Swakopmund and Luderitz were great places for us to recover from sleeping in tents and a great place to enjoy nice restaurants and cooler temperatures in the summer.
We traveled from Walvis Bay to Sossuvlei before heading back to the Southern coast at Luderitz.
Spitzkoppe to Walvis Bay
- Driving Distance: 200 Km/125 miles
- Driving Time: 2.5
- Road Conditions – Gravel Road 30 Minutes – Paved Road 1.5 Hours
Sossosvle to Luderitz
- Driving Distance: 375 Km/300 miles
- Driving Time: 6.5-7 hours
- Road Conditions – Gravel Road 2/3rd – Paved Road 1/3rd
Swakopmund/Walvis Bay is the second largest city in all of Namibia, with a population of around 100,000. It was founded in 1892 as the main German port for Southern Africa. It’s only 215 miles/350 km or a 3.5 hour drive from Windhoek on a paved road. If you continue past Swakopmund, Walvis Bay is only an additional 30 minute drive away and Sossusvlei is only 4.5-5 hours drive from Walvis Bay.
See picture below a picture of the beach in Swakopmund:
Many articles boast Swakopmund’s lovely German Architecture and history as a reason to visit; however, we believe most travelers who enjoy mid size cities for their architecture and history and travelling to Swakopmund for this purpose will be very disappointed. Namibia is a destination for amazing outdoor activities and wildlife.
Reasons to travel to Swakopmund/Walvis Bay:
- It’s a place to recover from the days of camping around Namibia, as the area has lovely hotels and incredible seafood restaurants. The weather is fairly mild, the Atlantic Ocean is really cold, and the cold ocean air meeting hot desert air causes an almost permanent fog in the area which leads to cooler temperatures than inland. Just 10 miles/15 km from the coast its usually sunny and very hot.
- Swakopmund is the center for more active sporting activities in Nambia such as sand boarding, ATV’s or Quad Biking.
- The landscape is one we have never seen before. There are desert sand dunes as far as the eye can see that come right to the Ocean. It’s literally desert meets Ocean with nothing in between.
- The number one reason is Walvis Bay has tens of thousands of seals that are friendly and playful that you can kayak right next to. We did this and loved it, which is described in more detail below.
Additionally, Swakopmund is a short drive (under 2 hours) from the Skeleton coast and Spitzkoppe, 2 great places to see.
Swakopmund/Walvis Bay our 24 Hour Stay
We came to Swakopmund from Spitzkoppe which is a little less than a 2 hour drive. After cooking our dinners the past week we were ready for more luxurious dining. For lunch we first tried Jetty 1905 Restaurant which was on a pier; however, the restaurant felt a little overpriced and had a dress code (no shorts or sandals), which we did not comply with. We ate at The Tug Restaurant next door instead, which was great. The local king fish was really fresh.
We then decided to stay in Walvis Bay, which was more of a local/residential area. It was about a 10 minute walk to the bay where there are hordes of flamingos:
We stayed in Walvis Bay because we wanted to do a kayaking trip the next morning to see the seals. The van for this trip leaves at 7:30 AM. As with all of Namibia, when you are looking for animals they aren’t hard to find. Jean the owner of the Kayak Excursion company drove us out to an area where there were over 10,000 seals. You are able kayak right in the middle of seals playing with each other and eating fish. We would highly recommend this for a morning if you’re in the area, you can book here. Cost is about $30 USD per person. Here’s a video and picture from inside the kayak the seals are everywhere!:
Luderitz “the Ritz”
Similar to Swakopmund/Walvis Bay we came to Luderitz or as we like to call it, “the Ritz,” to relax and recover from days of hiking on dunes and waking up at 4:30 AM. Just like Swakopmund, we had read that Luderitz has lovey German architecture, but even less-so than Swakopmund. We are glad we came to Luderitz as we describe in more detail below, but the town is way out of the way and if you make the trip to Luderitz see a charming town with German architecture you will disappointed.
Luderitz is located on the Southwestern coast of Namibia and reachable via paved road. We loved Luderitz, it was a small town in which everything was walk-able. We stayed 2 nights at the Haus Sandrose for $50 USD per night, it had a private courtyard and we were able to do laundry and catch up on some sleep. It would have been better to stay on the peninsula known as shark island (Kairos Cottage has rooms looking out to the ocean for $50-$60 USD/night depending on the time of year). Unfortunately all the rooms at the hotels on Shark Island were booked.
Activities around Luderitz:
This ghost town is located about a 15 minute drive from Luderitz. Visiting a ghost town is not the type of activity we typically enjoy but we found this to be very interesting and if you go to Luderitz it’s really something you shouldn’t miss. Kolmanskop was created in the first decade of the 1900’s when Namibia was a German colony. Kolmanskop was abandoned by the early 1950’s. Two 60 minute English speaking tours take place Monday-Saturday at 9:30 and 11:00 AM and one on Saturday’s at 10:00 AM. The tours provide a great history of the building of Kolmanskop, the diamond trade in the area, and day-to-day life there. We got see how people in Kolmanskop got water each day as well as the bowling alley they constructed for entertainment.
The Penguins at Halifax Island
This early morning catamaran ride is a blast. Be sure to bring warm clothes even in the summer as well as binoculars. You’ll get to see lots of dolphins, seals and Jackass Penguins located on Halifax island. Halifax island which used to be covered in full with hundreds of thousands of penguins, but now there are only several thousand. Two companies offer the tour. We had heard the two tours are pretty comparable and go to the same places (Zeepaard and Penguin Catamaran Tours). We went with Zeepaard because they provide hot chocolate and had less people on the catamaran. The owner on the boat was very friendly and knowledgeable about the penguins and answered all our questions.
Seeing the coast is a great way to enjoy fresh seafood, see new landscapes and animals, and enjoy cooler temperatures. Swakopmund/Walvis Bay is in the center of the country and not far from other great destinations (Sossuvlei, Spitzkoppe and the Skeleton Coast). It’s a great place to “recharge your batteries ” in more luxurious accommodations and enjoy fresh seafood. Luderitz is nice, but way out of the way from most sites in Namibia. Unless you have plenty of time for your trip or are visiting Fish River Canyon nearby (about 3.5-4 hour drive), Luderitz is a good place to skip. Luderitz will take a day driving there and a day driving back into the rest of the country.
Thinking about seeing more of Nambia? This is our two week Namibia itinerary:
- Okinjimo Afri Cat Foundation
- Etosha National Park
- Damaraland: Grootberg Lodge & Camping in Spitzkoppe
- Coastal Namibia: Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, & Luderitz
- Fish River Canyon