Surrounded by the ancient Namib desert and the inhospitable – but bounteous – Atlantic Ocean, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay are alive with activity and adventure
Swakopmund has many interesting German-influenced buildings from the early 1900s in a variety of styles: Kaiserliches Bezirksgericht – or State House; Woerman House and Damara Tower; the Alte Bahnhof – a fairytail railway station; the Kaserne; the neo-baroque Lutheran Church; and Haus Hohnezollern – purportedly a brothel in its hey day.
The Swakopmund Museum has displays of archaeology, ethnology, flora, fauna, history and mining; the Marine Museum is an engaging display of inshore reef marine life; coastal birds and a cross-section of the Benguela Current.
For its size, Swakopmund has an astonishing array of restaurants that serve mainly seafood, steak and many German staples. We will recommend a few when you make your booking.
Swakopmund and Walvis Bay have a lot on offer for the adventure-seeker:
Quad-biking, sand-boarding, dune-boarding, horse-riding, mountain biking, skydiving, surfing, surf and offshore fishing, dolphin cruises and diving – although the water temperature is below friendly. And Rossmund Golf Club is developing into one of the world’s best desert courses.
Walvis Bay is famous for its wetland birds. The greater wetlands area consists of the tidal lagoon, man-made salt pans and an arm of sand that ends at Pelican Point.
The Walvis Bay lagoon has been recognised as by the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance. The bay supports over 40 species of bird and its population exceeds 150,000 – the greatest concentration of shorebirds and seabirds in southern Africa. Half are intra-African migrants, just under half are Palearctic migrants and the remainder coastal residents.
Notable species include flamingos, plovers, grebes, European and African black oystercatcher pairings, pelicans, terns, plovers and gulls.
South of the town and virtually inaccessible is the impressive Sandwich Bay, which also has a massive population of wetland birds.
Things to see and do in Swakopmund, Namibia
Swakopmund is high on the list of everyone’s Namibia itinerary and with good reason. The list of things to do in Swakopmund is astonishing and would take days to work through. Some of the activities are natural and others are manufactured by hair-brained adrenalin junkies.
Whatever your preference, Swakopmund has enough activities to keep you busy.
Some of our most recommended activities in and around Swakopmund include:
Marine cruise in Walvis Bay Lagoon (Walvis Bay)
On a large catamaran or motorboat, the bay is calm and the waters full of life. This half day trip gives you close contact with seals, dolphins, birds and, if you’re very lucky, sightings of whales and a strange creature called a mola mola. The cruises finish with a champagne finger brunch and fresh Walvis Bay oysters on board.Living Desert Tour (Swakopmund) A fascinating guided excursion into the world’s oldest desert is a must for any nature lover. Discover the minutiae of life in the seemingly barren wilderness including the odd Welwitschia plant and other bizarre desert-adapted lifeforms; eerie Marsian landscapes and sensuous dunescapes offer a fitting backdrop.
Quad Biking (Swakopmund or Long Beach)
A very popular option with families, a guided quad bike trail through the dunes is fun, interesting and safe. The tours follow strict ecological guidelines to protect the fragile ecosystem and maintain the unspoilt beauty of the Skeleton Coast.
Sandwich Harbour Excursion (Walvis Bay)
A wetlands birding heritage site, this guided tour takes you to the almost inaccessible Sandwich Harbour south of Walvis Bay.
Birdwatching (Walvis Bay)
Take your binos and your checklist, the Walvis Bay Lagoon, along with Sandwich Harbour, is a RAMSAR wetlands site crammed with flamingoes, plovers, grebes, terns, oystercatchers, gulls and many other migrants and residents.
Visit our Tours and Safaris page to view our Namibia Tours
Contact one of our travel professionals to tailor make your Namibia Safari
Kayaking Tours (Walvis Bay)
A gentle and peaceful way to explore the lagoon. Seals and dolphins always come and visit and you get much closer than the marine cruises (no oysters or champagne though!).
Scenic Flights and Ballooning (Swakopmund or Walvis Bay)
Spectacular scenery as you fly over the dunes, wrecks and shoreline of the Skeleton Coast.
Adventure Sports (Swakopmund)
sky-diving, land yachting, karting, paragliding, sand-boarding, deep sea and shore fishing, surfing, kiting…
“Normal Sports” (Swakopmund)
golf (all-grass desert 18-hole course), gym, horseriding, tennis, squash, bowls…
Tourist Attractions (Swakopmund)
Galleries, museums, aquarium, craft markets, curio shops, antiques, jewellers and souvenirs
Dining and Entertainment
Swakopmund has a large selection of coffee shops and restaurants specialising in seafood, game and meat, German fare and international standards. The town also sees a regular parade of music shows and stage productions and the German carnival is an annual extravaganza that transforms the town every June into a Bavarian film set.