The Skeleton Coast

The author walking on the Skeleton Coast, which is named for the whale bones and shipwrecks that litter its beaches. Credit: Kris Szymborski The author walking on the Skeleton Coast, which is named for the whale bones and shipwrecks that litter its beaches. Credit: Kris Szymborski

The Skeleton Coast, part of the Namib Desert, is named for the whale bones and the hundreds of broken ships that litter its beaches. Many a sailor lost his life after being run aground in the Skeleton Coast’s thick fog. Those who made it to land often succumbed to starvation and exposure in the coast’s harsh climate. 

The fog and cold winds are caused by the frigid Benguela current from Antarctica. The landscape in the park is the most otherworldly in all of Namibia: a pale, dead flat coastline interrupted by scattered rocky outcrops and lined with arc-shaped barchan dunes. Unlike the star dunes near Sossusvlei in Namib-Naukluft National Park, barchan dunes are unstable and mobile, with two horns facing downwind, the direction in which they move. 

The beaches around Möwe Bay shine with multicolored, wave-smoothed gemstones. Semi-precious stones such as red and maroon garnets, agate, amethysts, magnetite, ilmenite and carnelians dot the sand.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 - 06:00