This is a bustling town (population approx 30,000) that has a lot of adventure activities, fine architecture and lots of nice bars and cafes set on the mid western coast of Namibia by the Atlantic Ocean.
Backpackers stream into this town for a few days of R&R. Windsurfing, sandboarding, quad biking, parachuting and much more are on offer.
You can get away from it all however and trips to Walvis Bay and even further south to Sandwich bay are well worth doing. Walvis Bay or just outside it (30kms from Swakop) has the Dune 7 complex where you will see the young crowd screaming down the dunes by board, bike or any other means possible. Walvis Bay also has flamingos and pelicans in its wetlands lagoon which is just south of the main esplanade area.
There are lots of accommodation options in Swakopmund and the town is easy to walk around with the pier, harbour area, lighthouse and central town all tightly bunched together.
Swakopmund museum close to the lighthouse is definitely a place to visit. It was founded by Dr. Alfons Weber in 1951 and offers an interesting insight into the past and present of the region. There are various displays: like those presenting the flora and fauna in the Namib desert and Atlantinc Ocean, showing weapons and domestic utensils used by the namibian indigenous people or the reconstruction of the colonial home interior.
My photos show an original ox-wagon (1), the interior of the apothecary shop with an old-fashioned till (2) and the trunk of a thousand year old Welwitschia.
The museum is open daily from 10a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and 3-5.30 p.m. So if you have at least two hours to spare, visit and you will enjoy it.
Swakopmund is rich in examples of German historic architecture. The old houses have a year of their construction placed on their front wall. Walking around the town you will come across the finest examples of colonial buildings which have been maintained and preserved very well.
Here are just a few:
- Hohenzollern Building - in my opinion one of the most impressive in Swakopmund. This Baroque-style building was constructed in 1906 as a hotel. At the top we can see Atlas supporting the world.
- Altes Amtsgericht - was constructed in 1908 as a private school. Because of the shortage of funds it was taken over by the local government and converted into the magistrates court.
- Woermanhaus built in 1906 as the office for a trading company. Its prominent tower served for years as a landmark for sailors. Today you can climb it and view the panorama from its top. The building houses now a public library and art gallery.
Swakopmund was founded in 1892 as the only harbour of German South West Africa (nearby Walvis Bay was in British possesion). The German spirit is still present today in the form of beautiful colonial architecture, broad roads and the feeling of order and neatness. If it wasn't for the streets lined with palm trees you could think that you are somwhere in Germany.
Nowadays Swakopmund is the premier holiday resort and popular destination for extreme sport amateurs. Adventure activities include sand boarding, quad biking, scenic flights, hot air ballooning or deep sea fishing. There are a lot of activity operators in the town who have all those attractions in offer. But it's not cheap. For example skydiving may cost about 280-300 USD and for two hours of quad biking in the desert you are expected to pay around 60-70 USD.
If you are interested in having some fun and getting dirty go sledding on the sand dunes. We booked our day of fun with Far Out Adventures. For the lie down boarding it was $35 USD.
We were picked up from our hotel and taken to a 90m sand dune. After hiking our butts up the hill we were given a crash course on how to steer, stop and not get friction burns on the sand. Be prepared to get sandy, so don't take a shower before you go!!! We could climb up the dune as many times as we could manage in a 2 hour period. I made it 5 times but the record was 17!!!! Each run gets progressively longer and faster. The last hill of the day they brought out a radar gun to clock us as we flew down the hill. My speeds were around 68 km/h but the fastest time in our group was 76 km/h.
A cold lunch was included (sandwiches, cold soda and cold beer) as was a short video of the day.
I booked a half day sandboarding tour with Far Out Adventures - a high adreneline adventure company that sits adjacent to Hotel Gruner Krantz (aka Swakop Lodge).
We were picked up from our hotel and taken to a 90m sand dune where we put on snowboarding boots and grabbed a snowboard that had been re-finished for the sand. After hiking our butts up the hill we were given a crash course on how to wax the board and how to get down without killing ourselves :) And off we went!!!
We could climb up the dune as many times as we could manage in a 2 hour period. I made it 5 times but the record was 17!!!! If you paid for the sandboarding (the satnd-up version) you could also use the lie-down boards (think sledding).
