The Skeleton Coast

Trip Start May 20, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2011

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Where I stayed
Mile 108 Campsite

Flag of Namibia  ,
Saturday, August 13, 2011


Day : 444
Temperature : Cold, cold, cold!
Weather : Typical Skeleton Coast howling winds and freezing night time temperatures
A couple of hours north of Swakopmund lies the Cape Cross seal colony where tens of thousands of cape fur seals gather in great numbers for protection from both land and sea predators. For anyone who hasn't ever been close to a seal before, let me say that they absolutely stink! Approaching almost 100,000 seals almost requires a gas mask…but if you can manage to withstand the stench you are rewarded with a most incredible sight. Seals as far as the eye can see, grunting and barking, waddling up the beach and frolicking in the surf. It’s simply amazing.

We eventually drove on, heading further north to the isolated Mile 108 campsite… named because it is at 108 miles north of Swakopmund. Imagine a remote polar station surrounded be a desolate landscape with howling winds and freezing temperatures… you have the Mile 108 campsite.

We actually had a fantastic night. The fact that we were the only campers and we pitched our tent right on the beach only added to the atmosphere. We built a campfire and huddled around with blankets to keep warm whilst drinking wine and roasting marshmallow with melted Cadbury’s chocolate. We were kept entertained by a cute little yellow coloured mouse with huge ears which had absolutely no fear of humans and scurried around our feet looking for scraps of food.

Our tents were wedged down with huge boulders to stop them blowing away since the wind blew constantly all night long and the gusts buffeted the tents to such an extent that we weren’t sure that they’d still be standing the following morning. Thankfully, the tents had endured the night well and upon inspection in the morning everything was intact.

The next day we continued north again reaching the entrance to the Skeleton Coast Park within an hour.  At this point I have to quote from the LP and you will understand why when you see the pictures. "If hell has a coat of arms, it probably looks like entrance to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast Park".  It all fell into place and made sense the minute we approached the gates.

The  hostile and treacherous Skeleton Coast is world famous for it’s shipwrecks, harsh weather and of course it’s sand. Driving through here feels like you are at the end of the earth, this feeling is reinforced by the “Emergency Pack” that you are given when you get your transit permit. This brings me to an interesting point. The transit permit, available to those driving from Ubagmund to Sprinkbokwater (since accommodation was extremely limited and not available) is supposed to cost $80 Namibian per person, so you can imagine our surprise and suspicion when the guard at the office informed us that we could have a “free permit”.  Hmmmmm.  But then we were directed to some home made jewellery and it soon became clear. But we weren’t complaining. A nice little necklace for $50 Namibian as opposed to $180 Namibian plus $10 for the car!

After some hours we reached Terrace Bay campsite where we refuelled at the “fuel station” – see the photos for surely the most remote fuel station in the world! – grabbed some lunch, drove past the dunes and waved at a little Cessna plane (who waggled his wings back at us) which was no doubt taking tourists on a scenic flight over the coast.

We spotted many interesting birds, springbok and oryx on our drive, but we eventually we had to leave in order to make the exit gate before it shut.

Once again, only a few miles inland, the fog lifted and we were once more enjoying the blue skies, sunshine and warmer temperatures. We drove through some spectacular landscapes just as the sun was setting, stopping to take photos from time to time. African sunsets are most definitely the best in the world, I have no idea why…..but a great way to round of yet another fantastic day.
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