The Skeleton Coast

March 16, 2017

As I write I am sitting in darkness at a watering hole waiting for sunrise. We are camped all by ourselves on the outskirts of Etosha Park, – at “Johnnies Place”,  close but not yet bound by park rules.

As drives go, the Skeleton Coast must just blow the rest away. For over 300 k we drove along a salt road, with sand dunes on the right and an unbroken spectacular beach on the left, and that is only a small part of this mostly inaccessible coastline.

The Skeleton Coast – Salt Road


Within this desolation are a few shipwrecks, seals and the occasional table set up with salt crystals to take home, leave spare change please. The rusty abandoned oil rig fit right in.

There comes a time on this road when only permitted vehicles may pass. The permit is free but we need to register and pass through the narrow gate – I think to prevent large trucks or tour buses from entering.

The Ugab River is flowing to the ocean, a temporary river that will be our first obstacle. Ray takes a run at it, and in we go. We emerge on the other side, covered in mud. Are we having fun yet?

When we finally reach the end of the road, some enterprising family offers to wash our truck for us for $5. A line-up forms, as we’ve been criss-crossing paths all along with two other 4X4’s.

First giraffe

As we turn inland the road is again gravel and the terrain changes – to beautiful mountains. I cannot describe how beautiful and varied the scenery is. Suddenly a long neck sticks it’s head out of the trees. Our first giraffe, then our second, third and fourth.

This is the start of Himba territory. The Himba people cover their hair and faces with a mixture of mud and herbs to protect them from the sun. They wear very little clothing due to the heat. They have resisted modernization and fought to maintain their original culture. Unfortunately right here it has degraded to an uncomfortable tourist attraction. Further north I understand it’s different.

Our day ends in this little campsite – Palm something or other. It looked closed but we stopped anyway and soon the owner, John, came to see us. He rigged up the toilets and shower with water and took $20. We’ve parked at a watering hole. He said watch for lions – not as a warning, as a treat.

So that’s what I’m doing this morning in the dark, alone. Ray is still sleeping and I’m watching for lions.

Etosha Park

One Response to The Skeleton Coast

  1. Happy St Patrick’s Day

    Glen Naylor March 17, 2017 at 9:51 am Reply

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