A cold lunch was included (sandwiches, cold soda and cold beer) as was a short video of the day.
I didn't know if I would enjoy this activity but it was wonderful. Because my friend and I were not very good on the bikes we had our own guide and we were loving it and driving very well by the end of the trip. The views of the dunes and the ocean are well worth it.
The sand dunes of the Namib Desert are wonderful and quad bikes are a great way to see them. You don't have to be able to ride a bike as the guides will give you full instruction and will be there to help when you stop, or get bogged or are too scared to go any further (that would be my friend!)
The ride was about 2 1/2 hours and I just loved it - and I am now proud to say I can ride a quad bike in the sand.
We chose a different company - Outback Orange - to many of our tour-mates and we seemed to get a better deal - more guides, more time and water bottles and it was cheaper.
Driving around Namibia can be very hard and dangerous. Swakopmund is THE place to relax in Namibia. You have it all beach, desert, ocean, outdoor sports and braais. This is a picturesque little town where you can stay in a nice hotel and still afford it. It is also like an outdoor adventure playground without being several days from civilization and food. You can walk around the town and all the Mod Cons are here. 5 minutes later you can be sandboarding or quad biking in the desert. 5 minutes!
Please see my Swakopmund page for more excitement!
Swakopmund (often shortened by locals and visitors to Swakop) is a rather odd town to come across in the middle of an African desert! Founded by German settlers, the town still retains a Germanic feel, especially in the rather quaint architecture, which is certainly more European in style than African.
Things to do in Swakop include buggy rides and sand-surfing on the dunes, flights over the desert and Skeleton Coast, and shopping (there are some excellent craft shops). It’s also the ideal place to catch up on those essential travellers’ tasks of laundry and emailing! But we didn’t (in July) get a real sense of it as a seaside resort, although the ice-cream we had one afternoon was very welcome.
We were there in July, the Namibian winter, so the town was fairly quiet, but apparently in December and the other summer months it is invaded by families and other holiday-makers from Windhoek, so it’s essential then to plan ahead.
Swakopmund is the classic old city of Namibia as well and the beach resort by the Atlantic Ocean. Build by German immigrants this city has very interesting mix culture. It is also the place to try some of the restaurants and nightlife in Namibia.
Swakopmund is much loved by Namibians as a welcome respite from the heat of the interior. It has also become popular over the years with many foreign tourists because of its old-world charm and relaxed atmosphere.
Founded in 1892 during the period of German colonization of South West Africa, Swakopmund served as the terretories main port for many years.
The German influence in this city is still very visible, even though that the German colonial time ended during the First World War in 1915.
Quaint architecture from a bygone era adds to the time out of place atmosphere of Swakopmund. When approached from the interior, domes, turrets and towers on the skyline appear as a hazy desert mirage. Much of the distinct German colonial character has been preserved and don't be surprised if the natives speak to you in fluent German.
Swakopmund, affectionately referred to as Swakop by the locals, is Namibia's capital of adventure ... this little place between the Atlantic and the Namib is the base for all sorts of desert adventures, from dune boarding to flights over the Namib & Skeleton Coast.
The town has a heavy German influence, particularly noticeable from the architecture. It is used by tourists as a base for exploring this part of the Namib - or simply to chill out by the beach ... Chill out in the real sense of the word as the sea is C O L D!
There are some really stylish hotels and lovely guesthouses in the area, a highly recommended one is the Seabreeze Guesthouse.
Swakopmund is an indeed unique city. Being the second biggest city in Namibia, it is situated in between the Atlantic Ocean and the Namibian desert.
Approaching the city from the desert, you will suddenly have a feeling of approaching a Fata Morgana.
After passing by an alley of palm trees, you will see German colonial style houses with Bavarian spires. Incredible!
Swakop has some amazing old buildings, The German influence is still very visible.
This is a picture of the jail in Swakop. It looks more like a hotel than a jail. I assume it it not all that nice inside. I didn't bother to find out.
From the outside it is beautiful. The style is aparently that of a Bavarian Villa.
Swakopmund is like a German town in the 50ies! Or lets say how I imagine it.
Small and calm town. Every thing is more or less in walking distance!
click here for some more pics.