The Skeleton Coast National Park is part of the Namib Desert - considered the oldest desert on Earth – which runs along more than one third of the length of Namibia protecting the coast line running south from the very north near Angola. The landscape includes sand dunes, canyons and mountain ranges as well as boasting some of the most inaccessible coastline in the world. Dotted with shipwrecks (one of the reasons behind its name) as well as a very special seal colony – which competitors of the Namib Race (Namibia) will run through.
Competitors of the Namib Race (Namibia) gain access to parts of the Skeleton Coast National Park that a regular visitor might only dream of. The general public may be given permission to enter to see a couple of shipwrecks, only to have to drive straight out again, but if you want to get up close and personal with the myriad wildlife and plants that thrive in this seemingly inhospitable part of the world, this can only be done as part of the Namib Race (Namibia).
The original reason behind it’s name “Skeleton Coast” came from the bones that lined the beaches from whaling operations and seal hunts - but more than a few of the skeletons were human. These were mainly from sailors from the ship wrecks walking for hundreds of kilometres through this barren Namibian landscape in search of food and water. The ship wrecks on this coast were mainly because of it’s off-shore rocks, running aground in the blinding fog. While small boats could land, the strong surf made it impossible to launch.
The Bushmen called it The Land God Made in Anger and the Portuguese knew it as The Gates of Hell.
With its cool, almost constant sea breeze, often engulfed in sea mists it provides perfect conditions for running, especially if you love beaches.
Don’t be fooled though, you’ll soon head inland – still in the Skeleton Coast National Park - and run along a magnificent riverbed where the vast openness, silence and purity of the landscape will envelop you. Away from the coastal breezes, here the temperatures rise. You’ll traverse a sandy gravel plain by the dry Ugab riverbed, near the lichen fields that feed from the fog, and head through colourful valleys between distant but ever-present red mountain domes. The sheer vastness is often overwhelming, but with regular checkpoints, our own little temporary oases, providing water and a short reprieve from the sheer vastness and sandy desert heat.
You’ll pass alongside incredible rock formations, with one campsite set amongst the purple stones of the Huab River. You’ll experience shining, crystallised, white salt flats, which are magnificent in their seeming endlessness.
Then you will enter the famous dunes of the Namib Desert. Starting very small, they grow visibly larger as you walk amongst them, until you climb to the top of one and walk along its ridge for a fantastic views. You’ll be surrounded by dunes, which are all part of the belt of shifting dunes that starts near Torra Bay and extends several hundred kilometres north up to the border with Angola.