No holiday in Namibia is complete without a visit to Swakopmund on the west coast. This quaint little town with its German architectural influence is much-loved by Namibians and tourists alike. With its temperate climate, and the cooler weather it offers over the scorching months of December and January, it is a haven for those wishing for some respite from the hot summer weather inland. Many locals own second homes in Swakopmund which they use for weekends or summer holidays, so for most of the year a lot of the accommodation lies vacant.
The weather is influenced largely by the cold Benguela current in the Atlantic Ocean. Mist rolls in often and shrouds the town making visibility very poor and causing metal to rust badly, but the fog also has an upside as it supplies precious moisture to the flora and fauna in the area. Rainfall cannot be relied upon as the average figures are less than 15mm per annum.
Flanked on the south by enormous dunes, Swakopmund is prey to unpleasant sand storms, which we, as campers, have had the misfortune to experience.
For the tourist Swakop has an amazing variety of action and adventure activities, from quad-biking and sand boarding, to sky-diving or camel riding. We’ve tried most of these and I must say that sand boarding had to be the most exciting of the lot. There’s no other thrill like speeding down the dunes at 80 kph with one’s nose a few centimeters from the sand. Never mind the fact that we had sand in every bodily orifice for the next two weeks! Our camel ride was also fun – especially as they dressed us up like Lawrence of Arabia (or Louwrens of Namibia as they say here).
The icy waters of the Atlantic are superb for fishing, so there are excellent seafood restaurants everywhere. And a visit to Cafe Anton is a must if you’re into delicious cakes and pastries. Of interest too, is the Crystal Gallery which features examples of the many gemstones and enormous crystals found in Namibia.
Although it’s a tad cold for swimming, the beachfront is a wonderful focal point for tourism and one can enjoy the many delights on offer on the waters edge.
There is an excellent African market with colourful and original displays of crafts and goods for sale or one can visit the Swakopmund Museum to pick up on the history and culture of Namibia.
For those wanting a very civilized and more sheltered camping option, the Alte Brucke campsite has private ablutions and good security. However, I much prefer taking the fifteen kilometer drive out to Langstrand, which is halfway between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. Here one has fabulous seaviews, and on clear evenings the sunsets are quite spectacular.
Swakopmund will draw you back time and again – there is just so much to see and do in and around this friendly little town.