Overview – Skeleton Coast NP

Anthony Ham
Expert
By Anthony Ham

Anthony is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guide to Kenya.

Anthony is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya.

Anthony is the author of the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya.

The Skeleton Coast is a windswept strip of desert covering almost 500km/310mi of Atlantic coast. This spooky park is often shrouded in fog and dust storms. Its name comes from the numerous shipwrecks lying on the shore. A big draw for visitors is the fascinating Cape fur seal colonies. The most visited colony being at Cape Cross, located to the south, between the park and the town of Swakopmund.

Best Time to Go October to March (Warmer nights and less fog)
High Season July to October (Busier and higher rates apply)
Size 16,390km² / 6,328mi²
Altitude 0-823m / 0-2,700ft

Pros and Cons

  • Interesting desert coastline environment
  • Big seal colonies
  • Off-the-beaten track wilderness destination
  • Excellent birding opportunities
  • Very remote and inaccessible
  • Low animal densities and little variety

Skeleton-Coast Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

The Skeleton Coast is not a prime wildlife destination. Most people who visit this area stop prior to reaching the national park at Cape Cross seal colony. Similar, less accessible colonies can be found inside the park, including a huge colony at Cape Fria further north. They attract scavengers like brown hyena and black-backed jackals. Other marine wildlife includes Heaviside's dolphin and green turtle.

Scenery

The park protects a narrow strip of barren desert coast. The conflict of temperatures where the sea meets the desert creates a layer of almost permanent fog, which makes the scenery even more mysterious. The fog gives life to more than 100 different species of lichen, which reveal a mosaic of colors and shapes when looked at closely.

Weather & Climate

The Skeleton Coast is subject to a dry winter (May to October), with minimal rainfall. The winter months are also characterized by cool winds blowing in from the west, and heavy fog, particularly in the morning. Summer (November to April) sees a continuation of the fog, though it diminishes slightly. There’s also increasing rainfall and warmer temperatures.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to head to the Skeleton Coast is when the climate is warmer, roughly from October to March. The fog is also not as heavy and the skies clear up after rain. You’re more likely to see wildlife at this time, as the chilly winds of the drier months tend to send animals scampering for cover.

Want to Visit Skeleton Coast NP?

Skeleton-Coast Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Cape fur seal colony’s on the skeleton coast
3/5

This very remote wilderness area stretches out over 500km of coastline. Because of the nature of this harsh, barren desert environment, big game is scarce, but desert-adapted wildlife like gemsbok and springbok can be spotted. If you’re...

Latest User Review
2/5

Miles of mist covered coast with nothing to see. Terrible weather. Boring