Skeleton Coast Expedition
After 20 days of walking an average of 25 Km a day, the Skeleton Coast expedition team finally made to the end of their journey, the Salt mines at Walvis Bay. The stretch of coastline from Luderitz in the south to Walvis Bay in the north had never before been walked totally unsupported. It had been walked before, but only with camels, 4x4 back-up and water drop-offs. Our challenge was to carry everything we needed to survive on our backs, and we achieved our goal at lunchtime on the 26th October.
As the Expedition Doctor, I was kept fairly busy, but thankfully there were no major medical problems. What did surprise me was the sheer number (and indeed size) of the blisters that the team suffered from. Despite everyone training beforehand in their boots, the combination of the heat, the sand (which got everywhere), the constant change in terrain, the camber of the beach and the weight on our backs all construed to produce more blisters than I ever imagined. Thankfully I did not run out of tape but at the end there was very little left!
One of the many delights was seeing the black-backed jackals, which visited our camps every evening and often followed our progress during the day. We also came across thousands of fur seals, a family of Oryx (Gemsbok), pelicans flying into wind in slow motion, and many, many flamingo and cormorants.
This expedition was a real physical challenge, and it was a great privilege to have been part of such an eclectic group of people on a truly remarkable journey. We started as a bunch of individuals and finished very much as a strong team. What a great experience!
Dr Alastair Nicol
ExpeMed Course Director - Expedition Medicine Course for Healthcare Professionals