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Swakopmund is a puzzling small town on the West Coast of Namibia. I actually had to keep reminding myself I'm still in Africa, as it has the appearance of a small German town after Global Warming has struck. It's the last remnants of the German colonial empire. And to prove my point just look at a picture of Shiloh, Angelina Jolie's daughter, and see what someone born here looks like. But for this reason I really liked it. I loved comparing the centre of town with its Lutheran churches and German beer to the more African quarter a little outside. There's Germans, Afrikaans, Bush men, Bantu and a load of other races living within the City which makes it feel like the Disney ride Its a small world. However there was one slightly sinister remnant of its German past, when browsing the antique shops I saw a surprising amount of Nazi memorabilia cluttering up the shop.
Being surrounded by the Atlantic ocean and the beautiful Namib desert is what I think makes Swakopmund the popular tourist destination. Without it's natural wonders the town wouldn't have flourished at all. And like most African towns near spectacular natural beauty Swakopmund has hundreds of activities you can enrol in if you have brought enough money. From the relatively cheap, like Sand-boarding, Quad Biking or Cape Seal tour, to the ridiculously pricey, Hot-air ballooning, fly over Skeleton coast and Skydiving. And with most activities it's easy just to book yourself onto them when you're there, and needn't worry about booking ahead. I'd personally recommend the Sand Boarding and Angling, but that's just me. The town also has a surprisingly good night-life, maybe not rivalling Las Vegas or Ibiza, but still for African terms pretty decent. And with so few bars you'll see most other travellers will congregate around a certain few.
Seeing as though it's a very Western style town everything is really catered for. Laundrettes, Fast-food restaurants, internet café and more tourist shops than you know what to do with. It's also relatively small and everything is within walking distance, which is good seeing as though it has no real public transport system. There's also an abundance of accommodation, too many for me to name or try to evaluate, but I seemed to gather after meeting other tourists, most of it is pretty decent, even the small backpacker lodges. There are some tourist sites you can visit without having to book yourself onto a tour, but these remain largely unspectacular. The museums either focus on boring topics, lack funding or both, and the Lutheran churches, like all Lutheran churches, aren't there too impress. But you could always chill out at the beach and face possible winds and freezing water.
The City is easy to get to via public transport, and relatively cheap. There are flights from Johannesburg, Windhoek and Cape Town to Walvis Bay, which is just 40km away and from there you can get cheap taxis or the local mini-buses. Then there's the Intercape that connects Swakopmund with Victoria Falls, Cape Town and Windhoek and everywhere in between, and is very comfortable and relatively quick. Compared to the local mini-buses which I took, which are a little more cramped but far cheaper, and you can get these from most town in Namibia. There's also a train from Windhoek, but unfortunately, like in a lot of Africa, they move at such slow speeds you'd think walking would have been faster, and they also run at irregular times with great delays, and sometimes cancelled for long periods of times. Swakopmund also lies close to some of Namibia's greatest sites, like Sossusvlei, Skeleton Coast and to some extent Etosha NP, and tours are readily available, albeit expensive, so I recommend hiring a car to see these places, it just works out a hell of a lot cheaper.
It's a relaxing town on the whole, besides a few apparent bush men who are adamant you buy some of their goods. And although the town may not fascinate you there's so much you can do around it. It serves as a fantastic base for safari goers and tour groupers and attracts quite an interesting bunch of travellers. It is however pretty expensive if you're on a tight budget, and if you're pushed for time I'd say crack on with touring the Skeleton coast or Sossusvlei and don't bother to long with Swakopmund.
