Swakopmund Travel Guide for Backpacker’s.

#swakopmund
Valentinesday on Dune 7 with a bottle of Champagne. Swakopmund backpacker's guide

Swakopmund travel guide

Swakopmund started with a highlight. Just before we entered the town we drove past the monster dune, Dune 7, the biggest in the Namib.  It was 17:00 we were tired after a long drive, but had to run out this monster!

Swakop is the main beach holiday town in Namibia and a very popular backpacking location. Sitting at the edge of the Namib Desert with many old German Colonial buildings throughout the city this is a beautiful town. After driving through 1000’s of kilometres of stunning nothing it was nice to arrive in “a little piece of South Africa”. All the familiar franchises were here; Spar, Foodlover’s market, Spur; pizza places, bars and more. The town is about more than food, it is known as the adventure capital of Namibia.

#swakopmund
Valentinesday on Dune 7 with a bottle of Champagne. Swakopmund travel guide

Swakopmund for Backpackers

It is a very popular backpacker’s destination since there are proper backpacker’s hostels and exciting activities. There are some interesting sites, bars, shops and restaurants in the area. To really experience Namibia you have to travel with your own transport. Just to have a taste of the country many backpackers come here and do some organised tours. Swakop is easy to reach by flying into Windhoek and transport by road from here is easy. Many overland trucks stop in Swakopmund for a night or two.

Sights and Activities in and around Swakopmund

Dune 7

Located about 30km outside Swakop, this is the highest dune in the Namib and was one of the highlights of the area. It takes about 15 minutes to climb the dune (exhaustion guaranteed 🙂  Behind the main dune it is beautiful, with many more dunes and a sand landscape to explore. For best photos go at sunrise or sunset (shadows make the dunes spectacular). We had a great valentine’s day sunset with champagne on the dune!

Dune 7
Dune 7 at sunset, the highest dune in the Namib. Swakopmund travel guide

Moon valley

Beautiful landscapes, carved out by the Swakopmund river millions of years ago, located about 30km outside Swakop. There are some nice views for taking photos from several viewpoints. Many people drive here to see the well-known welwitschia plains. It is a 140km round trip to see these plants and we stopped short (not enough fuel). You require a permit to drive in to this area NAM$30 ($2) from the ministry of environment and tourism office (no one checked for our permit).

Moon Valley
Moon Valley Swakopmund travel guide

Adventure Activities

Swakop is seen as the adventure capital of Namibia. Quadbiking, sandboarding and skydiving are the main activities. These are quite pricey for a quadbike you’ll pay NAM$400 ($30), for sandboarding NAM$400-500 ($30-38), skydiving from NAM$2500 ($190).

You can also go surfing with or rent equipment from Element Riders Surfshop.

Flamingo colony Walvis Bay

Thousands of flamingos in Walvis Bay Lagoon, one of the most valuable wetland sites along the entire African west coast.

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Thousands of flamingos in Walvis Bay Lagoon. Swakopmund travel guide

This spectacular site about 35km from Swakop often supports more than 150 000 birds! Apart from the flamingos, pelicans, terns, grebes, plovers, gulls and migratory wader species can be found in the lagoon.

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Flamingos on a mission! Swakopmund travel guide

Seal colony, Cape Cross

A massive colony of about 30 000 seals. I have seen and dived with many cape fur seals around Cape Town, but have never experienced anything like this. Walking among 1000’s of seals that sounds like a massive heard of sheep was amazing. We camped here for 2 nights, the campsite was one of our favourites in Namibia, right on the sea with only 3 or 4 other overlanders/fisherman staying here. NAM$100 pp ($7). We enjoyed the drive here on the rugged Skeleton Coast, past lichen fields, ship wrecks and Salt Flats. There are several tours to see the seals from Swakopmund.

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Standing between thousands of seals at Cape Cross. Swakopmund travel guide

Walk around the town, drink coffee or stop for lunch

Swakop is a really nice town with lot’s of distinctive German architecture, see the Woermann Tower, the Hohenzollern Haus and the Kristall Galerie.

