Dream sleeps

It may be set in an area once dubbed ‘The Gates of Hell’, but that’s all part of the ap­peal at the lodge breath­ing new life into the Skele­ton Coast…

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Once known to sailors as the ‘Gates of Hell’, find out why a new lodge is breath­ing fresh life into Namibia’s harsh yet beau­ti­ful Skele­ton Coast

Even by Namibia’s arid stan­dards, the Skele­ton Coast isn’t what you’d call hos­pitable. Over the years, Namib­ian bush­men and Por­tuguese sailors have ap­proached this stretch of Namibia’s north-western coast with a mix­ture of awe and dread: the bush­men called it ‘The Land God Made in Anger’, while Por­tuguese sailors dubbed it ‘The Gates of Hell’.

With the in­fa­mous Benguela cur­rent bring­ing in fierce swells and dense sea fogs, this area close to the An­golan bor­der is known for the scores of ships that have run aground here over the years, and whose wrecks still re­main. Aban­doned di­a­mond mines, bomber planes and rust­ing steam trains, not to men­tion the whale bones pok­ing out of the sand, only add to the post-apoc­a­lyp­tic vibe.

But, as of June this year, the Skele­ton Coast has a new ad­ven­ture lodge that some­how fits in with the dra­matic tone of the area. Shipwreck Lodge’s eight so­lar-pow­ered wooden cab­ins, set in the dunes over­look­ing the crash­ing At­lantic, have asym­met­ri­cal shapes in­spired by the coast’s ship­wrecked re­mains, and its muted colours mean it blends in seam­lessly. The cen­tral restau­rant and lounge even has a view­ing deck, from which vis­i­tors can gaze out over the sand dunes, and there are plans to add a pool.

As in­hos­pitable as the coast might seem, it is home to an un­likely ar­ray of wildlife: from the vast seal colony at Möwe Bay to gi­raffes, black rhi­nos and lions, as well as desert ele­phants only be found in Namibia and Mali. Nat­u­rally, the lodge of­fers trips to see all this and more, with vis­its to ship­wrecks, the old Westies di­a­mond mine and the Clay Cas­tles where wild preda­tors roam the for­ma­tions. It all makes for a fas­ci­nat­ing way to soak up an area too of­ten skimmed over.

Them bones The lodge was built to blend in with the wrecks lin­ing the Skele­ton Coast

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