Saturday, March 6, 2010

Namibia's Skeleton Coast - The Gates Of Hell

Photo Credits: Unknown

The Skeleton Coast (German: Skelettküste) is the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia and south of Angola from the Kunene River south to the Swakop River, although it is sometimes used to describe the entire Namib Desert coast.

The San people of the Namibian interior called it 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 10mm annually (.39 inches) and the climate is inhospitable.

There is a constant, heavy surf on the beaches. In the days of human-powered boats it was possible to get ashore through the surf but impossible to launch from the shore. The coast is named for the bleached whale and seal bones which covered the shore when the whaling industry was still active, as well as the skeletal shipwrecks caused by rocks offshore in the fog.

More than a thousand vessels of various sizes and areas litter the coast. Notable wrecks in the region include the Eduard Bohlen, the Otavi, the Dunedin Star, and Tong Taw.

Evidence of some human occupation, in the form of the Strandloper people in the past, is evidenced by shell middens of white mussels found in portions of the Skeleton Coast.

I've traveled along this coastline in a small fisheries research vessel many years ago but never been here in a vehicle.



  1. Looked like remnants of Planet of the Apes but very beautiful still.

    The ship was thrown onshore by the waves? Unbelievable.

  2. Hehe Fazlisa, yes it does look like a scene from Planet Of The Apes ...

    ... it appears that some of the wrecks are far inland now due to the shifting sands of the coastline ...

  3. It's hauntingly beautiful, and the photo's are magnificent ....

  4. Hey Lynda ... I'd like to visit this area someday ...

    I have a post prepared of a legendary rescue operation which took place here a few years ago ... I'll post it after awhile ...

  5. When I was finding out about your country a few weeks ago the images made this area looked so desolate and inhospitable. Apart from hardy tourists, anyone else go there?

  6. Dave, I don't really know much about that part of the country so I can't really give you an accurate answer ...

    ... I do believe however, that the area is more accessible now than it was a few years ago ...

  7. Hi, I followed the link from Lynda on Food fun farm in Tanzania. Stunning photography!I loved the road signs with tongue in cheek comments.

  8. Thanks for the visit and comment Peggy - glad you found a few laughs and hope you'll return ...

  9. heard of it but don't know much about it. Good selection of photos.
    Research vessel - that sounds interesting.

  10. Thanks lisleman - yeah, I was just a deckhand on a small wooden Fisheries Research vessel - that means I had to scrub the decks and do all the other dirty jobs - but I was young then and it was all an adventure ...

  11. Absolutely Breathtaking... another awesome post OneStonedCrow!