In a remote area of the Kaokoveld, with gravel-strewn plains and dry riverbeds that draw fascinating wildlife, lies Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp. Explorations of this isolated yet diverse area take place via game drives along the riverbed’s narrow ribbon of vegetation, where a surprising wealth of desert-adapted animals can be found, while the research centre provides further insights. The desolate Skeleton Coast with its shipwrecks and noisy colonies of Cape fur seals is accessed either by a fascinating drive or flight, depending on the weather.
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The Skeleton Coast is the northern part of the Atlantic coast of Namibia and south of Angola from the Kunene River south to the Swakop River, although the name is sometimes used to describe the entire Namib Desert coast. The Bushmen of the Namibian interior called the region "The Land God Made in Anger", while Portuguese sailors once referred to it as "The Gates of Hell".
On the coast, the upwelling of the cold Benguela current gives rise to dense ocean fogs (called cassimbo by the Angolans) for much of the year. The winds blow from land to sea, rainfall rarely exceeds 10 millimetres (0.39 in) annually and the climate is highly inhospitable. There is a constant, heavy surf on the beaches. In the days before engine-powered ships and boats, it was possible to get ashore through the surf but impossible to launch from the shore. The only way out was by going through a marsh hundreds of miles long and only accessible via a hot and arid desert.
Shipwreck Lodge is the only lodge inside the Skeleton Coast National Park, 45km north of Mowe Bay, on the mouth of the Hoarusib River. The area contains irreplaceable and vulnerable wildlife habitat for species of the highest conservation importance, including black rhino, elephant, black faced impala and the Hartmann’s mountain zebra.