Drive Time:4 hour, 30 minutes (on paper but closer to 6 in reality!)
Distance: 348 km
Get Ready for Gravel
After our sunrise hike to Dune 45, we exited Sossusvlei and fueled up before the long drive to Swakopmund. Get ready for an hours long ‘Namibian massage’ as you traverse some of the worst roads in Namibia. This is definitely a long day of driving, so come prepared with water, snacks, and some music. The wide open terrain is beautiful and you’ll travel along some some narrow twisty passes, in particular Gaub’s pass is a bit harrowing. Shortly after the pass, is a lookout where you can stretch your legs and take a break from the bumpy roads. Be alert for animals (oryx, ostrich, birds).
Swakopmund is a coastal city where it seems that the sand and sea are trying to reclaim the town. Before you make the turn for Swakopmund, you’ll see giant Dune 7 on your right and if it isn’t billowing sand, you can sneak in a photo. You’ll pass Walvis Bay, known for thousands of flamingos, before turning up the coast to Swakopmund. The stretch of road between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund was a hurricane of sand pummeling the car. Our bed cap’s back window, which had a slightly faulty latch, flew open unbeknownst to us and we arrived with a bed full of sand. Our bags were pretty covered, but it would have been worse if we had not covered them with trashbags. We would suggest doing this to at least try to keep some of the dust and sand off your luggage. This is not a trip for swanky or new luggage.
In Swakopmund, we stayed at The Strand Hotel, which is a luxurious hotel, directly on the water. Breakfast was included and we did enjoy dinner here one night as well. The breakfast was an insane buffet with everything you could possibly hope for during breakfast. You will see a lot of German influence in this town as well as Windhoek. You can definitely appreciate it in the breads and pastries which are absolutely delicious.
In Swakopmund, there are a few sites to see, including a historic lighthouse and the Woermannhaus tower we’re for a very small fee you can climb up to get a look over the entire city. Sunsets here over the Atlantic ocean are also quite spectacular. Be prepared with some warm clothing as the coastal breeze/incredibly strong wind is very chilly at night.
Red Dune Safaris Sandwich Harbor Tour
The next day, we did a dune tour to Sandwich Harbor with Red Dune Safaris. Our guide, JP, was fantastic, expertly maneuvering us through massive sandy dunes. You’ll drive literally along the ocean to reach Sandwich Harbor. This is where the giant sand dunes dump directly into the ocean. There are ample photo opportunities with views atop the massive dunes looking out onto the ocean below. The pitches of the dunes that the trucks traverse are impressive in the deep sand. We stopped for a luxury picnic lunch in the middle of the dunes complete with champagne.
A Flamboyance of Flamingos!
Finally for Walvis Bay…the flamingos! Literally thousands of flamingos reside here in harmony with the salt production companies making it a favorable location for them. We have never seen that many flamingos! So. Many. If you haven’t had your fill of flamingos, there is also a small bird reserve, located directly outside of Walvis Bay where more flamingos are found. And did you know…a group of flamingos is called a flamboyance!
The Jetty in Swakopmund
We completed our time in Swakopmund with dinner at a The Jetty 1908 located at the end of the jetty. It can be a tricky walk out there as massive waves crash underneath the jetty, occasionally splashing and soaking your feet. We would highly recommend this restaurant though, as the food was delicious and inexpensive with the exchange. In general, food and alcohol here are incredibly inexpensive and your money goes quite far.