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Namibia: Damaraland, Etosha National Park, NamibRand Nature Reserve, Ongava, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Windhoek
Swakopmund, Namibia: Happiness surrounds
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
Palm-lined streets, seaside promenades, fine accommodation, a pleasant summer climate and decent beaches describe Swakopmund - Namibia's premier holiday resort! During the summer holidays and long weekends, thousands of Namibians flock to the coast, and this human migration happens for a number of reasons; Swakopmund has a real holiday feel to it and everyone wants to be there; during the December (summer in the southern hemisphere) holidays, the cool Namibian coast offers relief from the intense heat of the interior.
After lunch at the Mowani Mountain Camp, we began our drive to Swakopmund that was about 325 kms towards the coast. We would be driving for about 4 hours on gravel road. While the gravel part was through wilderness and rough terrain, the road from Hentisbaai to Swakopmund was paved and ran along the coast.
It was evening when we arrived at the doors of The Swakopmund Hotel and Entertainment Centre, our hotel for the next 2 nights. The building used to be the old Swakopmund railway station and dates back to 1901. After extensive renovations the building has been restored to its former Victorian glory, opening as a hotel at the end of 1994.
Dinner that evening was at Platform One – an aptly named restaurant. It was a sumptuous buffet spread with international and local cuisine – truly delicious.
We had the morning free to explore the town. A few good hours of walk is more than enough to see this beautiful town and its beach. It has the ambiance associated with a small German village, and the town seems to be stuck in time.
True to its German traditions early mornings and evenings in Swakopmund can be cold throughout the year, as the cold Atlantic Ocean meeting the Namib Desert creates a fog bank. This coolness is often a relief from the heat of the rest of Namibia. Mist was around, but that added to our fun whilst walking the town.
Buildings and monuments of note in Swakopmund include the Hohenzollern Building, the Marine memorial, the War memorial in memory of those killed in World War 2, Princess Rupprecht House originally a military hospital now a private guest house. The Kaserne buildings originally served as a barracks and is of a similar design to the Alte Feste in Windhoek and Fort Namutoni in Etosha. The old Swakopmund Prison is still fully operational and provides budget accommodation for the criminal fraternity of the Namibian coast. Standing close to the State House (Kaiserliches Bezirksgericht) is the Swakop Lighthouse at just over 20 meters it has been functional since 1902.
The main beach area is called the Mole, and is the result of a largely unsuccessful attempt to construct the artificial harbour (as South Africa owned the only natural harbour in the area at Walvis Bay). The town’s most iconic symbol is the Swakopmund jetty. Initially used as mooring for ships it later became popular for anglers and walkers. It has fallen into disrepair on numerous occasions and has been subject to several attempts to rescue it from complete dereliction. Recently large scale work has been completed on the jetty which now proudly boasts a small restaurant and bar area. We had our lunch at Jetty 1905 restaurant – a must visit when in town.
The area of Namib Desert around Swakopmund is named the West Coast Recreational Area. And recreation is the towns number one draw card. There are countless pursuits to help you spend your time, and money. For those interested in adventure activities Swakopmund offers sandboarding, quad biking, dune carting, parachuting, hot air ballooning, shark fishing, deep sea fishing and beach angling to name but a few.
That afternoon we had opted for 1 hour and 45 minute scenic flight from Scenic Air. The package included pick-up and drop from our hotel. The small airstrip was only a 15-minute drive.
The small flight took a shacky start and to be honest for the first 15 minutes the bumps made us wonder whether it was really a good decision to opt for this adventure? But then as the flight got smoother and the landscape below opened up, the shakes were all forgotten. We overflew Kuiseb Canyon, Tsondapvlei, Dunes, Sossusvlei, Diamond Camps, Eduard Bohlen Shipwreck, Shawnee Shipwreck, Sandwich Harbour and the Salt Pans. Only pictures can truly describe the show.
Our dinner that evening was organized at The Tug restaurant at the beginning of the jetty. Another good experience.
Tomorrow, we move towards Sossusvlei – another Namibian icon.
Swakopmund Image Gallery Photo viewer
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