Crisp and pure the sea air found its way through the open window as we approached Swakopmund after what proved to be an eventful journey from Windhoek. Janet and Brian delighted us with their truly excited astonishment towards the country they so yearned to visit. Yet, we were only at the beginning of a holiday they would remember and treasure for a lifetime (now, was that wishful thinking or what?), as it was only the previous day our e-pals from England arrived at Hosea Kutako Airport, 40km outside Windhoek. You can imagine just how thrilled we all were to meet at last! Why would we be so daft taking our friends to Swakopmund while they only arrived from a country that was cold and wet anyway? Surely sunshine would have been more appreciated? Pot luck people! Only winding you up. The truth is that Swakopmund is the tourist Mecca of Namibia and I have to mention that Namibian’s too invade Swakopmund during weekends and holiday seasons continuously. Besides, our weather played an important role keeping our friends more than happy throughout the duration of their visit. We do have our magic wands handy for occasions such as this you know. Swakopmund lies at the mouth of the Swakop River, hence the name. Very cozy, it is lying between the Namib Desert (known as the oldest sea of sand in the world) and the Atlantic Ocean, a magical and very beautiful oasis if you wish. Peet, my brother and his family awaited our arrival with just as much excitement. After all, it is not every day we are so lucky to receive people into our homes from abroad and is always a good cause for celebration, therefor he welcomed Janet and Brian into their home with the use of their flat for our convenience. Oh, do not be mistaken, as the tourist and holiday demand increased through the years, accommodation developed at an incredible rate from the most basic rest camps to the finest star-rated hotels. One such example is The Swakopmund Municipal Restcamp. Situated centra
lly, various sights and scenes within Swakopmund is easy accessible whilst it provides you with the absolute comfort of fully equipped bungalows, and VIP flats. Many visitors would prefer peace, tranquility and still receive genuine hospitality from their hosts, which is also possible with the many guesthouses and lodges to choose from in and around Swakopmund. Naturally there would be visitors that still wants the comfort of luxury, and the finest hotels with splendid views and incredible services, and Swakopmund proudly offers the best. Could that be right up your alley perhaps? The sound of waves breaking in the background seems to relax our friends after such an exciting journey. The flames burning high upon our arrival at Peet’s for the braai (barbecue), took them by surprise as did so many of the events occurring throughout the day. Unbeknown to these English arrivals, the “Jagermeister” was ready and waiting! What on earth could that be, you may ask. That was Peet’s welcoming present to Janet and Brian, a “kleine…kleine”(a short in your terms I presume). The surprise only appeared after these two friends had a few already, and maybe you (ought to) agree that 95% alcohol can be a sudden shock to your system! Wow! Overwhelmed, they accepted their present and knocked it back in one go, not that they had any choice, really, but survived the ordeal almost graciously. Where was I, oh, Swakopmund. Surely you can not blame me for being so excited? Who would not be? Give me a break, I am trying! The well-kept buildings in Swakopmund has a certain beauty and charm that could easily melt any visitor’s heart. Eleven buildings have been declared National Monuments due to their architectural style and the German dominance is evident. I would recommend anyone interested in outstanding workmanship not to pass an opportunity to enjoy these splendors. Brian was enchanted and it took a combined effort of three
women to lure him away from these wonders. (Actually we had to bribe him if you want the truth) The history of Swakopmund will take you on a magic tour. I will not bore you with all details, however can not help to mention that the Museum presents a wonderful opportunity to enjoy exhibits of the sea life, the desert, semi-precious stones and many more exciting knowledge of the area. The Jetty is a very popular pier which are visited by many, and being a sight close to the heart of most locals, they have undertaken to save the Jetty from possible collapse towards the end of 1986 at a high cost. Donations are currently accepted to keep it repaired for the future generation and many visitors to enjoy. At least twenty-one other sights will keep the keen visitor exploring and usually most find that they have allocated too little time for this wonderful town of Namibia. Be sure you do not make the same mistake. For the young at heart, Swakopmund offers nightclubs, pubs and a gambling house as entertainment well into the early hours. Do you want to let your hair down, or shuffle a bit? (Or should I ask a lot?) All entertainment is easy accessible and within walking