A long-standing favourite excursion from Swakopmud is along Welwitschia Drive, a marked interpretive route across the desert that starts a few kilometres from town, and can be done either as a 4WD self-drive (3–4hr) or a half-day tour. The route traverses gravel plains, where you can stop and peer at lichen fields – if they seem shrivelled and dead, just splash a little water on them and watch them open up and change colour – and drought-resistant plants such as the dollar bush, with its waxy coin-shaped leaves that give it its name. Other highlights include the otherworldly “moonscape”– an area of undulating granite mounds that pushed through the Earth’s surface around 460 million years ago, and have been eroded by the wind and the changing course of the Swakop River over time. Last, but not least, you will see welwitschias – including Namibia’s presumed largest and oldest specimen.

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