Swakopmund backpackers guide
Traditional German architecture in the streets of Swakopmund. Swakopmund backpackers guide

Go for a walk on the beach and on the jetty. There are many nice bars and restaurants. The Tug and Jetty 1905 are located at awesome venues, but the menu was expensive. Kucki’s Pub and The Brauhaus were recommended by many.

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The Jetty 1905 restaurant located at the end of the Swakopmund Jetty. Swakopmund backpacker’s guide

Swakopmund Museum

This is a history/natural history museum about Namibia. It is interesting NAM$30 ($2)

Walk or run along the beach

Going for a run every night was fantastic. If you have been driving or sitting for days, this is a nice place to go for a run and a swim in the cold water. The best place for swimming is the beach near the city museum.

Accommodation

There are two backpackers Skeleton Beach Backpackers and Desert Sky Backpackers. Both have dormitories, camping and private rooms. We camped at Skeleton Beach for a couple of nights $NAM 120 pp, Desert Sky was more expensive. Skeleton Beach is a nice backpackers, with friendly staff, a nice breakfast included and good facilities. My only complaint here is that too many people camped outside the backpackers. There were only 2 toilet/showers where we had to stand in line in the mornings. There was no real campsite in Swakopmund, an option is to camp at the moon landscape, there are shaded campings, no water or electricity with dry field toilets.

For more details, route and places check our complete 30-day Namibia travel itinerary.

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7 Comments

  • Thank you so much for such a prompt response!
    Since my wife can’t extend her leave we got only 5 days. Hence, we like to go to Swakopmund straight from the airport and spend 3 day/nights there. Perhaps we can explore the Namib desert…sossusvlei..go to greet the Flamingos…return to Windhoek on day 4 and browse the city. Day 5 we catch return flight to Joburg in the early morning. This is a not so good schedule but we have no choice! We did accommodation booking because we needed the reference for visa..thought we can just take a taxi/shuttle and mover around. And when needed we buy a day tour to explore Namib desert..etc. How can you help?

    • We don’t do tours but I’m sure you’ll be able to arrange it at your hotel in Swakop. Sossusvlei is quite far from Swakopmund tours usually take 2 days/one night, don’t think you’ll be able to go there and return in one day. Flamingo colony is in Walvis Bay which is 30min. drive from Swakop. There is Dune 7 not far from Swakopmund, about 20km, it’s the highest dune in Namibia so if you won’t be able to go to Sossusvlei we’d suggest to visit Dune 7.
      Good luck!

  • This is good! Is it possible do the tour without own vehicle and a tour guide? Is there a good public/private transport service available? I am quite frustrated about the system of exploitation in practice, i.e. most of the shuttle service and accommodation providers quote price PP (per person). My wife and I are about to fly to Swakopmund in the end of this month which we pulled off; trying to make in the mid-June. Any advice?

    Best regards,

    Mujibul
    Johannesburg
    South Africa

    • Hello, Mujibul! Thank you for your question!
      It’s difficult to move around in Namibia without your own vehicle but possible. There are public buses between main cities/towns, from Swakopmund you can get to Windhoek by bus or train. But to get to some tourists attractions e.g. Sossusvlei, Cape Cross Seal Reserve, Etosha etc. you’ll have to take a shuttle or do a tour. In Swakopmund there are many options for shuttles to different places in Namibia most hotels/hostels provide or can arrange shutle service. We stayed at Skeleton beach backpackers in Swakop and there were many european backpackers traveling without a car so they moved around using shuttles. You can check on their website or write an e-mail requesting prices and options.
      We traveled in low season so we didn’t book any accommodation in advanced especially because we camped all the times. But for you we’d definitely recommend to book hotels or guest houses the places can be fully booked. Accommodation is Namibia is very expensive that why most people camp but it can be difficult to do without a car. Where else except Swakop do you want to go?
      Cheers!

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