distance from one another…so, what about some bar-hopping as we locals call it? Your discovery of the seafood paradise and a lot of German cuisine offered at; from a la carte restaurants to cozy coffee shops will never stop to amaze you. Swakopmund is known for the most delectable crayfish found in the world, and sole to die for…simply divine, fresh from the Atlantic Ocean, as well as many more seafood specialties. Oh, how I wish I was back in Swakopmund right now! With beautiful unspoiled landscapes such as the Namib Desert with the renowned Welwitschia plants, sensitive lichens which is already very rare today, and unique insects and animal life, it is no wonder the touring Mecca of Namibia is Swakopmund. You might have a wonderful experience by way of a Cam
el ride into the massive dunes of the Namib Desert accompanied by a very capable touring guide. You could become the devil rider on a four wheeled bike into the sand dunes which is a certain thrill…I would recommend some insurance though. Oh, you’re tough, you say! The favorite hobby of many a Swakopmunder and tourists are fishing or angling. Most fishing spots are accessible and easy to find with a huge variety of sea lives for the keen angler such as, Galjoen (Galleon), Kabeljou (Cod fish), Steenbras and a lot more to catch. Due to conservation aspects, it is always advisable to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations prior to any fishing trip. The Ministry of Fisheries in Swakopmund is always available with the updated information. Professional tour operators offer fantastic boat trips and beach angling trips. You may even want to try your hand at shark angling for the day. The fact remains that when you land up in Swakopmund between the Namib Desert and the Atlantic Ocean, you can just about do anything you ever wanted! Exploring and discovering the beauty of this friendly town and its surroundings, might be memories never to be forgotten, which reminds me, I have to find a way to break back to the West Coast soon. Should any of you readers ever be so daring to choose Namibia as your holiday destination some day, and Swakopmund perhaps being added to your agenda, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org A little advise from another Dooyoo member could be just worth your while.
Swakopmund is as close as Namibia gets to a recognisable holiday resort. It lies between the desert and the sea, to the extent that there are sand dunes close by behind it. Despite being very small (drive ten minutes in any direction but the sea, and you're out of town), this is one of the few places in the country where you will encounter lots of tourists. Most of the tours we saw while in the UK, and most of the tourists we met in the country, had Swakopmund on their itinerary. It is a good spot to cool down after the heat and dust of the desert, even if the wilderness is almost certainly what has attracted you to the country. Many locals talk of how cold and foggy Swakopmund is - it was warm and sunny when we were there and all the more pretty for it, but I think we were lucky. Swakop is fascinating, if sometimes for the wrong reasons. It is said to be one of the few remaining colonies of the German colonists, and we were told rumours of some locals flying swastikas on Hitler's birthday, but the closest we got to this was a very stern German Frau in a cafe, glowering at us while muttering to her chihuahuas. Like in Windhoek, Swakopmund has a very strange appearance for a town on the West African coast; at times, it feels like a theme park version of a small German resort transplanted to Namibia, the buildings seem almost parodic in their teutonic elegance. The place feels very relaxed, with a long clean beach (we didn't swim, as the waves were gigantic, but it's lovely to sit and watch them come crashing down). There are also lots of nice shops, and if through your travels in Namibia, you've been desperate for some really nice cake, then look no further than the Cafe Anton or one of the other cafes in the town, which serve quite outstanding cakes and pastries. Close your eyes, and you might even imagine that you're in Vienna... but you aren't, and after strolling round the town and window shopping
, you would probably be well advised to drive down the coast to see the flamingos or wander on the big dunes. There are several good restaurants, but the best one we went to was the Tug, a real tugboat marooned beside the sea, where absolutely gorgeous seafood is served in a relaxed atmoshphere. I'd recommend the shark.
Swakopmund is a city in Namibia, with around 35,000 inhabitants. It is Namibia's premier beach resort and is one of the best preserved examples of German colonial architecture in the world. It was founded in 1892 as the main harbour for German South-West Africa. It is one of the few places anywhere outside of Europe where a sizable minority of the population speaks German and has German roots. The city lies on the B2 road and the Trans-Namib Railway from Windhoek to Walvis Bay. It is also home to Swakopmund Airport.