Top things to do in Swakopmund & Walvis Bay, Namibia

Walvis Bay and Swakopmund are the two most important cities in Erongo Region. Swakopmund is the capital and a very laid-back colonial town with a vibe that mixes Germany and Africa, “the most German town in Africa.” It’s full of hotels and lodges, a very popular holiday destination for the Namibians and some Europeans, especially French and German.

Top things to do in Swakopmund & Walvis Bay, Namibia
Best things to do in Swakopmund, Namibia

Walvis Bay is Erongo’s biggest city, and its deepwater natural harbor made it a historically important port, which is one of the most important in Southern Africa. You can see the endless trucks transporting containers to Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. Both cities are completely surrounded by the Namib desert and the cold waters of Benguela current on the Atlantic Ocean.

Namibia is probably one of the easiest places to travel in Africa. It’s cheap, safe, and with an incredible list of activities to do. This means that Namibia is one of the best African destinations, both for adventure travel and family travel. Here we mostly explore the adventure side of Swakopmund, but you can check here why you should visit Namibia with kids!

How Is Weather In Swakopmund

Swakopmund enjoys a mild desert climate, in other words, it’s usually dry and hot, but with very foggy mornings. The average temperature ranges between 15 °C (59 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F). Rainfall is less than 20 mm per year, making gutters and drainpipes on buildings a rarity. It can go without raining for several months or even years. Though it actually rained for 2 hours in Walvis Bay when we went there… so… lucky us? 🙂

Weather in Swakopmund
The swakopmund lighthouse is one of the things to see in Swakopmund

Best Things To Do In Swakopmund And Walvis Bay

We had 2 full days, and 3 nights to explore Swakopmund & Walvis Bay and there were two things that we had to do: a day or half-day tour into the desert and the quad-bike + sandboarding combo on the dunes. This left us with time to spend on both cities, check the beach and we even managed to do another activity in Swakopmund, Tommy’s desert tour, in search of the “little 5.

best things to do in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay

Tommy’s living desert tour

We had read a few good reviews about it but weren’t really sure if we should do this tour. One morning looking for geckos, snakes, lizards, scorpions…? We had mixed feelings about it, however, lets put it clearly: we loved it, and it’s one of our top things to do in Swakopmund! “We would do it again and recommend it to our friends!”

Tommy's living desert tour - what to do in Swakopmund

Tommy is such a character, incredibly funny, always with a witty comeback and joke or story to tell. He created the original desert tour, a really enthusiastic about the desert and a true conservationist. The guides are very conscious about the tours intervention in the environment and try to minimize it while showing us the hidden animals of the desert.

As the guides pointed, if you are on a vehicle going 40 km/h you won’t see anything and think that there’s nothing happening in the desert. But if you stop the car, walk a few meters, go on your knees and start looking, really looking… You will start to see the tracks, the footprints and realize there are much more than you initially thought.

Tommy and its crew showed us how little it rains in Namib desert and how plants and animals adapt to this extreme environment:

Things to do in walvis bay
The famous Ferrari 🙂 aka, Claudia’s new earings…
  • A lizard that runs like hell (nicknamed the Ferrari), apparently when it bites it’s very difficult to release. Well, he bit Claudia’s ear, and the legend says she is still wearing it as an earring…
  • A spider that builds tunnels with its web and sand. We were able to see and touch these tunnels Incredible how we could pass it between us and it resisted without being destroyed.
  • A snake who hides in the sand, camouflaging perfectly. Just try to find it in the picture below. yeah, I know…. we would definitely step on it… and we were walking barefooted…
  • Saw, touched and fed a Chameleon with larvae and beetles… That lucky bastard chameleon got a full meal for free.
  • Played with scorpion caught in a small bush near us… Apparently, they are deadly and can through their venom…
  • Another lizard, the Palmato gecko, has the skin so thin that is transparent and you can see the internal organs. But it’s so cute and has such beautiful colors, as you can see…
Activities swakopmund, Namibia
The sand tunnels built by spiders

Do you know what are those black marks/stripes we see in the dunes? Although it may look like dirt, that black sand is magnetite! It gives a different color to the dunes and much character, don’t you think? Also, look at what you can do with a big magnet…

Swakopmund activities

At the end of the tour, we were taken into the desert and drove in the dunes. A little bit of adrenaline after a fantastic morning in search of the little five and learning so much about the desert.

