The first sight of Swakopmund – or just ‘Swakop’ to locals – is, admittedly, a little odd. After passing through Namibia’s barren Namib desert, the colonial seaside town appears seemingly out of nowhere. You leave the desert to find yourself in the midst of a decidedly German seaside town, with pastel buildings and German fare. However, stay a little bit longer and you will discover the African heart beats through Swakop. Here are our top 5 things not to miss while you’re there.
1. Visit Walvis Bay
The first attraction on our list actually about 30km from downtown Swakopmund, but by Namibian standards, they’re close neighbors! Head on down to Walvis Bay, which is not only a nice beach but also home to cool wildlife including a flock of dazzling pink penguins and a bunch of very friendly sea lions who aren’t too fussed if you wander right around them. Just don’t get in the way if you see any budding sea lion romances!
2. Quad Bike Or Sandboard Over The Dunes
Given the town lies just on the edge of a dessert, you’ve got to take some time to conquer the dunes – either in a motorized or non-motorised fashion. A quad bike tour is great if you want some horsepower behind you as you climb up and down the dunes, however, it is mostly recommended for people with a bit of experiencing atop an ATV. Sandboarding, on the other hand, is a great beginner’s sport as long as you’re prepared to get a couple of bruises along the way! Make sure to add plenty of wax to your board to stop it catching in the sand, and thus minimize the bruises!
3. Stop In At Tea Time
Swakopmund has a great café culture, which is particularly exciting given how many great African coffee blends there are. While Tea Time may be more geared towards – you guessed it – tea, it also has great coffees, cakes, and other pastries. Whatever your preference, indulge a little at this friendly and well-loved brunch spot.
4. Eat At Tug
For tasty modern African food in a super cool setting, look no further than The Tug. Themed like a cute tugboat, but it is surprisingly spacious and offers a very luxurious experience (with a surprisingly affordable price tag). While we recommend stopping for a hearty meal, there is also a great bar where you’re welcome to go for drinks, even if you are not planning on eating in at the restaurant.
5. Tommy’s Living Desert Tours
Don’t be fooled by its barren appearance, there is plenty of life in the Namib Desert! Of course, unless you’re a Swakop local, you might struggle to know how to find it or worse, get yourself lost out there. Enter Tommy, a charismatic and friendly local who loves taking visitors out into the desert to introduce them to wildlife like scorpions, chameleons, and various lizards. This tour is bound to be a highlight of your trip and will get you up close and personal with many less-famous African animals.