Skeleton Coast and Kaokoland

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Skeleton Coast and Kaokoland

Overview
Activities and Highlights
Seasons
Region Map

Description

"There are a few truly isolated landscapes left in the world that captivates the imagination, filled with the atmosphere of the bizarre and at the same time can deem itself remarkable. Although exuding the essence of a barren yet eerie wilderness, Skeleton Coast is such an extraordinarily beautiful landscape. Situated on the western edge of Namibia and spanning almost 500km, Skeleton Coast’s magnificence revolves around its remote grave-like appeal.

The treacherous fog covered coastline has caused the demise of many foiled explorations and the numerous rustic shipwrecks are all that remain rested along the seashore. Bleached skeletal bones litters the white sanded beaches and harbours the memories of a bygone era when mighty whales and frolicking seals where hunted along the coastline.

Adjacent to Skeleton Coast lays the equally dramatic, mountainous landscape known as Kaokaland. This ancient land is home to the nomadic Himba tribe who still live according to their traditional values passed down from their ancestors. Tall and statuesque, the Himba tribe may be seen covered in a mixture of red ochre and animal fat which causes a red copper tone which is applied to both their hair and skin as treatment and protection from the harsh African desert sun.

Visit the areas of Skeleton Coast and Kaokaland, and experience a land that is undoubtedly filled with the solitude of the wilderness, mysterious rustic relics, ancient culture and barren splendour."

Access Details

The areas of Skeleton Coast and Kaokoland are accessed by light aircraft from the country’s capital, Windhoek. It is possible to drive into the Kaokaland but distances are vast and your vehicle needs to be well equipped and drivers need to be experienced to handle extreme off road conditions.

Suggested Stay Details

Fly-n safaris range from 3, 4 or even 5 night packages. If you wish to explore the area during a self-drive, we suggest no less than 7 nights.

Type of Experience

"The relentless and dramatic coastline stretching 500 km north of Swakopmund is littered with the eerie wrecks of numerous ships, the ghostly skeletal remains of whales and other sea life from the bygone days of whaling and seal hunting.

Most of the area can only be reached by flying in by light aircraft, an experience that provides breathtaking views of this expansive landscape. Anyone attempting to drive into the area needs to be highly experienced and properly equipped, usually accompanied by a local guide as there is a great danger of getting lost and stranded.

Animals to look out for along Skeleton Coast include the spotted hyena, the elusive Brown Hyena and black-backed jackals scavenging on anything that gets washed onto the beach. In the Kaokoland area particularly, travelers can view the desert elephant and desert rhino and well as observing Oryx (gembok) around the Hartmanns Valley and Marienfluss.

From Skeleton Coast Camp, guests explore the area by landrover, discovering the seal colonies, exploring ancient canyons, finding wildlife and enjoying picnic lunches. Travelers will also be able to have a cultural interaction when encountering the nomadic Himba tribesmen who adorn themselves with red ocre mixed with animal fats. In the nortern regions of Kaokoland along the Kunene river, travelers can do boat trips in the crocodile infested rivers, go fishing or have fun quad biking over towering dunes and rocky outcrops.

TRIBAL ALLURE: Descendents of the Herero Herders, the Himba tribes are seen as traditional, maintaining their ancient believe and ways of life. Adorned in nothing but goatskins and jewellery fashioned from leather, metal and shells; the Himba tribe’s people have been referred to as the most beautiful in sub-Saharan Africa. Visit their nomadic villages and experience the ancient culture of the Himba tribe. "

Infrastructure

The area is a barren wilderness will limit roads and transport structures. Although isolated, the safari lodges are modern and adds a hint of grace to an inhospitable landscape.

Geography

Skeleton Coast is a coastal area bordered by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Inland, the desert dunes cover the vast expanse of landscapes. Stretching from Skeleton Coast to the north western Kaokoland, the area consists of rugged mountains and many rivers which course through the areas.

History

Initially, the area of Kaokoland was inhabited by the Ovambo, Nama and Herero people. In 1884, Kaokoland formed part of what was known as German South-West Africa. As a result of Germanian rule, the Herero people assimilated to a large extent, leaving behind traditional customs and their nomadic lifestyles.

South Africa was granted permission to treat Namibia as one of its provinces after World War I. Consequently, Namibia too faced injustice in the form of Apartheid and was the home of Bantustan districts. Kaokoland was thus established initially as a Bantustan to cater to the needs of the Himba people.

Activities & Highlights

"WILDLIFE: Although a barren landscape, Skeleton Coastline and Kaokoland are home to unique ecosystems. Well adapted mammals such as the Desert Elephant may be seen roaming the mighty desert sand dunes. Lions scour the landscape, as well as spotted and brown hyena, black-backed jackals and the endangered black rhino. Hundreds of cape fur seals can be seen at Cape Frio and about 250 species of birds have been recorded in the confines of Skeleton Coast Park.

Plants such as the Elephant’s Foot, lithops and Welwitschia are found in these arid regions too. The Keep a look out for the Gerrhosaurus skoogi, an endemic armour-plated lizard, as it prowls the desert sand dunes. The coastline is frequented by endemic Benguela dolphins, killer whales and humpback whales.

PHOTOGRAPHY: As a strange, isolate wilderness, Skeleton Coast and its surrounding areas are ideal as photographic subjects. The many wrecked ships which litter the shoreline add an air of mystery while the ever-changing landscape of mighty sand dunes contrasts dramatically beside the ever-present surf of the ocean.

Endemic wildlife and odd creatures resembling those of prehistoric times are worth the hunt and offer a rather thrilling experience. The myriad of colours which carpet the lichen planes are another majestic sight to behold and this too would be of interest to many budding photographers.

FLY-IN SAFARIS: Experience the vast expanse of breathtaking views from above. Most of the area may be reached by light aircraft and the perspective from above will certainly add to the memorable flair of your Namibian vacation. Visit the Hoarusib clay castles or the large crystal blocks of Agate Mountain salt pans situated close to Skeleton Coast Park. View the mighty sand dunes of the Namibian desert and experience the vast isolation that envelopes the landscape.

MOUNTANOUS SPLENDOUR: Kaokoland is surrounded by mountainous landscapes such as the Baynes, Otjihipa and Hartmann Mountains. The area is bordered by the Haonib River and Kunene River and has a number of waterfalls which glistens and offers the visitor a glimpse into the nature’s splendour. Fishing, boat trips and quad biking are all on offer."



Season Travel Details

Skeleton Coast and Kaokoland both experience the harsh arid climate of the Namibian desert. Summer months are from October to May with a few light rain showers. Winter is generally from May to September and during this time, the area is covered in afternoon fog which lasts until the morning hours. During this time, nights become very cold.

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