West Coast Rec. Area
The coast is divided into three areas. North of Swakopmund up to the Ugab River, covering about 200km of coast, is the National West Coast Tourist Recreational Area. No permits are needed to drive through here and there are a few small towns and several campsites for fishing parties.
It is even more vital here than in the rest of Namibia: you need a vehicle to see this part of the Skeleton Coast. Hitchhiking is not restricted, but with bitterly cold mornings and desiccating afternoons it won't be pleasant – heat exhaustion would be a real danger. A few tour companies in Swakopmund run excursions to Cape Cross, about 120km or 11/2 hours' drive from Swakopmund which stop at one of the lichen fields, and some of the more obvious sites of interest on the way.
By far the best method is to drive yourself, equipped with plenty of water and a picnic lunch, and stop where and when you wish to explore. Set off north as early as possible, catching the southern sections of the road in the fog, and pre-book to stay at Terrace Bay for the night. The drive alone will take about five hours, though most people stop to explore and have refreshments, and so make a whole day of it.
The main C34 is tarred up until the C35 turn-off, just north of Henties Bay. After that it becomes what is known locally as a salt road
, made of salt, gypsum and gravel compacted hard over the years. It has no loose surface, and so is almost as solid and safe as tar. You can drive faster on this than you would on normal gravel, though it sometimes twists around and gets bumpy – so there's no leeway for a lack of concentration.