Skeleton Coast and all the way to the border with Angola. We pick up the story in Kingsley's words
Around the camp fire our guide Trygve Cooper entertains us with stories of the days when the diamond police patrolled the area on camels. "Diamond thieves are an innovative bunch" he says - Interesting - they've caught them shooting diamonds over the security fence with crossbows. They try all sorts of things; 'stones' are cut into the heels of work boots and sewn into clothes, a Rasta man's hair lit up like a Christmas tree when they X-rayed him, and even carrier pigeons were used. Two little feathered friends were found with 144 rough diamonds attached to parcels on their legs
After Luderitz it was into the challenge of the Ancient Namib. The madness of sliding the overloaded expedition Landies down the slip faces of some of the highest dunes in the world, then clawing, digging, pushing and winching our way to the summit of the next one. Then sliding down to the cold South Atlantic again, hugging the dunes, the waves washing against the deflated tyres, and to help things along, a great east wind, sand storm that engulfed us near the Tropic of Capricorn.
It is a delightful Land Rover adventure: black-backed jackal around the fire at night, brown hyena feeding on Cape fur seal pups, deserted beaches littered with bleached whale bones, battered shipwrecks, oryx in the desert and finally the 1915 lighthouse at Pelican Point. We continue tracking the skeleton coast of Namibia, all the way through to the Kunene River and when I think back to those cold windswept Atlantic desert nights, the shipwrecks and the desolation, it's no wonder that the early mariners called it "The Coast of Death". Will keep you posted.