Ghostly shipwrecks on remote and inaccessible shores has given the Skeleton Coast it’s well-deserved name.
This 2 million-hectare (20,000²km) park is one of the most inhospitable and least visited places on earth and is divided into northern and southern sections. 4-wheel drive travellers may enter the southern part but never venture past the skull and crossbones sign at the Ugab River Gate, for fear of getting stuck in the soft sand and running out of fresh water. A fly-in safari is the only way to experience the northern section and is the best way to appreciate the remarkable and changeable scenery.
Sand dunes come in a variety of guises and the Skeleton Coast Park has hummock dunes, transverse dunes and crescent dunes – given to roaring when millions of tiny granules slide down the steep surface. At times the dunes are stopped in their flow by large seasonal rivers which often do not make it all the way to the sea.
The windswept dunes and flat plains give way in places to rugged canyons and extensive mountain ranges with walls of richly coloured volcanic rock. Such is the extraordinary geology of this area, that some beaches contain a profusion of multi-coloured pebbles consisting of agates, lava, granites and others.
The attraction for visitors to this park is its untouched and mysterious barren beauty, swept by cold sea breezes and often enveloped in a dense fog. This sea mist accounts for the many maritime remains and with each shipwreck, goes a story of man against nature. Nature almost always wins!
Desert elephants have been seen in the interior of the Skeleton Coast Park and have even been filmed surfing down sand dunes like snow-boarders.
Desert dwelling oryx are completely at home in such dry conditions and springbok, giraffe, brown hyena, ostrich, rare black rhino and even lion are found inland where riverine bush supports the grazers and fresh water can usually be found.
Cape Frio seal colony contains several thousand Cape fur seals, and whales and dolphins swim this coast on their way to and from breeding grounds.
Summer: October to May sees blue skies with cool to warm rather than hot temperatures.
Winter: in May to September the coast becomes shrouded in mist from mid afternoon to mid morning and a strong westerly wind blows. It never drops below freezing at the coast but inland it cools down very fast in the afternoon and as night falls it can become very cold.
Rainy Season: In lieu of rain, the sea mist gives moisture to plant and animal life. If rain comes it will be during the summer months.