The Skeleton Coast Park remains one of the world’s last great wildernesses: harsh, still not completely explored, definitely untamed and extraordinarily beautiful. Proclaimed in its present form in 1971, the park extends from the Ugab River in the south for 311 miles to the Kunene River in the north, covering an area of 6,503 square miles. It protects about one third of Namibia’s coastline.
The landscape in the park ranges from sweeping vistas of windswept dunes to rugged canyons with walls of richly colored volcanic rock and extensive mountain ranges. Over a hundred species of lichen grow on the plains and west-facing mountain slopes, changing color and becoming soft and leathery to the touch when the coastal fog generated by the cold Benguela Current pushes inland.
Animals occurring on the plains are gemsbok, springbok, jackal, ostrich and brown hyena, while desert-adapted elephant and even black rhino, lion and giraffe roam up and down the dry river courses. Of special interest are the clay castles of the Hoarusib, the saltpans near the Agate Mountain and the seal colony at Cape Frio.
Accommodation in the park is provided in a rest camp at Terrace Bay, previously a diamond-mining settlement, at the Torra Bay camping site, open only from 1 December to 31 January, and two private tourism concessions also operate within the Skeleton Coast Park.
A day permit to drive directly through the southern region of the park is obtainable from the Ministry of Environment & Tourism Office in Swakopmund, as well as at the Ugab and Springbokwasser gates.