Skeleton Coast Namibia, photo and description

Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo, where is the national park, what is remarkable

Africa – the continent of riddles and legends. Solving its secrets, humanity is so carried away that for every meter of this ancient land has 2-3 hypotheses. Photo of the most frightening and mystical place on Earth – the Coast of Skeletons in Namibia has seen everything.

Where is the Skeleton Coast in Namibia?

The cold, waterless, completely uninhabitable Namib Desert is washed by the Atlantic Ocean. The 500 km of coastline between the hostile desert and the raging ocean is called the Skeleton Coast. This mysterious coastline begins in Swakopmund, Namibia, and ends in Angola.

There is no place on Earth more gloomy, inhospitable, which killed thousands of sailors and adventurers in its sands.

Why is this the name of the national park?

The Skeleton Coast (Namibia), whose photo with ships stranded in the desert, covered in sand, evokes a sense of unreality, deserves such a name.

Authors of novels about pirates and journalists called the place:

“The land God made in wrath” or “The shore where men and ships come to die,” the locals said. Judging by the names, the coast has always carried a bad reputation. Although the area is called the Kaokoweld, since 1944 even the official maps say “Skeleton Coast.” That was the title of John Marsh’s book about the sinking of the freighter Dunedin Star in this place.

Either the writer has a light hand or the title was very accurate, but everyone knows the place as the Skeleton Coast. The shore, indeed, is strewn with the skeletons of ships and men. The name in a nutshell accurately described all the surrealism of this unearthly landscape.

How to get to the reserve

It is impossible to fly from Russia to Windhoek (the capital of Namibia) without a connection. Your flight will take 11 hours and may take via Frankfurt, Munich or London. From the capital by plane to Namibia’s largest port Wolfish Bay, then take a bus to the Skeleton Coast, but the flight will take long, expensive and interchangeable.

Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo, where is the national park, what is remarkable

You can rent a car, but the lack of roads and the absolute uselessness of the navigator make such a trip is not safe.

The easiest way to get to the Skeleton Coast is to buy a tour in Windhoek, the trip will be interesting, relatively comfortable, and, most importantly, safe. The Springbok Gate, which lets you into the National Park, is decorated with huge skulls, which adds to the adrenaline. The gate itself makes a strange impression: on all sides – the desert and the gate to nowhere.

What is remarkable about the park for tourists

Skeleton Coast is a National Park. In the northern part of the park access is limited: only in a group and with a special license. The southern zone is open to anyone who wants to visit the most inhospitable place on Earth. Tourists come here to see amazing landscapes, huge dunes, unusual animals. Someone is attracted to fishing, there are many different kinds of fish in the coastal waters.

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Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo, where is the national park, what is remarkable

Lovers of extreme offers to fly over the Coast of Skeletons in a hot-air balloon, see from a height of Naukluft mountains, oases with antelopes and zebras. But most want to see with their own eyes the impossible: ships floating in a haze of sand.

History of the appearance and existence of the park

The photos of ships sticking out in the middle of the desert, shattered by winds and sand, look so unreal that they look more like illustrations for Stevenson novels or sets for Jack Sparrow movies. A man to the Skeleton Coast (Namibia) was brought to it for two good reasons: either trouble or greed. The insidiousness of the Namibian coast has long been known.

Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo, where is the national park, what is remarkable

The cold masses of the Antarctic current mix with the hot desert air to form a thick, impassable fog that hangs constantly over the ocean and the coast. The heavy surf beat relentlessly, relentlessly against the shore. The east wind drives mountains of sand to the coast, storm waves move the layers on the ocean floor.

Nautical charts can’t keep up with the changing topography, it’s impossible to predict where the shoals will be today.

Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo, where is the national park, what is remarkable

There are no safe coves, a ship anchored to wait out the storm would be cut off from the ocean by a strip of sand. Abandoning the ship, the sailors reached the shore in dinghies, through the reefs and stormy waves. Here death awaited them; it was impossible to cross the desert. In some years the abandoned ship turned out to be 100 meters away from the ocean, buried under the dunes of the Namib desert.

One day, diamond seekers dug up a sand mountain 17 kilometers from the shore and found a ship there. Diamonds are the reason why adventurers from all over the world go to this God-forsaken land. “Diamond fever” began in Wolfish Bay when a hunter found diamonds in the stomach of a shot ostrich.

Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo, where is the national park, what is remarkable

But the desert gives its treasures reluctantly, someone found the stones, but most of the “Knights of Fortune” remained forever “exhibits” of the Coast of Skeletons. And now lovers of extreme and thrill-seekers stumble upon their bones, whitened by wind and sand.

In addition to the remains of ships and people, there are a lot of whale skeletons on the shore. It is not known why these giants are washed ashore, it is quite unclear why they so often take their own lives in this place.

Nature of the Skeleton Coast

The Namib Desert is famous for its dunes, the mountains of sand grow up to 300m. The wind whirls the sand on top, and from afar the dunes look like smoking volcanoes. Two rivers, the Orange and Kunene, flow into the Atlantic to the north and south of the desert. The beds of the other rivers remain dry for years. In the rainy season (once every 5-6 years), they become violent streams and carry the accumulated sand to the ocean.

