Why is it called the Skeleton Coast?

A rather threatening concept… associating the entire coastline with a skeletal formation. This was not done unknowingly though. The Namibian Bushman are said to have called the coastline ‘the land God made in anger’. Similarly, the Portuguese explorers referred to it as the ‘Gates of Hell’.

Rights to Paul van Schalkwyk

Rights to Paul van Schalkwyk

As Namibian citizens, we all know our little stretch of the Atlantic is not to be taken lightly.

With the cold Benguela current running so close to our coast line, pushing the cold air into the arid heat of our Namib Desert, what else can we expect? It is perfectly unique and therefore perfectly translates into pristinely Namibian.

Image: Pelican Point Kayaking

Image: Pelican Point Kayaking

As per its name, the coast is littered with a variety of skeletons, both animal and ship, and every now and again human. The coastline is known to be home of thousands of lost souls, one of the most prominent shipwrecks being the Dunedin Star.

"Namibia skeleton coast ship story"

Image: Namibia Tourism Board

A British liner that was beached by her captain in the 1940’s after apparently striking a reef. Another two ships were said to come to the Dunedin’s aid but sank in the process.

Image: Judy & Scott Hurd

Image: Judy & Scott Hurd

Every now and again the rough surf settles just long enough to reveal the ship’s sunken grave. And along the shore you will find the remains of the crewman whose last attempt was to bring the ship’s occupants ashore.

Rights to www.traveller.com.au

Image: www.traveller.com.au

Thousands of ships and lives have been claimed by this harsh coastline, but there is more to it than mere death and destruction.

Rights to www.namibiatourism.com.na

Image: www.namibiatourism.com.na

The almost 500km of barren wasteland is actually a Nature Park. And serves as the home to some remarkable creatures. As the park is laced with intersecting rivers, there is a fair chance of survival for those animals that have been able to adapt to the harsh environment.

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Image: freewheely.com

An entire colony of Cape fur seals can be found along a certain area of the coast. And yes, Elephants can also be found in the desert sand.

Rights to Luxury Safaris

Image: Luxury Safaris

When visiting the area you might also spot giraffes, lions, zebra, rhino and hyena. All these animals have found a way to survive in an area thought to be uninhabitable.

Rights to www.sunsafaris.com

Image: www.sunsafaris.com

The Skeleton Coast is also one of the only places in the world where one can experience the ‘roaring dunes’.

A unique combination of wind, air and sand cause a roaring sound that has been compared to that of a low flying plane. And of course one can never forget the remnants of the Diamond Mining town, Kolmanskop.

Rights to www.bbc.com

Kolmanskop – Image: www.bbc.com

 Kolmanskop - Rights to Judy & scott Hurd

Kolmanskop – Image; Judy & scott Hurd

This hard stretch of land may be referred to as the Skeleton Coast. However, realizing it as a treasure trove of natural and historic phenomena you cannot help but wonder maybe in this case ‘skeleton’ could be interpreted differently.

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Image: traveldigg.com

Some cultures believe that skeletons and particularly skulls are symbols of bravery and courage in the face of death and danger. This is the quality that should be attributed to the Skeleton Coast.

A place of harsh and drastic environments and yet a place of life and a place of preservation for what was once lost but won’t be forgotten.

Rights to nmnh.typepad.com

Image: nmnh.typepad.com

Most of the coastline is considered a Nature Park and you will need permits to gain access. Although a great place to use as a headquarters for your travels is The Delight Hotel in Swakopmund.

If you have any stories or information about the Skeleton Coast, we invite you to share them in the comment section below.

Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.

Jescey Visagie

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How to plan my trip to Namibia, Africa

Planning a trip to Namibia and you’re not a 100% sure of what you need? Say no more! We have got your back, we can call it the hitchhiker’s guide to Namibia, but without the hitchhiking. Let’s begin by saying that you can’t go wrong planning a trip to Namibia, it is safe, politically stable and has a fantastic road network to get you from point A to point B.

Namib Desert Lodge

To get started, you obviously need a valid passport, just as you would when travelling to any country. What you don’t necessarily need is a Visa.You can travel in the country for up to 90 days without a Visa, however if you’re planning on staying longer you can get one in Windhoek. Most countries’ citizens do not need a visa, however a small unfortunate bunch do, you can check out which countries these are here. Then go ahead and plan your trip!

