The Skeleton Coast is an area of great beauty and solitude. It owes its name to the skeletons of whales and ships cast up on this remote, misty, gem-rich coastline by the winds and currents of the South Atlantic. Wildlife includes seals, bottlenose dolphins, whales and fantastic seabirds, including African (jackass) penguins, pelicans, petrels, gannets, cormorants and flamingos.
In the north, the coastline is protected in the Skeleton Coast Park, to which entrance is strictly controlled. Within the park, Wilderness Safaris’ Skeleton Coast Camp has exclusive access to a vast and remote area. Here the geological forces, which shaped the earth’s crust, are laid bare before you. The contorted rocks bear the scars of the ancient splitting of Gondwanaland, and the drifting and shaping of continents.
Guests at the camp spend their days out in the park with a qualified guide exploring the soaring sand dunes; vast, pastel-coloured plains; towering canyons and mountains; salt pans; seal colonies and beaches strewn with whale bones and the masts and sea-worn detritus of sunken vessels.
As time goes by, you will pick out the wildlife; the silhouette of a solitary ostrich, a lone jackal hunting seal cubs, a gemsbok (oryx) camouflaged against a sand dune. In the riverbeds you can encounter desert-adapted elephant, giraffe and other species.
Further south, the road to Swapokmund follows the Skeleton Coast. At Cape Cross there is a massive seal colony, with accommodation at nearby Cape Cross Lodge. You will also find fishing villages with villas built by German settlers in their own unique style reminiscent of the Bauhaaus movement.
The Skeleton Coast is not the place for a beach holiday. The South Atlantic is cold, and as the cool Benguela current from the Antarctica meets the warm landmass, it creates a fogbank that envelopes the shoreline in the early morning, before the sun burns it away.