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Your guide to Swakopmund
All About Swakopmund
The Atlantic Ocean exerts a large presence in Swakopmund, Namibia's largest coastal town: You can smell its salt in the air, walk along its shores or out the long jetty that extends into the water, survey the ocean’s expanse from a historic lighthouse, and taste its bounty in the dining rooms of the city’s high-quality restaurants. Ornate, German-influenced architecture dominates the public buildings and private homes in the city center. Swakopmund is also home to the largest privately run museum in the country, whose displays document the minerals, flora, and fauna of the region.
The Namib Desert extends to the east of town. Just 25 minutes outside the city, you’ll find Dune 7, a 1,200-foot sand dune that is the desert’s highest, and guided tours may bring you to other spots where you can sandboard down the dunes. With the coast and the desert so close to town, Swakopmund makes an excellent base for exploring a number of nearby attractions, such as Walvis Bay, with its abundance of marine wildlife, and the jagged valley referred to as Moon Landscape.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Swakopmund?
Namibia's climate is desert subtropical, which means hot, dry days, cool nights, and very little rainfall. There is some variation in average temperatures between summer (December through February) and winter (July and August), but not so extreme as to make a real difference to what you can see and do here. If you’re interested in spotting marine life, the best time to see whales is between June and November and the best time to spot flamingos is from October to April.
What are the top things to do in Swakopmund?
The so-called Moon Landscape, 25 miles east of Swakopmund in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, makes a fascinating day trip. Here, the Namib Desert’s surreal landscape is indeed reminiscent of a barren lunar vista. You may also encounter a true prehistoric relic, the Welwitschia mirabilis plants endemic to the Namibian and Angolan deserts. The plants average 400 to 500 years of age, although some are as old as 1,500 years.
This wooden pier extends 300 yards into the south Atlantic Ocean and is the perfect place for a sunset stroll. You might even get to see a pod of dolphins frolicking in the water as you gaze out at sea. Back on the coast, you’ll find a restaurant on the water, and a few blocks inland is a quaint downtown area with more places to grab a bite to eat and shops selling handmade jewelry and crafts. Be aware that wooden boards of the jetty might be slippery, and that the temperature can drop drastically at night, so bring a warm windbreaker along with you.
A 40-minute drive down the coast to Walvis Bay will bring you to a wildlife and birdlife oasis. Here, the tidal lagoon is home to pelicans, terns, cormorants, and many other seabirds. Between November and April, you might see tens of thousands of pink flamingos in the aptly named Flamingo Bay. You can also take a boat tour to see leatherback turtles, cape fur seals, and sunfish. Between November and April, you are also likely to see whales and dolphins.