There’s a reason Namibians have been venturing to the coastal city of Swakopmund to celebrate the Festive Season since the nation first declared its independence. Cool ocean breezes, modern-amenities and incredible scenery make it a hot spot for locals and a destination for travelers venturing anywhere in Southern Africa. While the beautiful savannas, unforgiving deserts and world-class game reserves are all worth a visit, three days in Swakopmund offers travelers a taste of what makes this nation so beautiful, so unique and so worth the trip.
Day 1: Do the Dunes
Some of the country’s most iconic images—of towering sand dunes touched by blazing sun and cooling shadows—come from the nearby Namib-Naukluft National Park. Rise before dawn and head to Sossusvlei to watch the sun rise over the breathtaking Dune 45. Afterwards, climb to the top of some of the country's tallest dunes—a truly exhausting feat—before sand boarding down their smooth sides. Return to Swakopmund along the coastal route, where massive sand dunes meet the Atlantic Coast—an incredible stretch of blacktop that offers amazing views from either side of the road.
Day 2: Get Up Close with Nature in Cape Cross
Spend the morning eating fresh German pastries and sipping strong brewed coffee at one of Swakopmund’s numerous European-style cafes, then embark on a voyage through a rocky stretch of coastline to Cape Cross. Hop aboard one of the numerous tour boats that chug through the bay that’s home to one of the largest Cape Fur seal colonies in the world. Watch these friendly mammals flop on the shore, bark on the beaches and play in the water. Some may even settle in for a snooze on the boat deck! Though not a quite a safari, a trip to Cape Cross is a must-have experience when exploring nature in Namibia.
Day 3: City Life
After a hearty traditional breakfast of sausages, corn porridge and hard fried eggs, wander to the iconic Woermannhaus and explore the colonial influence of German settlers on this coastal town. The building’s towering spire and green and gold latticework have made it an easy point of reference for visitors trying to navigate the town. Head inside to wander the stacks of Swakopmund’s only public library before walking to the Swakopmund Museum, where travelers can explore ancient, colonial and modern history of this diverse nation. From there, hire a car and visit the Democratic Resettlement Community, just beyond city-limits. Originally a temporary residence for Namibians awaiting government housing, today some 6,000 people call the DRC home. Travelers can see how the other half of Namibia’s city dwellers live as they wander the shacks built from reclaimed garbage from the local landfill.