Skeleton Coast National Park
starts around 200km north of Swakopmund
and runs for a further 250km up the coast of Western Namibia
The Skeleton Coast is famous for its inhospitable gravel plains, whose extremely stable climate has led to the evolution of a vast range of endemic species. The diversity of succulent plants here is extraordinary, along with the range of beetles and other insects which are uniquely adapted to the terrain.
The coast carries the scars of intermittent human presence, notably in the form of shipwrecks, although most along this stretch are relatively small. There is also a good deal of evidence of diamond prospecting and oil drilling. Everything around here just lies where it falls, leaving an historic record for everyone to read.
The main road along the coast traverses a number of major ephemeral rivers, whose sub-surface water often pools at the back of the beaches, attracting a good deal of wildlife. Animals such as oryx, springboks, jackals, brown hyenas are often seen in these areas, with elephants and lions being only occasional visitors.
After 100km the main C39 road turns inland, only those people staying at the restcamps are permitted to continue along the coast. North of the junction, the coastal landscapes actually become much more interesting, with more river crossings and broad fields of diminutive vegetated dunes. Finally, to the north and east of Terrace Bay, we reach some substantial dune-fields, which can be explored by self-drivers with suitable vehicles.
Note that this usually quiet area gets surprisingly busy during the local holiday periods and the main fishing season in Jan/Feb.
This section of the Skeleton Coast is not as interesting as the truly wild parts of Skeleton Coast North
or the remote diamond areas south of Luderitz
. However, the area is much more accessible to self-drivers and therefore easy and cheaper to include in trips.
The lower 100km can easily be included in the drive between Swakopmund
. But if you want to spend longer here and explore the parts north of the junction then you will need to overnight ... Terrace Bay Restcamp
... is a magnificently grim encampment which feels like an industrial installation at the very edge of civilisation.
This Skeleton Coast National Park area is most commonly combined in trips with other popular locations around the country such as Fish River Canyon