A Quick Guide to Skeleton Coast
‘Skeleton Coast’ is the perfect name for Namibia’s northern seaboard, populated as it is with sun-bleached bones from whales, seals, and unfortunately, some unlucky humans. Across Angola’s southern border to the town Swakopmund, ‘Skeleton’ is also echoed in the hollowed-out shipwrecks stranded on shifting sand-dunes, with no human settlement in sight. Namibia’s deserts were nicknamed ‘The Land God Made in Anger’ by Khosian bushmen. But the Skeleton Coast has an infamous reputation all of its own.
Over the centuries, a deadly mix of thick fog and strong currents caused many shipwrecks. It was a grim fate: any survivors would have found themselves stranded in an uncharted desert, with no food or drinking water. Hungry hyenas and jackals would have been happy to see them.
Nowadays, tourists venture out to Skeleton Coast to see these rusted 19th century wrecks and towering whale bones for themselves. Skeleton Coast National Park was established in 1971. Covering 1.6 million hectares around the coastline in the Kunene Region, it remains a wilderness of untouched, striking beauty, with a diverse array of wildlife. Yet journeying through the National Park will give you more than a rare, arresting ends-of-the-earth landscape. It’s also home to a thriving seal colony on Cape Cross, and is on the doorstep of the Himba, one of Namibia’s most recognisable tribes.
Skeleton Coast has housed many shipwrecks for centuries, since Portuguese and Dutch sailors passed by as they attempted to sail around the Cape of Good Hope to reach India. Some are now landmarks of Namibia’s coast: the Eduard Bohlen, a gigantic 310 foot vessel, makes for great photos. But in Skeleton Coast, Marsh chronicles the most famous one: the 1942 shipwreck of the MV Dunedin Star.
What wildlife can you encounter in Skeleton Coast National Park? The full range includes desert-dwelling elephants, as well as lions, black rhinos, cheetahs, crocodiles and zebras. It makes for an impressive safari, yet these animals are often rare sights, particularly the elephants and rhinos. It is far more common to see springbok and gemsbok, antelope native to Southern Africa.
With the new Skeleton Coast tour, Land Rover Adventure Travel offers you the chance to see it all up close, behind the wheel of a Land Rover Defender. You drive an SUV built for the toughest terrains, from Swakopmund to Windhoek, visiting famous shipwrecks, the Cape Cross seal colony and Himba villages, among other awe-inspiring sights across the National Park. Skeleton Coast is a corner of the world unlike any other: preserving history in its bones and shipwrecks, while new life thrives around it.