The SKELETON COAST; Torra Bay →Hentiesbaai → Swakopmund

3rd July 2016

Day 82 of ± 189
Kiwi’s a bit cold next to the grey, foamy waters of the Atlantic’s Skeleton Coast. Photo by Jussi Eskola


Once we had entered the Skeleton Coast nature reserve, the sky was still deceptively clear and blue as it hung above the continually beautiful, arid landscape. The world surrounding was flat, wide and dry in various shades of browns, beiges and blues, with only the occasional hazy purple mound of a mountain sculpting the distant skyline.

But then, quite suddenly and at first, unexplainably, we were under cover of soft grey cloud, that grew steadily thicker and more monotonous as we drew further into the coast. A completely cloudless sky from horizon to horizon had become totally consumed in one seamless grey blanket that descended on our bouncing jungle with swathes of cold, damp mist. It wasn’t long before we longed for the sun’s warmth to return.

Canada Tom returning from an old mining(?) wreck lying in the middle of nowhere under a hopeless sky — a skeleton of metals past, on the Skeleton Coast. Photo by Jussi Eskola

We moved on, over the fine rubble of road in search for that first glimpse of ocean. From a morning of hoping to swim and be refreshed by the salty waters of the Atlantic, sparkling and under a full desert sun, once again, we instead arrived at the edge of Namibia to be welcomed by an angry, frothing, stormy scene. Almost immediately recognising the appropriate naming of this section of coastline, we wrapped up in everything warm and walked towards the waters seething edge against wind and spitting sea spray and wet mist. It was still beautiful in its grey rage, as we continued to debate a quick and crazy swim, up until the moment that first hand dipped into the cold little waves — the coldest waters so far penetrated my skin and the idea of swimming became unwanted in our minds. Antarctica pushes its freezing Benguela current northward to bless us with this dreary-grey, yet angrily-energised storm-land. Kiwi’s sleeping bag trailed through abundant lines of thick, pale yellow-green foam as we quickly retreated back to the shelter of the Bedford. We walked, hunched over, through a grey plain of equally grey and abandoned toilet blocks, a lack of real human existence and colours of any kind hidden behind invisible horizons. Namibian bushmen and the Portuguese alike have each referred to this stretch as “the land God made in anger” and “the gates of hell”, which quite appropriately describes this strenuous meeting of hot and cold, as earth and ocean consistently clash and create dense, grey sea fog almost all year-round. However, there remains so much beauty and energy in this inhospitable environment — it was a refreshing experience.

Kiwi Tom grumpy at the angry sea and its cold winds as he stands, cold and alone on the Skeleton Coast. Photo by María Borg Gunnarsdóttir
Another shipwreck that helped give the Skeleton Coast its name — the inhospitable climate created by the meeting of the freezing cold Benguela Current and the hot, dry onshore winds have caused countless ships to be smashed to pieces in the ever-raging surf that made it impossible for boats to land or launch from this stretch of coastline. Photo by María Borg Gunnarsdóttir
Skeletons on the Skeleton Coast… Photo by María Borg Gunnarsdóttir

Now we make a left, just missing out on Torra Bay a little North up the coast, and head South once again in the direction of Swakopmund. Windows are up, clattering and vibrating harshly in the strong winds of air in motion as we huddle, eat and read amongst a jungle of sleeping bags and blankets and try to avoid the other half of the wind that ignores the windows and sweeps through and over goose-pimpled skin. Backtracking, Mile 108 dissappears into the distance. Mile 72. Brighter patches of sky gradually show some promise as it sheds a little light on the persisting open streches of barren wilderness to our left. The still frothy, opaque-grey sea kisses, hugs and leaves, sweeping around the next curve on the coastline before returning to run alongside us in the next place in time and space.

A sunny, abandoned campsite later, Hentiesbaai comes and goes to our right — a small, sparkling grey, coastal town of little remembrance, as it sits as a small reminder of human existence in this beautifully vast and enjoyably solitary country. Attempting to make Swakopmund before dark, we rush on, hungry, maybe tired, but relaxed in the moment. As much as you can only ever be on the open road, with no real “musts” or “have tos”. Did we get there at dark? I can’t rememeber, but I think so, at least, it became cold and dark very soon as we arrived in “Germany”. Swakopmund appeared, lines of quiet parallel streets running against the ocean under the sandy-grey sky. We were thrown back to Europe, to a German campsite in the middle of the desert. A friendly place with creature comforts of electric cookers, Savannahs and Icelandic football.

The beautiful, long awaited secrets of the Namib desert await our stay in this small and peaceful town.

Swakopmund by day — German architecture in the middle of the Namib. Photo by Jussi Eskola
The wall lining one of the parallel streets leading down to the beach — ‘AFRICA UNITE’ | ‘PEACE NOT WAR’ — the sky is often grey here… Photo by Jussi Eskola
Tomorrow → Day 83: 6th.July.2016 — DUNEBOARDING on PAELLA PANS in Swakopmund

*Check out Jørn and Lukas’ 3 videos created from the first couple of months of videography from the trip down below, before further footage was either lost or stolen:

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