Last week, Cindy De Michele Hock of the Netherlands got up close and personal with African wildlife in Namibia (see Namibia: on the Road from Tsumeb to Etosha National Park).
This week Cindy lunches on oysters and champagne on the sun kissed beach of a beautiful resort that can only be described as “as far off the beaten tourism track” as you can get in the nascent country of Namibia, which was once known as South West Africa, a German colony.
Premier Namibian Holiday Resort
Once the main harbour for German South West Africa, Swakopmund, Namibia – about 160 miles from the capital Windhoek – is now the premier Namibian holiday resort and the place to be for extreme sports fanatics.
On three sides, Swakopmund is surrounded by what is believed to be the world’s oldest desert, the Namib Desert, with its ancient orange-burnt sand dunes and fascinating landscapes.
Cool sea breezes and fog off the Atlantic offer relief from the intense heat experienced in the country’s interior during the summer months of December and January.
Silent Testimony to a Grim Colonial Past
Swakopmund’s German architecture is silent testimony to its colonial past, and an initial sense of uneasiness is easily felt when walking through Göring Street, named after the Imperial Governor for German South West Africa, Heinrich Ernst Göring, the father of the infamous Nazi Field Marshall Hermann Göring, whose administration of the colony ultimately resulted in the all but forgotten Herero and Namaqua genocide.
Many of the terms attributed to the Nazis, like Lebensraum and Konzentrationslager, were minted many years earlier when the Germans colonized what is now known as Namibia. But Swakopmund has much more to offer than its turbulent colonial past.
After an initial uneasiness is taken away, Swakopmund is now a beach resort with palm lined seaside promenades offering everything from pleasant coffee shops, friendly restaurants, and vibrant night clubs to camel safaris, skydiving, and sand-boarding.
The nearby Namib-Naukluft National Park, the largest game reserve in Africa, hosts Namibia’s main tourist attraction, the Sossusvlei, a pan surrounded by high red dunes with the typical Acacia trees.
Yet the Namib-Naukluft conceals another not frequently visited jewel: Sandwich Harbour.
Named after a ship that is said to have set anchor there in 1790, Sandwich Harbour can only be reached by 4×4 as there are no existing roads, and although a permit can be obtained via the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, it is not recommended to enter the area without a guide as it requires deep sand driving and dune crossing.
Freedom from Cell Phones
Sancwich Harbour is only accessible at low tide, and when wave conditions are favourable, there is no cell phone reception.
Small scale commercial whaling and fishing in the Sandwich Harbour lagoon have made way for shark fishing by the locals, strictly tag and release of course!
Sandwich Harbour is visited by only few people, and it is where true isolation can be experienced. This is where the dunes meet the ocean; the bright, intense sun and the vast, roaring dunes create a spectacular effect of shadows, colours, and light.
The contrast between the mighty Atlantic and the impressive dunes could not have been more dramatic.
Oysters and Champagne on the Beach
Organized tours are offered by the extremely friendly staff of Sandwich Harbour 4×4, and the excursion also includes a splendid lunch of oysters and champagne on the beach. With taste buds stimulated by the salty sea air, one returns to Swakopmund with an appetite. And what better place to conclude a day trip to Sandwich Harbour than at Jetty 1905 on the pier, enjoying great seafood or perhaps just some sundowners, endless views of the Atlantic, and a spectacular sunset?
Food is excellent compared to most Namibian restaurants, although pricey. The small seafood platter is enough to feed two abundantly!
And then the sun slowly sets while the waves rhythmically break off the pier, and a light ocean breeze caresses the desert coast and delicately sends its life-sustaining fog inland to the Namib-Naukluft National Park, where it tries to settle on the ground and where the new dawn – with its shimmering heat and bright light – will once again set the daily battle for survival in motion.
- Swakopmund, Namibia, offers many types of accommodation, from simple B&B’s to luxurious beach hotels.
- Located at Walvis Bay, Sandwich Harbour 4×4 offers full day excursions priced at NAD 1,050 pp / USD 125 / GBP 80) .
- Located on the pier at Swakopmund, Jetty 1905 serves international, seafood, Spanish, sushi, and tapas. For reservations, call: +264 64 56 64.
How to Get There
Air Namibia links Windhoek, the nation’s capital, with Johannesburg and Capetown, South Africa, Frankfurt, Germany, and several other African destinations. Click on the following link for more information: Air Namibia.
There are buses and trains from Windhoek to Swakopmund, but they often lack fixed departure times, are mostly overcrowded, and the journey can take well up to 20 hours.
It is recommended to rent a car. The B2 is the main road from Windhoek to Swakopmund and takes about 3.5 – 4.5 hours.
Cindy De Michele Hock
Born in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Cindy De Michele Hock studied law and history in the Netherlands before moving to Rome, Italy, to permanently live with her then boyfriend. She is a freelance lawyer and legal translator.
A few years later, Cindy and her boyfriend moved to Scotland, where they got married. They did volunteer work for one year in Namibia. They are now concluding a six month stay in Sri Lanka. Then it’s back to Scotland.
“We’ll continue traveling, especially in Namibia and Africa!!!” says Cindy, who describes herself as “an enthusiastic wildlife photographer and writer”.
“I love wildlife, the great outdoors, new cultures, and languages.”