Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is now home to a ‘shipwreck’ hotel

In the ghostly landscape of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, where shapeshifting sand dunes sweep across marooned sea vessels, you’ll find the Shipwreck Lodge, a luxury hotel that’s breathing a new lease of life into the haunting desert region.

The Starship Lodge in Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. Image by Denzel Bezuidenhout / Starship Lodge

The Shipwreck Lodge opened this June in Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, the least visited of all the country’s national parks. Comprised of eight double/twin lodges and two family-style tents, the resort operates on sustainable principles and was designed to echo the surrounding landscape.

The cabins were designed using sustainable material. Image by Denzel Bezuidenhout / Shipwreck Lodge

Rising above the towering sand dunes, each lodge sits upon an elevated platform and resembles the upturned hull of a wooden ship. Namibian architect, Nina Maritz, and interior designer, Melanie van der Merwe, used sustainable materials in every aspect of design and construction, right down to the all-wooden nails used to build the cabins and the lodge’s energy-efficient insulation, which was sourced from recycled water bottles.

Each cabin is solar-panelled and ensuite with porthole-style windows and little black stacked chimneys. Outside, miles of silvery sand flow and ripple all around but inside, you’ll find cosy rooms decorated with recycled wood, rope, linen and cotton, complete with faux fur blankets, water bottles and a wood-burning stove to guard against the southern Atlantic chill.

The interior Shipwreck Lodge’s cosy wood cabins. Image by Denzel Bezuidenhout / Shipwreck Lodge

At the centre of the resort is a communal lodge, made from modified shipping containers and a gourmet restaurant displaying works of art from local artists, created exclusively for the hotel. A wooden deck encircles the communal areas, where guests can sit back and take in the uninterrupted views of the rolling sand dunes and the Atlantic Ocean. At night time, there’s no light pollution so it’s also a good place to sit with a hot drink and gaze at the stars.

The main interior of Shipwreck Lodge’s common area.

Skeleton Coast was named after the thousands of centuries-old shipwrecks and bleached animal bones that dot the landscape but the national park is also home to desert elephants, giraffes, baboons, lions, and Hartmann’s mountain zebra. The unique ecosystem also hosts desert plants that can’t flourish anywhere else on the continent.

Sand dune climbing at Shipwreck Lodge. Image by Micheal Turek / Shipwreck Lodge

Making the most of this remarkable environment, activities at the hotel are centred around the landscape and its wildlife. Guests can enjoy day trips to the Hainob River delta, twice daily safaris and 4 x 4 sunset drives to shipwreck ruins, including the mysterious skeletal vessels of the Suiderkus and Karimona. There are also excursions to the ruins of Namibia’s Clay Castles where guests can enjoy lunch in the shadow of the famous landscape and trips to Mowe Bay seal colony.

It has been suggested that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle plan to spend their honeymoon in the Skeleton Coast but details have yet to be confirmed.

The exterior of Shipwreck Lodge’s common area and restaurant. Image by Denzel Bezuidenhout / Shipwreck Lodge

Nightly rates at the Shipwreck Lodge are from $750 (€644) per person and include all activities, meals and drinks.

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