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Swakopmund

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Africa : Southern Africa : Namibia : Central Namibia : Swakopmund
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Beach in Swakopmund at dusk.

Swakopmund, known as Swakop in Namibia is the country's biggest coastal town and a mecca for Namibians on holiday. The city's German origins are quite pronounced in beautiful old German Colonial buildings throughout the city, making an even starker contrast for this town sitting at the edge of the Namib Desert.

One artifact of the German colonization includes an old museum/store, selling genuine artefacts from the 19th century. Cover a child's eyes, because some of what is on sale is aesthetically--and historically--difficult to look at.

Swakopmund was used as the setting for The Village in the 2008 production of The Prisoner [1] by AMC and ITV. It's quaint buildings and unusual appearance made a perfect replacement for Portmeirion where the original 1960's series of The Prisoner was set.

Get in

By car

The best way to get to Swakopmund is by road from Windhoek. The B2 is the main road from Windhoek, and takes 4-5 hours by car.

By minibus

Minibusses operate from Windhoek almost every 2-3 hours, ask the taxi drivers where the buses leave. There are multiple taxi ranks in Windhoek for different destinations, so make sure you find the right one. For about N$120 you can have a ride in an overloaded minibus. The ride will take about 4-6 hours. Pay immediatly and try to get yourself a seat next to the driver for a bit more space.

By plane

  • Air Namibia [2] A number of flights are offered by Air Namibia, from Windhoek as well as Cape Town in South Africa. Flights operate from Walvis Bay, 35km south of Swakop.
  • South African Airways [3] They operate flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town. SAA flights also operate from Walvis Bay.
  • By small aircraft There are numerous operators in Namibia, and flying from destination to destination on a tour through Namibia is an effective way to minimize the time spend travelling the long distances.

On a tour or safari

Swakopmund is a frequent one or two night stop on most tours around Namibia. There are many tour operator doing tours both from Namibia and from outside, such as South Africa.

By bus

Although the Mini Buses are slightly cheaper and are an experience, they have no fixed time schedule and are often overloaded. So check out these operators:

  • Intercape [4] operates a service from Windhoek via Okahandja. Intercape service also extends to South Africa and Zimbabwe.
  • Econolux Tel +264 64 205935.

Town Hoppers Shuttle Service - Based in Swakopmund , they travel daily 08h00 from Swakopmund and 14h30 from Windhoek. This is a mini bus, 14 seater, air conditioned bus with all nessasary insurances. Friendly and helpfull drivers and office staff. You can contact them - +264 64 407223 or townhoppers@iway.na

By train

The train service to Windhoek will take up to 21 and a half hours.

By ship

The RMS St Helena makes regular round-trips from St Helena Island to Cape Town via Walvis Bay. Catch a taxi from Walvis Bay to Swakopmund.

Get around

As with other Namibian cities, there is no public transport in Swakopmund. But the city is small enough to get around easily on foot. All the major attractions and facilities are downtown. It´s hard to get a taxi in city centre (there are no taxi's on a Saturday after 7PM), but once you get one it takes you wherever you want for the same rate as the Windhoek Taxis. A trip to Walvis Bay shouldn´t be more than N$40.

See

Do

Swakopmund is Namibia's adventure capital. Because of this, taking advantage of the following is a must.

  • Do a tour Go out to see the Welwitschia plants, the Cape Fur Seals at Cape Cross, the Swakop River and the life and beauty of the dunes and desert.
  • Elephant Conservation Go on a locally based desert elephant conservation trip with EHRA, +264 64 402 501 (), [5]. Elephant Human Relations Aid
  • Beach People don't come to Swakopmund to hang out in the desert. Hang with the Namibians away on school holiday and go to the beach. You'll find cold water, but warm sands. The beach, just to the north of town, is ringed with museums and cafes.
  • Helicopter You can take marvellous helicopter and lite plane rides around the Skeleton Coast (to the north) and around the Namib desert (the oldest desert in the world, with the tallest sand dune in the world).
  • Sandboarding You can ski the dunes just like you're snowboarding, or ride the board on your belly. Extremely high speeds. Alter Action has access to the infamous "Dizzy" hill.
  • Dune 7 Sandboarding, 064220881 (, fax: 064220881), [6]. Quadbike to take you up; Snacks and Drinks incl. N$ 350.
  • Quad-biking This is an excellent way to see the Namib desert close up. Several tour companies offer lessons and guided tours on four-wheel motorbikes through the desert surrounding the city. Breathtaking views of the dunes and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Skydiving Learn to jump from concerned, compassionate professionals in one of the cheapest, best skydiving schools on earth.
  • Educate Yourself Swakopmund has one of the best libraries in Africa.
  • Party Swakop has an unusual number of skilled rock musicians and an impromptu "Open Mike Night" can usually be organized at one of the local nightspots. Travelling musicians take note!
  • Okakambe Trails, Horse Rides About 8km outside Swakop. Tel +264 64 402799
  • Camel Safaris About 8km outside Swakop. Tel +264 64 400363
  • Aquarium Pay a visit to the aquarium. (According to a sign on the window, this place is closed till 2012)
  • Surf Hit the surf spots to the north of town, such as 'Thick Lip' and 'The Wreck'. Travel further south towards Langstrad for 'Guns'.
  • Hotair ballooning & Microlight Flights There are few better ways to see the Namib Desert.
  • Walk in the dunes Just south of town on the road to Walvis Bay, there are some nice sand dunes. Cross over the Swakop River, smile at the fact that there's rarely any visible water in it, and stroll through the dunes.
  • Birding There are several birding locations in the town. At the Swakop River mouth there is a small fresh water lagoon which always has good birds to see. In the town there is the water treatment area. This is more for the twitcher (birders chasing rare birds) looking for rare birds. It is only open on working hours on week days. North of the town is the Mile 4 Salt works. Some roads go along the open saline lakes where the salt is being extracted. This area is very important for various birds, including Flamingos.

