Swakopmund is a very small but quaint town by the sea. It still has a number of historic buildings dating to the time of the German colony (per World War One) and it is a popular stop along the tourist trail. We were there to experience two of the main adventure activities on offer – dune boarding down the giant dunes, and kayaking with seals.
Kayaking with Seals
Our first adventure was kayaking with seals. We traveled to the slightly bigger town of Walvis Bay, around 4o minutes from Swakopmund, where we met our very keen guides – two locals in their 20’s. Together with a few other tourists, we made our way past the salt refining works on the edge of town and then drove across dried salt flats to our put in spot at the other end of the large harbour. Enormous seal colonies are to be found in this area, and very soon we were in our sea kayak navigating paddling towards the seals. There were plenty of seal ups learning to swim and they were everywhere, many of them so inquisitive that they nibbled on our paddles! It was an amazing experience to be on the water, in the midst of so many pups and their parents, who were not aggressive at all.
After spending great quality time with the seals we paddled off in search of a sunfish (mola mola), one of the biggest fishes in the world, whose presence was relayed to us by a nearby fishing boat. We eventually found it, and it obliged by hanging around a while before disappearing into the depths. It was a small sunfish, but even small ones are huge since they range in weight from 250kg-1000kg!
Our next adventure was dune boarding. Back in Swakopmund, we met our next group of guides and soon we were in their truck bouncing through the desert towards their favorite dunes. We were soon dragging our boards up the huge dunes – not an easy job! Eitan is an excellent snowboarder, and he was really excited to try dune boarding. He was given standard snowboard equipment and he went off in one direction, while I, who had decided to do easier boarding on my stomach, went off in another.
It was exhilarating, but without a lift it was incredibly tiring. It takes seconds to get down the dune, and it’s a huge slog to get back up. Afternoons are also much windier than mornings were learned, so the sand was whipping up in our faces all the time. Better to go in the mornings, and one should be quite fit, as lugging the boards while climbing up the steep dunes is hard work!
Swakopmund has some excellent restaurants and we had great fish and meat during our stay there!