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Surrounded on three sides by the arid Namib Desert and on the west side by the cold waters of the South Atlantic, Swakopmund is surely one of the most unusual and fascinating colonial towns in the whole of Africa. In a period of a little more than 25 years the German Imperial Government built a succession of extravagant buildings, which today represent one of the best-preserved collections of German colonial architecture still standing. When approached from the desert, especially during the morning fog, the turrets, towers and pastel-coloured buildings on the skyline appear as a hazy mirage, and the quirky town comes as quite as surprise on the barren coastline.
Today, because of its olde-worlde charm and relaxed atmosphere, Swakopmund is Namibia’s premier holiday resort. Each year thousands descend from the heat and dust of the interior to enjoy the temperate climate of the coast and to indulge in a few weeks’ fishing and boating and, increasingly these days, adventure sports. There are lots of things to do, a wide choice of hotels, guesthouses and pensions, and several good restaurants and coffee shops selling traditional German pastries. You will not have a problem finding an apple strudel or a flagon of beer in this town.Read more
Most of the interesting buildings are centrally located and easy to find. Although mostly closed to the public, much of their elegance lies in their exteriors and can be enjoyed whilst strolling around town. The Swakopmund Museum is the place to swot up on local history and geography of the Namib Desert. While the Kristall Galarie has some whopping great quartz clusters and a scratch pit where you can search for semi-precious stones.
The coast around Swakopmund provides a series of striking contrasts between the dunes of the desert and the wild South Atlantic Ocean, epitomized by the rusting hulks of sunken ships lying along the Skeleton Coast. Nearby, Walvis Bay is a good place for watersports and to spot dolphins, while the Cape Cross Seal Colony, with hundreds of thousands of seals in what is surely one of the smelliest places on earth; a compelling sight nonetheless. The more adventurous can embark on an a 4WD trip to the abandoned whaling settlement of Sandwich Harbour, hemmed by towering dunes on one side and ocean breakers on the other.