Holidays in Swakopmund Namibia
Namibia’s Swakopmund, or “Swakop” as the locals call it, is Namibia’s largest coastal city and one of the biggest holiday destinations for Namibians on holiday, as well as for tourists from abroad. Swakopmund owes it’s name to the city’s German origins, meaning “mouth of the Swakop” which is a river in western Namibia.
The German heritage is rather pronounced in Swakopmund, and can be plainly seen in the beautiful old German Colonial buildings cropped up all over the city – forging a stark cultural contrast against the backdrop of the Namib Desert.
Getting there by plane:
- Air Namibia: Several flights are offered by Air Namibia, out of Windhoek as well as Cape Town in South Africa. Flights operate from Walvis Bay, 35 kilometres south of Swakop.
- South African Airways: Operating flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town, South African Airways flights also operate from Walvis Bay.
- By small aircraft A number of operators are situated in Namibia, and flying from destination to destination on a tour through the country is an effective way to minimize your time spent travelling these extensive distances.
How to Have Fun in Swakopmund!
Take a Scenic Flight over Sossusvlei and the Skeleton Coast
- Duration of activity : 2 hours
Soaring over Sossusvlei and the Skeleton Coast is by far one of the most popular scenic flight tourists take in this region, and for good reason. The flight begins and ends at the Swakopmund airport. After take off, you travel past Walvis Bay International airport to the Kuiseb river, which is flanked by tall sand dunes and gravel plains. Pushing farther on past the international research centre Gobabeb you soar over the breathtaking Kuiseb canyon. After leaving the canyon you will see Tsondabvlei which is southern Namibia’s sole breeding grounds of the Lapped Faced Vulture. As you continue the flight over Sossusvlei, the pilot will direct your attention to the main attractions including Sossusvlei, Deadvlei and Big Daddy. Departing the dunes for Namibia’s coastline will bring you over three abandoned diamond camps as well as the Eduard Bohlen shipwreck which has been stranded and resting there since 1909. Continue flying low level along the Atlantic ocean, and you will see a second shipwreck which wrecked in 1976, and the Long Wall or “Lange Wand.” It is truly a spectacular sight to behold, where sand dunes meet the ocean. Your flight will continue North for Sandwich Harbour which is currently a bird sanctuary. Flying past Sandwich Harbour will bring passengers past the saltpans and harbour of Walvis Bay where your pilot will bring you back safely to Swakopmund airport. Try not to wear white on this trip, as the brightness reflects on the windows and obstructs your photos. Bring a variety of lenses on this flight, as the aircraft altitude varies throughout the trip.
- Fabulous aerial photo opportunities
- The family friendly ease
- Being picked up from a centrally located meeting point
- Your choice of morning or afternoon departure
- A choice of different departures throughout the day
Walvis Bay’s Dolphin and Seal Catamaran Cruise
- Duration of activity: 3 hours 30 minutes
Board a catamaran in Walvis Bay harbour a few minutes’ drive south of downtown Swakopmund, and begin your cruise experience! Settle back on deck, inside the catamaran’s saloon or on the trampolines and take in the sights as you embark out into the bay. Along your merry way, explore a few of Walvis Bay’s hidden gems – like the bay’s oyster beds. You’ll pull up alongside these submerged platforms and learn how the many oysters are cultivated here. Next stop, Pelican Point! This pirate sounding place is a sandy spit that edges the bay, with (you guessed it) many pelicans flying overhead. Absorb the wonderful views of its lighthouse and, on a good day, the Cape fur seals lounging on its beaches. Sail on to Bird Island, an artificial islet made of guano that’s home to colonies of seabirds – it’s a sight to see, but you’ll probably want to keep on sailing.
As you travel on, watch out for three types of dolphins living in the Swakopmund coastal region: the heaviside dolphin, the popular Atlantic bottlenose, and dusky species. With any luck you will catch a glimpse of these majestic mammals swimming around the boat. July through August is whale season, and you may even see Southern right whales, humpbacks or even a rare orca whale! Other marine animals to look out for are the shy sunfish, and leatherback turtles. You’ll work up an appetite after seeing all the sights, so partake in the complimentary light lunch served up right on board. Sip a sparkling wine and taste the very Walvis Bay oysters farmed in the waters you travel across, and other delicious seafood and canapés. Afterward, take five as you sail back to port.
- Seeing the pelicans and the colonies of different seabirds that flock around Bird Island
- Spotting other marine life, such as elusive sunfish and leatherback turtles
- A light on-board lunch featuring Walvis Bay oysters and sparkling wine
- Relaxing for the full 3.5-hour dolphin and seal watching catamaran cruise from
- Sailing to Pelican Point to see the birds, dolphins and Cape fur seals
- Watching for Southern right, humpback and even orca whales in July through August
- Pelican Point’s spectacular lighthouse and the bay’s famous oyster beds
- A glass of sparkling wine for each person
- The light lunch buffet including Walvis Bay oysters
- One beer, one juice or one bottle of mineral water for each person, as well as tea and coffee
- Educational on-board commentary
- Gratuities are optional
- Hotel pickup and drop-off not included, you will need to make your own travel reservations from downtown Swakopmund
Remember: A minimum of 2 person booking is required, bring a layer of warm clothing, and don’t wear high heels. Subject to favorable weather conditions in the Swakopmund coastal region. If the tour is canceled due to poor weather, you will be given the option of an alternative date or full refund.