Namibian Passport - Image: Embassy of Namibia

Namibian Passport – Image: Embassy of Namibia

Fundamental to any trip is arranging accommodation, you could risk traveling and only worrying about it once you arrive…but we would not suggest the anxiety that would come with it. No, no, it’s much safer to book ahead of time and know you have a place to settle every night. If you’re travelling with a tour, this has probably been arranged for you but if not there is a variety of accommodation to choose from. A good example of great hospitality is the Gondwana Collection, that offers fourteen lodges and a hotel to choose from, and you will not be disappointed with any of your choices. The lodges are also located close to major sights and things to see in the country, ideally accommodating if you ask me. And you can book online!

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If you have decided to drive to the gem of Africa, fret not about routes and directions as the roads leading into the country are pretty much dead straight and there are border posts all over the place. If our reassurances are not enough, you can see a list of all the border posts and where they are located here. Next order of business, flights.Flights to foreign places are rarely short, and flights to Namibia are no different as the flight from Frankfurt to Windhoek usually lasts ten hours.International flights generally land at the Hosea Kutako International Airport, but if you’re flying in from Johannesburg, South Africa you could also land at the Walvis Bay Airport, which will get you straight to the coast with access to Swakopmund and the Skeleton Coast.

Flights - Image: Commons.wikimedia.org

Flights – Image: Commons.wikimedia.org

Once you’ve arrived – especially if you are travelling on your own– you will need transportation. Namibia has a lot of land to cover and you do not want to be stuck in one place and miss out because you did not arrange transport.Hiring a car can be simple and painless and done from the comfort of your own home. If you’re looking to hire luxurious travel-transport, look no further than Africa-on-wheels. If you want to get something a little more practical, Savanna-car-hire will work for you.

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Important! Namibia is a beautiful country but is generally arid, this means extra hot in summer and super cold in winter. In summer temperatures can easily reach 40° C and higher, and in winter they can plummet to 0°C just as quickly. It is really important to pack strategically, as a timid 6°C in Namibia can feel a lot colder than it would in Europe or elsewhere. Even in summer, once the sun sets you may need something to keep you snug as a bug if you’re planning on spending the evenings outdoors. And never venture into the desert without a jacket. You may have experienced colder weather with regards to degrees, but Namibian cold has a way of sneaking up on you.

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Money problems…well it doesn’t need to be a problem. If you’re traveling from or via South Africa, Namibia accepts South African Rands, the same cannot be said of South Africa so please keep that in mind. Furthermore Visa and Mastercard are generally accepted throughout the country but the machines are not always accessible, so we would advise carrying cash. Keep in mind that credit cards are not accepted at service stations, remember to carry cash on you for this purpose as well.

Now that the travel arrangements have been made, go and get a bottle of sunscreen!The African sun is no joke and you do not want to be a victim of sunburn. It may also be a good idea to get a pair of sunglasses and a hat, to keep the sunny glare from your eyes, these make spotting wild animals a whole lot easier.

Sunscreen, glasses and hat - Image: www.winnetworkdetroit.

Sunscreen, glasses and hat – Image: www.winnetworkdetroit.org

Something that will never be left unused and is a good thing to keep handy too, is a pair of comfortable walking shoes.It does not need to be an expensive pair of hiking boots that weigh about half a ton each, although if you’re planning on hiking a lot, please do invest in a pair of hiking boots and make sure they have been broken in well before you leave for your trip. However, for the glampers a good sturdy pair of trainers – or even tennis shoes – is all you need. Rationally speaking, you will be walking at least a few kilometres during your stay, and you will need comfortable shoes. And remember a camera! You don’t want to miss out on any of the fantastic photo-opp’s that will be coming your way. Namibia also offers cell phone coverage, all you need to do is buy a sim card at any local service station and you can share your Namibian experience online!

namib desert

And then, once you’ve arrived sit back and remember these words: Have fun! Enjoy every single second of the experience, the people, the sights, sounds and smells. Because nothing on earth is quite like Namibia.

Elephant by Hentie Burger

Elephant by Hentie Burger

There are other travel tips that are worth considering, and of course it would be a good idea to know who to call, in what kind of crisis…we made you a list!

