Skeleton Coast Road C34 road runs from
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
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
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.
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
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.
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 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
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.
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.
Wreck Remains of the "Vincent"
The Ugab Gate
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
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 Derrick
Jetty Pillars at Toscanini
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)
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.
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