A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about swakopmund

Across the Desert.

Getting to Swakopmund.

sunny

Next day we had booked a Carlo's Shuttle to take us from Windhoek all the way to Swakopmund. We were very happy with this service as it would pick us up from our hotel and drop us right at our next hotel, so no messing around with luggage for us. Our pick up was scheduled for around one in the afternoon, so we still had a morning to enjoy Windhoek and sort out our hotel bill!!!

After breakfast, we walked to the nearby Namibian Craft Centre which has been in existence since 1990 and occupies the site of Windhoek's old brewery. As well as having a wide variety of different Namibian handicrafts this complex also has a cafe and a bar called Chopsi's.

At the Namibian Craft Centre.

At the Namibian Craft Centre.

Tall giraffes at the centre.

Tall giraffes at the centre.

Shy Giraffes at the centre.

Shy Giraffes at the centre.

Chopsi's Bar.

Chopsi's Bar.

Namibian Craft Centre.

Namibian Craft Centre.

After visiting the craft centre, we returned to the hotel for our last swim before check out. Of course when we did check out, the bill was way too much and the meals that should have been included were added on as extras. After a rather unpleasant fight, we eventually got things sorted out, but it was not the happiest way to depart and spoiled what was otherwise a very comfortable and happy stay. This is a hotel that needs to sort itself out. Our shuttle arrived on time and took us to a central bus station where we boarded a second shuttle for Swakopmund.

Bye bye Hilton, Windhoek.

Bye bye Hilton, Windhoek.

The journey to Swakopmund takes around four or five hours. We travelled along the Trans-Kalahari Highway which apparently runs all the way from Walvis Bay in Namibia to Johannesburg and Pretoria in South Africa. The scenery at first was quite green with distant rolling hills. I saw several herds of domesticated cattle and goats. There were also some buffalo with long, curving horns. I also saw some wild deer and ostriches. One of the things that fascinated me was the huge termite mounds that lined the sides of the road - some of them were incredibly high.

On this journey we passed through the town of Okahandja and were fortunate enough on our return journey to pass by its huge craft market. We stopped on the edge of the town of Usakos. Across from the service station area a football match was in full swing. Near the service area I admired a lovely garden filled with strange spiky plants.

Football match on the edge of Usakos.

Football match on the edge of Usakos.

House and garden, Usakos.

House and garden, Usakos.

After leaving Usakos the scenery became much drier as we entered the Namib Desert. The ground sparkled in the bright sunlight due to the many pieces of quartz and other stones that covered the it. In the distance we could see the outline of the Spitzkoppe. A mountain range that literally translates from the German as 'pointed dome' and rises dramatically from the flat, parched surroundings of the Namib Desert. These granite peaks are more than 120 million years old and rise to 5,853 feet above sea level. They are famous for interesting rock formations and examples of bushmen artwork painted onto their rocks.

Passing Spitzkoppe.

Passing Spitzkoppe.

Passing Spitzkoppe.

Passing Spitzkoppe.

As we neared Swakopmund we passed some uranium mines. The Namib Desert is rich in uranium and Namibia was once the fourth largest uranium producer in the world. Production has declined in recent times as nuclear power has fallen in popularity since the Fukihima Daiichi Disaster in Japan in 2011.

Uranium mine near Swakopmund.

Uranium mine near Swakopmund.

One of the things I liked about Carlo's Shuttles was it drops everyone where they want to go, so we had a tour around the suburbs of Swakopmund on our way in. Quite interesting as we would have no reason to go here normally, but I like to see real places where people actually live. Eventually we arrived at our hotel the AHA Beach Hotel near the seafront in Swakopmund. The receptionist here was so friendly and helpful; it was completely different to checking in in Windhoek. We were given a lovely room with a balcony. We deposited our stuff, then headed to the hotel roof with its small pool and spectacular views over the seafront. The sun was just starting to go down and we watched it for a while before heading down a floor and enjoying sun-downers in the little hotel bar. Later we ate a delicious meal in the hotel restaurant. My husband had wiener schnitzel and I had pork medallions in a Dijon mustard sauce. The restaurant is called Anchor Point as it stands on a site that was once occupied by a huge German radio transmitter. The anchor points secured the guy ropes that held the eighty-six metre high radio mast in place. This transmitter enabled the Germans to stay in radio contact with Berlin during the First World War. When Union troops entered South West Africa near the end of the war, the Germans destroyed the transmitter to prevent it falling into enemy hands.

Our room.

Our room.

View from our balcony with an anchor point on the right.

View from our balcony with an anchor point on the right.

View from our roof towards Swakopmund Pier.

View from our roof towards Swakopmund Pier.

Me by our roof top pool.

Me by our roof top pool.

View over Tiger Reef campsite and restaurant. The structure in the water used to be a rail line.

View over Tiger Reef campsite and restaurant. The structure in the water used to be a rail line.

Sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

Sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

Looking towards an anchor point.

