What You Need To Know

Swakopmund (German for “Mouth of the Swakop”) is a city on the coast of western Namibia, 352 km (219 mi) west of the Namibian capital Windhoek via the B2 main road. It is the capital of the Erongo administrative district. The town has 44,725 inhabitants and covers 193 square kilometres (75 sq mi) of land. The city is situated in the Namib Desert and is the fourth largest population centre in Namibia. Swakopmund is a beach resort and an example of German colonial architecture. It was founded in 1892 as the main harbour for German South West Africa, and a small part of its population is still German-speaking today. Buildings in the city include the Altes Gefängnis prison, designed by Heinrich Bause in 1909. The Woermannhaus, built in 1906 with a prominent tower, is now a public library. Attractions in Swakopmund include a Swakopmund Museum,[4] the National Marine Aquarium, a crystal gallery and spectacular sand dunes near Langstrand south of the Swakop River. Outside of the city, the Rossmund Desert Golf Course is one of only five all-grass desert golf courses in the world. Nearby is a farm that offers camel rides to tourists and the Martin Luther steam locomotive, dating from 1896 and abandoned in the desert. Swakopmund lies on the B2 road and the Trans-Namib Railway from Windhoek to Walvis Bay. It is served by Swakopmund Airportand Swakopmund Railway Station.

 

Population: 46,839
Area: 181.3 km²

Currency

Etymology

The Deutsche Evangelisch-Lutherische Church in the centre of Swakopmund, Namibia. The Herero called the place Otjozondjii.[5] The name of the town is derived from the Nama word Tsoakhaub (“excrement opening”) describing the Swakop River in flood carrying items in its riverbed, including dead animals, into the Atlantic Ocean. However, Prof. Peter Raper, Honorary Professor: Linguistics, at the University of the Free State points out that the name for Swakopmund is based on the San language, namely from “xwaka” (rhinoceros) and “ob” (river). The German settlers changed it to Swachaub, and when in 1896 the district was officially proclaimed, the version Swakopmund (German: Mouth of the Swakop) was introduced.

Language

English is the main language.

 

Politics

Swakopmund is governed by a municipal council that currently has ten seats.

 

Technology

In October 2000, an agreement was signed between the Namibian and People’s Republic of China governments to build a satellite tracking station at Swakopmund. Construction was completed in July 2001 at a site north of Swakopmund to the east of the Henties Bay-Swakopmund road and opposite the Swakopmund Salt Works. The site was chosen as it was on the orbital track of a manned spacecraft during its re-entry phase. Costing N$12 million, the complex covers 150m by 85m. It is equipped with five metre and nine metre satellite dishes.

 

Transport

By car

The best way to get to Swakopmund is by road from Windhoek. The B2 is the main road from Windhoek, and takes 4-5 hours by car.

By minibus

Minibuses operate from Windhoek almost every 2-3 hours, ask the taxi drivers where the buses leave. There are multiple taxi ranks in Windhoek for different destinations, so make sure you find the right one. For about N$120 you can have a ride in an overloaded minibus. The ride will take about 4-6 hours. Pay immediately and try to get yourself a seat next to the driver for a bit more space.

By plane

  • Air Namibia  A number of flights are offered by Air Namibia, from Windhoek as well as Cape Town in South Africa. Flights operate from Walvis Bay, 35km south of Swakop.
  • South African Airways  They operate flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town. SAA flights also operate from Walvis Bay.
  • By small aircraft There are numerous operators in Namibia, and flying from destination to destination on a tour through Namibia is an effective way to minimize the time spend travelling the long distances.

Swakopmund Airport

On a tour or safari

Swakopmund is a frequent one or two night stop on most tours around Namibia. There are many tour operator doing tours both from Namibia and from outside, such as South Africa.

By bus

Although the Mini Buses are slightly cheaper and are an experience, they have no fixed time schedule and are often overloaded. So check out these operators:

  • Intercape  operates a service from Windhoek via Okahandja. Intercape service also extends to South Africa and Zimbabwe.
  • Econolux Tel +264 64 205935.

Town Hoppers Shuttle Service – Based in Swakopmund , they travel daily 08h00 from Swakopmund and 14h30 from Windhoek. This is a mini bus, 14 seater, air conditioned bus with all nessasary insurances. Friendly and helpfull drivers and office staff. You can contact them – +264 64 407223 or townhoppers@iway.na

By train

The train service to Windhoek will take up to 21 and a half hours.

By ship

The RMS St Helena makes regular round-trips from St Helena Island to Cape Town via Walvis Bay. Catch a taxi from Walvis Bay to Swakopmund.

 

Tourism

The city has scattered coffee shops, night clubs, bars and hotels. There are balloon rides, skydiving, quad biking, as well as small marine cruises. The Swakopmund Skydiving Club has operated from Swakopmund Airport since its founding in 1972. In August 2008, filming commenced in Swakopmund on the AMC television series The Prisoner starring Jim Caviezel and Sir Ian McKellen. Swakopmund was used as the film location for The Village. In May 2015, Hollywood production company Village Roadshow Pictures, featuring Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy commenced filming of Mad Max Fury Road in-and-around Swakopmund and the surrounding desert landscapes.

 

Weather

Surrounded by the Namib Desert on three sides and the cold Atlantic waters to the west, Swakopmund enjoys a mild desert climate(BWn, according to the Köppen climate classification). The average temperature ranges between 15 °C (59 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F). Rainfall is less than 20 mm per year, making gutters and drainpipes on buildings a rarity. The cold Benguela current supplies moisture for the area in the form of fog that can reach as deep as 140 km (87 mi) inland. Fogs that originate offshore from the collision of the cold Benguela Current and warm air from the Hadley Cell create a fog belt that frequently envelops parts of the Namib desert. Coastal regions can experience more than 180 days of thick fog a year. While this has proved a major hazard to ships—more than one thousand wrecks litter the Skeleton Coast—it is a vital source of moisture for desert life. The fauna and flora of the area have adapted to this phenomenon and now rely upon the fog as a source of moisture.

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