The information you need to visit Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

In this short post I’ll share the information you need to visit Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.

1. How do I get there?

It is a very easy 200km drive on the C34 from Swakopmund to the Ugab river gate. Alternatively, you can take the C39 from Khorixas (169km) or C43 from Palmwag (93km) to the Springbokwasser gate. All of these roads are gravel, with the easiest/best one to drive Swakopmund to the Ugab gate. See my post “Driving up Namibia’s Skeleton Coast”.

Namibia’s Skeleton Coast: the Ugab gate

2. Do I need a 4×4? How are the roads?

No, you do not need a 4×4. The roads inside the park are well maintained gravel that can easily be driven by any 4×2 sedan. The road leading north from Terrace Bay to Mowe bay is a bit trickier, with patches where you’ll need a raised vehicle. Also without a 4×4 you will not be able to drive on the beaches. This is allowed in certain sections of the park.

3. Entry points?

As mentioned above there are 2 main entry points. The Ugab river gate from the South and the Springbokwasser gate from the East. This is where you’ll stop, do some paperwork, pay and receive your permit. No need to buy permits beforehand. Currently, the gates are open from 0800 to 1500.

Check out the 5410Africa Youtube channel

4. What does it cost?

There is a two tier system for park fees in Namibia. The Skeleton coast park falls in the upper tier, the more expensive one and costs are calculated within each tier depending on whether you are a Namibian, SADC or International visitor. For calculating costs see my post “How much does it cost to visit a National Park in Namibia?”

5. Types of accommodation available?

Accommodation in Namibian parks are administered by In the Skeleton coast park they offer two options. At Terrace Bay they offer 2 x Beach chalets, one with 8 beds and the other with 10 beds, as well as 10 double rooms. The double rooms include dinner & breakfast. At Torra Bay they have 60 seasonal campsites. Seasonal being December & January.

The easiest way to book NWR accommodation is online via their website or directly at their offices in Windhoek or Swakopmund.

The non-NWR alternative is the very exclusive Shipwreck Lodge situated 45km northish of Mowe Bay. They offer 10 x shipwreck shaped chalets/cabins. Bit pricier. See my post “Exclusive luxury at Namibia’s Shipwreck Lodge”. See their website for more details.

Namibia’s Skeleton Coast: The road to the Springbokwasser gate

6. Is it drive in only?

No, Terrace bay & Mowe bay each have an airstrip where chartered flights can land. These operate mainly from Windhoek. Main operators are West Air & Desert Air.

7. Shops, Fuel & ATMs/Cash machines?

Driving from Swakopmund the last decent shop you’ll find is in Henties Bay. Khorixas will be the last decent shop if you entering through the Springbokwasser gate. These towns have ATMs if you need cash, no ATM’s inside the park. Inside the park fuel is only available at Terrace Bay. There is also a small & basic shop in Terrace Bay. They have credit card facilities at both.

Namibia’s Skeleton Coast: The old oil rig

8. Activities?

  • Overlanding/driving around and exploring.
  • Game viewing. You’d be surprise to learn that they have lion and elephant in the park. I was lucky to see the very elusive brown hyena.
  • Some great fishing, this is what most visitors come here for.
  • A day on the beach.
  • Birding  
  • Wrecks

9. Public transport?

No, best is to rent a car.

10. Can I drive unaccompanied past Mowe Bay, north towards the Kunene river mouth/Angolan border?

No, a handful of tour operators hold the necessary permits to drive into the concession area. You can only enter this area when accompanied by one of them.

I hope this helps and you have the information you need to visit Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.

Nick fr Namibia


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