Looking towards an anchor point.

Sun-downers in the bar.

Sun-downers in the bar.

Sundown.

Sundown.

A delicious dinner in the Anchor Point Restaurant.

A delicious dinner in the Anchor Point Restaurant.

Posted by irenevt 19:35 Archived in Namibia Tagged desert namibia windhoek swakopmund Comments (4)

Dolphins and Seals

A Cruise from Walvis Bay and Exploring Swakopmund.

sunny

Next day we got up early and had a bit of a rushed breakfast as we had booked a half-day cruise out of Walvis Bay. Our pick-up to Walvis Bay arrived bang on time and we set off along the coastline - the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the sand dunes of the Namib Desert on the other.

Walvis Bay takes its name from the Dutch words 'Walvisch Baye' which means Whale Bay. It has the only naturally occurring harbour of any size on the Namib coastline. The natural harbour exists due to a long sandy spit of land known as Pelican Point. The natural harbour led to this area being highly sought after. The British retained control of this area even when the rest of South West Africa was under German control.

The waters of Walvis Bay are rich in plankton and this in turn leads to an abundance of marine life. We had a quick look around the harbour area of Walvis Bay before and after our cruise. Our cruise was through Laramon Tours. There were several stalls selling Namibian handicrafts around the harbour area. There were also a few pelicans.

Harbour at Walvis Bay.

Harbour at Walvis Bay.

Harbour at Walvis Bay.

Harbour at Walvis Bay.

Our boat.

Our boat.

Local girl manning craft stall.

Local girl manning craft stall.

Pelican.

Pelican.

This cruise was actually the cheapest of the three day tours we took, but it also had the most generous and best supply of food and drink. We seemed to be constantly handed drinks throughout the cruise.

A short time after setting out, we were joined on board our boat by a large male seal called Nicholas. These seals are wild, but have become tamed by the people who run the cruises. We were told some of the seals that come on board are more tame than others and we should only touch the seals if the guides told us it was safe to do so. I was able to stroke Nicholas's fur and he rewarded me by shaking himself like a wet dog and soaking everyone on the boat. Nicholas and all the other seals we saw on this trip are cape fur seals. This kind of seal lives along the coasts of South Africa, Namibia and Angola.

Nicholas the seal being fed by Jason our guide.

Nicholas the seal being fed by Jason our guide.

Nicholas leaving the boat.

Nicholas leaving the boat.

Next we sailed into an area that was filled with dolphins. There are three kinds of dolphins in this area: heaviside, Atlantic bottlenose and dusky. To be honest I am not sure which kind we saw, but they were fascinating, so playful as they dived, surfaced and leapt all around the boat loads of gasping tourists.

Playful dolphins alongside our boat.

Playful dolphins alongside our boat.

Dolphins.

Dolphins.

Dolphins.

Dolphins.

Dolphins.

Dolphins.

Dolphins.

Dolphins.

I could have happily watched the dolphins all day, but we headed off towards the sand bar called Pelican Point which is responsible for Walvis Bay's natural harbour. Here we saw a colony of cape fur seals in the shadows of Pelican Point Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in 1932. It is now home to the luxurious Pelican Point Lodge. The lighthouse is made of cast iron and stands 35 meters high. Walvis Bay's harbour was filled with many different sailing vessels from large ships to small yachts. The sounds from the seal colony were incredible as the animals called out greetings, threats, mating cries, who knows to each other.

Ships in Walvis Bay.

Ships in Walvis Bay.

And more ships.

And more ships.

And even more ships behind the seal colony.

And even more ships behind the seal colony.

Seal colony.

Seal colony.

Pelican Point Lighthouse.

Pelican Point Lighthouse.

Enjoying the ride.

Enjoying the ride.

These markers indicate an oyster farm in the ocean.

These markers indicate an oyster farm in the ocean.

We also stopped near a shoal of mola mola fish. Also known as sunfish, these are the heaviest bony fish in the world. Finally we moored next to an oyster farm. Oysters are imported from Singapore, Thailand and Norway when they are just the size of a nail. They are placed in baskets under sea water and allowed to grow for between six to ten months. Speaking of oysters, it was time for lunch: delicious fresh oysters, devilled eggs, samosas, finger sandwiches, meatballs, schnitzel, chicken wings and much more. Fantastic!!!

Me enjoying oysters and champagne.

Me enjoying oysters and champagne.

Peter enjoying a delightful lunch.

Peter enjoying a delightful lunch.

Best seat on the boat.

Best seat on the boat.

And for me.

And for me.

After lunch we headed back to Walvis Bay. We had befriended a British couple on the boat. One of them sometimes worked as a magistrate in Hong Kong so he and Peter were deep in conversation about Hong Kong politics when suddenly the magistrate cried out in shock. Right in the middle of them, moving his head from side to side as if hanging on every word, it was Nicholas again back on the boat for more fish.

The return of Nicholas.

The return of Nicholas.

