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Swakopmund

Swakopmund was of major importance as a harbour during the German colonial era even though the water at the coast is actually too shallow and the bay is unprotected. But Luederitz was too far away and provided no drinking water, and the seaport of Walvis Bay was in British possession in those days. In August 1892, the German gunship "Hyäne" under the command of Captain Curt von François, staked out a wharf north of the Swakop River mouth. A year later, 40 settlers from Germany and 120 members of the Schutztruppe were taken ashore in rowing boats, an adventurous undertaking. The 325 metre long wooden jetty was only completed in 1905 and it was later replaced by a more solid iron construction. Swakopmund became the gateway to South-West Africa and the entire supply for the colony was wound up through this little town. The narrow-rail train to Windhoek started operations in 1902 while at the same time, the station in the Wilhelminian style (equivalent to Victorian style) was built. It was completely restored some years ago and has become an entertainment centre, a casino and a luxury hotel nowadays.

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The appearance of the town, with its 30 000 inhabitants, is characterised by numerous colonial buildings with the Woermann House from 1905 as a landmark. The former trading house in Bismarck Street with its 25 metre high Damara Tower and its courtyard bordered by arcades today houses the city library and an art gallery.



Photos: Left Woermann House. Top Aerial shot.

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The appearance of the town, with its 30 000 inhabitants, is characterised by numerous colonial buildings with the Woermann House from 1905 as a landmark. The former trading house in Bismarck Street with its 25 metre high Damara Tower and its courtyard bordered by arcades today houses the city library and an art gallery.

A further landmark of Swakopmund is the old 21 metre high lighthouse. It started operating in 1910. The museum for local history next door was only built in the fifties of the last century. Of the big "Jetty", another landmark of the town, only parts could be saved and restored.

Swakopmund is a popular seaside resort with a slightly nostalgic atmosphere, many tourist attractions and a pleasant climate which is in summer much more pleasant than in the rest of Namibia. Especially around Christmas the town is full of people from Windhoek and accommodation is extremely hard to find.

Driving along the stunning dune-lined coast is particularly attractive, whether you go south to Walvis Bay (30 km) or to the National West Coast Recreation Area in the north. The road (slippery when there is fog) goes right along the beach and leads to the Ugab rivermouth and further to the fishermen's resort of Henties Bay on the way to Cape Cross. North of the Ugab, the Skeleton Coast National Park begins, for which a permit is required. Interesting is also the Welwitchia Drive that leads to the Moon Landscape at the Swakop Rivier and into the northern part of the Namib Naukluft Park.

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