When you visit Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, you get the impression that nature is trying to keep you away from the start. A narrow no-man’s-land between life and death, it is known as “the place God made in fury” by the Khoisan Bushmen of the interior. There are gigantic bleached whalebones everywhere, as well as the collapsing hulks of shipwrecks, dead vegetation, and the tracks of rare desert animals, all in a frantic quest for food.
The Skeleton Coast and its surroundings are a hauntingly beautiful scenery that stretches from the south of Namibia up into Angola. It is a wide expanse of undulating sand dunes, deserted desert plains, fossil beds, unusual geological structures, desert-adapted creatures, and odd vegetation.
Local Namibian Bushmen refer to it as “the land that the Creator created in Anger” since it is a tough and hard environment.
Several outstanding breakers, including Guns, Cape Cross, Skeleton Bay, and Thicklip, draw a modest but consistent stream of surfers. Element Riders, based in Swakopmund, provides surfing excursions along the Skeleton Coast, as well as surfing instruction and contests. Surfing this high-energy coastline, one of the least populated on the globe, invariably entails sharing waves with marine animals.
A Skeleton Coast safari provides a spectacular bird’s-eye perspective of countless shipwreck ruins along the coast, unique and ever-changing geological formations, and refuges for desert-dwelling species like the endangered black rhino.
The thick fog is caused by the chilly Benguela current and is greatly needed given that the yearly rainfall is only 10 mm. The fog’s water is life-giving, feeding desert plants, which in turn nourish insects. Chameleons, snakes, and lizards are common here, and there is also big fauna such as desert lions and brown hyenas. You could be lucky to witness a desert rhino and elephant in a distant oasis amid the sand dunes – how they live here seems a miracle.
This hazardous length of untamed Atlantic coast is backed by a bone-bleaching desert stacked high with enormous sand dunes, making it Namibia’s most eerie and dramatic destination. The Skeleton Coast, located in the extreme northwestern corner of Namibia and part of the northern Namib Desert, is perhaps one of Africa’s most isolated sections of coastline, and surely one of the continent’s most interesting and unspoiled wilderness locations.
The beach just north of Swakopmund is maintained as a tourist area, with large camping and caravanning facilities. When viewed outside of the holiday season, these locations appear not just deserted, but dreary and unfriendly – yet when the locals descend over the Christmas season, they take on an altogether new vibe.
Would you be daring enough to visit the Skeleton Coast?
Here’s another wonder you’ll love: the ice caves of Alaska.