Guide to Swakopmund Namibia
Swakopmund Guide - Information about Swakopmund, shops, fuel, accommodation, airport, supermarkets, banks, atm machines, car hire, hotels and other places to stay in Swakopmund.
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Swakopmund - Namibia
Swakopmund (German for "Mouth of the Swakop") is a city on the coast of northwestern Namibia, 280 km (175 miles) west of Windhoek, Namibia's capital.
As a seaside resort, the weather is cooler here in December to January (Namibia's summer months). Swakopmund's population as of 2007 is approximately 28,552.
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.
The city lies on the B2 road and the Trans-Namib Railway from Windhoek to Walvis Bay. It is also home to Swakopmund Airport.
Buildings in the city include the Altes Gefängnis prison, designed by Heinrich Bause in 1909. The Wörmannhaus, built in 1906 with a prominent tower, is now a public library.
Attractions in Swakopmund include a Swakopmund Museum, 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 5 all-grass desert golf courses in the world. The city is known for extreme sports. Nearby lies a camel farm and the Martin Luther steam locomotive, dating from 1896 and abandoned in the desert.
On 4 August 1892 the crew of a gunboat named Hyäne (German for Hyena) erected two beacons on a large dune, probably in the vicinity of the present lighthouse. This is regarded as the founding date of Swakopmund. The first settlers were 120 Schutztruppe with equipment and 40 settlers who offloaded from the Marie Woermann using four landing boats. The settlers had to build caves on the beach to protect themselves against hostile weather. Before a breakwater was built in 1898, which later became known as the Mole, all offloading was done with special boats that could only be handled by Kroo men from Liberia. At that time, up to 600 Kroo tribesmen were employed by the Woermann Line. The number of vessels offloading in Swakopmund was increasing rapidly. In 1894, only four ships offloaded, and in 1895 there were five. In 1896 the Woermann Line introduced bi-monthly service, and in 1899, monthly service to Swakopmund. Due to a lack of building materials, most of the first settlers' houses were prefabricated wood.
Swakopmund LighthouseSwakopmund quickly became the main port for imports and exports for the whole territory, and was one of six towns which received municipal status in 1909. Many government offices for German South-West Africa had offices in Swakopmund.
Soon, the harbour created by the Mole silted up, and in 1905 work was started on a wooden jetty, but in the long run this was inadequate. In 1914 construction of an iron jetty was therefore commenced, the remains of which can still be seen today. After World War I it became a pedestrian walkway. It was declared structurally unsound and was closed to the public for seven years and in 2006 renovations to the portion supported by concrete pillars was completed with the remaining portion being alienated. It was reopened to the public in late 2010.
Woermann House & TowerTrading and shipping companies founded branches in Swakopmund. A number of these buildings still exist today. After German South-West Africa was taken over by the Union of South Africa in 1915, all harbour activities were transferred from Swakopmund to Walvis Bay. Many of the Central Government services ceased. Businesses closed down, the number of inhabitants diminished, and the town became less prosperous. However, the natural potential of Swakopmund as a holiday resort was recognised, and this potential has subsequently been developed. Today tourism-related services form an important part of the town's economy.
The discovery of uranium at Rössing, 70 km (43 mi) outside the town, led to the development of the world's largest opencast uranium mine. This had an enormous impact on all facets of life in Swakopmund which necessitated expansion of the infrastructure of the town to make it into one of the most modern in Namibia.
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 reentry phase. Costing N$12 million, the complex covers 150m by 85m. It is equipped with five meter and nine meter satellite dishes.
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.
Swakopmund, Namibia's second biggest town and traditional "summer capital", is one of the most surreal and unique destinations in the country, a sort of central Europe meets the African desert next to the ocean kind of place.
It's often the place to get some rest and recreation after a dusty trip to the desert dunes of Sossusvlei or the Namib-Naukluft Park - there's plenty to do and great places to stay.
Approaching the town through the haunting beauty of the Namib Desert, one of the world's largest wilderness areas, you are greeted by the boom of the surf on the notorious Skeleton Coast, an ever-present reminder of the treacherous and icy Atlantic beyond the desert. Bavarian spires and palm trees rise into view through the coastal mist (it is almost always misty in the morning and late afternoon) and friendly, bustling Swakopmund is revealed.
Swakopmund also offers a host of other attractions, including boat trips to see dolphins and seals, shore-based angling, skin diving, surfing or just simply lazing on the beach.
And, of course, the town is surrounded by the Namib-Naukluft Park, one of the most bewitching desert wilderness areas in Africa, for one day trips or longer safaris for the ultimate desert camping experience.