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Skeleton Coast North
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Skeleton Coast North


... is an utterly wild and savage area which includes the most northerly 400km of the Namibian coastline up to Angola and is arguably the greatest wilderness area in Africa.

This remarkable coastline is a place where history lies literally scattered across the beaches in the form of long-lost shipwrecks and the bleached bones of enormous whales. Vast seal colonies line the beaches, besieged by a conspiracy of vultures, jackals and brown hyenas.

Across a hinterland of vast open plains an incredible display of geology lies exposed to the elements, punctuated by abandoned mines, invisible quicksand swamps, endless seas of sand dunes and remarkable desert oases. These apparently barren desert landscapes sustain significant populations of free-ranging wildlife including elephants, giraffes, oryx and lions, which occasionally venture right down to the ocean.

The area can only be accessed by means of special government permits and visitor numbers are extremely low, restricted to just a few small overland expeditions each year. It really is a place is right out of the pages of a Boy's Own adventure, a truly wonderful place to explore.

Read more about the upsides for this area ...

When to visit ...

This coastline is relatively unseasonal and really can be visited at any time of year.

May/Nov ... is the dry season in this area, so there is virtually no chance of encountering any rainfall at all or even any cloud for that matter, although immediately along the coast you can expect the perennial morning fogs and high winds.

Dec/Apr ... is notionally the green season in this region, although in this particular area the chances of encountering any rainfall at all is extremely low. Having said that, the odd shower can really transform the landscape and cause wildlife to converge from a huge dry hinterland. The biggest issue for travellers is the chance of encountering rivers which have been swollen by rainfall further inland, making fording difficult, although these floods tend to subside after just a few hours. Again immediately along the coast you can expect the perennial morning fogs and high winds.

How we like to include this area in trips ...

Skeleton Coast North is our favourite part of the country, it is by far the wildest and most exciting area, with an incredible atmosphere which can really get under your skin. Some of us here at ATR are confirmed addicts and return repeatedly.

We tend to recommend the area most to travellers who have visited Namibia before, have taken in all the more regular sights, got a taste for the place and are now ready to roll their sleeves up and really get their teeth into something a bit more specialist.

Skeleton Coast Expedition are private-guided overland safaris, the only way to comprehensively visit the area. These tough 5 to 10 night trips represent some of the greatest adventures on the continent.

If this kind of overland trip is too arduous for you, then it is also possible to visit the southern parts of this area on day-trips from the very high-end Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, which is located inland from Mowe Bay.

Unfortunately the famous and iconic Skeleton Coast Camp closed down in 2011 and seems unlikely to ever re-open.

Inland from the private concession, the area around the village of Purros can be reached by self-drivers and offers some good opportunities for safari, especially desert elephants and other wildlife in the spectacular Hoarusib canyon.

The best accommodation option in Purros is the relatively upmarket Okahirongo Elephant Lodge, which we sometimes use as a rest stop on overland expeditions, but which cannot otherwise be used as a base from which to explore the coast.

Trips which include these guided expeditions tend to focus mainly on this Namibia Northwest region, perhaps also including nights in Twyfelfontein or Etosha, on the way up and back from the usual start and end point at Windhoek.

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