Namibia's Skeleton Coast continues to be a synonym for the horrors a sailor could face when his ship sank. Sharp rocks just underneath the water surface and thick fog during dusk and dawn along the entire coast posed a danger to ships, and when a shipwrecked crew did make it to land, they faced a belt of almost 100 km of desert, without any water or food sources and bare of any human settlement. All along the coast are the bodies of ships and there are many stories of sailors dying or only escaping the desert by accident.
Skeleton Coast National Park has its southern boundary at the Ugab river and stretches northward to the Namibian border with Angola. The further north you get the more desolate the area becomes.
Rocky desert with occasional sand dunes
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.
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
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.
Since there are few roads in the park, most of the park is inaccessible to 4x4s, which are the only type of land vehicle allowed in the park. In order to access the inner parts and northern coast, you must book a plane tour, some of which do land in the park.
Fees and permits
The major road in the area is a salt road. These are very slick if wet. Otherwise, they seem like bad pavement. To access the interior regions and the northern-most coast, you must rent a plane and fly out to those areas.
- 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.
- Hundreds of shipwrecks dotted along the coast.
The coast is considered to be prime surf angling area.
The most common risks posed to anyone travelling to this national park are exposure, the heat, and isolation. Always make sure that you are dressed appropriately, and have put on enough sunscreen on to last you for as long as you are in the park. Even though most of the park is not accessible by 4x4, the entirety of the park is virtually cut off from civilization, save some areas near the park borders. This means that you are on your own if your 4x4 breaks down, so be prepared in case of emergency. Other than threats imposed by nature and geography, there are no crimes against tourists committed in the park.