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CAPE CROSS, SKELETON COAST, NAMIBIA. Diogo Cão landed on this rocky outcrop in January 1486 and and erected a Padrão. Also home to the largest Cape Fur Seal Colony.


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Cape Cross Namibia

Diogo Cão landed on this rocky outcrop in January 1486 and and erected a Padrão. Also home to the largest Cape Fur Seal Colony.



Cape Cross and the Skeleton Coast Road C34

C34 salt road

Cape Cross Two Replica Crosses

Two replica crosses at Cape Cross


Cape Cross and the  Diogo Cão Exploration.

This is the desolate and remote rocky outcrop of land at latitude 26°47' South on which Diogo Cão the Portuguese Explorer Navigator erected a limestone Padrão (Cross) in January 1486. Thus marking the furthest point south that any European had been known to travel. The discoveries made on this voyage were the foundation for the planning of the 1487-1488, on which Bartholomew Diaz first rounded the Cape of Good Hope at latitude 34º 22'S showing that trade with the east could be accessed by sea.


Use headlights when visibility is poor

 Cautionary Note:  The road to Cape Cross is made from a mixture of salt and sand and runs from Swakopmund north to Mowe Bay. The surface is well maintained, but please be advised to drive carefully and at speeds that allow for driver error. You will see road signs advising you to drive withfull head lights switched on even during the day. Salt roads become very slippery when wet. Head on vehicle

collisions are not uncommon on this road with some resulting in fatalities, so be warned. Following a rainfall it is not practical to drive on the road until it has dried.


Cape Cross Original Padrão In Berlin Museum

The original Cross


The Padrão of Diogo Cão was to stand a lonely vigil for over four centuries until...


The Arrival of the Germans.

In August 1884 Captain von Raven of the German ship 'Wolf' landed at Cape Cross Bay where his crew erected a wooden sign proclaiming German sovereignty. However, the landing party failed to notice the Padrão of Diogo Cão which would remain undiscovered until late January 1893 when Captain Becker of the German Naval Cruiser 'Falke' and his men were ashore surveying the area. They found the Padrão laying over at an angle and protruding only 1.8 meters out of the sand. Becker realized the importance of this historical landmark. He arranged for the Padrão to be shipped to Germany and had it replaced with a 5 meter wooden double cross that would allow for an easier sighting from ships at sea.

Cape Cross General location

Erongo Region

21º77'S - 13º95'E

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Cape Cross Replica Padrão Made in Namibia 1980

Replica Cross


Cape Cross Dimensions of Padrão


On arrival in Germany the Padrão was placed on display at the Naval Academy ay Keil, and the Kaiser ordered that a similar stone cross be carved, but including the depiction of the Kaiser's Crest and the announcment "Erected at the command of the German Kaiser and King of Prussia Wilhelm ll 1894 on the site of the original which was weathered by the years". This command was fulfilled on 27 January 1895 by Capt. Reinecke of the Naval Cruiser SMS Sperba, but the stone cross was placed 15 meters south east of the 5m high wooden cross.


The 'Kaiser's Padrão then stood a solitary watch until 1980 when the National Monuments Council of Namibia commissioned an exact replica of the Diogo Cão Padrão to be carved from Namibia Dolerite and be erected on the exact, original site of the Diogo Cão Padrão. This was unveiled on 12th October 1980 by the Administrator General. Thus the reason for the two crosses that can be seen on the site to this day.


The Location of the original Padrão in Germany.

In Germany the Diogo Cão Padrão was again moved from Kiel to the Oceanographical Museum in Berlin, which was later destroyed by allied bombing in 1944. It has since been relocated and now stands in the New Hall - Deutsches Technikmuseum, Berlin.


The Technical details of the Padrão

The Padroes comprise of two parts, as did the original. The upright pillar sections  have a hole drilled down the centre from the top face. At the time of erecting the Padrão, the crucifix section was positioned into the hole and molten lead was poured in to secure it in place.

The 'Kaiser' Padrão:   is 2.6m in height, and is made from black granite

The Namibia Padrão: is 3.5m in height, and is made from Dolerite

The Diogo Cao Padrão: Dimensions are shown on the left. Approx weight 360kg

Cape Cross is situated 115km north of Swakopmund You need to budget 4-5 hours from the return journey. The site is managed by the Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism; Office hours 10:00 to 17:00




Of Interest:  The Damaraland Guano Company Ltd. exploited the guano deposits and established the first rail transport system in Namibia as early as 1895. The train moved the guano a few short kilometres to a loading jetty from where the guano was shipped out. Cape Cross has the largest Cape Fur Seal colony on any mainland

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Cape Cross

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