Southern Africa, Namibia

Swakopmund and Walvis Bay

Flamingos at Swakopmund

Reachable by air or via the TransNamib railway’s Desert Express, Swakopmund is a small city bordered on the east by the Atlantic and on the west by the oceanic Namib Desert. It enjoys a stellar reputation as Namibia’s adventure capital and for its wonderful colonial architecture and welcoming spirit (or Gemutlichheit, which adds a cozy sense of comfort to the welcome).

Though it’s a charming, colourful destination in itself, Swakopmund is often a jumping-off place for explorations of Walvis Bay, just to the south, which has been a strategic harbour and whale-watcher’s delight since the Portuguese came across it seven years before Columbus chanced upon the Americas. (The humpbacks and southern rights that frequented Walvis—and gave it its name—are fewer, alas, than in their heyday, but their numbers have been increasing since conservation efforts have taken hold.)

Walvis charms Micato safariers with its many adventuresome activities—canoeing, kayaking, wildlife and nature touring, and boating, among much else. Its vast sand dunes are a world wonder; Dune 7 is quite probably the world’s highest dune—at 1,256 feet, it’s 32 feet higher than the Empire State Building’s observation deck.

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