This was a very entertaining, fun, and educational tour.

swakopmund what to do

We paid 700NAD per person (less than 45 USD), it was a great value for money and is a travel drafts recommendation!

Quad-biking in the Namib desert, close to Swakopmund

Two of the most famous Swakopmund activities are quad biking and sandboarding in the dunes. We went for 2 hours of quads + 1-hour sandboarding. This costs 700 NAD per person.

We never had quad-biked nor sand-boarded before, so we were slightly apprehensive. We had the usual security briefing and instructions before riding into the dunes.

It’s incredible how the guides always seem to try to scare us before these kinds of activities. I can only imagine the crazy clients they get sometimes…

What to visit in Swakopmund
Our mean machines 🙂 It was just us and the guides this time 🙂

To be honest, this wasn’t very much of an adrenaline, but riding a quad bike into the desert is very cool. You kinda have to let it go and not try to control it too much. Just relax and have fun.

The most important thing is not losing momentum uphill, or you will be stuck. It happened once. OPS 🙂 Going downhill can be slightly scary the first time, but then it’s nice. As time passed we were getting faster and having more thrill. We couldn’t have chosen a better place for our first quad ride.

We stopped a few times for photo opportunities and once I was able to do this with a small magnet…

Quad-biking to Swakopmund one of the most fun things to do
I’m so romantic… 🙂

Sandboarding in Namibia

Finally, after two hours of quads, we stopped and our guide went to get the boards. We were quite anxious about this one. It looked dangerous… I mean one can get up to 70 km/h on those things… And you know what? Be careful because it is dangerous. If you lose control or don’t pull up the board you will have an accident. And that wouldn’t be fun. Claudia had a minor one and scared the s**** out of me.

Anyway, the sandboarding is much more about adrenaline than the quads, but the biggest problem is: It’s 15 seconds down, 15 minutes up… After experiencing it a few times you start wondering if it’s worth the effort of climbing again…

We only did it stand down and but I will try again if it’s stand up 🙂

Sandwich Harbour tour

Sandwich Harbour is 55km south of Walvis Bay, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park. There are no official roads leading to Sandwich Harbour, and the tracks change and/or disappear due to tides and strong winds.

This means that either go through the dunes or through the beach. This was our opportunity to go really into the dune desert, and we took it. Our guide was Herman van Zyl, and he was awesome, a little crazy but mostly awesome!

Sandwich Harbour tour
The beautiful flamingos, one of the best things to do in Walvis Bay

The tour started in Walvis Bay with rain! – Yes, it rained for a while in the Namib desert – and the first stop was to see the flamingos. After the flamingos we headed south to the cocaine production or salt pans… we weren’t sure but were advised not to sniff too hard anyway 🙂 Herman asked us if we felt adventurous if we wanted the adrenaline route through the dunes or the lazy route through the beach… I think you can guess what we choose 🙂

Sandwich Harbour tour
The Namib Desert can be so beautiful

Well, we weren’t expecting this… the tour became more like a rally in the dunes! and it was so much fun! Herman is a great sand/dunes driver, and despite the rallying up, down, around, and across the dunes, we always felt safe.

Before coming to Swakopmund, we thought the Quad-bikes or sandboarding would be the most adrenaline we would get, but how wrong were we! This tour was exhilarating, and we enjoyed it very much:) The view from highest dune was fantastic, both into the desert and into Sandwich Harbour. From up there you can see the endless dunes on the horizon and the sea crashing into the huge dunes. It’s a unique and impressive landscape.

