Sally and Alice first met whilst working at a London-based luxury tour operator and immediately bonded over their love of all things wild, dusty and remote. It is therefore not surprising that the idea to start Sally and Alice was born on a motorbike safari on Alice’s farm.Karen Blixen’s opening line ‘I had a farm in Africa’ and her favourite new discovery is Syria, a country she fell in love with on a recent research trip. Luckily for me, her other passion is baking, so I am often treated to her latest ‘experimental’ cake recipes. Over to Sally....
As the owner of Sally and Alice, a tour operator specialising in African safaris, it is not surprising that the places I enjoy the most are the small camps and lodges hidden away in remote, wild and untouched parts of my favourite continent; Africa. There are very few places that can really say they are still ‘untouched’ by tourism, and when you find one it is often hard to share it. But when somewhere is as remote, uninhabitable and barren as the Skeleton Coast – no matter how much you shout about it, it will (hopefully) always remain untouched, as mankind simply cannot survive there.
It is only thanks to my great friends at Wilderness Safaris that anyone other than the local Himba tribes gets to visit this far-flung corner of north-west Namibia. Their six bed tented camp is the only accommodation within the private concession which spans a vast 16,400 km sq, the feeling of being miles from anywhere is at times quite overwhelming, not least when you are coming into land after the 3-hour flight from Windhoek, the nearest city.
Coming from the UK, this remoteness is hard to come to grips with, as are the unfamiliar surroundings, which can only be described as lunar-like landscapes. You could be forgiven for thinking that nothing could possibly survive in this harsh environment, but before you get too spooked by your hostile surroundings their resident guides, the most knowledgeable and passionate guides I have ever encountered, will turn this barren desert into a nature and outdoor enthusiasts playground. From the ancient lichens, dancing white lady spiders, desert lions and seal colonies to the sinking quicksand, roaring sand dunes and skeletons of ill-fated ships and whale bones – the desert suddenly springs to life, and the experience awakens something in you too.
I once sent a US client here for a long weekend, he desperately needed to escape his stressful banking job and hedonistic lifestyle, it turned out to be just the place, he texted me as he boarded the flight back to NYC to say, “thank you so much, the Skeleton Coast Camp has changed my life!” I have to agree, it is very rare to find a place that makes you feel genuinely privileged to visit, and a place where you really can just BE.