Freedom, beauty and solitude await
Welcome to one of the most uniquely designed properties in Africa. It takes its form from enigmatic shipwrecks that line Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. The landscape is rugged, raw and truly remote. Prepare for towering dunes, wind-swept plains that roll as far as your eyes can see and in the distant horizon is the icy Atlantic ocean.
One may assume the sole purpose for visiting is to relish in the simple isolation. Whilst true, there’s so much more for you to explore that will challenge perceptions about desert life and survival.
Need to know about Shipwreck Lodge
Where is Shipwreck Lodge?
Shipwreck Lodge is located in Namibia’s Skeleton Coast and more specifically, Mowe Bay. It’s one of the most remote regions in the world and more people explore Antarctica than the Skeleton Coast.
How do you get there?
Reaching Shipwreck Lodge is an adventure in itself, you can either self-drive in (or transfer with one of our private guides) from Swakopmund, Palmwag or Khorixas depending on your itinerary. The other option is to fly in by light aircraft.
When’s the best times of year to visit?
The good news is this property is open all year-round and it stays quite cool throughout thanks to the eerie Atlantic fog and breeze. The desert temperatures can plummet at the drop of a hat, so you can go from roasting hot to freezing in a matter of minutes. That’s why the motto is “be prepared”.
The team at Shipwreck Lodge say this “November to April is the summer period at the Skeleton Coast. In the desert, rainfall patterns are never guaranteed, but you can expect some showers at this time. The rain does, however, keep the air clear and crisp. The mornings are also less foggy, and this is an excellent time of year for birders to visit as the migrants are out in force.
May to October are the winter months. During the day, temperatures hover around a very pleasant 21 to 25 degrees Celsius, but be warned – the mornings and evenings can be chilly, especially on an open game drive. There’s virtually no rain at this time of year and the desert is at its iconic, splendid best.”
What five words best describe Shipwreck Lodge?
Remote, unique, soulful, immersive, solitude
What sort of accommodation is offered?
The camp was designed to match the remarkable scenery of the region and each of the ten rooms has been constructed to resemble the shipwrecks that dot the coastline. There are eight twin or double rooms and two cabins can take extra beds for families. Each one has ensuite, solar-power and wood burning stove for those chilly early mornings and evenings.
What’s special about Shipwreck Lodge?
The location is what’s so special about Shipwreck Lodge. The place is shrouded in mist and a national park that begins at the Uqab River and runs roughly 500 kilometres up the Atlantic Coast to the Kunene River. The local tribespeople called the San refer to Skeleton Coast as the “Land God Made in Anger” because the beaches are scarred with wrecks of over a thousand ships and bleached whale bones. The interior is an endless, uninhabited desert of rolling sands. This is one of Africa’s most eerie and hauntingly beautiful places.
What facilities do you offer?
Shipwreck Lodge has a main area for guests that comes complete with dining, lounge and bar, all beautifully looking over the endless vista of dunes. Would you believe there’s even WIFI?
What other things can people do here?
The Skeleton Coast offers such a diversity of activities. Here guests can game drive in search of the desert-dwelling fauna, discover the enchanting flora like succulents and lichens, sit atop of the dunes at sunset, beach-comb for whale bones and debris from centuries of shipwrecks, visit the geologically-remarkable Clay Castles to name a few things! Day excursions to the Mowe Bay seal colony with stops at Suiderkus and Karimona shipwrecks, Westies Diamond Mine and the remains of the Ventura Bomber is the most popular activity. Quad biking is offered in the mornings for guests over 16 years of age and sandboarding across the dunes is an adventure-lovers highlight.
What’s our favourite spot on the property?
In the centre of camp, guests find the innovatively designed and spectacular common area and our favourite spot is sitting on the wrap-around deck with a drink in hand just taking in the uninterrupted views across the sand dunes and all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
And your favourite thing to do?
There are three things that when done here, will be like nowhere else in the world. Firstly, a drink in hand and marvelling at the view whether you’re at the lodge, out in the sands or at the Clay Castles as the sun dips down beyond the dunes.
The other two are all about adventure because after all, Jono and I are adrenalin junkies at heart. Here, you can explore the eerie and haunting landscape on quad bikes. The thrill of zooming across the desert sands with nobody else in sight and stopping to admire the magic moments of solitude is truly rewarding beyond belief.
Finally is sandboarding. As kids, we used to go sandboarding on Moreton Island with a sheet of cardboard or even the lid of our eskie (cooler box). So to experience sandboarding at such a significant scale is a no brainer favourite for me!
What are the most incredible natural features guests will see?
One of the key distinguishing features about the Skeleton Coast is the wildlife habitat for species of the highest conservation importance. It is irreplaceable and vulnerable. While the landscapes are extraordinary, wildlife sightings are rare. If guests do see something, it’s truly magical.
What animals are they likely to see?
Guests may be fortunate to see desert elephant, giraffe, baboon and perhaps even the elusive brown hyena. It is also home to the only other viable lion population in Namibia outside of Etosha National Park.
From the Shipwreck Lodge team “There are also thousands of plants and insect species that flourish in the sand, surviving from the moisture of the cold fog that drifts inland from the ocean. Marine life positively thrives, feeding off the nutrients in the Atlantic, and the most iconic species are the Cape fur seals that line the rocky shoreline in large colonies. Birdlife is also prolific and you should most certainly pack your binos for Rüppell’s korhaans and Benguela long-billed larks. Further toward the coast, you should also be able to spot tractrac chats, as well as jaegers and skuas around the seal colonies.”
What sort of conservation initiatives are in place?
Shipwreck Lodge has been set up with solar power and many other sustainable tactics to reduce its footprint. The property also values and employs local community members, offering extensive training to upskill each person.
A visit to Shipwreck Lodge directly supports two exciting conservation initiatives that include the Desert Lion early warning conflict mitigation system and the communal herding for livestock and wildlife protection. It’s about safeguarding nomadic farmers and their cattle, creating employment and reducing the retaliatory killing of lions.More on Desert Lion project More on herding