Sunday, April 10, 2016

Namibia: The Skeleton Coast

Other Posts: Trip Overview, Little Kulala Lodge, Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, Sesriem Canyon And Scenic Flight, Swakopmund Sandboarding, Walvis Bay Dune & Sea Tour, Doro Nawas Camp, Damarland Sites, Damaraland Living Village Song, Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

When setting our trip itinerary we knew this event was going to be the highlight: visiting the Skeleton Coast. Holly had read some novels about the area and has always been intrigued by the shipwreck-lined shoreline.

Per Wikipedia: The Bushmen of the Namibian interior called the region "The Land God Made in Anger", while Portugues sailors once referred to it as "The Gates of Hell".
Papa G (our guide) told us our 70k ride would be between 4-5 hours, depending on the sites along the way. We were teamed up with the NY newlyweds and a couple from Germany that were a few years older than us and whom had visited Namibia before.
One of the more amazing aspects of the trip was the change in scenery along the way. We went from mountain-filled backgrounds to sand-filled deserts and foliage began to disappear.

We lucked into some early sightings: a few giraffes, an elephant (Charlie - named after a guide), jackal, and the ever-present oryx.

At points the terrain shifts to resemble something from NASA lunar lander film.

We moved into a sandy area with a couple of dunes and wound up getting the jeep stuck. Everybody out! Little did we know that around the corner was a lioness enjoying some morning shade.

We approached the top of a dune and got another "everybody out" call from Papa G. Instead of driving down the dune (been there, done that) Papa G had us slide down on our butts. We were able to make the dune roar, which is always cool. Papa G ran back up and brought the jeep down to us.

We made it to the coast! The sea was rough! The shore at our stopping point was lined with smooth stones. Nearby was a small pond where flamingos and commerants were hanging out.

The not-so good-looking green foam
Now it was time for the smells. Specifically Cape Fur Seals smell. We've seen lots of seals in one place before, but nothing compared to this. We ended up spending about an hour watching a colony of about 10,000 seals. Many of them were pups. We were within 20 ft of one giving birth. We were hoping to witness the miracle of birth, but it was going to be a while.

We could not help ourselves here

If this wasn't exciting enough, a jackal starts to lurk around. He's looking for food and seal babies are easy-pickings around here. We watched in anticipation as he wandered from baby-to-baby sniffing them. Papa G assured us he would only take a dead one. Phew! We have since come to learn PAPA G LIED! We watched a Natgeo show on Namibia and the jackals do kill and eat the seal pups. In the end the jackal just left the area.

We had one more stop before lunch: The Skeleton Coast Museum. What a weird place this was! Inside a trailer was a display of crap that washed ashore, a map of the wrecks, skulls and bones from animals (and humans), lion fetuses in jars, a bug display, and other random items. There was an "honor" souvenir box. If we brought cash Dave would have bought a friend he pulled for Secret Santa a wallet made of seal fur for $10. Count your blessings Rich.

Finally it was time for lunch. Unbeknownst to us, the camp sent a second jeep to setup our picnic by the sea. Papa G helped the other guide make the final preparations for our lunch. We enjoyed a variety of meats, cheeses, salads, breads, and fried chicken along with some beer and wine. While the guides cleaned up (we were not allowed to help much) we explored the wreck of the Suiderkus.

This baby seal was isolated from the rest of the seals. Hope he made it.
Luck was with us today and we were able to fly back to camp. It was a 20 minute flight. When we arrived at camp we had time to decompress and then gathered at 5:30 to watch The Vanishing Kings documentary. That night all the dining tables were pushed together and the entire camp ate together. This was the night the CNN crew arrived. They would experience the coast tour the next day and film it for an episode of Inside Africa. We've inserted that segment below and watching it is truly reliving the vacation. It's one thing to see the camp staff in a video (since they are always there) but to see the same tourists really puts you back there. We can peg the night of the staff singing as the day we left based on the guests present on the couches. Please check out their video since it will be better than whatever Dave throws together (sorry for the ad before the video - blame CNN).

The next post from Namibia (we know you are getting tired of them) will be from an epic day of game viewing at Hoanib; including almost getting lost.


  1. I would like to use your photo of the fur seal family in a book I am writing about the idea and practice of species. Is it yours or could you let me know who owns the copyright?

    Best wishes


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