From desert lore to pretty seaside shore: we jostled on gravel roads, a journey from the towering dunes of Sossusvlei to the quaint town of Swakopmund which sits overlooking the roar of the Atlantic Ocean. The drive is a long one so be sure to make an essential pitstop at the Rostock Ritz Desert Lodge to stretch your legs and grab a bite. The Rostock Ritz restaurant offers stunning views, best savoured while chowing down on tender oryx steak covered in butter fried garlic. Back on the road, bound for Swakopmund, be sure to stop for a photo op at the Tropic of Capricorn.
Best known as a beach resort, Swakopmund was officially founded in 1892 as the main harbour for German South-West Africa. Located on the coast of northwestern Namibia, the city is home to a petite population of 42,000 which live smack dab in the middle of the desert. This is where Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt chose to birth their first child, away from international paparazzi hounds. One can assume they enjoyed the quiet nights and bright sunny days.
I would be spending the night at the luxurious Swakopmund Hotel, designed to complement the architecture of the cities historic train station, originally built in 1902. I checked in to a spacious suite and immediately plopped myself down on a comfy chair on my balcony. I basked in the sun while peering over at the hotels indigo pool where fish fountains offered a cool midday mist.
Taking in a jaw dropping crimson sunset from the cities famed jetty (a National Monument) is essential before dining at Tug Restaurant, a local favourite. Overlooking the Atlantic, The Tug offers a breezy al fresco patio perfect for afternoon cocktail sipping. Guests who opt to dine inside appreciate the restaurants tip-of-the-hat to the nautical. We spent our evening sipping on South Africa’s finest wines while nibbling through a menu which at its heart celebrates the freshest fish.
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While Swakopmund offers a few blocks of worthwhile pedestrian shopping, those who pay a visit are here mostly to enjoy the adventures which await just outside of the cities boundaries. The following morning we visited the Walvish Bay harbour for a marine cruise with Laramon Tours. For the next three hours we explored the coastline, chased by eager pelicans, sea gulls and cormorants. Pelican Point is home to a large colony of Cape Fur Seals which are friendly and hop on board, a perfect photo op. The group sailed past huge oyster farms which have flourished in recent years as the Chinese eagerly gobble them up. We spotted a few dolphin just before stopping for an oyster and champagne lunch which we cheersed on board before arriving back on shore.
Next stop was a real adrenalin rush! Thrill seekers rejoice at the opportunity to hop on a four-wheeled motorbike and zoom up and over a boundless expanse of shifting sand dunes. We geared up at Desert Explorers and spent the next hour revving our engines up steep sandy dunes, zig zagging through what seemed like the worlds largest sandbox.
After a quick freshen up at the hotel we hopped in a van and crawled through a remote moon inspired landscape. And just as we turned around a bend in the road I spotted a table covered in cheese and oyster platters where two attendants enthusiastically poured glasses of sparkling South African wine. Our first sundowner of the trip, offering an unforgettable opportunity for us to take in the sunset as it crawled across the desert. We thought we had just been treated to the sweetest snack but the night had really just begun with its tricks and treats.
Hopping back in our van we spent another few moments jolting across the mountain before arriving at an awe inspiring Open Air Desert Dinner hosted by Abenteuer Afrika. We let out a collective gasp as we hopped out of our van and stared out at thousands of flickering fairy lights which danced across the surrounding hills. Walking past a tiki lamp lit path we were greeted by a booming fire surrounded by plush pillows. A petite dining table sat on the desert floor a stones throw from our crackling fire. That evening we feasted ourselves silly and in between Chardonnay sips and scoops of creamy chocolate mousse I held my heart and sighed. On our quick jaunt back into town I sat quietly, making a mental note to ensure an eye popping Desert Dinner was on my “honeymoon to do list.” Namibia the magical!