After our second day in Etosha, Giulia and I made our way out of the park and found a place to stay in Tsumeb, a quiet little town to the east of Etosha.
The next morning, I dropped Giulia off at the local bus rank, and she was off to a small town in northwest Etosha to spend a few days with a local tribe there.
I headed southwest toward Swakopmund, the second largest city in Namibia. I had heard so much about the Skeleton Coast, I really wanted to catch at least a portion of it on my way to Swakop. So instead of taking the main highway to Swakop, I cut off from the tar road and made my way to a small town on the Skeleton Coast north of Swakop named Hentiesbaii. The highway to get there was 122 kilometers (75 miles) of groomed dirt road. In the hour or so I drove the road, I passed no one. The flat, arid environment made me hope I would not be stranded out there if my car broke down.
A whole lotta nothing on my way to the Skeleton Coast
I finally emerged from the desert and arrived on the famous Skeleton Coast. This stretch of highway is one of the most remote routes in the world. The road at this point is made of salt, which made for a smoother driving surface than the dirt road I had just been traveling, though travel resources I had read said that in rain or dense fog, the salt road can be as slippery as driving on ice. Fortunately, it was a bright, clear day for me.
The Skeleton Coast gets its name from the high number of whale skeletons that were found along the coast when it was first discovered by Europeans many years ago. It’s moniker has been enhanced as many ships have ended up being wrecked on the coast due to its dense fog and dangerous currents and shoreline.
Per HeniesBayTourism.com, “The Skeleton Coast is one of the most treacherous coastlines in the world due to strong crosscurrents, heavy swells and dense fogs caused by the ice-cold fast-flowing Benguela Current. Rocky reefs and sand dunes that stretch into the sea spell disaster for any vessel that get caught up in the gale-force winds and all-enveloping sea fogs, reducing visibility to virtually nil.”
I had the opportunity to see one of the wrecks as I was driving from Hentiesbaii to Swakop. The Zeila is only 50 yards from the shoreline, but has been languishing there since it wrecked eight years ago in 2008.
When I was in Tsumeb, I stopped at a convenience store and discovered an energy drink called “Skull”. What better way to celebrate my arrival on the Skeleton Coast?
I eventually got to Swakopmund just as the sun was setting, a long day now in my rear view mirror.