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SKELETON COAST ROAD NAMIBIA C14. This salt / gravel road runs a distance of 460km from Swakopmund to Mowe Bay

 

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Skeleton Coast Road Namibia C34

This salt / gravel road Runs from Swakopmud 460kms to Mowe Bay.

   

Skeleton Coast Road C34 Namibia

 

Skeleton Coast Road C34 road runs from Swakopmund North 327kms along the Skeleton Coast to the T-Junction 10kms south of Torra Bay. From the T-Junction the D2302 continues north a further 133kms to Mowe Bay, alternatively you turn East onto the D39 which takes you to the Springbok Water (Springbokwasser) Gate (North entry point for the Skeleton Coast park).

 

Cautionary Note: For the first 200kms Swakopmund to the Ugab Gate, the South entry point for the Skeleton Coast Park, the road is constructed from sand and salt. You are requested to drive even in daylight using your headlights to alert oncoming vehicle of your presence. Mirage effect along this coast is common. Following a heavy mist the salt road becomes very slippery. Please drive accordingly. In the unlikely event of it raining you are advised not to make use of the road.

1. There is little traction on the surface making driving , even for 4x4s 

2. The salt and mud accumulates on the vehicle and is costly to remove.

3. Driving on theroad when it has been softened by rains will damage the surface even further making it a longer and more costly for the Roads Authority to repair the road to a serviceable condition.

Skeleton Coast Road Warning Sign " Use Headlights When Visibilty Is Poor" 

Use Headlights

Skeleton Coast Road Warning Sign " Slippery Road Surface"

 

Skeleton Coast Road distances are still  referred to in miles.

Distances in Miles

Although Namibia has used the metric system for over forty years, you will notice that all of the distance signs along the Skeleton Coast Road are marked in Miles and not Kilometers. e.g. Mile 108 is a popular places for angling with camping areas.

 

Fuel: Tank up and if possible carry extra fuel in Jerry cans. North of Henties Bay there is fuel at Mile 108 and Terrace Bay. The fuel pumps at Terrace Bay are only for the use of the overnight guests. You are not allowed to enter this northern area without permission from Namibia Wildlife Resorts. There is fuel at Palmwag, the pumps are near the quarantine fence gate. 2 x Spare Wheels are recommended. The gravel roads of the northern areas have sharp rock splinters that can easily cause tire impact fractures.

 

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Off Road Driving Destroys: You will see these signs along the C34. Stay on the road. The desert eco system here is extremely fragile. East of Swakopmund on 'The Old Bay Road' the tracks of the ox-wagons used in the early German times can still be seen. If you drive onto the gravel plains your vehicle tracks will remain visible for hundreds of years, you will cause damage to lichen, other plants and desert fauna. Vehicle tracks make the desert floor look ugly.

 

Lichens

Lichens

 

Lichens

Xanthomaculina

convoluta

Lichens were one of the first 'plant forms' that crept out of the ancient oceans in the Ordovician Period and began their colonising of the land. They are an extremely hardy life form that can be found nestling on rocky arid surfaces from the polar regions to the tropics. Their presence provides a protection for the ground surface from water and wind erosion and thus a critical factor in the evolutionary process.  They are not a single organism, as with most other life forms. It was the English author Beatrix Potter, famous for her Peter Rabbit books, who in addition to her writing of children's books made a study of Lichens over many years first proposed that Lichens were two different life forms living in symbiosis.( Lichens comprise of two organisms living together in special association.) The larger part of the lichen is composed of fungal filaments amongst which lives a, usually green, algae. Take care not to step onto what might appear to be dead vegetation. What may appear to be dead plant life can in fact be lichens. When water is poured on them they unfold and change colour.

 

About 177kms North of Swakopmund at Durissa Bay you will see the sign for the wreck of the fishing boat "Vincent" that ran aground in 1970. It lays about 3kms from the road and you will need a 4 x 4 should you want to drive to the sea front. With a 2 x 4 vehicle you can drive to within about 1km of the wreck and walk the remaining distance. It will be quicker and easier than trying to dig yourself out of the soft sand. The wreck has long ago broken up and there's not much left to see.

 

At about 187kms you will arrive at the Ugab Gate being the South entry point for the Skeleton Coast National Park. You are required to buy a permit to enter the park. A transit permit to travel through the park and exiting at the Springbok Gate will be issued on the proviso that you do not enter the northern section of the road that leads to Torra and Terrace Bay. You can only enter this area if you have proof of a reservation to stay overnight at Terrace Bay which is managed by Namibia Wildlife Resorts. North of the Ugab Gate the C34 changes to being a gravel road. 17kms north of the Ugab Gate and about 50 meters from the road side lays the wreck of the fishing boat "Seal". Trawl winches and engine are still recognizable.

 

Skeleton Coast Shipwreck remains of the "Vincent"

Wreck Remains of the "Vincent"

Skeleton Coast Park gate at the Ugab River

The Ugab Gate

Skeleton Coast Shipwreck remains of the "Seal"

Wreck Remains of the "Seal"

 

Years before independence the wildcatters came here looking for oil, only hit dry holes, went and left their drill rig that lays in a rusted heap not far from the road side. The corrosion rate is relatively high, and in perhaps a hundred years it will have virtually disappeared. The heap of scrap below left lays about 44kms north of the Gate. Wildcatters also came and looked for diamonds, but couldn't find them in economically viable  quantities. They also went away and left their scrap. The old bulldozers and dump trucks could be seen until quite recently when they were tidied away by being buried under the sands. All that is left are the concrete process tanks and the pipe jetties. The cormorants make regular use of them. Toscanini is about 54kms north of the Ugab Gate.

 

Abandoned Oil Rig

Abandoned Oil Derrick

Steel plate corroded and showing interesting patterns

Rust Patterns

Toscaninin old diamond jetty

Jetty Pillars at Toscanini

 

There are long stretches of seemingly boring road, but you will be compensated by the variety of colored sand dunes that can be seen. The effect shown on the below left dune photo is caused by a layer of fine grains of ground garnet 'sand'. The weight of these grains differs to that of the silica sand grains and they form a separate layer. The below right photo is of a Black Sand dune of basalt rock grains combined with even smaller grains of Ilemenite (FeTiO3)(crystalline iron titanium) and with even smaller grains of Magnetitie (Fe3O4)

 

Skeleton Coast coloured Garnet Sand Dunes Skeleton Coast colored magnetitie dunes

 

 

About 251kms North of Swakopmund you arrive at the junction of the D3245. Here, if transiting through the park, you must turn right and drive about a further 50kms to the Springbok Gate. You now enter Damaraland where the scenery is rugged and dramatically beautiful.

 

A pick-up truck or 4 x 4 are more suitable than a car on these roads as they can be quite rough, especially during rainy season.

 

Springbokwasser gate

Springbokwasser Gate

Damaraland mountain scene

Damaraland Mountains

 

Of Interest: The Skeleton Coast was named so because of the abundance of Whale Skeletons that could be found along the shoreline. It must have presented an eerie sight to the early mariners who's tiny ships had to hug the coastline. Later as numerous ships foundered - human skeletons were also to be found in places which added strength to the reputation of this coast.

 

Skeleton Coast Road C34

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