Namibia’s Skeleton Coast has earned its name by virtue of its famously treacherous rocky outcroppings, almost constant breaking waves, and miles of thick and unforgiving marshland. Portuguese sailors traversing the Atlantic Ocean coasts of Africa christened the region “The Gates of Hell” for if they did make it to shore after a wreck, it was almost certain death to brave the desert beyond.
Visitors to the Skeleton Coast today find it slightly more hospitable than the seafarers of days past. The remains of doomed vessels lie ruined and decaying in the sand and even in modern times shipwrecks do still occur, perhaps the most famous being the British supply ship the Dunedin Star in 1942. More macabre discoveries include massive whale bones, remnants from past whaling journeys, all left in the sand where the blazing sun bleaches them stark white and the harsh environment keeps them preserved for many years. The stark beauty of this stretch of coastline inspires both awe and fear, at once unmistakably desolate yet harboring a thriving ecosystem all its own.
Cape fur seals travel every year to the Skeleton Coast to mate, give birth, and hunt for fish in November and December. The colony at Cape Cross Seal Reserve has seen as many as 210,000 seals at once, stretched out in the sand singing a chorus of grunts and bleats. The heavy surf and marshes are no match for these agile underwater navigators, but the orcas and whales offshore do prove a danger. Some 6,200 square miles of coast has been designated the Skeleton Coast National Park, most of it only accessible via flying safari. From the air, the overwhelming desolation and contrast with the blue Atlantic is nothing short of astounding.
Adjacent to the Skeleton Coast, Kaokoland is the the home of the Himba people. These two beautiful regions combine perfectly on a Namibia safari itinerary, allowing you to fully soak in all of the natural and cultural wonders of this remote and rugged destination. Your Ker & Downey luxury travel consultant can help you arrange your itinerary to make the most of all of Namibia’s diversity – contact us now to start planning.