On the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia lies the Skeleton Coast named for the skeletal remains of shipwrecks that litter the beaches where whale bones once washed ashore.
The Skeleton Coast stretches out to the south of Angola from the Kunene River and then south to the Swakop River. The cold Benguela current gives rise to dense ocean fogs that blanket the region for large portions of the year and make sailing treacherous. In fact, the heavy fog combined with the heavy, pounding surf is the cause of all those shipwrecks in an area that Portuguese sailors dubbed “the Gates of Hell”. However, the region has become popular with surfers. Skeleton Coast National Park covers 6,200 square miles of the area from the Ugab River to Kunene. Some areas of interest are the clay castles of the Hoarisib, the Agate Mountain salt pans, and the large seal colony at Cape Fria.
Many varieties of animals have adapted to this inhospitable climate. The Cape fur seals of Cape Fria flourish in the frigid waters of the Atlantic. Their unusual external ears set them apart from other seals and help them hear predators like black-backed jackals and brown hyenas. Large mammals in the region include Namibia’s famous desert-adapted elephant, black rhino, lion, cheetah, giraffe, gemsbok, zebra, springbok and spotted and brown hyena.