After a very enjoyable trip, we were bussed back to our hotel in Swakopmund where we sobered ourselves up a bit with a refreshing dip in our icy pool. From the rooftop we could see local fishermen preparing their catch for market.

A sobering dip....

A sobering dip....

in a pool with a view.

in a pool with a view.

Watching the fishemen prepare their catch.

Watching the fishemen prepare their catch.

Refreshed, we set out to explore Swakopmund. We walked along the seafront past the aquarium and beds of beautiful flowering succulents to the town's pier.

Flowering succulents.

Flowering succulents.

Flowering succulents.

Flowering succulents.

The Aquarium.

The Aquarium.

Swakopmund was founded in 1892, two years after the German colonial founding of Windhoek from the ruins of Jonker Afrikaner's town. The town was started by Captain Curt von Francois whose statue we saw in Windhoek. It became the main harbour of German South West Africa, as the British had already gained control of the best harbour at Walvis Bay.

Swakopmund has a long pier sticking out into the ocean. The first pier to be built here was a wooden one and was completed in 1905. However, this became severely damaged by borer worm, so construction of a new iron jetty began in 1911. There are restaurants at both ends of the pier. It is pleasant to walk out into the sea with the waves lapping all around you and the chance to enjoy beautiful views back towards town. I loved the old fashioned lights which lined the pier.

Swakopmund Pier.

Swakopmund Pier.

Looking back towards town.

Looking back towards town.

Looking between the lights towards town.

Looking between the lights towards town.

On the pier.

On the pier.

Although we were sightseeing we were also on a practical mission, so after the pier and the seafront gardens, we cut up Sam Nujoma Avenue to find Charley's Desert Tours and book a trip to Sandwich Harbour. I was impressed by the lovely desert rose and rose quartz stones on the shop assistant's desk. At first I thought they were candies as they looked good enough to eat.

Rose quartz and desert roses.

Rose quartz and desert roses.

After purchasing our tour, we looked at some of the Germanic style buildings and the shops and restaurants near Charlie's Desert Tours.

Germanic architecture.

Germanic architecture.

Arts and shopping.

Arts and shopping.

Then we walked to Swakopmund's lighthouse. This was first opened in July 1902 and is still in operation today. It is 21 years older than the lighthouse at Pelican Point. Nowadays the lighthouse is also home to a restaurant. The building directly in front of the lighthouse is the state house, the Swakopmund home of the Namibian president. Near the lighthouse stands the marine statue, or to give it its German name, Marine Denkmal. This was designed by sculptor AM Wolff to commemorate the German First Marine Expedition Corps that helped quell the Herero uprisings of 1904. Protesters have sprinkled the statue with red blood-like paint to protest the attempted genocide of the Herero people during this war.

The lighthouse.

The lighthouse.

Marine Denkmal.

Marine Denkmal.

Near this area moving away from the sea there are some interesting old buildings such as the Hansa Hotel dating from 1905, the Old Post and Telegraph Office and some old churches.

The Hansa Hotel.

The Hansa Hotel.

The Old Post and Telegraph Office.

The Old Post and Telegraph Office.

Going towards the sea from the lighthouse there is a war memorial, which commemorates the soldiers who died in the two world wars.There is also a craft market and the Swakopmund Museum. We did not visit the museum. We strolled around the craft market.

The War Memorial.

The War Memorial.

The Craft Market.

The Craft Market.

Leaving the craft market, we headed to the mole. The mole is a sea wall built in 1899 by architect FW Ortloff. It was intended to improve Swakopmund’s poor harbour, but was rendered ineffective by the Benguela Current, which sweeps northwards carrying lots of sand from the southern deserts. The sand deposits choked up the entrance to the harbour. Nowadays the mole is a lovely sheltered place for a swim.

Peter at the mole.

Peter at the mole.

Me at the mole.

Me at the mole.

After looking around here we headed back along Swakopmund Beach and through its little seafront park which was filled with guinea fowl pecking for food.

Swakopmund Beach.

Swakopmund Beach.

Guinea Fowl.

Guinea Fowl.

Guinea Fowl.

Guinea Fowl.

We took a slight detour away from the seafront to see Woermann House on our way back. This large yellow building with a tall tower
was designed by architect Mr. Friedrich Hoft and completed in 1905. It was originally home to The Damara and Namaqua Trading Company, but in 1909 was bought by Carl Woermann after whom it is named. The house is now a state owned monument. Then we had a look at the Höhenzollern Building with its statue of Atlas holding up the world on its back. This was once a hotel.

Woermann House.

Woermann House.

Höhenzollern Building.

Höhenzollern Building.

Atlas atop the Höhenzollern Building.

Atlas atop the Höhenzollern Building.

Then it was home and dinner in our hotel, a lovely meal, but very noisy due to a large group of loud German tourists.

Posted by irenevt 00:44 Archived in Namibia Tagged cruise bay dolphins seals walvis swakopmund Comments (4)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]