Have you been to Namibia? We invite you to share your experience with us in the comment-section below.

Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.

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Top 10 extreme activities to enjoy in Namibia!

Here are our Top 10 extreme activities to enjoy in Namibia

For those of you who thought Namibia was about enjoying the vast landscapes and the incredible nature….You are completely right! BUT, there are more action filled ways to take in the scenery if you are not one for long drives and relaxing walks.

Here is a compilation of the 10 most fun packed, action filled extreme activitites in which to feel closer to Namibia’s nature and making memorable stories to tell your friends about!

We will start with the activities that are mostly done at the coast of Swakopmund, which include activities in the Atlantic Ocean as well as in the Namib Desert Dunes.
Namibia boasts with some of the most epic waves any coast has to offer, this has not only animated the local youth to engage in the delicate sport of surfing, but also attracts many tourists to the Skeleton Coast each year.

Kite surfing is one of the more unique forms of surfing found at the Namibian coast and due to the unpredictable nature of the winds, an absolute adventure and delight.

Kite surfing in Namibia

Kite surfing in Namibia

While driving from Swakopmund to the small harbour town Walvisbay, you will find not only the scenery of the Atlantic ocean meeting the Namib Desert dunes alluring, but also the fellas on the dunes to your left, vigorouosly climbing the dunes with their parachutes, with the intention of catching a great sweep of wind that will carry them over the dunes for a breathtaking view of the dunes and the sea. This sport is called paragliding and is not only good for your fitness ( climbing up those dunes) but also the closest experience you can get to being a bird and feeling absolutely free.

Paragliding Swakopmund

Paragliding. Photo : www.somak.com

Instead of the traditional walk on the beach at sunset, try imagining yourself whizzing through the air into the sunset, at aprox. 45km/h, the only thing on your mind the stunning backdrop of cascading orange and red lights framing the sun as it sinks into the sea. Microlights are the most elegant way of combining an action trip with the ability to soak up the picture perfect landscapes from the top.

Microloghting Swakopmund. Photo : Judy and Scott Hurd

Microloghting Swakopmund. Photo : Judy and Scott Hurd

If you prefer even higher grounds, a tandem jump from a plane at 3000ft might be the adrenaline rush you are looking for. There is no more invigorating feeling than the feel of the wind in your hair…. And the clattering of your teeth.

Skydiving Swakopmund

Skydiving Swakopmund. Photo : tandemskydiveswakopmund.com

For those of you who prefer to stay on ground level, a quad biking tour through the dunes might just be the right type of action to combine speed and endurance. This is often combined with a dune boarding session which is exactly as the name states, boarding down the dunes at a high velocity and a  pretty much good chance of tumbling and receiving a mouthful of sand. But please be warned, both these activities come with the risk of finding dune sand on every inch of your body later.

Quadbiking Swakopmund

Quadbiking Swakopmund. Photo : barefoot-namibia.com

If you think by car is the only way to indulge in the immaculate setting of the Sossusvlei dunes, you are thoroughly mistaken. A scenic flight in a Cessna light aircraft should not only give you’re the best possible view of the immenseness that is Sossusvlei, but also catch up on you daily fill of adventure and action.

Sossusvlei Scenic Flight Landing

Dave and Jill Carroll landing in Sossusvlei after their scenic flight

 

For those of you afraid of heights…look away now…

Ziplining Namibia

Ziplining Namibia. Photo : booknamibia.com

This activity is called zip lining and is not for the faint hearted. Zip through the air at an approx. height of 50m to fill your lungs with fresh air and your body with a rapid and energizing rush.

Fish River Canyon Mule Trekking

Another way of being adventurous and extreme in Namibia is mule trekking through the Fish River Canyon. Your inner Indiana Jones will be enticed and thrilled with the extraordinary scenery and the challenges that come with trekking through the Canyon.

 

River Rafting

River Rafting. Photo : Where to stay

The Orange River at the southern border of Namibia offers a platform for an exciting activity like no other. River rafting is a great opportunity to not only get soaking wet, but have an amazing time while doing so.

The Delight Hotel will be opening it’s doors to their delightful and adventurous guests from the 1st of November 2015. Be sure to check out the Delight Hotel Swakopmund!

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AUTHOR : Katrin Doelp

 

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