And now for something completely different, and completely enchanting. No, really…it’s on a distant, deserted coastline where shipwrecks punctuate the beaches and moody fog often tumbles along the shoreline. Namibia’s Skeleton Coast – raw and rugged – is a special place granting only a fortunate few the privilege to experience it.
It’s simply beautiful in its starkness, rare in every way and thoroughly captivating. This is where you go if you want to experience stillness that speaks. Deep into the Skeleton Coast National Park, and just a kilometre from the Atlantic Ocean, is luxurious Shipwreck Lodge. There’s really nowhere else like it, a place where you can sleep cosy and warm in your own private re-imagined ‘shipwreck’ cabin. Created from wood to closely resemble the metal bones of a wreck, the lodge evokes an atmosphere of mystery and enchantment. There are portholes and even the daybed resembles a boat. The bathroom door is inscribed with stories of nearby wrecks, and three lie inside the concession. The wrecks of the Suiderkus and Karimona can be visited on excursions, along with the remains of a Ventura Bomber plane.
The main lodge and dining area is a larger ‘shipwreck’, beautifully crafted and with sumptuous décor in desert and ocean hues. At the heart is a crackling fire to keep you warm throughout the year when the cool fog rolls in and gives the camp an ethereal look. There are cosy fireplaces in each cabin too, so warmth is everywhere with sublime comfort throughout. It’s a modern castaway experience, sans rough edges.
So how would you like to spend your day in this unique part of Africa? Maybe follow the Hoarusib River to see the quirky Clay Castles and look out for desert-adapted wildlife en route. It’s truly memorable to see a brown hyena walking the beach, even more so a lion. Visit the noisy seal colony at Mowe Bay, with shipwreck sightings en route. Go quad biking or sand boarding in the rolling dunes, walk the deserted beach in search of whale bones. Maybe drive into the desert for a sundowner, albeit sometimes cloaked in fog.
The meeting of cold Atlantic and desert creates a surreal environment that is truly like nowhere else on earth. It hardly feels like Africa, and yet it also does. The Skeleton Coast is surely the closest you’ll ever get to being on the moon, while staying on earth.
What we love!
- The lodge is low impact and respects the fragile environment.
- Décor colours reflect the colours of sand and moody Atlantic Ocean.
- Truly deserted beach walks are a treat.
- The fog creates a feeling of nostalgia and cosiness.
Need to know…
- There is no malaria and children of all ages are welcome.
- December and January are the sunniest times of year here.
- The lodge runs on solar power with backup generators.
- There’s a complimentary laundry service.
- The wifi in the main area is capped.
- A three-night stay is recommended.
- Getting there: Fly in on a charter flight or self-drive to Mowe Bay, where a
- lodge transfer will collect you. A six-hour scenic self-drive (with a guide vehicle) from Hoanib Valley Camp is also possible.
Reviewed by Keri Harvey