The Skeleton Coast is littered with maritime remains and ghosts of sailors that came to grief on Namibia's unforgiving Atlantic coast in the far north-west corner. Long-forgotten ships litter the foggy coastline and with each shipwreck engulfed in sand, goes a story of man against nature. Nature usually wins!
Named for the grief that beset shipping on Namibia's unforgiving Atlantic coast, the Skeleton Coast lies in Namibia's far north-west corner
. Long-forgotten ships litter the foggy coastline and with each shipwreck engulfed in sand, goes a story of man against nature. You may think that animals could not survive here but you would be wrong.
The Desert Elephant has become so adapted
that it eeks out a living inland along parched riverbeds and feeds on grass and trees fed by underground springs. A TV documentary even showed them skidding down sand dunes like a snow-boarder. Strong and sturdy Oryx, whose spiralling horns closely resemble that of a unicorn, are also completely at home in the desert and can go for weeks without water
. Giraffe, Brown Hyena, Springbok, Ostrich, Rare Black Rhino and even Lion might be seen further inland in Damaraland and Kaokoland, where fresh water and better grazing can usually be found.The Skeleton Coast has a most singular eco-system
, completely dependent on the cold sea breeze from the Antarctic Benguela current. For much of the year, but especially in winter, the coast is shrouded in mist with a strong westerly breeze taking the fog far inland. This moisture gives life to strange desert plants such as the unique living fossil Welwitschia
, which survives for hundreds of years.
The mist clears by mid morning and the timeless beauty
of the Skeleton Coast becomes apparent. This is one of the few places on earth where you can experience such fearless solitude and isolation
. It is the perfect place in which to attune yourself to ocean echoes and to the silence of the ancient desert. The only way to reach this truly remote wilderness
is by light aircraft, which is an adventure all of its own. The haunting beauty of sweeping dunes, golden-walled canyons and great mountain ranges will be revealed to remain forever scetched in your memory.
Due to the fog-belt which is often present, the temperatures at the coast vary considerably from 6-36°C (42-97°F), but never drops below freezing point. Even in summer, cool rather that hot temperatures
are to be expected, so appropriate clothing is necessary. In the interior, although warm in the mornings, it cools off as the day progresses. A general lack of moisture, crystal clear night skies
and rapid heat loss, gives rise to chilly nights.
Dunedin Star Shipwreck
The refrigerated cargo ship Dunedin Star ran aground on 29th November 1942 and just a short distance north so did the Sir Charles Elliot rescue tug. The crew lowered its motor boat and started putting people ashore. The boat completed two trips, putting ashore a total of 63 people, before the rough sea disabled the boat and it was stranded on the beach. They were left with no shelter and only the boat's water and food rations to sustain them. Another 42 people, including Captain Lee, were left aboard the beached ship.
A Lockheed B-34 Ventura bomber supply aeroplane was dispatched from Cape Town to drop food, water and medical supplies on the beach for the survivors. However, disaster struck again and the plane became bogged down in loose sand. Several rescue missions were attempted until the survivors were finally rescued and taken to Windhoek before arriving in Cape Town on 28 December 1942. The Dunedin Star wreck is in the far north of the Skelton Coast National Park making it impossible to drive yourself there. Flying into the northern section of the park is the only realistic option if you want to explore this famous wreck.
The Skeleton Coast forms part of the western coastline of Namibia, from the Kunene River in the north down 500km south to the Ugab River....more