Well this is it blog number five of my stories from the sands, I promised 5 stories and I’ve delivered 5. While there are more stories to tell, I chose these five as a start because they show the greatest insight into what it was like in the desert, but don’t worry those among you who’ve read them all will know there is more to share, no doubt one day I’ll tell the stories that I’ve hinted at previously and we can revisit the sands and their secrets but for now you’ll have to wait. So get comfy and prepare yourself for this tale, because where we go next nothing survives…

We woke up later than usual, a thick mist had engulfed camp having had come in from the coast. It was so thick you could barely see your hand in front of your face. The past few days had been scorching hot walking mile upon mile with sun beating down upon us making weary muscles burn and tempers flare. The days have been testing, poisonous snakes, a desert gods dogs and a stalking big cat. Raging wind and skin blistering heat but we’d made it finally. We had traveled from canyon to coast. Our camp was a mere 5km away from our final destination on the coast but the desert wasn’t finished with us yet, the fog was cold and we were instantly soaked to the skin, with no sunlight breaking through to warm it was a miserably start to the day that none of us would forget easily.

We began the hike through the mist in eerie silence, with very little sight; it’s our other senses that begin to notice the oddities around us. First comes the smell like the seaside and happy childhood memories of eating your favorite ice cream and candy floss but this place is not a happy place for mixed in with the smell of salt and ocean is that of rotting  flesh,  decay and death. With that smell and zero visibility paranoia burns through your veins all the way through to your soul. Only made worse as we closed in on the coast where we were accompanied by the sound of the thundering waves crashing against the sand like an executioners drums.   

Boom!

Boom!

Boom!

Every step we took through the sand accompanied by the increasingly loud tide smashing into the coast. The wet sand was sucking our boots into the ground, every foot step was labored our feet sinking slowly into the greedy deserts maw, our muscles strained to pull one leg out and step even as the other sunk, by now we were wearily wading through lactic acid burning through our legs even as the desert tried to swallow us whole.  Still we marched forward, blind and deaf, slowed by the sand, who knew what, hungered after us in the mist. It wasn’t long before we began to see dark shapes surrounding us, creatures of some sort lying still in the sand, un-moving, un-feeling and un-escapable.

We carry on walking forward, and finally we could see the coast line the cold, dark, grey, unforgiving mass that is the punishing South Atlantic Ocean. Mesmerized by this dark monster I stopped watching where I was walking and heard a sickening crunch of bone breaking as I stepped through the skull of a dead seal, and then realization dawned on us our creatures hidden un-moving in the mist were no danger at all, because the dead can not stalk us. All around us were the carcasses and bones of dead animals, seals, sharks and whales alike littered the coast line. We were no longer in the desert, but had walked into a graveyard. A place where everything dead eventually washes up and anything alive soon dies. The only living things are scavengers. Vultures that greedily pick the bones of the newly dead clean and hyenas that laugh at the feast the destructive ocean brings them.  It’s not long before we come across more skeletal remains. These remains however are off something far larger than any sea creature. The rusting carcass of what was once a 40 tonne German merchant ship reduced to something that would fit in your dining room. To be a sailor that survives that wreck only to find he has washed down the equivalent of the River Styx and ended up a real life underworld only to be tortured by hunger, thirst and sun.  The immense power of the rip tide along the Namib coast leaves only death in its wake and is aptly named the Skeleton Coast.  

Written By Jonny Fairclough. 

Published by C&J Active