Day trip along the Skeleton Coast of Namibia

We recently started our “close of service trip” which we hope will be even more fun than our second Great American Road Trip that kicked off our Peace Corps adventure more than two years ago. Our travels along the coast of Namibia, much of which is protected as national parks, were a great way to begin. We had visited the resort town of Swakopmund a few times during our service, but always on public transportation. This time we had a rental car for our ten day finale tour of southern Namibia so we could drive and stop anywhere we wanted along the way. Due to the long distance between our site of Rundu in Kavango Region and the south, we never got to explore much of this scarcely-populated but fascinating part of the country.

We camped again at Desert Sky Backpackers right in Swakopmund which is a great place for budget accommodation within a few blocks of restaurants and the beach. After a day to recover from the stresses of closing our Peace Corps service and saying good bye to close friends, we headed north on the coast towards Henties Bay, a much smaller town. It was a sleepy Sunday, we saw very few people and everything was closed. It felt like a ghost town or a movie set.

On the way north, we passed a shipwreck and mile after mile of treeless sand-covered landscape. North of Henties Bay, we stopped at Cape Cross which has a large cape fur seal colony. It is maintained by the Namibian government and a day pass is required, but the small fee is worth it. The thousands of seals there were very entertaining but also very noisy and smelly. Some photos of our day trip are below as well as a photo from when we passed just north of Walvis Bay on our way to Sossusvlei.

Skeleton Coast shipwreck

According to a very unofficial source – a guy hassling tourists to buy semi-precious gemstones – this wreck occurred in 2008. Cormorants are using the ship as a staging point for their fishing.

Cape cormorant

Cape Cormorant. A new cormorant! This all-black bird is sadly classified as threatened but there seemed to be healthy populations along the coast near Swakopmund.

Cape cross

A cross on Cape Cross. A replica marker for a Portuguese explorer who claimed this coastline in 1488.

cape cross seals

A small section of the cape fur seal colony. Thousands of seals live on this stretch of the rocky coast, fed by the many fish just offshore.

Cape Cross seals

The seals were fighting, basking in the sunshine and sleeping. Walkways provided a nice viewing area and a clear path through the outer reaches of the seal colony. This one had amazing whiskers.

Cape Cross seals

It was very entertaining to watch the seals enter the ocean and return to shore as large waves crashed against the craggy shoreline. The seals in the water were mostly concentrated about 20 meters off of the beach, but they can swim much further out in search of fish. Due to prior over-fishing and the collapse of certain fish stocks, the seals have had to change their diet as human pressures have  altered even this very remote stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.

kelp gull

Kelp gull. Somehow this bird was able to hang out in the midst of all of the chaos, noise and smells of the seals and even posed nicely for a picture.

Walvis Bay ships

These red ships were striking against the blue-green calm water of this area just north of Walvis Bay, the major port city of Namibia.

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1 Comment

Filed under Close of Service Trip

One response to “Day trip along the Skeleton Coast of Namibia

  1. Nice! I love to read your stores! It makes me wanne go there to!

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