The town of Swakopmund is found halfway down Namibia’s Atlantic Coast, hemmed in between the barren desert and the thundering Atlantic rollers like a kitschy, colourful oasis. Half African, half German, the town has a surreal feel a little like a holiday resort on Germany’s Baltic coast, but stay just a few days and you’ll find yourself captivated by Swakopmund’s colonial buildings and effervescent personality.
The town is also the adventure capital of Namibia and an ideal gateway to the Skeleton Coast in the north and the Namib Desert to the south, so holidays to Swakopmund offer a place to rest in between more lively escapades. But that’s about where the holiday resort comparisons end, as Swakopmund isn’t designed for sunbathing. Banks of fog are frequent occurrences, where the cold air of the Atlantic meets the baked earth of the desert, so dawn and dusk can be cold and the sea is rather inhospitable to swimmers. That said, even coastal temperatures of between 15-25 degrees are a welcome relief from Namibia’s scorching heat, making adventure activities possible; no one would be keen to sand-board, quad bike, parachute or try dune carting in the temperatures of Namibia’s interior. The surrounding dunes, though not quite as impressive as Sossusvlei, are crying out for some high-octane fun.
Aside from its adventure possibilities, Swakopmund is also home to a number of restaurants, cafés, galleries and museums, so a few days spent here can be relaxing rather than exhilarating, if that’s what you’d prefer. Holidays to Swakopmund are also popular with wildlife lovers, and you can take a boat out to observe the seals in nearby Walvis Bay, or go whale watching along the coast; there’s also an aquarium if you’d prefer to stay on dry land. The area is excellent for birdwatching, the reed beds of the Swakop estuary harbouring land birds and waders, though in the summer months of September to April many migrant birds can be seen. The saltworks is also popular with birdlife, located six kilometres outside of town and home to oyster catchers, teal, shovellers, Blackwinged stilts and pelicans.
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