Namibia is a country on the south-west coast of Africa. It is one of the driest and most sparsely populated countries on earth. The Namib Desert in the west and the Kalahari Desert in the east are separated by the Central Plateau.
Namibia: The coastal town of Swakopmund
Swakopmund is a coastal city in Namibia, west of the capital, Windhoek. Its sandy beaches face the Atlantic Ocean. Established by German colonists in 1892, the city’s colonial landmarks include the Swakopmund Lighthouse and the Mole, an old sea wall.
We had set our day aside to explore Swakopmund.
In 1862 the crew of a German gunboat hoisted the German flag at the mouth of the Swakop River to signal the territories occupancy.
Another gunboat marked the possible landing site with poles in August 1892. With this sovereign act, the occupation of this coastal area by the German Reich was demonstrated to the English who were occupying the harbour of Walvis Bay.
Today, Swakopmund is one of the main tourist destinations in Namibia, its temperate summer climate drawing many local Namibian tourists to its streets. It has retained much of its German culture. The architecture is very reminiscent of the homeland and many business and street signs are in German. It is common to hear the German language spoken among the residents of this town.
We didn’t have much of a plan, so we set out just to wander the streets.
It took about 30 minutes, with stops in some shops along the way, to reach the beach. The weather was not wonderful, so the effect of grey skies and the sea was not very inviting. It was also somewhat chilly.
We strolled along the beach for about 500 metres until we reached what is known as the ‘Mole’. The triangular structure juts into the sea and was built as a sea wall to improve Swakopmund as a harbour. The designer did not understand the currents and ended up with a build-up of sand. The outcome of this was the creation of a very nice beach. At the end of the Mole is a long jetty that you can walk out into the sea.
Right next to the Mole is the Swakopmund Museum. I tend to be wary of local museums, but we had time and I thought it would be interesting to learn more about Swakopmund and Namibia. The first thing that greeted us was a long line of stuffed animals, which I am rarely impressed with. Once we got beyond these taxidermy specimens, the rest of the exhibits were fascinating including the geology of Namibia (including impressive rock and crystals samples), displays of local history, reconstructions of period rooms, bizarre collections, and a wonderful display on the native tribes of Namibia. We spent a thoroughly enjoyable 90 minutes exploring the museum.
We continued our wandering around the town, eventually reaching the Kristall Galeries, a museum-come-gallery. We paid a small entry fee and took a short stroll through a man-made cave with some ‘unusual’ lighting effects and displays on how crystals develop. This tunnel is a replica of the original Otjua Tourmaline Mine. On the other side of this tunnel was a courtyard that led into a large display area with some humungous crystals. Here is what they claim to be the world’s largest crystal cluster, which is formed from pegmatite, an intrusive igneous rock with very large crystals that form in the latter stages of a magma chamber’s crystallization. The claimed world’s largest crystal structure on display here is from the Otjua Tourmaline Mine is estimated to be 520 million years old and weighs a mighty 14,100kg. As well as the large crystals there are many examples of more delicate and rare crystals, both in their natural form and cut. Before leaving the Kristall Galeries we were shuffled into the boutique where there were a lot of crystals, both loose and set in jewellery. Of course, not being jewellery wearers, we left without buying. It was still lovely to look at!
By now we were hungry and thirsty. In town, we found a quirky place to satisfy our needs called the Village Cafe. Its menu would have been enough to draw us in, but the rainbow-coloured furniture, and decorations, together with the VW camper van that had been turned into a seating area meant we had to stop here. It was a great place to end our Swakopmund adventure.
In the evening we had been booked into a restaurant down by the seafront, called the Tug. It is probably the most sought-after dining spot in town, and we had a hard time getting us in. The restaurant gets its name because the inside has been designed to feel like you are actually inside a boat. They specialise, unsurprisingly, in seafood and meat dishes so on the surface would not appear to be the place for us, but we were told we should try it and they did have a couple of vegetarian options. The place was busy and unfortunately, we could not get a table by the window with the ocean view, but the meal was good, if a little pricey. It was a nice way to end our time in Swakopmund.
Best time to visit Swakopmund
Swakopmund enjoys a cold desert climate in accordance with the Köppen-Geiger classification. Swakopmund’s yearly average maximum temperature is 22°C (ranging from 21°C in September to 24°C in April). Annual rainfall is 108mm, with a minimum of 1mm in July and a maximum of 28mm in February.
Between the months of January and July, the climate is perfect. By early evening, the temperature averages 19°C and rains about 1mm each month.
In the month of August, the climate is beautiful. The temperature rises to 21°C and, in August, 0 days of rain are expected.
Between the months of September and December, the climate is perfect. the thermometer goes up to 22°C°C and it rains in December about 12mm.
Where to stay
Khowarib Lodge nestles on the banks of the Hoanib river in the magnificent Khowarib Gorge in north west Namibia.14 canvas chalets project out from the river bank on stilts over the river bed providing unrivalled, shady views of the cliffs opposite. On the fringe of Kaokoland, the lodge offers a perfect jumping off point to explore the remote north west of the country, either independently or on one of the lodge’s extensive guided tours. The immediate surrounding area of Damaraland has many rich and interesting activities including desert-adapted elephant and Himba settlements within easy reach.
|Location:||Windhoeker Str. 23|
|Reservations:||+264 64 405863|
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