There’s lots of German taste to savour in Namibia’s favourite seaside town with a good dose of local flavour. We sampled the delights of Swakopmund…
Words: Nancy Richards
1. Swakopmund Brewing Company
For all the obvious reasons, the Swakopmund Brewing Company attracts locals and visitors like bees to a honey pot!
With a micro-brewery on site you can experience the brewing process, as well as sample craft beers available on tap and served German-style in chilled ceramic tankards. It’s an all season destination – sit outside on the sea facing terrace and soak up the view in summer or cosy up next to the fireplaces in winter. Such was the warmth of the welcome, that some of our party had to be forcibly dragged out to see other sights.
2. Swakopmund Brewing Company – Brewer and Butcher
It’s not only about drinking at the Brewing Co. – the restaurant, part of the adjoining 3 star Strand Hotel, is called Brewer and Butcher, so no surprise that it’s also famous for the Namibian, German and other international meat dishes on the menu.
3. Architectural Gems
Even the most unobservant tourist can’t fail to be impressed by the towns neo-baroque architectural gems, many of them built between the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when it was a German protectorate.
4. Hohenzollernhaus Building
Needless to say, most of the lovely old buildings have a tale to tell, like Haus Hohenzollern on Tobias Hainyeko Street. Originally built, in all its glory, as a hotel, it’s said to have been both a brothel and gambling den in its day. But it’s been cleaned up and was declared a National Monument in 1972. Today, the old hotel has been renovated into residential apartments. We especially liked the sculptured Atlas holding up his world on top of the central entrance.
Not that the bathers frolicking in the surf would care much, but even the little jetty has a bit of history. It was built in 1905 for the loading and unloading of boats and rafts – but the war and weather took its toll and it eventually became unsafe. It was such a popular spot for walkers and anglers though, eventually the municipality raised the money to restore it. It’s a great spot for a stroll and a sundowner.
6. Kristall Galerie
The Kristall Galerie is a sight for sore eyes and boasts the largest quartz crystal cluster in the world, said to be around 520 million years old! How’s that for old school! They also have a Gem Garden, Crystal Cave and a shop which you’d be hard-pressed to leave empty handed.
Despite all its other attractions, the locals mostly flock to Swakopmund in summer for the beach and its cooler coastal weather. So if you plan to go in high season, make sure you’ve got accommodation booked.
8. Craft Corner
Despite the holiday hot spot’s modest population there’s no shortage of coffee and craft shops. There are lots of options for finding yourself a souvenir – gems, textiles and art are a favourite.
A bit of a sucker for the back story, my favourite spot in Swakopmund was the museum. It is home to the private collection of the late Ferdinand Stich and covers just about all the ‘ologies – archaeology, anthropology, geology, biology, sociology – war, peace, maps, and everything else relating to Namibia’s past. Fascinating.
The very best way to know a place is to buy the local newspaper – in this case, The Namibian. It’s offices, also in Tobias Hainyeko Street are right next door to Fat Bike hiring company – and the very best way to discover a town is to walk it, or better still, bike it.
You know a town is well and truly on the map when it has a lighthouse. This one built in 1903 is right opposite the Municipal Gardens and has a cute little restaurant in what used to be the lighthouse keeper’s quarters where guinea fowl roost on the lawn.