Tailor-made Swakopmund Travel Experiences –

On the Trail of the German Colonial Past

Swakopmund, one of Namibia’s most popular destinations, is richly blessed with historic evidence of the German colonial era. When the German emperor extended his reach to Namibia, which was then called Deutsch-Südwestafrika, Swakopmund quickly gained importance thanks to its harbour, despite the nautical conditions being unfavourable. The bay is not naturally protected, neither is the depth reasonably sufficient and the surf is high. However, Luderitz was too far away and did not dispose of satisfactory fresh water supplies. The small port Walvis Bay had already been claimed by the British. The predicament finally forced captain Curt von François, commander of the gunboat Hyena, to claim a landing site just north of the Swakop River’s delta in August 1892. One year later, 40 settlers and 120 members of the colonial forces were landed on shore to establish the settlement. It was not until the year 1905 that a 325 metre long jetty was finally constructed to facilitate land access. Swakopmund became the gateway to colonising Deutsch-Südwestafrika. The newly founded colony was supplied entirely through the small seaside settlement. In 1902, a narrow-gauge railway track connecting Swakopmund with Windhoek was constructed. The quaint train station dates back to the Wilhelmina era and clearly sports the elegant design of that time. A few years back, the station was lovingly restored to its former beauty and now houses a hotel and casino. The 30-thousand-soul settlement’s streetscape derives its flair from the stately colonial buildings. Swakopmund’s hallmark is the Woermann House dating back to 1905. The former trading post in Bismarck Street, featuring the 25-metre high Damara Tower and a picturesque courtyard, nowadays hosts the public library, an art gallery and the offices of the Namibian Wildlife Resorts. Despite the prevailing colonial flair, the decades changed Swakopmund’s appearance and purpose. These days the gracious town is a popular seaside holiday destination seasoned with a myriad of attractions and a pleasant summer climate. It is a weird sensation to be walking the streets of an African town and still encounter countless reminders of the German colonial past. Shops are named “Bäckermeister Meyer” or “Frisiersalon Müller”. Both English and German are widely spoken or at least understood. A unique peculiarity has to be mentioned: The early morning fog, which regularly amasses on the coast, is quickly dispersed by the rising sun. However, in the afternoon, the haze creeps back from the sea and casts a mysterious atmosphere on the town and its surrounding countryside. Swakopmund is not only popular with foreign visitors. Especially during the Christmas season, the town becomes alive with bustling natives from Winhoek who choose to spend their holiday on the coast. Swakopmund’s wider surroundings have a lot to offer. Highly recommendable are the scenic drives along the dune-fringed coastline. Thirty kilometres south, lies the beautiful Walvis Bay, in the north the National West Coast Recreation Area. A must-do are the marine safaris offered at Walvis Bay: An experienced skipper takes you out to Robben Island –as the name suggest, home to a gigantic seal colony. More than 80 thousand animals live on the island. Occasionally, the seals approach the boat and you are permitted to give the curious animals a loving scratch – some have taken quite a liking to this and regard visitors as courtesy masseurs. The safari boats are generally accompanied by playful dolphins and pelicans showing off their graceful flying skills. A road skirts the beach to the angler’s paradise Henties Bay and then continues to Cape Cross on the mouth of the Ugab River. The river marks the border to the Skeleton Coast National Park. A special permit is required to access the park. Another scenic excursion follows the Welwitchia Drive. The tour includes the bizarre landscape around the Swakop River, which bears more resemblance to the moon than to any other place on earth, and runs as far as the northern section of the Namib Naukluft Park.
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good to know

Best season

May until December

Journey

light aircraft or car

Features

Large former german city

Activities

museums, city tours, brewery

Highlights

Marine Cruise

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Intosol promise

  • Consulting by Swakopmund experts
  • We know hotels personally and we advise you competently
  • Appropriate offices/ hotel products in Swakopmund – "we are close"
  • Constant control of our service by own local employees
  • High quality service before, during and after your journey
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* price per person/week including flight

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