Swakopmund

NAMIBIA

Swakopmund

Swakopmund is Namibia’s second largest town and its traditional summer capital.

Swakopmund is a city-oasis situated amidst dunes and desert close to the mouth of the Swakop River on the coast of the  Atlantic Ocean at the edge of the Namib Desert. Swakopmund is Namibia’s second largest town and its traditional summer  capital.

History

This colonial town with German inspired architecture is one of the most surreal and unique destinations of Namibia. Established by German colonists in August 1892, the city’s colonial landmarks include the Swakopmund Lighthouse and the Mole, an old sea wall. Next to the lighthouse, the Swakopmund Museum documents Namibian history. Inland, the elegant Swakopmund Railway Station, now a hotel, also dates to the colonial era. German is widely spoken among the residents. Currently it has around 44,000 inhabitants.

Today Swakopmund serves mainly as a holiday resort and is thus of touristic importance. Due to its mild climatic condition especially during the high season December and January the town is an attraction to many tourists especially from the  inland.

Attractions

Swakopmund offers many touristic attractions like splendid buildings, a wonderful town promenade, the aquarium and many more. The nearby surroundings are also of touristic importance. Especially the coastal road flanked by dunes on the one side and by the Atlantic Ocean on the other is very impressive. Excursions can be made 30 km south to Walvis Bay, as well as up north to the fishing paradise of Henties Bay or to Cape Cross to one of the world largest seal colonies.

Climate

Surrounded by the Namib Desert on three sides and the cold Atlantic waters to the west, Swakopmund enjoys a desert climate with mild conditions year round. The average temperature ranges between 15°C to 25°C. Rainfall is less than 20 mm per year, making gutters and drainpipes on buildings a rarity. The cold Benguela current supplies moisture for the area in the form of fog that can reach as deep as 140 km inland. Fogs that originate offshore from the collision of the cold Benguela Current and warm air from the Hadley Cell create a fog belt that frequently envelops parts of the Namib Desert. Coastal regions can experience more than 180 days of thick fog a year.

Leisure

The seaside town of Swakopmund is a regular destination for local and international tourists enjoying the region’s food  specialties of rock lobster, fish, local oysters, traditional German cuisine, including sausages, beer, and pastries. A day of
leisure allows you to experience and taste all these different cuisines at various locations.

Take a wander down to the end of the famous Swakopmund jetty and you will find Jetty 1905, one of the town’s most iconic landmarks originally built in 1905, refurbished in 2006 boasting a small restaurant and bar area, where you can dine as if you are in the middle of the ocean, with great seafood to boot.

If you are looking for classic Swakopmund then look no further than Café Anton, located in the Schweizerhaus Hotel;  arguably one of the town’s most well-known coffee spots. It feels like it has been around forever. Head there for a classic beer and lunch, or for some good old-fashioned coffee and Apfelstrudel, Kugelhopf, and other European delights and typical ‘Deutsch Gebӓck’.

Swakopmund has a distinct German heritage and The Brauhaus restaurant is an excellent restaurant with a great variety of authentic German-style cuisine – from the bratwurst to the Weissbier and the jolly atmosphere. Indulge in their Eisbein,  plate of mixed sausages, piled sauerkraut and a healthy dollop of spicy mustard.

Do not miss out The Tug, popular for their seafood. Housed in the beached tugboat Danie Hugo near the jetty, the Tug is something of an obligatory destination for any restaurant-goer in Swakopmund. Regarded by many as the best restaurant in town, the Tug is an atmospheric, upmarket choice for meat and seafood, though a sundowner cocktail with the angelfish burger in North African spices will do just fine.

Activities

Sand-boarding

Swakopmund and the surrounding areas offer a variety of interesting activities and is a perfect base for exploring the coast. It makes sense to spend a few days in and around Swakopmund. Whether on land, at sea or in the air, there is certainly something for everyone.

