The Skeleton Coast, which starts south of the Orange River, includes the whole Namibian coastline and continues across the Kunene River some 200 km into Angola. It is part of the Namib Desert, various sections of which have conservation status, namely the Namib-Naukluft Park in the south, the Skeleton Coast Park in the north (between the Ugab and the Kunene rivers) and the Iona Park in Angola. The coastline and adjoining Namib Desert form a sparsely populated area with landscape, animal and plant diversity, which varies from region to region.
The region north of Swakopmund to Angola is mostly rocky desert with strips of dune belts, primarily between Torra Bay and the Hoarusib River and also at the Kunene River. Adjoining the northern section of the Skeleton Coast Park is Kaokoland, a rugged region inhabited by the Himba people, who still dress and live according to ancient customs and traditions. Adjoining the southern section of the park is Damaraland, inhabited by the Damara people, who have to a large extent adopted Western customs and lifestyles. Both Kaokoland (Kunene Region) and Damaraland (Erongo Region) are renowned for their diversity of desert landscape and interesting flora and fauna, such as the desert-adapted elephant, endangered black rhino and the unique ‘fossil’ tree, Welwitschia Mirabilis.
The region south of Swakopmund to Lüderitz is mostly sandy desert where dunes start directly on the beach and extend some 70 km into the interior. This desert region is conserved as the Namib-Naukluft Park with the highest dunes in the world to be found at Sossusvlei. The true nature of the Skeleton Coast is borne out by the high proportion of interesting shipwrecks to be found along the coastline. Rocky outcrops at places such as Spencer Bay present a magnificent contrast against the dunes. Seals, birds, jackal and brown hyaena are some of the larger inhabitants of this mystic world.
The Diamond Area south of Lüderitz is once again rocky coast and desert with access to features such as the Bogenfels Rock Arch, the Atlas Bay fur seal colony and old diamond diggings and ghost towns representing former endeavours of German pioneers.