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is the main coastal town in Western Namibia.

It is a rather bizarre place, a classic German Colonial outpost sandwiched between the searing desert dunes and the angry Atlantic ocean. The town was established as a port, centred on a long jetty. But this is now barely used as all the shipping activity has moved south to Walvis Bay.

The broad grid-pattern streets of the central area contain a good number of impressive historic buildings, encircled by a less attractive modern developments. This is a very odd place, very Germanic, full of schnitzels, steins and men with large moustaches. But the town does have all the facilities that you would normally expect but will not find in most parts of the country, like stores, banks, bars and restaurants.

On sunny afternoons it can seem like a perfectly pleasant seaside town and one can understand why up-country locals come here during the holidays. But on foggy mornings and when the onshore wind is howling, Swakopmund can feel like a deeply unattractive place more reminiscent of the Baltic than Africa.

There is also a very wide range of activities available in the area, which services the high volume of overland traffic which tends to pass through, including as dune-surfing, parachute jumping and quad-bike riding.

We commonly recommend the guided 4x4 trip out of Swakopmund south to Sandwich Harbour, a beautiful and remote spot where the dunes of the Namib Desert cascade into the Atlantic Ocean, rarely do such diverse ecosystems lie side by side like this. The freshwater lagoon at Sandwich Harbour attracts a good deal of wildlife, notably jackals and a array of birds including flamingos.

Another major attraction is the lagoon at Walvis Bay, where it is possible to go kayaking with seals, as well as go out on motorboats in search of whales and dolphins.

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