Sunday, 26 June 2016

ON THE ROAD SURPRISES - Part 6 - NAMIBIA'S SKELETON COAST

This week returns to my On the Road Surprises series.

I have written several articles, travel essays and short stories about Namibia - here is an edited extract from a published article about the Skeleton Coast:



Our journey continued to the Skeleton Coast; an area we were keen to see. We were booked for one night at Terrace Bay, the most northerly point visitors can drive to on the Skeleton Coast

The first thing you notice as you near the coast is the cloud bank.  The second is the sand dunes rolling into infinity.  We arrived at the stark t-junction.  If we turned south we'd eventually reach towns with restaurants and comfortable hotels.  Four vultures crouching by the roadside watched us.  We turned north.



 The air was damp, the sky overcast, the terrain forbidding.  Purple streaked sand dunes loomed on our right and the cold crashing waves of the Atlantic flanked us on our left.  We didn't encounter a single vehicle.

My husband spotted gulls landing on the shore, behind a ridge.  We decided to investigate.  Black-backed jackal and brown hyena (known as strandwolves) patrol the beaches here and we found their prints everywhere.  Perhaps we'd see a hyena on a kill.

Shivering in the chill wind, we cautiously topped the ridge, but there were no animals.  What we found instead were bones.  Hundreds of them.   The whale bones were the easiest to identify and we found an almost intact skeleton of a seal.  Along with the bones were millions of shells.



The Skeleton Coast is so named because of the shipwrecks, but it could equally be named thus for the literal skeletons strewn in abundance.
Even the ocean was conquered at this spot. Sludgy olive green waves fought their way through a carpet of glutinous kelp, to bubble weakly onto the shore. 

It felt like the most desolate place on earth, but possessed an eerie beauty.


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You can read one of my stories which was inspired by this experience HERE


I hope you enjoyed this week's post. See you next week for more On the Road Surprises.





33 comments:

  1. So well written... I need to go to the Namib... I need the desolate expanses... the open plains of the Namib and the Kalahari!
    I often say I'm a boy from the African plains and I need space! I need to experience that place again!;-)

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  2. Thank you, AJ. I agree with you - open, empty, desolate spaces where you can turn 360 degrees and see nothing but raw nature is wonderful to experience... and Namibia has it in droves.

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    1. By the bucket load... large excavator bucket load! ;-)

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  3. I could sing to my heart's content without disturbing anyone :)

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  4. What a place to explore! A haunting beautiful endless landscape. So intriguing.

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    1. Of all the places I've visited on this amazing planet of ours - The Skeleton Coast is right up there as one of the most extraordinary, Sue.

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  5. This place almost looks eerie as if the spirits of the long since dead are still there.

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    1. Yes, there's something other-worldly about it, Birgit.

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  6. What a strange place it must be to walk. The sea breeze might sound like the wailing of the wandering spirits of those creatures searching for the life they once led.

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    1. It was strange, Roland. On one walk we lost our way - slightly disturbingly - due to a lack of landmarks. I like your way of describing the sea breeze - very haunting and appropriate.

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  7. There was a book I read once called Skeletons on the Zahara, a true story, about 12 American sailors who were shipped wrecked there in the early 1800s and how they survived.

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    1. That sounds like an interesting book, Bish. It must have been a horrendous ordeal for anyone shipwrecked on that inhospitable coast.

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  8. Wow, this looks like a fascinating place to visit.

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    1. It certainly was fascinating. Where we stayed at Terrace Bay was pretty bleak and basic - a base for the hardcore fishing fraternity rather than your average tourist.

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  9. Yikes. That place sounds downright creepy.

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    1. I'd say it was more atmospheric than anything else. It was one of the strangest places I've ever visited and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. :)

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  10. That first photo looks like you could almost be on Mars. You didn't spot the Curiosity rover while you were there by any chance? ;-)

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    1. Ha ha - no, but if it had rolled out from behind a sand dune, I probably wouldn't have even blinked! :)

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  11. A haunting piece, Susan. I enjoyed it!

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  12. Thank you, Helen - very glad to know you enjoyed it. :)

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  13. Oh er! That really is a skeleton.

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    1. I seem to have been specialising in skeletons lately, Patsy!

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  14. It looks so eerie - did you see any ghosts? I think I might have done.

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  15. Ha ha - well it would have been easy to imagine ghosts that's for sure!

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  16. Oh my gosh, what a thrilling description. There is something so haunting and compelling to me about bleak and mysterious landscapes. I envy your adventure there!

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    1. Thank you, Kathleen. I agree - in many respects, a bleak landscape can be more compelling and interesting than a 'busy'one. :)

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  17. A place about which I have never heard before! The name itself is haunting and creepy, but still looking at the photographs, I would really wish to explore it myself someday!

    Srivi|The Piscean Me

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  18. How neat! I love locations that make you realize just how powerful nature is.

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    1. Thanks, Tracy - Namibia certainly excels in raw, powerful natural phenomena. :)

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  19. What an amazing and fascinating place. I'd heard of the skeleton but had no idea where it was, so thank you Susan!Thanks to you my must-see list is growing and growing!

    Visit Keith's Ramblings

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  20. He he - not sure if that's a compliment or a complaint, Keith! :)

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