Visiting the Skeleton Coast
Namibia’s Skeleton Coast of is a bleak beige shoreline battered by Atlantic rollers on one side and blasted by 2,000 miles of the Namib Desert on the other. Due to strong onshore currents and a dense fog created by the cold Atlantic waters mixing with the desert heat, the coast is littered with the bones of animals and also of hundreds of ships that blew ashore on this stretch, never to leave.
At the south end of the coast and a couple of hours north of Swakopmund is the Cape Cross seal colony, a seething, smelly, screeching, barking, squabbling mass of between 100, 000 and 200, 000 seals. At a distance looking like a writhing mass of giant slugs and up close smelling like last week’s dog vomit, the seals are, nevertheless socially fascinating and worth a trip if you like to see wildlife up close and personal.
The combination of cold Atlantic waters and hot Namib Desert make heavy sea mist stretching up to a few kilometres inland in this area a common event, especially mornings. Africa’s Skeleton Coast generally does not offer a lot of sights apart from this seal colony – it’s just incredibly bleak and sandy, with the occasional salt road to break the monotony.
There is a costly, pleasant hotel very near the colony but a day trip from Swakopmund is not too strenuous.