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Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo, where is the national park, what is remarkable

Here the wind picks it up, and sandstorms rage over the Skeleton Coast and fill in the dead ships. Cold currents do not let the temperature on the coast above 17 degrees, the lack of precipitation (2 mm per year) makes this place absolutely uninhabitable.


The Skeleton Coast (Namibia), whose photos evoke a feeling of absolute despair, is not exactly a desert place after all. Plants that have adapted to extract moisture from the fog survive in this waterless desert. Lichens collect morning dew and spread out in large brown fields.

There are two plants in this desert that are so unusual that scientists cannot trace their evolution:

Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo, where is the national park, what is remarkable

  • Velcivia, a dwarf tree . It does not look like a tree, as we understand it. A thick trunk, 1.5 m in circumference, more like a stump, sticking out of the sand at 30-40 cm. The same amount of trunk goes into the sand, and from it another 5-7m deep into the sand goes the root. Small roots grow at the surface and it is these roots that collect moisture from the fog and rare rains. But the most amazing thing about the velcivia is its leaves. The tree has only two leaves! A meter-wide ribbon grows on each side of the trunk. The leaf grows up to six meters long. Flowing across the sand, the broad green leaves, twisting and curling in rings, look like tentacles, which is why velcivia is called the “octopus of the desert.” It is believed that velcivia lives for 2000 years, but it is impossible to prove this, as the tree has no annual rings.
  • Another strange plant found only here is the melon nara . The wild melon is the only edible plant in this part of the desert. Its elongated, juicy fruits were often the salvation of hapless travelers dying of thirst. One problem: you have to wait more than 10 years for the harvest.

Animals and birds

The strangest thing is that, for all its hostility, the Skeleton Coast has given shelter to many animals. The blackbelly beetle is endemic to the area. As it burrows into the sand, it leaves its legs and part of its abdomen on the surface, and mist droplets drip down them into the beetle’s mouth.

Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo, where is the national park, what is remarkable

On the dunes live geckos lizards with webbed feet (like a goose), but the speed of movement does not save them from birds (there are numerous “bird markets” on the rocks) and from the “groundhogs” – meerkats standing by their burrows in columns. Having burrowed into the sand, the lizard becomes the prey of the goldenrod, an amazing animal with golden fur.

Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo, where is the national park, what is remarkable

Another strange inhabitant of these places is the kaffr longhorn. The name hints at the long legs, really looks like a jerboa and jumps a length of 6m.

The cold water of the Skeleton Coast and record numbers of fish have led to the entire coast being inhabited by seals (harbor seals). Tourists are taken to Cape Cross, where a large colony of seals is located. True, those who have been there do not recommend to get close: the smell is like on a large pig farm. The seals attract hyenas, jackals and lions here.

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Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo, where is the national park, what is remarkable

There was such a version, that lions came to the coast to die, when they were kicked out of the pride. It turned out to be simpler: just like the hyenas, the lions went to the easy prey, to the seal rookery. The most phenomenal animal of the Skeleton Coast is the elephant. Locals have long said that elephants walk in the desert, scientists assured that no elephant could survive without water and food.

For 10 years, the famous naturalists of the Barlets (husband and wife, Des and Jan) lived in the desert and tried to find desert elephants. They found them and showed them to the world! Yes, there are such elephants, living in the desert, in family caravans conquering the dunes and knowing exactly where the oasis is.

Tourists to Note

Skeleton Coast (Namibia), the photo of which should suggest to any sensible person that it is not necessary to go here, for some reason only attracts curious travelers here. The place is anomalous, unfriendly, but tourists come here all the same. They come to see the land that was created long before the dinosaurs, giant dunes, bird bazaars on the rocks, dead ships in the sands.

Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo, where is the national park, what is remarkable

What the tourist needs to know:

  • Before you go to Skeleton Coast, you need to find an experienced guide. Even if the company gathered and everyone is in great physical shape, the trip may be the last. These are not empty words: “unorganized” tourists disappear in these places to this day.
  • The local population speaks Afrikaans (the language of the Boers), almost everyone understands English, but not everyone speaks, and if they do, it is with a terrible accent, which is difficult to understand.
  • The safest way to see the country – go to a travel agency in the capital.
  • If you want to travel independently, you should rent a car. You can stay overnight in campsites and small hotels. It is difficult and very expensive to get to the main attractions by public transport.

Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo, where is the national park, what is remarkable

In addition to the Skeleton Coast, you can travel from Windhoek to:

Locality What to see Distance from the capital (km) Travel Time by Car
Wallfish Bay Giant Dunes, Bird Bazaars 395
Cape Cross Seal sanctuary, world’s largest seal colony 430
Luderitz Colmanskop, the “ghost town” of diamond seekers 720
Fish River Canyon, the 2nd largest in the world (after the Grand Canyon) 550 6-7ч

Interesting Facts

In the north of the National Park there is a unique place – the Roaring Dunes. The special properties of the sand allow you to snowboard here, but the rumble is as if an airplane is flying overhead. Namibia is gradually becoming a country of civilized tourism, there are resorts (the most famous – Swakopmunda). But the Skeleton Coast is the most alluring attraction of this country.

