Best Things to See And Do In The Skeleton Coast Namibia
Located in the remote northwest corner of Namibia lies an eerie yet enchanting stretch of Atlantic coastline famed for its fascinating wildlife areas, intriguing shipwrecks and sandy dunes: the Skeleton Coast.
The name ‘Skeleton’ likely derives from the fact that many vessels have perished amongst the foggy weather and unpredictable Benguela current over the centuries. However, what was once a final resting place for seafarers now stands an iconic tourist spot popular with visitors seeking both tranquil landscapes-and adventure- on their trip to Namibia.
Best things to do in the Skeleton Coast
See Cape Fur Seals at Cape Cross
Owing to the large concentration of fish off the Skeleton Coast, Cape Cross Seal Reserve supports a huge breeding colony of around 200,000 Cape fur seals, making it one of the best places to spot these fascinating semiaquatic mammals in the whole of Southern Africa.
Situated north of Henties Bay, and nestled within Dorob National Park, the best time to visit Cape Cross is during the pupping season, from December to January when Skeleton Beach is also filled with young pups.
For history buffs, Cape Cross is also of huge historical interest. In the late 15th century Portuguese navigator Diego Cão became the first European explorer to set foot on the Namibian coast; he duly erected a stone cross to mark the feat, which gave birth to the area’s name.
Go Fishing at Henties Bay
Named after the Kalkfield farmer who discovered the site whilst on a hunting trip in the 1920’s, Henties has grown from an inconspicuous small town to become one of Namibia’s premier leisure-fishing destinations. Located 70km north of Swakopmund, and situated just 43km from Cape Cross, head to Henties for some of the best shore-based angling opportunities in the south of Africa.
Explore Skeleton Coast National Park
Declared as a nature reserve in the early 1970’s, Skeleton Coast National Park is an area of coastline that’s approximately 40km wide and 500km long. Situated between the Kunene and Ugab Rivers, although local infrastructure and visitor numbers are controlled and limited, it still serves as a fantastic destination for those seeking to spot some of Namibia’s most iconic wildlife.
Visitors to the national park have noted sightings of the elusive desert lion, the only lion on the planet known to live off marine life by hunting fur seals, beached whales and even birds- so make sure you have your camera ready! It’s also common to encounter springbok and antelope that are native to Southern Africa around these parts.
Search for Shipwrecks
Although some of the oldest sunken vessels have long been lost to the wild waters of the Atlantic, many doomed shipwrecks still exist today, and these are completely visible from the shores of the Skeleton Coast.
The most popular doomed ship that attracts scores of visitors to the area each year is the Dunedin Star, a vessel that met its fate whilst shipping munitions for the Allied forces in World War II.
The Winston, a South African fishing boat constructed in 1961 before perishing little under a decade later in October 1970 can also be explored, and you’ll find this vessel located just over 20km north of the Mile 108 campsite.
Finally, the wreck of Zeilia, which became stranded in August 2008, can be spotted around 14km south of Henties Bay.
Best time to visit the Skeleton Coast
The Skeleton coasts boast a consistently warm and dry climate throughout the entire year, although at night-time temperatures can cool and the early morning fog can make conditions chilly, so make sure you pack enough layers for your trip.
If you’re combining a visit to the Skeleton coast with a classic Nambia Safari that encompasses a trip to Etosha National Park, then it’s important to note that the best time for game sightings is usually between June and October.