Buy

There are several nice shops in Swakop selling souvenirs and art. There is also a very good craft market near the lighthouse, which has a lot of items which are difficult to find elsewhere in Namibia.

  • Leder Chic (leather boutique for ostrich, kudu and buffalo leather articles), Brauhaus Arcade, (Centre of town in Hendrik Witbooi St.), +264 64 404778. from 9h00 to 18h00. Luggage and leather retail shop, the finest ostrich and kudu wallets and purses. Modern zebra skin belts, ostrich and kudu leather belts as well as designer handbags in springbok, kudu, nguni, buffalo and ostrich leather.

Eat

  • The Tug Restaurant, (at the jetty), +264 (64) 402356 (, fax: +264 (64) 402356). A great seafood restaurant. It is an actual tug with a great view of the sea - reservations are essential.
  • Light House Pub, (Located at the Mole). Try the calamari and seafood dishes, serves pub meals and restaurant. Big room, so nothing if you want to feel homely.
  • Weinmaus, Poststraße. Very friendly host. Not many tables, so make a reservation.
  • Kückis Pub, Tobias Hainyeko 22, (064) 404207. Warm and enjoyable atmosphere with great service. Limited menu, but interesting dishes (shark steak, etc) and very well prepared.
  • De Kelder. A little bit hidden, does not look attractive from outside. But everything else is perfect!
  • Tiffanys. Fresh fish, good wine, reasonable prices. The locals eat here!
  • GK Restaurant, (at Hotel Gruner Kranz), 064 402030. 7-10AM & 5-10PM. GK Restaurant-new owners
  • Kupferpfanne. Game food and good wines.
  • The Jetty 1905. Recently openned at the end of the pier, really good sushi and tapas. Call (+264) 064 5664 to make a reservation. Lance is managing operations and will assist. The BEST whisky Don Pedro's! Try this if you have no clue what it is. Friendly service, good wine list and the food is great. Recommend the 'fish&chips'.
  • Out of Africa Get your coffee and cake here. African-sized muffins and mugs of European coffees make you wish for the movies.
  • Cafe Anton Great for an all-you-can-eat Breakfast. Around N$60.
  • Caffe Treff Punkt. Great German cafe, lovely breakfast.

Drink

This is Jagermeister country and don't forget to sample the famous, locally brewed Hansa Draught.

  • Tiger Reef - beach bar, excellent place for a sundowner on the beach. Go to the aquaruim and walk along the beach in the direction of Walvis Bay. Grab a bottle of bubbly for the amazing sunset (Locally called sundowners)
  • Grunerkrantz Located above Cape to Cairo. This is where everyone comes for their late night drink.
  • Rafters, great sports bar with big LCD screens.
  • Pane Fresco. 7-14:00. Great croissants, freshly baked. Excellent espresso.