Namib Desert in Namibia, in detail with photos

Skeleton Coast Namibia. Photo, where is the national park, what is remarkable

From the sand dunes wind rolls small stones and sand, the sound is like a whisper, the locals believe that the ghosts of dead sailors roam the shore, watching and deciding whether to let the newcomers go or leave forever in these sands. Despite the gloominess, it is the Skeleton Coast in Namibia that is considered the most photogenic place on Earth.

Orange dunes under a bright blue sky, unbelievably beautiful sunsets over the black ocean, ghost ships in a desert haze make more and more adventurers go on the road.

Skeleton Coast

The Skeleton Coast in Namibia stretches 500 kilometers south from the Kunene River to the Ugab River. It is one of the most uninhabited and least visited places on the planet. The wittily named coastline is famous for its many shipwreck remnants.

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General Information.

Some lie a considerable distance from the water. For example, the wreck of the German ship Eduard Bolen is half a kilometer offshore, as desert winds constantly carry sand into the sea, gradually pushing the shoreline westward. The dinghies were able to cross the surf line and dock, but the surf is so strong that it is almost impossible to row back across. The survivors who were lucky enough to survive the shipwreck and reach land found themselves in one of the driest and most inhospitable deserts in the world, hundreds of miles from populated areas and sources of drinking water; of course they had little chance of survival and died right there on the beach, which is why it got its name.

The Skeleton Coast covers an area of 2 million hectares, a bleak, haunting landscape including sand dunes, canyons, and mountain ranges. The dunes here range from low, hilly dunes to transverse dunes and crescent-shaped dunes. When pebbles of agate, lava rock, and granite slip down their steep slopes, a sound like a loud whisper can be heard in the air. Windswept dunes and flat plains give way to uneven canyons and flat mountains with brightly colored walls of volcanic rock.

The climate here, unlike the arid deserts, is also surprising. Dense fogs and cold sea breezes, the result of the Benguela Current, colliding with the extreme heat of the Namib Desert lead to sharp contrasts in temperature. Yet a surprisingly large number of plants and animals survive under such conditions. Elephant’s foot” grows in the cracks of rocks and stones, and desert succulents and lithopedoniums, which resemble small stones, suddenly bloom with tiny yellow flowers. Not far from the shore, elephants can be found feeding here on parchment-like reeds and grasses, as well as tree foliage fed by underground springs. The hardy oryx antelope make themselves at home here and can go for weeks without water. Giraffes, brown hyenas, ostriches, rare black rhinos and even lions can be found in Damaraland and Kaokoland, where they find fresh water and better food.

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If you’re lucky enough to be one of the visitors visiting the Skeleton Coast, you’re unlikely to forget this journey through time to a completely forgotten world.

Because of the fog belt, the temperature on the coast varies greatly: from +6 to +36 ° C, but it never gets below freezing here. In the interior, while it may be warm in the morning, it gets cooler in the evening. The lack of moisture makes the nights especially cold.

The southern part of Skeleton Beach is part of the West Coast National Tourist Area. The rich sea of fish attracts many fishermen, who organize crowded fishing camps. One of these camps later turned into a real town, Gentisbugt. The northern part of the Skeleton Coast from Torre Bay to the border with Angola is covered by a national park, which has limited access.

The northern part of the Skeleton Coast is the Skeleton Coast National Park Conservation Area. Its territory begins in the north from the Ugab River and stretches for 500 km to the Kunene River on the border with Angola. The reserve has an area of 16000 km² and borders on the region of Kaokoweldu in the west. The territory of the reserve is divided into two zones: southern and northern. Access to the southern part of the park is free, while the northern part can only be visited by groups organized by licensed tourist organizations; these groups must adhere to special rules of stay and are not allowed to stay overnight in the reserve.

The entrance to the reserve is a few kilometers before the Ugab River, whose course here cuts a deep, winding canyon through marble, dolomite and shale rocks. Near the entrance the terrain is a rubbly desert, only 100 kilometers north, near Torre Bay, begin expanses of dunes.

Near the Guab River is an abandoned oil rig, now a nesting ground for Cap Cormorants. A few kilometers north of Torre Bay, the hull of the wrecked Atlantic Pride lies on the shore; in a nearby canyon cut through the bright sands is the desert’s only waterfall.

In the northern part of the reserve, near the Goarousib River, there is another natural monument that can be not only seen but also heard, the so-called Roaring Dunes of Terrace Bay. Due to the properties of the sand they consist of, with a certain strength and direction of the wind, you can snowboard off these dunes; the resonant vibrations in the sand create a rumble similar to the sound of a working airplane engine, which can be heard several kilometers away.

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