The ‘other-worldly’ wilderness of the untouched Namibian Skeleton Coast guarantees one of Africa’s most intense visitor experiences. Stretching from Swakopmund up to the Kunene River, this swirling Atlantic coastline boasts endless stretches of desolate desert sands scattered with seal colonies, ship wrecks, and animal carcasses bleached by the harsh desert sun.
The National West Coast Tourist Recreation Area encompasses the Skeleton Coast’s southern-most reaches and is fully accessible to self-drive travellers, without the restrictions of the northerly National Park. There are a reasonable number of lodges and basic camping facilities, and visitors will gain a good feel for the harsh, barren nature of this unique coastal wilderness, with the main focal points being vast sand dunes, desert oases, and Cape Cross, a seal breeding colony of staggering proportions. Self-drive is possible as far north as Terrace Bay, although venturing beyond Cape Cross is generally recommended for experienced travellers only, since the further north you go, the more deserted the landscape, and the more sparse the accommodation.
Travellers with bags of adventurous spirit, and the budget to match, will be drawn to the coast’s extremely remote northern reaches, accessible only by air. Here, National Park restrictions protect the fragile desert environment with tight controls on access, and only two tour operators are permitted to offer fly-in safaris. Aerial views of the rolling dunes tumbling down to the ocean’s edge are amongst the most spectacular in the world, and visitors will be privileged to discover some of the Namibia’s finest lodges, offering luxury and top-notch guiding in an otherwise inhospitable environment. This haunting section of the coastline, once feared by sailors in days gone by, is now prized as a place of extreme beauty and rare solitude.
Whether it’s basic self-drive, or luxury fly-in, a visit to the Skeleton Coast, with its exquisite scenery and unique, desolate atmosphere, is a must on any Namibian adventure.