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 kilometers 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 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
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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