Namibia – The Skeleton Coast

HEKKTA explores Nina Maritz Architects’ Shipwreck Lodge, inspired by the Skeleton Coast in Namibia. Baron, eerie but beautiful, this is surely one to tick off the bucket list.

Sprawling over 500 kilometres of the Namibian coastline, the Skeleton Coast is not a seaside like we know. Despite it taking almost a third of the country’s shores, the Skeleton Coast is virtually uninhabited.

It gets it’s name from the thousands of bones and skulls that litter the sandy beaches as you walk down, and it is not unheard of to see lions or hyenas stalking the shores looking for an unfortunate meal. Elephants are regularly seen walking to the sea for a drink and you might even spot a leopard if you’re lucky.

skeleton coast lion

The carcasses that lie on the beach are joined by over 500 shipwrecks, from those explorers that got taken by the strong currents of the sea. As you walk (or most likely drive) from the North to the South, the orange, sandy dunes turn to windy, flat salt pans that stretch for miles. It can seem like a never ending search for any form of civilisation as you walk.

skeleton coast

The windy conditions make for excellent surfing, with daredevil surfers flocking to the coastline to catch some enormous waves. However, the currents in these seas are some of the strongest in the world, so unless you know what you’re doing (or you’re just a bit mad), you might want to think twice before hopping on a board.

Oh and don’t forget the 11 species of sharks that occupy the shores.

The Skeleton Coast really is a place like no other, where nature has staked it’s claim on the land. However a new set of lodges have sprung up on the sand, plonked in complete isolation. The Namibian studio Nina Maritz Architects drew it’s inspiration from the shipwrecks, with circular windows and timber frame.

skeleton coast

“Trying to capture the sense of harshness and desolation that shipwrecked passengers and sailors experienced in earlier times, the timber cabins were designed to evoke broken pieces of ships,” the architects explained.

skeleton coast

“Despite the references to wooden boats, the forms are abstracted, with only a few broken spars adding a light-hearted touch to signal the shipwreck theme,” continued the architects.

The 10 lodges places on the sand provide the most incredible place to stay in one of the most extraordinary parts of the world.

In fact, it’s one of the only available places you can stay along the Skeleton Coast.

Shipwreck Lodge skeleton coast

The Skeleton Coast is a certainly a gem of Namibia, however there are so many fantastic places to visit if you ever find yourself in the country.

Explore the colonial towns of Swakopmund and Windhoek, where it’s Dutch and German roots are more obvious than you might expect (plenty of meat and beer!). Make sure you take yourself to Sossusvlei where you can shoot down sand dunes the size of of mountains on a piece of plywood, and certainly visit Etosha National Park if you didn’t manage to see any wildlife on the Skeleton Coast.

skeleton coast