The Skeleton Coast begins just north of Swakopmund and runs roughly 200 km to the Ugab River and the start of the Skeleton Coast National Park, and then another 500 km to the Angolan border. As you drive north, the featureless coastline is marked off in miles from Swakopmund – Mile 28 fishing area, Mile 72 campsite, etc. The first 124 miles to the Ugab River Gate, pass one fishing spot after another and the main road hugs the coastline, with sand and stone 4x4 tracks running along the beach. Once you enter the Skeleton Coast National Park it’s not permitted to drive on the beach, although there are still a few designated fishing spots and viewpoints. Rusting shipwrecks and sun-bleached animal skeletons litter the shoreline, giving the coast its evocative name.
Highlights of the region
Fishing and shipwreck hunting are the two main activates along The Skeleton Coast. Most of the many hundreds of shipwrecks have already been completely destroyed, leaving only a few dwindling hulks still visible. Cape Cross Lodge and St Nowhere Spa and Campsite have the best accommodation south of the Ugab River, and there’s camping at Torra Bay and chalets at Terrace Bay, which is the furthest north you can drive without a guide.
Practical + driving advice about the region
Thick morning fog is common year-round, but it tends to be thinner, and lift earlier, during the summer months from October to February. The C34 from Swakopmund to the Ugab River is surfaced with compacted salt and sand, known as a ‘salt road’. It’s smooth and even, but can get slippery in the fog. Inside the Skeleton Coast National Park, the road becomes gravel, strewn with sharp stones. You can transit through the park between the Ugab River and Springbokwasser gates without paying any entrance fees, but you then won’t be able to visit Torra or Terrace Bay, or stay overnight in the park.
Most travellers opt for booking a rental with 4x4 hire Namibia to accommodate their travel plans.