A Captivating African Coastline Haunted by Shipwrecks
The Skeleton Coast of Namibia is situated on the Atlantic Ocean coast and stretches from the Swakop River north to the Kunene River. Few safari attractions are as evocative and atmospheric as the haunting Skeleton Coast. It is named after the skeletons of stranded whales which can be seen here and the many ships that sank here over the past few centuries. The rusted remains of wrecked ships are often surrounded by swirling mists and make for moody and dramatic visuals. The Skeleton Coast, now a protected nature area, is also home to the flourishing Cape Cross seal colony, one of the largest breeding colonies of Cape fur seals. Despite its hostile character, if you are lucky you can see several wild animals in the Skeleton Coast dunes including desert-adapted lions, elephants, brown hyena, black-backed jackal, giraffe and oryx.
View A Massive Fur Seal Colony at Cape Cross
Today, you can see up to 300 000 fur seals at the Cape Cross colony year-round. This is a noisy and smelly safari adventure but to observe so many in one place is a big attraction. Bull seals are at their fighting best toward the end of October and seal pups are usually born at the end of November or early December. Watch the drama of this breeding colony as they fill the beach up with young pups and lusty males. Lurking in the background are hungry jackals and other predators, ready to snatch a pup that has evaded the watchful eye of its mother. This is a very remote and interesting safari foray into the wilderness of dunes that characterise this exquisite landscape.
Luxury Scenic Flights Over a Graveyard of Ships
The best way to get a better sense of the vast size of the Skeleton Coast is to take to the sky for a scenic flight, either in a helicopter or small fixed-wing aircraft. These flights can be arranged from Swakopmund, Sossusvlei or any of the local lodge airstrips. The flight takes you over the Moon Landscape, along the Swakop, Khan and Kuiseb River. You will pass over the shifting sand dunes, the Cape fur seals and a couple of century-old shipwrecks up to Sandwich Harbour, a Ramsar wetland of international importance. Time is also spent flying over Walvis Bay and its salt mines which attracts thousands of birds.
See Rare Desert-Adapted Wildlife
The Skeleton Coast is a safari destination known for its extraordinary landscapes and wildlife sightings are rare – but when do you spot something, it is a magical experience. First up are the desert-adapted elephant, digging deep beneath the sand for the last vestiges of water. Then, making use of the wells left behind by the pachyderms are oryx, giraffe and perhaps even lions or brown hyaena, but sightings are rare. There are also thousands of plants and insects that flourish in the sand, surviving from the moisture of the cold fog that drifts inland from the ocean. Birdlife is also prolific, in the desert and along the coast, so don’t forget your binoculars.
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