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The coastal town of Swakopmund, Namibia
Swakopmund is a pretty, coastal town lying just south of the National West Coast Tourist Recreational
Area of the Skeleton Coast of Namibia. Its architecture and general feeling is a lasting historical legacy to the early European settlers from Germany.
Backed by the foaming Atlantic Ocean the Bavarian style roof tops and spires belie the town’s location in Africa. The town has a bohemian feel due to its a mix of many cultures and types of visitors; traditional descendents of the original Germanic settlers, artists, hippies, Herero women in Victorian dress, miners, game rangers and fishermen.
Swakopmund with its palm lined streets and attractive seaside promenades enjoys a pleasant climate during the summer months, however, true to this coastline the Atlantic mists create cool fogs that lower the temperatures in both morning and evening. Even if these cooler temperatures are welcome in the height of the summer months no one should believe this to be a tropical sunbathing hotspot. However, for tourists and Africans alike this is a very popular holiday and weekend destination with much to do in the town including cafés, art galleries and superb seafood restaurants. There is an air of timelessness about the architecture with many of its historical buildings now renovated and refurbished into charming hotels and boutique style guest houses, including the old Swakopmund Prison and the Railway Station which was originally built at the turn of the twentieth century.
Leaving the town and travelling north it is a short drive into the area known as the National West Coast Tourist Recreational Area. This region is popular with fisherman although the scenery is rather monotonous until you reach the little fishing village of Hentiesbaai some 70 kilometres north with its colourful holiday homes at the moth of the Omaruru River. This is a very popular spot during South African and Namibian school holidays.
Continuing north for a further 60km you reach Cape Cross where a massive colony of some 100,000 seals has noisily established itself.
Travelling in a southerly direction out of Swakopmund you will reach Walvis Bay and then the Namib Naukluft Park. Walvis Bay is located just 30km south and it is a pleasant drive. At Walvis Bay it is possible to enjoy one of the many boat trips setting sail in the mornings to seek sightings of bottle nosed dolphins, seals, pelicans and flamingos. The Walvis Bay Lagoon and Swakopmund Salt Works are an ornithological delight and also well worth a visit.
Namib Naukluft Park has activities suited to the more adrenaline pumping activities such as sand boarding, parasailing and hot air ballooning.
With international flights arriving into Windhoek it is usual to spend at least the first night of a safari in Namibia at one of the boutique guest houses in the city before heading out to the game reserves and national parks. However, a short visit to Swakopmund can also be incorporated as it lies approximately 270 kilometres to the west and there are good roads making it driveable in a journey time of around 4-5 hours. For those that are more pressed for time there are also scheduled flights from Windhoek’s Eros Airport to Swakopmund. It is very important to secure accommodation in Swakopmund prior to arrival particularly during the summer months as the town is very busy indeed.