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Swakopmund: the gateway into the oldest desert in the world

As told by a local geologist

Picture taken in January when the Tsauchab River came down in floods into the Sossusvlei. Image credit: Branko 
Nestled between the Namib Desert and the Atlantic Ocean, Swakopmund is the perfect gateway into the best Namibia has to offer.
 
"It’s a focal point into the Namib dessert – the oldest desert in the world,” says a local geologist who has lived there since 1994.
 
What makes it so special is, unlike the dry and hot climate you’d experience inland, Swakopmund has the benefit of being cool and is centrally located near many of the best parts of Namibia. “It ticks everyone’s boxes for the traveller,” says the geologist,  “the food is good, you’re by the sea. I could get in my car now and drive 500km North to the Kanene River in the desert and virtually camp where ever I like without a permit, without seeing people, just being in nature.”
 
The geologist lives 80m from the surf and when he’s not exploring minerals looking for mines, collecting rocks and reviewing data he’s flying his ultralight aircraft over the dunes through the south of town, up along the coast, and over the salt panes or enjoying the local German cuisine with friends or walking along the coast.
 
This is what he says about his hometown.
Top things to do in Swakopmund:
Image credit: Megan Griep via wordpress blog ESL Ventures

Explore the coastal dune belts in a guided 4X4 tour south of the town. You’ll hear about the history of dunes, see the desert life (the “little 5”) and the Welwitschia Mirabilis, one of the oldest plants dated still alive (estimated to be 1 000 - 1 500 years old).
 
You can also take a drive up to Moon Valley and drive through the riverbeds of Swakop River, just 20 minutes from the town. “You've got these towering cliffs and hills around you eroded and it looks just like the moon,” says the local geologist.
     Take a catamaran out into the Atlantic Ocean to spot seals, pelicans, dolphins and turtles.
      Freefall at 200km/h over the oldest desert in the world with a view of the Atlantic Ocean. Don’t worry - If you have no experience skydiving you can go tandem with someone who does.

      Best places to eat in town:
      Jetty 1905 Restaurant. Image credit: Jetty 1905 via Facebook

      • Jetty 1905
        Named after and located on the Swakopmund Jetty that was built in 1905
      • Swakopmund Brauhaus
        A local favourite where you can experience traditional German cuisine, an integral part of the town’s culture.
       
      Where you should stay:Having once been a German Colony, Swakopmund has many German influences, which can be seen in its architecture. Image credit: Canva

      If you had to pick the best views in all of Namibia where would they be?Image credit: Safari Frank

      • Sossusvlei
        A big attraction in Namibia is the Soususvlei - take an air balloon ride over the salt and clay pans and red dunes or a game drive to see the springbok and oryx. Stay at the Namib desert lodge
      • Erongo Mountain range 
        Granite peaks formed from an ancient volcano. Can see bushman paintings during your stay at Ai Aiba Rockpainting Lodge
      • Skeleton coast
        Stay at the very exclusive Shipwreck Lodge where Prince Harry and Meghan took their honeymoon.
      What is one thing about Namibia that you wish more people knew?Image credit: Branko
      "An appreciation of the natural history that one sees, still preserved - being the oldest desert in the world. And you can see that on a daily basis which ever direction you drive in. It is very special in that respect."
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