After enjoying the scenery and taking all the photos we wanted, it was time to enjoy the way down and have lunch: oysters and champagne (or any other drink) in the desert, by the sea. Returning to Walvis Bay and we enjoyed another rally through the dunes and listening to Herman’s endless repertoire of funny stories. We even got to see and chase an ostrich…

The tour costs 1200 NAD  (75 USD) and was well worth it. We loved it and really couldn’t ask for anything more than we got! It felt like we were doing a little of Dakar rally and that was thrilling. Definitely another travel drafts recommendation!

If you are going to Swakopmund/Walvis Bay we recommend that you try these tours. Maybe we got lucky, maybe we choose the best tours in Namibia, but the truth is: if you go with Tommy’s or Herman’s you will have a great time. The tours couldn’t be more different but equally are fantastic!

Swakopmund Accommodation

Luxury Hotel in Swakopmund

Strand Hotel Swakopmund is perfectly located in front of its beach and very close to the Swakopmund Museum. This is probably the best hotel in Swakopmund and a perfect venue for a romantic escapade, surrounded by ocean on three sides… Pamper yourself at our Atlantic Spa where you can have a variety of therapeutic treatments and be spoiled by our therapists with a couples massage.

However the strand hotel Swakopmund is also a family-friendly hotel with a children pool and a restaurant on site. Every room includes air conditioner, WI-FI and LCD TV and a living room.

Click here to see the latest prices

Mid-range Hotel in Swakopmund

Hotel Eberwein is a German style hotel known for its German precision and service. It is centrally situated and a perfect place to be based if you want to explore the area. Each comfortable room at Hotel Eberwein provides a private bathroom, a mini bar and free WIFI. It’s perfect for those who enjoy exploring local dining options with a large variety right on the doorstep.

Click here to book it directly on booking!

Budget Hotel in Swakopmund

Marietjie’s Guesthouse is close to the tourist attractions and offers complimentary Wi-Fi, and free parking. The rooms at the guest house offer a seating area and it provides fridge, microwave and kettle. So, hot drinks can be made with the complimentary tea and coffee supplies and savored in the comfort of the seating area, which great if you are on a budget and want to save on meal.

Click here to book it

Final Tip: Remember to Buy Travel Insurance Before Your Trip. As you saw above Swakopmund is famous for the adventurous activities and if anything goes wrong you will regret not buying it!

15 thoughts on “Top things to do in Swakopmund & Walvis Bay, Namibia”

  1. Love Namibia, especially the sand dunes, we were here for sunrise – it was awesome watching the shadows on the sand. Etosha NP is also incredible, amazing game drives 🙂 Spent a few days in Swakopmund as well – I did my one and only sky dive here! It’s lovely to read someone else’s adventures in this beautiful country.

  2. Oh my word, what an epic adventure! I’d never considered visiting a desert before, but you have me convinced. Sharing this!

  3. Wow! What an amazing desert adventure! I love the picture of the Chameleon with his tongue out! I used to sell Namibia and I would love to visit. I didn’t know there was so much to do adventure wise (and wildlife wise) in the dessert though!

  4. It looks like you all had such a fun time! I had honestly never heard of this place before now, but it opens up all kinds of opportunities I wouldn’t have here. Thanks so much for the post. 🙂

  5. That sounds like such an interesting tour. I’d love to visit Namibia, and Angola. It must be so cool living in Africa!

  6. This looks fun. I went into the desert in Dubai and enjoyed it. You got to see some interesting and cool little animals.

  7. What a great adventure! It’s incredible how many cool creatures you came across in the desert. I love the shot of the lizard on Claudia’s ear!

  8. WOW! There is SO much to do here – I loved the capture of the chameleon . Now I wanna go and do sand boarding and all those adventures – seemed like an action packed 3 days. well done 🙂

  9. So cool! I’m living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and my bf and I want to do a trip of southern Africa in about a year and a half. Namibia is top of my list. Thanks for sharing and if you make it over to East Africa then give me a shout 😉

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