Sleep

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Guesthouses

  • The Secret Garden Guesthouse, 36 Bismarck Street (in the old town), +264 64404037, [7]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 10:30AM. Six standard double en-suite rooms, three comfort double en-suite rooms and two suites. Breakfast is included and the guesthouse has a bistro restaurant for evening meals. Secure parking is available. from N$320/pp sharing.
  • Vogelstrand Guest House, 33 Tsavorite Street, Vogelstrand (Arriving from Windhoek turn right at the first traffic light in Moses/Garoeb street (also the C34 to Henties), continue on the Henties Bay road crossing three 4way stops, 1 traffic circle and at the second traffic circle, turn left into Dr Schwietering Street, carry on and turn left in Rosenquartz Street and left again at Tsavorite Str, (second 4 way stop). Guesthouse is the second property on your left.), +264 64403287, [8]. Six-room bed and breakfast guesthouse run by a native Swakopmunder family. From NAD430 p.p.p.n. (22° 38' 18.46 E,14° 31' 45.25 S)

Backpackers

  • Desert Sky Backpackers Lodge, 35 Lazaret St. (at the corner of Breit St.), +264 64 402339, [9]. Five minute walk from downtown and the beach; clean, friendly owner; No internet access; and camping area. $N90 camping, $N100/person for a dorm, $N200 for a double room.
  • Alternative Space Guesthouse, 167 Lazaret St. At the edge of town. The hostel is a unique facility, decorated throughout with Namibian art. nam00352@mweb.com.na. +264 64 402713. +264 81 300 9352. Only five en-suite double rooms. Breakfast is provided. N$ 750 per double room. Children friendly. Not recomended for people offended by nudity and mixed race relationship. No bad attidude. We can arrange Sandboarding for you :)
  • Villa Wiese Backpackers, +264 64 407105, [villawiese@compuscan.co.za], [10]. Another great backpackers. Plus they have their own bar.
  • Private Accommodation Swakopmund [11], Fischreiherstreet 8, Swakop/Vineta. Flats with kitchen and shower, one sleeping room three beds N$ 300, two sleeping rooms four beds N$ 400, phone 064 461684, cell 081 3290 736. Grill garden, Internet, Skype, TV inclusive.

Upmarket

  • Swakopmund Hotel & Entertainment Centre is a 4 star luxury hotel, built in and around the impeccably restored old station building. Includes casino, pool and restaurant. From $N940 per Room, incl. breakfast
  • The Stiltz [12], luxurious with a very romantic setting.
  • Vogelstrand Guest House, 33 Tsavorite St, Vogelstrand, +264 (0)64 403287, [13]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 10AM. Intimate family run bed and breakfast guest house with six rooms. Continental or health breakfast with an array of dishes made from local produce. The outside areas are designed in a quiet country courtyard style. From N$340pp. (22° 38' 18.46 E,14° 31' 45.25 S)

Self-Catering

  • By the Beach, Ph +264 64 405 442 or +264 81 244 6336 (Email: redskyventures@gmail.com). A new self catering accommodation service offering affordable luxury, with sea views, coffee/tea, DSTV in master bedroom and lounge, indoor BBQ, from $N550 per Unit, sleeping up to 6 people.
  • Swakopmund Municipal Bungalows, Ph +264 64 4104333. Selection ranging from tiny two bedroomed units (approximately N$250 a night)to luxury bungalows (TV, stove, etc) at N$650-700 a night. Centrally located within walking distance to town
  • Dünenblick self-catering apartments, riverside av 37 and rhode allee no 5 (overlooking the namib dunes and close to the beach, opposite the Swakopmund jetty), +264 81 1290489 and +264 81 149 0449 (), [14]. checkin: 14h00; checkout: 10h00. Luxury apartments, stylishly decorated in contemporary look, with all the comforts possible. Including full DSTV and Internet , well situated with sea view or dune view. All within walking distance to the centre of town From N$ 400.00 per apartment.
  • Sophia Dale Base Camp, Street 1901 Plot 173, Phone +264 (0) 64 40 3264, [15]. Email: sophia@mweb.com.na. Sunny and cosy camping and bungalows 12km from Swakopmund, in the lush area of Swakop River.

Get out

  • Swakopmund is a good starting point for trips up the Skeleton Coast. A good day-trip would be south from Swakop to Walvis Bay, Namibia's port town. The road to Walvis Bay provides good views of the Namib dunes meeting the Atlantic.
Cape Cross
  • 120 km north of Swakopmund lies Cape Cross, where every October to December about 100,000 of the Cape Fur Seals breed. The sight and the noise (and also the smell) is absolutely breathtaking! The name Cape Cross comes from a stone cross erected 1486 by the Portuguese Diego Cáo. Entry fee to the nature reserve is 10 N$. Accommodation at the Cape Cross Lodge [16].
  • For hobby botanists a half day trip to the south east will take you to the legendary Welwitschia Mirabilis plants. In a place where there is no rain for decades the only water source this plant uses is humidity. Welwitschia can become over 1000 years old and only live in this part of the Namib desert, 40 to 120 km away from the coast. Take the Welwitschia drive that starts 50 km east of Swakopmund. Be careful not to walk too close to the plants (roots easily destroyed) or even take plants with you, the species is highly endangered!



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