Skeleton Coast Travel Guide

Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is one of the finest and most unusual coastal wildernesses in the world. Driving in the Park is forbidden although there is a hidden way.

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All the info to prepare your trip to Skeleton Coast. How to get in, maps, activities...
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Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is one of the finest and most unusual coastal wildernesses in the world. Driving in the Park is forbidden although there is a hidden way, it’s not a road and not even a track but it worths doing it.

The Skeleton Coast is the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia and south of Angola from the Kunene River south to the Swakop River, although the name is sometimes used to describe the entire Namib Desert coast. The Bushmen of the Namibian interior called the region “The Land God Made in Anger”, while Portuguese sailors once referred to it as “The Gates of Hell”.

The coast is named after the bleached whale and seal bones which covered the shore when the whaling industry was still active, as well as the skeletal shipwrecks caused by rocks offshore in the fog. More than a thousand vessels of various sizes and areas litter the coast. Notable wrecks in the region include the Eduard Bohlen, the Otavi, the Dunedin Star, and Tong Taw.

Namibia’s Skeleton Coast was once and is still a synonym for the horrors a sailsman could face when his ship sank. All along the coast are the bodies of ships and there are many stories of sailors dying or only escaping the desert by accident. The Skeleton Coast National Park has its southern boundary at the Ugab river and stretches northward to the Namibian border with Angola. This is a very desolate area with often unchanging scenery. Apart from a few fish camps and the rare village, there is no human habitation for many kilometers.

Flora and fauna

The Cape Cross seal colony attracts many visitors each year, overwhelmed by the huge number of about 60,000 seals. There are so many of them that the waves of the ocean look as though they were composed of seals. Replicas of the Portuguese crosses can be found at the site, too.

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GET IN

The southern third of the park can be explored independently, but the area north of Terrace Bay is restricted and may only be visited as a guest with one of the tourist concession holders. There are two entry gates to the park, one at the southern border of the park at the Ugab River mouth and the other on the eastern border at Springbokwasser.

By car

The main coastal road (C34) starts at Swakopmund and follows the coast north up to the Ugab River mouth. An alternative route is west from Khorixas.

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The major road in the area is a salt road. These are very slick if wet. Otherwise, they seem like bad pavement if not recently regraded.

SEE

  • Examine the lichen fields supported by the nightly fog. At times it is amazing that anything lives in such a desolate area. Enjoy many kilometers of undeveloped coastline that extends without limit.
  • Over two hundred bird species are regular habitants of the coast line.
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DO

The coast is considered to be prime surf angling area.

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Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is one of the finest and most unusual coastal wildernesses in the world. Driving in the Park is forbidden although there is a hidden way, it’s not a road and not even a track but it worths doing it.

Travel and tourism in the Skeleton Coast. How to get in, maps, activities & where to eat and sleep. Download the Free Skeleton Coast Travel Guide.

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Michel Piccaya

About

As a freelance travel photographer, Michel Piccaya has been on the road worldwide for more than 20 years, exploring the most incredible itineraries. He’s currently based in Brussels however never stays at home for a long time !

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