German Seaside Resort of Swakopmund, Namibia
by Leah Brumer
Imagine if you were driving through a desert, with an endless horizon of nothing all around. Then almost out of nowhere you see green lawns and palm trees. What would you think? A mirage? Las Vegas, maybe? At first that is what I thought, but oh was I wrong.
The desert paradise I am talking about is Swakopmund, Namibia. It is an untouched German seaside resort located on the Skeleton Coast. Colonized in 1892, Swakopmund is the second biggest "city" in this country, which still by no means, is big. It is a self-contained, easy-going, quaint town, and a haven for backpackers and holidaymakers alike.
Once I arrived through the dirty and dusty desert, I didn't know where to begin. First I dropped my pack at the Gruner Kranz Hostel. This was an ideal accomodation and at a great price of only $5USD a night. After my first shower in 3 days, I was happy to spend the afternoon lounging on the beach, only after I spent the morning shopping in Swakopmund's surprisingly modern boutiques. The next day was packed full of activities. I started with sand dune boarding at 9:00am and by noon I was flying down dunes at 80mph- talk about invigorating! After a quick lunch, I shuttled over to quad biking. With our responsible guides, getting lost wasn't a problem, but remembering to keep my mouth shut in the sea of sand was!!! It was an exhausting day, to say the least, but worth every moment. Finally, a traditional German Brie and a pint of German lager completed this exciting day.
Out on the ocean early next morning, I watched the sun burn off the fog Swakopmund is so well known for. Some deep sea fishing and whale watching on the Atlantic started the day off right, but I made sure to save all of my energy for skydiving later that afternoon-(which was all but necessary). I learned to fly that day, literally, and it is something that I will never forget. Besides getting the biggest rush of my life, I also got the chance to see the most unimaginable view of Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and the Namib Nauiluft Park. It is truly breathtaking. When I finally got my stomach back, I cooked up the fish I had caught ealier the day, which was enough to feed the whole hostel. I finished the night with a beer and a boogie at Rafters, the local bar/club where travelers and locals kick back together and share stories.
Although each activity provided me with amazing experiences, the striking thing is Swakopmund itself. This is the town time forgot. It still has all of its original German street names and architecture, except for its oldest building, the historic train station, which has been restored and converted into a hotel and casino. The town has a colonial charm that even the locals possess. They are so welcoming and accomodating that you feel as if you have lived there all your life. It is simply comforting, especially after backpacking throughout Africa-- it is oddly like coming home. Swakopmund is a destination I would go out of my way to return to. Between the beach, desert, and town, there is always something to keep your heart pounding or someplace for your mind to unwind. With its perfectly accented culture and genuine people, this timeless town, lost in the Namibian Desert will undoubtably impress you. It might even touch your soul.