The Skeleton Coast

Published on 23 October 2023 at 13:18

Today we set off from our wonderful hotel, the Strand Hotel, in Swakopmund. Swakopmund is a funky, german coastal town in between Sossusvlei and the Skeleton Coast. As we started our drive, our first stop was Cape Cross, the largest seal colony in Africa. We pulled up to a typical National Park office spot to pay for a day pass into the park. The friendly lady gave us our receipt, told us to stay on the path and don't touch the seals. As we pull up to the seal colony, Paul is the first to open his door. OMG, he yells, this is awful! The smell is so pungent our eyes are watering. Apparently the seals here have no predators, so they are accustomed to people. The first seal we saw was blocking the walkway between our car and the wooden path. We waited a few seconds and he finally moved out of our way. We didnt last long at the stink colony. The smell is a combo of lots of dead seals and seal poop. Oh, I forgot to mention where the name Skeleton Coast came from - all the dead seals and whales found on the shores. Also we learned because of the rough ocean conditions, dense fog that comes from cold, Atlantic ocean and hot desert sun it creates extremely difficult maritime conditions. We also learned that some of the sand in this area contains minerals that are magnetic- old school compasses were affected by these magnetic minerals creating total confusion along this coast. We saw several ship wrecks, an old oil rig, whale bones, tons of dead seals and many other interesting sites along this long, drive. 

After we turned off the coastal drive, we headed down a gravel road towards Darmarland. This is a dry, desert mountainous area that reminds us a lot of Arizona or Nevada. We also noticed several empty craft markets on the side of the road. The local families were selling stones, antlers, and other trinkets with an empty bucket to put the money inside. One of the notes I saw said, "Please be kind and don't steal from our family". Good faith as they call it. Take what you want and pay what you feel it's worth. 

The native language around here is a tribal language that contains a lot of tongue clink sounds. I'll try and get a video for a better understanding of this language. As we continued our drive, I noticed several giraffes on the side of the road. We stopped to look at them as they were relaxing in the small shaded trees. 

Over 8 hours later, no gas stations/food stops/bathrooms in between, we finally made it to our desert lodge. We have two huts about 150 feet apart. One for me and Paul and one for the boys. Not really sure how that is going to work when Nash needs to get water in the middle of the night. We were slightly annoyed our travel company booked us two huts when clearly we can only use one. One is massive -probably around 1,000 sq feet with 2 showers and a huge outdoor deck. Anyways, I'm getting off point. We are back in the hot, dry desert area heading North-west towards Etosha National Park. In this area we will go and search for the local rock drawings, meet the local tribes and maybe see some desert elephants. Crazy to go from around 48 degrees when we left our hotel to 92 degrees now!  

Old oil rig that washed up on shore. A jackel family now resides here

They used seal bones to make the skeleton - the boys were afraid they were human bones!

Gates to the skeleton coast

Whale pelvis bone

Last remains of a shipwreck

Another picture of the oil rig

Our drive from the skeleton coast to Damarland National Park

Local craft shops on the side of the road

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9 months ago

Looks like you got away from the stinky seal coast pretty quickly. xoxo

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