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Skeleton Coast

skeleton coast

The iconic Skeleton Coast, in fact, refers to Namibia's southern Atlantic coastline as well as quite a bit of land towards the interior, and consists of different bands of landscape—each more stunning than the last. The most dramatic way to view the area is to drive from Hoanib Skeleton Camp, the best accommodations in the area. A guide in a four-wheel safari jeep with specially gauged tires will first drive you along the dried-up Hoanib River bed, and you will most likely see oryx, springbok and possibly giraffes along the way. After approximately 90 minutes of driving on sand, dirt and gravel roads, the real fun begins, when you reach the sand dunes. A good driver will make you feel as if you are skimming the surface of the sand, navigating different dunes and hardly following any tracks. Be sure to schedule additional time to climb a dune and sit atop its peak to admire the surrounding landscape—it is without a doubt one of the world’s most intensely beautiful experiences.

Another hour’s drive will lead you to the Atlantic coastline, where intense fog (from the cold ocean air hitting that of the hot and dry Namib Desert), coupled with strong currents, has caused dozens of shipwrecks. Remnants of the ships, ranging in age from the 18th to the 21st century, sit on the sand banks still, and sand from the dunes has moved in. The coast is named for the skeletons of stranded sailors, explorers and fishermen, as well as the whale bones from unfortunate beached whales who, too, fell victim to the coastline’s currents. There are seal colonies and clusters of flamingos in the area, as well as a small but charming museum, which displays assorted flotsam from shipwrecks and detritus that has just washed ashore over the centuries. Guests of Hoanib Skeleton Camp are flown back to the camp’s airstrip with a 20-minute scenic flight.

Accommodating Lodge: Hoanib Skeleton Camp

Written by Amelia Osborne Scott

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