Swakopmund, “more German than Germany,” is a quaint, German-founded town with a bit of Southern California and a splash of Leavenworth feel to it. Its wide streets are lined with stucco buildings with tile roofs and Bavarian accents, which are loomed over by palm trees and mingled with new condos and nice resorts overlooking the heaving waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
The town was established in the early 1890s during the German colonial reign of Namibia that lasted until World War I. German influences are felt throughout the town even today. Many of the locals speak German. There are German food places scattered around the town center. Some of the architecture has colonial German characteristics, although much of the town feels new and modern. These days Swakopmund is a resort destination for vacationing Namibians (and for Western overlanders).
On our journey down the western Namibian coast to Swakopmund, we stopped at the Cape Cross Seal Reserve, home to a hundred thousand sea lions. (Not seals. I’m not exactly sure why it’s called a seal reserve.)
There was a marvelous ocean view, but Adam and I had gotten to lay on the sand with sea lions last year when we were in the Galapagos Islands with our younger brother Luke, so we weren’t exceedingly impressed with Cape Cross. It wasn’t nearly as fun to view these smelly, noisy creatures from afar. And the overwhelming sea lion stench made it pretty tough to breathe in, despite the fresh ocean air. We were happy when the rest of our group got their fill and we hopped back into Imani to continue on to Swakopmund.
Our Swakopmund accommodation was in charming pink (yes, pink!) A-frame houses. They were really cool little cabins with front porches and lofts. I was very happy that we would be saying goodbye to our tent for a few days. After so many days of camping, I really appreciated the luxury of having a comfortable bed to sleep in and a bathroom just down the hall and not having to worry about the wind blowing the tent away or snakes meeting me on the path to the shower.
Upon our afternoon arrival in Swakopmund, we leisurely settled into our A-frames and got ready for a group seafood dinner. Showered and starving, we met up with the group at the South African chain, Ocean Basket.
Eating dinner at the mainstream chain Ocean Basket in Swakopmund is probably like dining at Cheesecake Factory when you are in the food mecca of San Francisco. But I didn’t care at all, because the seafood was plentiful and fresh and the atmosphere was lively and fun.
Adam and I shared a platter overflowing with prawns, grilled squid, calamari, and mussels. I even satisfied my oysters nostalgia with an appetizer of fresh oysters. It was gloriously extravagant (and yet fairly inexpensive).
The next day was a chill day exploring the town and just hanging out. After so many 5am wake-ups in the recent weeks, we took advantage of our freedom to sleep in until 10am – which for me would normally be an early day, but on this day felt like a huge indulgence. We started the day (or should I say, almost afternoon) with a hearty breakfast of french toast, bacon and egg sandwiches, orange juice, coffee, and free WiFi at the Western-feeling Village Cafe in the center of town. A few hours of catching up with the internets, a walk along the Atlantic coast beach bordering the west side of town, and a visit to the “Pick ‘n’ Pay” grocery store for some water and snacks, and evening was setting in. We ended the day with another group dinner at a pub, finding out that springbok steak is almost as delicious as warthog.
Another delightfully mellow day of sleeping in, eating a lazy breakfast while interneting, and exploring the casino and entertainment area of the town filled our last day in Swakopmund.
On the early evening walk back to our A-frame, Adam and I glimpsed a Mexican restaurant. Before Adam could even say margherita, my mouth was watering for a chicken enchilada washed down with an ice, sugar, and lime-infused tequila drink.
Back at the A-frame, we convinced some of our European and Australian friends of the amazingness of Mexican food, and a group of us headed back there for our last night’s dinner. Unfortunately, Namibians with German influence do not know how to do enchiladas or margheritas right, so I left the table with an unsatisfied Mexican food craving. But really, what did I expect, I’m in Africa! It was still a fun time.
Tomorrow, we are heading to Sesriem, where we will set up camp to see the sand dunes of the Namib Desert.