The Skeleton Coast is a windswept strip of desert located along the Atlantic shoreline of northwest Namibia. Skeleton Coast National Park was established to safeguard the distinctive coastline shoreline as well as the northern wilderness area, and is home to several endangered and unique species.
This region can be visited throughout the year, but the ideal time is during the warmer months from October to March. These months see little rain, which keeps the skies clear. Mornings are less foggy, and it’s warmer at night than in the winter months.
Thanks to its inhospitable environment, Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is one of the world’s most unspoiled coastlines. The shore takes its name from the whale bones and shipwrecks scattered across its beaches over the centuries. The upwelling of the cold Benguela current gives rise to dense ocean fog for much of the year, along with the almost constant, heavy surf on the beaches, this area has not been kind to passing ocean vessels.
While the area remains a relatively harsh environment, it’s also beautiful and interesting. Several animals have adapted to surviving on only the water from the dew drops left by the fog each night. It is this wild, untamed beauty and desert-adapted wildlife, as well as fascinating marine life, that draws visitors.
Lions, spotted and brown hyenas, caracals, and jackals prowl the shoreline in search of food. These specially adapted lions that prey on seals and shorebirds are fascinating and ghostlike, existing in the liminal space between the raging ocean and arid sand dunes. The ocean is home to hundreds of thousands of Cape fur seals, eleven shark species, and large game fish, while humans in this part of Namibia are in short supply.
The Skeleton Coast National Park is split by rivers. The southern portion is in between the Ugab and Hoanib Rivers, while the northern section is between the Hoanib and the Kunene River. The riverbeds and dunes further inland are home to elusive leopards, endangered black rhinos, baboons, cheetahs, desert-adapted elephants, giraffes, gemsbok and springbok.
Visitors can apply for day trips to the south, but the most sought-after region is the north. This area only allows roughly 800 people per year to protect the fragile ecosystem. It can only be accessed by booking a fly-in safari with a tour operator who has access to the exclusive concession area.