Best Township Tour of Swakopmund
Duration of Activity: 4 hours
Come explore true Namibian township culture township on a 4-hour tour of Mondesa and the Democratic Resettlement Community from Swakopmund. Begin your day with a pickup from one of the many hotels and
guesthouses available in the town of Swakopmund, and then travel with a group and an experienced guide to the Mondesa township just on the outskirts of Swakopmund. The exact itinerary and route you take may vary in accordance to the local conditions and events happening in the community, but the tour is sure to bring you closer to local Namibians and the goings on of typical life in the area.
After embarking with a group from a Swakopmund hotel or guesthouse, you may arrive amongst the bustle of Mondesa’s bustling OB Street. Your guide will be on hand to translate if necessary, to chat with locals and tradespeople in the market. You’ll have an opportunity to see the architecture of the homes and schools which are typical of the area. Your guide will undoubtedly introduce you to a few of the community’s colorful characters, while the exact people you will encounter on any given day are of course subject to change. You may meet Augusta Ochurus who loves to share her knowledge of the medicines used in the Nama culture. You may also encounter Miss Lena Goses, a woman in her eighties and the acting Damara chief, outfitted in her traditional clothing and fluent in both Damara and German. Or Talitha Tjindjo, who can explain to you the traditional Herero culture and clothing. There’s no telling who you’ll meet!
Pressing onward to the Democratic Resettlement Community, which is an informal settlement outside of the Mondesa area, you will see how local efforts and initiatives are working to improve housing conditions for the residents. After the adventure, take a break and have a drink in a shebeen – a bar, and then sample some of the more unique Namibian cuisine in a local restaurant. Dishes will change, but typically oofukwa (ground nuts,) ondhwa (barbequed chicken,) omagungu (dried mopane worms,) porridge, and omakunde (beans) make up some of the menu. After your four hour trek, travel with the group back to the Swakopmund hotel where the tour is completed.
- Socialising with local tradespeople and residents
- An 4 hour Namibian township tour from Swakopmund
- Seeing the traditional structure of homes and schools and learning about the Nama culture
- Refreshing drinks and Namibian delicacies in a local shebeen
- Taking in the atmosphere of Mondesa’s OB Street
- The assistance of a local guide
Take a 10,000 foot Tandem Skydive into the Oldest Desert in the World from Swakopmund
Duration of Activity: 2 hours
Swakopmund boasts The Tandem Skydive, giving participants a chance to jump from 10,000 feet and land in the oldest desert in the world. Pick up will be from your hotel for the tandem skydive. You will have to follow through with a safety briefing and complete the standard indemnity form. You will take a 20 minute ride out to the drop zone in the middle of the desert, where you meet your Tandem Master and you will then take in the sights on a 30 minute scenic flight over the world’s olderst desert to 10,000 feet, where you jump! You will free fall for 30 seconds and take a 5 minute canopy ride into the desert below. After your skydive is over, refresh yourself with a cold beer. You have two camera options: Handy cam attached to the tandem master or outside cam where an extra camera person jumps with you. DVDs are available to purchase after your trip is over.
- A variety of departures throughout the day
- The tour is wheelchair accessible
- Free pick up from Swakopmund hotel or port
A Thrilling Quad Bike Tour of the Namib Desert
Duration of Activity: 3 hours
Take to the Namib desert from Swakopmund on an exhilarating quad bike adventure!
After being briefed on safety and going through a round of practice, your group will depart on very powerful quad bikes into the desert with your guide. Take on the sand dunes and twist and bend around the desert canyons that dot the desert landscape just outside Swakopmund. Soak up the 360-degree views of the environment spreading out all around you! You might spot fossils of ancient animal footprints that have been preserved from a time when the Kuiseb Delta meandered through the plains, and spot some of the desert plants that have amazingly adapted to survive the harshness of the desert. See desert animals like lizards, snakes, geckos, and scorpions, and maybe even a glimpse of members of the Topnaar tribe: semi nomadic people who originally settled near the Kuiseb River Valley.
While you learn all about the desert hands-on, feel free to open the throttle and race across the terrain. Pick your way down the beaten tracks of the desert valleys as your guide remains close, offering any assistance you may need or just a few tips about the area. The guide will be there to let you get the most out of your quad bike tour, so have fun! When you finish, you’ll return with your guide and meet with your pre-arranged travel back to the Swakopmund hotel. Groups of 15 are the maximum number allowed, making it more of a personal experience for all.
- A 3 hour long, self-driven quad bike group tour in the Namib Desert
- Learning about the quad bikes and their safety
- A helpful and experienced guide to help spot and learn about Topnaar tribespeople, fossils and the desert wildlife
- The small number of the group, ensuring a more personal tour
- Speeding along on a powerful quad bike across the red dunes of the Namib Desert
- Water and food not included
- Gratuities are optional
- Hotel pickup and drop-off will need to be arranged by you
Visit the African destinations category to learn more about other tourism opportunities available in Africa!