The Skeleton Coast
We enter the Skeleton Coast National Park through the Springbokwasser Gate, it is located several kilometers inland and, in spite of the whale bones used as entrance decoration, the ocean cannot be seen, only in the distance it is seen the fog that hangs on the coast.
After paying for the entrance fee and requesting some information from the ranger, we are ready to explore the park, that despite the extremely inhospitable environment, offers shelter and home to many animal species, including a bunch of lions that have adapted to live on the desert coast; we already know that it's almost impossible to take a picture of a lioness on the beach with the ocean as a background, but hope, as you know, is the last to die. (spoiler: we did not see them)
The road runs in the direction of the ocean, crossing incredible landscapes, ancient mountains that crumble as a result of weathering and that over the millennia will become sand.
The goal, represented by the ocean, pushes to run, but in this way we would lose amazing views; the limit of 40 km / h, as well as allowing you to travel safely, guarantees the opportunity to enjoy the landscape, you cannot prevent yourself from stopping every now and then to immortalize this corner of Namibia.
The more you drive towards the coast and the more the granite hills become softer and sandier until they become sand dunes, sometimes golden sometimes whitish.
The scenery is unbelievable, the afternoon sun is hot and it sweeps away the fog, however, floating above the swirling waters of the ocean, waiting for the sunset to swallow the coast and the dunes.
Fog is the creature of life in this coastal desert, the moisture that sits on the ground provides enough water to shrubs and animals to survive.
And then let's face it, the fog helps to create the tether, mysterious, fascinating and dangerous atmosphere of the Skeleton Coast, if it was always shining in the sun, perhaps this coastal stretch would incur less terror.
When we get close to the Atlantic Ocean we take the coastal road that runs slightly inside, but it gives glimpses of fascinating beaches; you need to pay close attention to driving, the road is made up of sand and compacted salt that, with the fog moisture, becomes dangerously slippery.
Some lagoons and waterholes give unexpected green and life stains, here you will find water birds and small antelopes looking for water.
The water temperature of the Benguela stream makes this stretch of African coast a fishing spot and on weekends you can meet many fishermen from the nearby Swakopmund.
It is easy to locate fishermen, they carry their long fishing rods on special supports mounted on the bumpers, they look like modern medieval knights with pears ready to face a duel.
Exploring the coast, you meet the skeletons of old ships wrecked, the wreckage riddled, and devoured by rust, recall how these waters may have been insidious because of the strong currents, the impetuous winds and the sand banks, transported to the water from the inside, that lay down offshore; these banks are not easily identifiable and are not even reported by any nautical chart.
After staying at Terrace Bay, where we spent the night, the next morning we drive across the track leading to Swakopmund up to the Ugab Gate.
Once we get out of the park, we get off the car to photograph the entrance gate, made with two big skulls, alerting travelers who intend to go into the Skeleton Coast, they are approaching a place to beware.
Here too are numerous whale bones, they are impressive by their size, we look at the ocean with the binoculars but we do not see any cetaceans on the horizon.
We leave again heading South, here the landscape is more monotonous and the straight road does not create any particular driving emotions.
Left the Skeleton Coast park you immediately enter the Dorob National Park, famous for the immense sea lions colony that finds shelter at Cape Cross.
We take a short break to watch these cute animals close by, they are so many, mostly sleeping on the beach, resting from the hunting in the morning, but there are many who dive into the cold waters or return to shore for a well-deserved rest.
They are lousy and funny animals, some puppies take milk from their mothers while others are looking for a place to rest, passing over other specimens who are sleeping, thus triggering reactions that are sometimes not very friendly.
After saying goodbye to the noisy sea lions we continue in the direction of Swakop, there is a wreck we want to see, it is an Angolan fishing boat that stranded a few years ago a few tens of meters from the shore; today this boat has become an artificial island where numerous African darters have built their nest.
A perfect retreat, away from predators and humans, and a great place to get food, an unexpected gift!
Today ends in Swakopmund, a town that seems to have been teleported here from Germany, compared to a few years ago it has definitely improved and has numerous bars, restaurants and good hotels as well as numerous good-value souvenir shops.
Our beautiful, brand new campsite is located just outside the center, where we will return tonight to dine in a typical brewery, an evening worthy of the Oktoberfest but 8,000 km away from Munich.
Skeleton Coast - Photo Credits: Romina Facchi