From taking a boat and kayaking trip from Walvis Bay to spot the abundant marine life of the Atlantic Ocean to going bird watching at Sandwich Harbor, further south. A great way to explore Sandwich harbor is with a 4×4 guided drive. It is also a center for adventure activities. Take your pick from sand boarding down the vast dunes just outside of town, quad biking, sky diving in the desert, paragliding, windsurfing, camel riding, urban and township tours, sightseeing flights, golfing, fishing from a boat to fat bike scenic tour; the stretch of coast known particularly for its angling. The living desert tour is a great family outing and a very informative tour exploring the desert and its living creatures.

There are a number of numerous boulevards to explore with a large traditional street market, where one can buy authentic Namibian souvenirs. During the day, you can visit the national aquamarine and the magnificent Crystal Gallery that displays one of the world’s biggest rock crystals, as well as many semi-precious stones found in the Namibian rock formations.

Spitzkoppe

From Swakopmund you can go on a tour to the Spitzkoppe, situated about 120 km northeast, a mere 30 km away from the well-traveled route between Usakos and Swakopmund. It is one of the most photographed mountain motifs of Namibia. The inselberg surmounts its surrounding by 700 m with an overall height of 1728 m above sea level. Due to its distinctive form, which spotted from a great distance the Spitzkoppe, is often called the “Matterhorn” of Namibia.

Cape Cross

A visit to the Cape fur seal colony at Cape Cross, about 120 km north of Swakopmund, is worth a day trip where you can get a taste of the Skeleton Coast. The Cape Cross Seal Reserve, with a surrounding area of 60 km² was proclaimed in 1968 to protect the biggest and best known of the 23 colonies of South African (Cape) fur seals that breed along the Namibian and western South African coast.

As many as 700,000 adult seals and 138,000 juveniles gather at Cape Cross at any one time during the October/November breeding season. It was here that the Portuguese navigator, Diego Cão, on his second  expedition to Africa, planted a stone cross in 1486. Two replicas of this cross can be viewed at the site where the original one was erected. The original is currently in Portugal.

Welwitschia Drive

welwitschia plant

The Welwitschia drive for keen botanists is a must see, introducing the fauna and flora of the Namib Desert. It also leads to the Moon Valley presenting great opportunity for unique, scenic photography. The giant Welwitschia mirabilis found in the desert is an extraordinary plant that is estimated to be between 1500 to 2000 years old and is endemic to Namibia.

The Welwitschia-Drive leads 50 km from Swakopmund to the fenced plains. On the Welwitschia plains an estimated 6000 plants can be found. It has short but very strong, wooden stem without branches. Its structure consists of a short, woody, top-shaped stem, and never more than two leaves, which are enormously long, (2 or 3 m) and break up at the ends.

Walvis Bay

flamingos

Just a scenic 30-minute drive away is Walvis Bay with its busy harbor and natural lagoon. The bay is a safe haven for sea  vessels because of its natural deep water harbor, protected by the Pelican Point sand pit. The Port of Walvis Bay is a secure, efficient, and world-class port, serving a vital link together with the Lüderitz in the exporting of fish and fishing products  from Namibia to the rest of the world.

A scenic dolphin cruise from the harbour on a catamaran enjoying oysters and sipping champagne comes highly  recommended. Other attractions include the artificial bird island, centre of a guano collection industry, the Dune 7 sand  dune, the salt works, the abundant birdlife, and a museum. Walvis Bay Lagoon is a must for bird enthusiasts as in season you are sure to see thousands of flamingos.

Henties Bay

The small town of Henties Bay is a natural stop for travellers heading north and is especially popular with anglers. There
are several tried and tested fishing spots located nearby offering some of the best angling opportunities; guided fishing excursions can be booked. Close to Henties Bay, there are several visible shipwrecks, one of which is that of The Suiderkus, a relatively modern fishing trawler.

Sandwich Harbor

Sandwich Harbor is where the Namib Desert meets the ocean. This small area about 45 km south of Walvis Bay in the Dorob National Park contains a large saltwater lagoon, extensive tidal mudflats, and a band of reed-lined pools fed by  freshwater springs, which together form one of the most important refuges for bird life in southern Africa. Typically, you will find about 30 species of birds at Sandwich at any given time, offering bird, and nature lovers beautiful photographic  opportunities. It offers food and shelter to countless thousands of migrants every year and some of the most spectacular  scenery in the country. Half- and full-day trips down

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