About The Skeleton Coast National Park
The Skeleton Coast of Namibia is one of the most desolate places on earth. It is startlingly beautiful in its barrenness and home to fascinating plant and animal species.
Most travellers are drawn to the Skeleton Coast because of this incredible scenery, wide open spaces and solitude.
The Skeleton Coast National Park stretches along the Namibian coast from Swakopmund in the south to the mouth of the Kunene River at the Angolan border. The park is 16 845 km² in size and access to the section between the Hoanib River and the northern boundary is strictly controlled to preserve this fragile environment.
This part of the world has been known by a few names throughout its history, none of them complimentary. The indigenous San people called it ‘The Place God made in anger’ and Portuguese sailors called it the ‘Sands of Hell’.
The name ‘Skeleton Coast’ was coined by a newspaper reporter in 1933 because of the many shipwrecks found in this area. The combination of dense fog, tempestuous seas and inhospitable conditions meant that many of the sailors who passed this way never returned home.
In 1971 this desolate expanse was declared a national park to preserve its sensitive ecosystem and historical significance.
There are two state-run accommodation options within the Skeleton Coast National Park. These are:
This camp is located close to the Uniab River Delta and has comfortable accommodation in the form of suites and beach chalets.
This destination is excellent for fishing, birdwatching, game watching, photography and hiking. There is also a restaurant and kiosk on site.
Torra Bay is a camping-only accommodation option with limited availability. It is open for bookings during December and January only and is another prime fishing spot. The camp features a filling station, small shop and communal ablutions.
There are a few other private camps located in and around the Skeleton Coast National Park, including the very exclusive Hoanib Skeleton Coast.
Hoanib Skeleton Coast
This private camp is operated by Wilderness Safaris and is only accessible by charter aeroplane. This eco-friendly tented camp offers an ultra-luxurious experience of the Skeleton Coast and is in the northern reaches of the Palmwag Concession.
Day visitors are not permitted at any of the camps in the Skeleton Coast National Park.
There are no special facilities or activities for children in this National Park.
Most of the activities in this desolate environment consist of visiting unique sights to admire the scenery and natural wonder which is so abundant here.
Fishing is a top activity, with anglers bagging record catches at specifically selected spots along the coast.
Photographers are most at home here, where they will never tire of capturing the haunting scenes of this beautiful landscape.
Some of the must-see destinations in the Skeleton Coast National Park include:
- Cape Cross Seal Colony
- Henties Bay
- The Dunedin Star and Eduard Bohlen shipwrecks
- Himba Cultural villages
Both guided and self-drive trips are possible in this incredible wilderness.
All the NWR accommodation in the Skeleton Coast is self-catering while full-board packages are the norm at Hoanib Skeleton Coast.
You will find a la carte options at the nearby private lodges.
Fauna and Flora
Although the environment is extremely inhospitable, there are a surprising range of living things that thrive here. These die-hards of the animal kingdom have adapted to their circumstances in amazing ways.
The 4 rivers that criss-cross the park, the Ugab, Huab, Koichab and Uniab only flow for a short time after there have been good rains in the interior. For the remainder of the year, the surrounding terrain remains comparatively lush, and this is where you could come across desert-adapted rhino, lion and elephant.
Most of the species that thrive here have evolved for harsh conditions. These are jackal, genet, caracal, baboon and brown hyena that live off the desert pickings year-round, competing with ghost crabs, crows and gulls for scraps. Zebra, springbok, oryx and kudu are occasionally seen inland.
Vegetation takes the form of extremely hardy desert plants such as the dollar bush, brakspekbos and a fascinating variety of lichens.
You can never have too much water when you travel to Skeleton Coast National Park. Keep spare bottles of drinking water in your car at all times, travel between sights always takes longer than anticipated in this part of the world.
Sun protection, good walking shoes and warm clothing for the evenings are a must, as is a good camera.
There are 2 entrances to the Skeleton Coast National Park and you are not permitted to arrive and depart through the same gate, due to security reasons.
West Coast Recreational Area near Cape Cross Seal Colony:
Directions from Swakopmund: Leave town on the B2 and go on to the C38 outside town. Carry on up the coast to Henties Bay and you will see the reserve clearly signposted after about 116km.
Directions from Windhoek: Follow the B1 and then take the B2 at Okahandja. Travel towards the coast until you reach the D1918 to Henties Bay. Proceed along the C38 from Henties Bay to Cape Cross.
Damaraland at Springbokwasser Gate
Directions from Windhoek: Take the B1 to Outjo and then take the C39 towards Palmwag. The gate is clearly signposted along this Road.
By Air – Commercial flights as well as charter flights depart from Windhoek to Swakopmund. Charters can also be arranged to your overnight camp within the Skeleton Coast National Park.
Transfers – Transfers can be arranged through private operators in Windhoek or the above airstrips to Swakopmund. You must travel onward under your own steam or with a tour operator.
For more information or to book your trip to the Skeleton Coast National Park in Namibia, pop us a message via our contact us page, and we will gladly assist you.
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