Wandering along the orderly main streets, past half-timbered colonial-era buildings and pavement cafés, where German is spoken at every turn, it’s easy to see how SWAKOPMUND – or Swakop, to use its more familiar name – is sometimes jokingly referred to as “Germany’s most southerly Baltic seaside resort”. German-Namibians may only constitute a small percentage of the town’s 45,000 population, but German influence is surreally omnipresent in Namibia’s only real seaside resort. However, you only need to gaze across the dry Swakop River at the rippling golden dunes, or experience a savage sandstorm on a winter morning, to be brought back to the more defining presence of the desert. Indeed, it’s the recent exploitation of the desert – and the dunes in particular – as a location for adventure activities that is helping attract more foreign tourists and a younger crowd.

Though midweek in winter Swakopmund can seem like a ghost town, the place really comes alive in the summer holidays (Dec–Jan), when half of Windhoek decamps here to enjoy the cooler coastal climes, and get some respite from the dry desert interior. The downside of this is that guesthouse rooms and restaurant tables are hard to come by. At other times of the year, the place is less busy, though long weekends can attract crowds too.

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