To The Skeleton Coast

It’s chilly in Windhoek this morning. Peter is already up and Adams, getting things packed up. We grab the buffet breakfast from the Urban Camp front desk and sit by the pool to figure out what to do today. I look up the distance to the Skeleton Coast. It’s about 4 hours West of here. That will only add a day to the trip. Let’s do it.

Mark’s turn to drive, Jamie is co-pilot. He’s dolling out some classic directions already, “Take a left. Right here”, “We turn right here?”, “No left. Right here”, “Oh.. right here, we turn left?”

Windhoek seems like a nice place. Would be fun to have another day here but there’s a lot of distance to cover and we kinda nuked it last night. It’s clean and quaint and just the right size. We use our bitchin new GPS unit to track down a grocery store to re-up on road supplies.

We find a local grocer and stock up. Hearing the clicking dialect people use in the area is a bit of a trip. They accent words with click, popping and suction sounds. Can’t think of another place I’ve heard it. Really interesting to listen to, I feel totally ignorant, no idea if the clicks are full words or punctuation or what. I’ll have to look into it.

After getting some food we find a nearby liquor store. Alright, let’s get real. We’re gonna be on the road for days, Skeleton Coast to Etosha and further North. This is most likely the best stocked place we’ll see for a while. Given the consumption rates of our four members it seems prudent to really shoot the moon on this one. And so we do.

We make laps around the store scouting it out before settling on a swath of Adventure Detective staples that should last us at least a few days. The staff are smiling to themselves as we stack bottle after bottle into our little cart. One guy goes into the back to grab boxes and helps us pack them up. Oh perfect, thank-you.

All told we make out with a hefty pile of goodies:

Camp Negroni stash
– 3 bottles of gin
– 2 Campari
– 2 Vermouth

Morning coffee stash
– 1 Whiskey
– 1 Mokador

Dinner accouterments
– 6 bottles of wine

Easy Riders
– 12 local craft beer
– 12 beerpong-caliber beer

– A selection of craft tonics and cola

The handy bloke from the store helps us take it all out to the truck and load it into the back. We give him a tip and he thanks us and waves.

Back on the road just outside Windhoek and a cop bike speeds passed. Then another. Then a third and fourth. What’s happening? Soon there is a massive motorcade coming towards us on the other side of the highway. Several black cars with Jamaican flag pinners on them. The road is lined with military guard. Damn, this is no joke. Must be the Jamaican prime minister coming to visit?

We get outside of the city and are gunning across a hilly range. It’s Marks first time experiencing the optional third lane driving technique you’ll find in a lot of foreign countries. Basically if there’s nothing coming, you should feel free to straddle the middle of the road and blast it passed everyone, even with opposing vehicles coming. As we learned in Serbia years ago, this is actually the only way to make decent time. Trucks will signal with their left blinker when they see the coast is clear and pull on to the small side shoulder as best they can to let you pass. Heading straight into oncoming traffic feels uncomfortable the first few times but you get used to it once you see basically everyone else doing it. You see this in a lot of places where the lower population doesn’t quite warrant the addition of more lanes, but are also the only main roads and truck routes. Interesting how these common driving courtesies tend to trend globally.

Beside the road scattered here and there are giant termite mounds. Tall spires ranging 4 – 8 feet tall, sticking straight up from the ground. Crazy. 

We’re well out of the city now and back into the wonderful nothingness of Namibian roadside. It’s a nice paved road and we are flying. Ahh Trans-Kalahari Highway, that makes sense. We take a pee break at a roadside picnic spot. The four of us form a sweet semi-circle out in the sun for a stellar.. sunchronicipee?

I spot this written in the roof of the picnic area. Another common courtesy trending globally. Or at least a classic joke.

We take the highway all the way West to Swapkomund. As we start getting closer the landscape just dwindles away to absolutely nothing. Barren and windy. It looks like another planet. It’s also getting hotter and hotter as we approach the coast. I’ve never seen a landscape this flat before.

Driving across a bunch of zip and we get stopped for road construction. Figures. I step out to stretch the legs and it’s just hot wind blowing across the nothing. Man, laying tar out here sounds rough. Shoulda offered those guys some beverages. 5km of roadwork. They’re all wearing wide-brimmed orange construction hats to protect them from the sun. 

Almost to the ocean and we turn North toward Hentiesbaai. We pass by the Namibia satellite research center. Skies are probably great here. Wide open and zero light pollution. There’ll be a blood moon in a couple days, we should be in Etosha by then. 

Closer to Hentiesbaii we start seeing signs for the Zeila Wreck. The Skeleton Coast is known for it’s shipwrecks and this one seems fairly accessible. In 2008 the Zeila’s engine lost power and it ran ashore. It now sits just off the beach on a sand bar getting battered by the waves. You can see it from the road, we pull in to take a look.

The beach is littered with bones. Skeleton Coast for sure. Seal bones maybe? Someone’s collected a bunch of them and formed a lil skelly-guy

It’s so flat ships probably don’t even realize the shore is approaching

We’re just outside of Hentiesbaii now. Maybe we can stop in there and get an idea of what to see and do in the area. We should grab a machete and axe too, before we inevitably get lost in the sticks and wish we’d had them.

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