Northern Part and Coast of Namibia

Skeleton Coast

At the mouth of the Ugab Rivier, some 200 kilometres north of Swakopmund, officially starts the Skeleton Coast. Since 1973, it has been protected as the Skeleton Coast National Park, which stretches 500 km up north to the Kunene River at the Angolan border. The remote northwest of Namibia, known as Kaokoland (or the Kunene Region), is home to dramatic scenery, small populations of game and the Himba people – and beside it lies the equally remote coastline of the famous Skeleton Coast.

Dense fogs, mighty storms and violent surf in the past caused many ships to run aground along the Skeleton Coast, and the desolate coastline has become known as the world's biggest ship graveyard. Those who were shipwrecked and managed to swim through the roaring surf and reach the coast, still didn't stand a chance of survival because waterless, hostile, 300km wide coastal desert awaited them.

Along the Skeleton Coast

Along the coast from Swakopmund moving along of the coast is known as the National West Coast Tourist Recreation Area. This area will give you a good feel for what the Skeleton Coast is like desolate and barren. However, despite this harsh environment, you will still see evidence of life when you look hard enough, lichen fields, vegetated dune hummocks, insects, snakes, and jackal.

The first amazing sight you come across is an enormous breeding colony of Cape fur seals at Cape Cross. You can detour here en route to Damaraland, or stay for a night at the cosy Cape Cross Lodge. Further to the north, deep within the Skeleton Coast National Park, Terrace Bay is a simple government-run rest camp about six hours' drive north of Swakopmund. It's the only place to stay for a very long way!

Skeleton Coast Safaris

  • Swakopmund Museum, situated in the old customs building, next to the municipal swimming pool, the main Swakopmund Museum was founded by Dr Alfons Weber in 1951.

  • Sam Cohen Library, Next to the Transport Museum, the impressive collection of Africana books at the Sam Cohen Library contains about 10,000 volumes, encompassing most of the literature on Swakopmund, and a huge archive of newspapers from 1898 to the present day (some in German, some in English).

  • Desert Snake Park, the Snake Park boasts more than 25 types of Namibian snakes, lizards, chameleons, scorpions and other creatures, which is enough to satisfy even the most inquisitive child – or adult. The animals are kept under glass in two small rooms, where snake feeding takes place on Saturdays from 10.00 to 12.30. Outside, a small but pleasant garden incorporate plants from the Namib.

  • Kristall Galerie, the Kristall Galerie, housed in an ultra-modern building, claims to be the largest-known crystal cluster in the world, estimated to be around 520 million years old. Displays include a scratch pit where visitors can search for semi-precious stones, a replica of the original Otjua tourmaline mine, and a craft area. There’s a shop, of course, with semi-precious stones available in many guises, and a café area with videos about crystals.

  • Adventure Sports, Swakopmund has become a hub for adventure sports which include sky-diving, dune-boarding and quad-biking. So if you need some adrenaline in your holiday this is a good place to head to.

Exploring the coast

Most visitors come to Namibia for its wild areas, not its towns, but both Swakopmund and Walvis Bay make ideal bases from which to explore little-visited parts of this coastal desert. You can drive yourself to some, but to access the best and to really learn about them, spend a day with an expert guide. Several operators run tours of the towns, as well as speciality excursions, focusing for example on gems, or up the coast to the seal colony at Cape Cross. There’s also one company taking visitors into the townships.

The Sandwich Harbour trip is by far the most popular, and includes historic sites in the Kuiseb Delta, bird-rich lagoons at Walvis Bay and Sandwich Harbour (tide permitting), and some of the desert’s more unusual flora and fauna.

The Welwitschia Drive is a route through the desert with numbered beacons at points of interest, culminating in one of the country’s oldest welwitschia plants. Part of the drive is the ‘moon landscape’, or ‘moonscape’ – a rolling, barren area of rocky desert formed by the valleys around the course of the Swakop River. It’s a spectacular sight, often spoken of, and best viewed by the slanting light of mid morning or late afternoon.

The Namib trip explores the Swakop and Khan River valleys, including some historical sites from World War I, considerable desert wildlife and the Moon Landscape – with Welwitchia plants.
Both trips start at about 8.30am at your hotel, and end around 5pm; a delicious lunch is included, usually served at a magnificent spot in the desert. Private trips, tailored to guests’ interests, are easily arranged.

 


The Coastal Area

Walvis Bay with its prolific birdlife, Swakopmund a quaint desert town hedged by desert and sea and the Skeleton Coast a remote wilderness.’

Walvis Bay lagoon has large flocks of flamingos, Cape pelicans and migrant water birds whilst Swakopmund is a quaint town and Namibia’s original holiday resort situated on the Atlantic Ocean.

The Skeleton Coast earned its reputation from the many ships that met their demise due to fog and strong currents.  It is an area of pounding seas, the Namib Desert and a stark but beautiful interior


General Information

  • The Welwitschia Mirabilis, a botanical curiosity endemic to the Namib Desert can be seen on the Welwitschia Trail east of Swakopmund.
  • Cape Cross Seal Reserve is situated 130km north of Swakopmund and protects the biggest colony of Cape fur seals that breed along the coast of Namibia & South Africa, opens at 10h00.
  • Some of the largest lichen fields with a large variety of species.
  • Guided tours of Rossing Uranium Mine, the world’s largest open-cast uranium mine.
  • Historical buildings, museums, aquarium, art galleries, craft outlets, restaurants, dolphin cruise, township tours, scenic flights, adventure activities such as dune boarding & quad biking.
  • Skeleton Coast National Park:  southern section has one accommodation establishment

 

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