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Skeleton Coast

NAM St Namibia Skeleton Coast Shutterstock Maxim Babenko

Namibia's Skeleton Coast

Forming a section of the oldest desert in the world, the experience of venturing into this wilderness via private flying safari is one that is unlike any other on the continent, as you pass over extraordinary lunar-like sand formations, with expert guides that take you into remote areas where it feels pristine and unchartered; silent yet intriguingly powerful. Arguably one of the most appropriately named natural wonders of the world, the Skeleton Coast is a barren coastline that comprises striking landscapes that are at once inhospitable and stunning.

Quick Facts:

  1. What's in the name: the area is named after the ghostly shipwrecks scattered along the land.
  2. Wildlife spotting opportunities: desert adapted elephants can be seen sliding down the sand dunes.
  3. Accessibility: the area is split into two sections and the Northern Coast can only be reached via light aircraft.
  4. Culture: you may be able to visit the Himba tribe.
“Due to the crashing waves that unrelentingly pound the region, the Skeleton Coast is also renowned for its innumerable rusting shipwrecks which total over 100, each of which casts its eerie silhouette over the coast that it is confined to.”

Location and Activities

Set in the remote northwest of Namibia, this battered coastline spans some 300 miles in total from the south of the country and into Angola. In terms of wildlife, the harsh desert environment means that there are few mammals to see here, but marine life off the Atlantic Coast is abundant with seals and sea birds and the waters that are touched by the icy Benguela current are filled with fish. Some of the inland riverbeds are nonetheless home to giraffes, black rhino, baboons and springbok. The true natural wonders of the coast lie rather in the astonishing scenes – the mists caused when the cool coastal airs hit the sun-baked sands or the other-worldly rock formations that hint to an area that has remained largely unaltered over millions of years.

There are generally two feasible ways to explore the Skeleton Coast. Driving north up the coast from Swakopmund will take you through some of the stark landscapes of the National West Coast Tourist Recreation Area before reaching the seal colonies at Cape Cross. Further north and six hours from Swakopmund you will be immersed in the wilderness of the National Park, with Terrace Bay being the last feasible place to stay.

The second popular option is to explore through fly-in safari through the Schoeman family-owned Skeleton Coast Safaris who have operated tours here since 1977. Through a thrilling combination of light aircraft flights with birds-eye views over the coast and Land Rovers that take you to the desert-based camps where you will stay in the heart of the unique natural environment. Fly past flamingo, over weaving patterns of ancient rivers and waterways, bright multi-coloured swathes of sand that peak and trough, and mountain ranges that etch into the distant horizon – this is for many the most breathtaking way to explore.

Whilst this area is undoubtedly a photographer's dream, the images can only capture minutiae of what is an unfathomably vast place that must be experienced in person to fully appreciate its grandeur. Speak to us today to find out how we can tailor the perfect itinerary for you.

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