Trip Start Aug 21, 2009
52Trip End Nov 09, 2009
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Where I stayed
Our first stop is at a place called Solitaire. The only thing there is a bakery and general store. We are told it makes the best apple crumble and it doesn’t disappoint. Lots of fresh apples and not too sweet. Perfect. It’s only 10 AM and it already feels like 30 C (86 F).
Next stop is the Tropic of Capricorn, 23 degrees south of the equator. We all have our photo taken, including a group picture.
From there we travel for several hours on a corrugated gravel road, not quite as rough as Kenya or Tanzania but not as smooth as in the Fish River Canyon area either
We stop for lunch at Walvis Bay, Namibia’s largest shipping port. The city is modern and very clean. There is lots of new development occurring as well. There is a quite a breeze blowing and the temperature has cooled off dramatically.
We arrive at our hotel in Swakopmund at 4 PM. The name of it is the Amanpuri Travellers Lodge. There are no sheets on either of the twin beds and no place to hang bath towels in the bathroom. Sadly, this hotel is a 2 star rating at best.
The crew has been jamming our suitcases into the storage compartment under the truck and, as a result, has damaged the main zipper on one our bags. Whoops. We need to find a suitable new bag and in a hurry. The stores close between 5 and 5:30 PM, as they do in most African centers, and that only leaves us with enough time to find out where we can go tomorrow to find a suitable replacement.
On Saturday the stores are open at 8 AM and we are at the doorstep of the recommended place shortly after that. We find a bag and get it back to the hotel to check it out before the stores close at between 1 and 1:30 PM (as in most of Africa on Saturdays). The bag proves to be suitable and we are back in business.
Now it’s time to walk the downtown of Swakopmund, or Swakops as the locals call it, as it is a funky town. There is something surreal about Swakops. On the one hand, it’s like a tiny European transplant, with its seaside promenade, sidewalk cafes, fine German colonial buildings, trendy bistros, friendly and neat as a pin pensions, boarding houses and hotels. On the other hand, this little town of 15,000 is squashed between the relentless Atlantic and the harsh desert, in one of the wildest and untamed parts of the African continent.
Swakopmund was founded in 1892, two years after Windhoek, and was then the main harbour of German South West Africa. Today, it is a beach resort and an excellent preserved example of German colonial nature. The language spoken is predominantly German and the architecture and food are a unique combination of German and African.
We wander around the downtown and marvel at the old architecture and many fine curio shops and art galleries. We stop for lunch at the Brauhaus and have real authentic German cuisine including pea soup and ham, and bratwurst with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. It sure hits the spot.
Tonight several of us go to Erich’s for local fish and game, Boyd has an Oryx steak (Oryx is part of the antelope family, found in Kenya and even more common in Namibia). Afterwards we all go out for Oktoberfest drinks and salute another great day in Africa.