Swakopmund is more than just a beautiful coastal town on the Skeleton Coast. It is the activity centre of Namibia. Explore the giant sand box of the Namib Desert, where the dunes meet the sea. There is more than enough to keep the whole family entertained.
One of the best ways to explore the limitless bounds of the world’s oldest desert is by quad bike, up and over the dunes, more dunes and beyond that, even more dunes. They’re not just any dunes though, they are some of the largest in the world and rightfully so, have names. Explore “Roller Coasters” and ‘Big Billy”. This is your chance to go further, deeper into the desert and to get to know them personally. Add adventure, sheer thrill and some incredible views and you can see why this is a popular choice.
Less effort than climbing the dunes on foot, enjoy the exhilarating slopes as the 4x4 kicks in. This is a must adventure and one that tops our list with good reason.
1 Hour - ZAR 490 p/p
90 Minutes - ZAR 590 p/p
2 Hours - ZAR 690 p/p
Longer tours are available although this is usually long enough.
Combine this with sandboarding to complete a half day adventure on the dunes.
Sand boarding is a popular activity on the dunes. It’s a great climb to the top, well worth the ride back down again. Enjoy the wind in your hair and some sand too. It’s all a part of it. You can lie down or stand up, either way it’s exhilarating and loads of fun. This is the ultimate to explore the dunes, starting on Little Nellie move on to Birgit Run and end with a fast ride down Lizzie. Catch some speed as you reach up to 60km per hour. Lizzie may well become your new best friend or if you are really in it for some speed, meet Dizzy. With a little extra polish, you’ll cap 80km per hour easy. What a way to spend the morning in the desert. Let’s go.
Lie down boarding - ZAR 600 p/p
Stand up boarding - ZAR 700 p/p
Inside the Namib Naukluft National Park, roughly 60km from Walvis Bay, you’ll find Sandwich Harbour. Don’t be misled, although a harbour, you won’t be exploring it by boat. Your trip to get there (tide dependent), will take you along the beach where the dunes quite literally meet the ocean. Explore it by 4x4, with dunes to your left and the waves to your right.
A chance to see the Walvis Bay Lagoon and the flamboyance of flamingoes, then the salt pans before heading into the desert and along the coast. Up and over some dunes and then there it is: Sandwich Harbour. One of Southern Africa’s most unique wetlands in one of the most unique locations.
It’s phenomenal and, in our opinion, one of the very best ways to get a real ‘Skeleton Coast’ experience. If you want to know which activity is a ‘must’, this is it.
Astonishing views from atop some of the largest sand dunes. Peer below, the rolling waves. It’s surreal. Add a picnic along the way and it’s hard to beat. No amount of words will do this one justice. Just take our word for it. You’ll see.
Half day - ZAR 2,000 p/p (approx. 4 hours – morning or afternoon)
Full day - ZAR 2,400 p/p (approx. 8 hours)
Combine this activity with a half day dolphin boat cruise or sea kayaking to make this the ultimate day out exploring sand and sea.
The desert, despite being arid and dry, and for the most part heaps and heaps of sand, is actually alive. Explore the life that survives in this harsh environment. The little creatures and critters are specially adapted and it’s fascinating. Watch a desert chameleon zap its meal almost quicker than the eye can see, side winding snakes move with ease across the hot desert sands, learn why the endemic Palmato Gecko is see-through. There’s so much more, but we won’t give it away. The wonder is seeing it up close. Understand how the dunes are formed and why the geology of this ecosystem is so unique. This is an educational scenic drive that will allow you to see the desert in a whole new light.
ZAR 700 p/p (approx. 3 hours)
While the world sleeps, a whole world is alive in the dunes. Under a starry sky, you’d be surprised at the wonder of the desert. Take a walk in Swakopmund’s backyard. The sand dunes come alive under UV light. It’s all about the specialised desert-adapted geckos, spiders, gerbils and scorpions. Explore the Namib’s gravel plains and watch as the theatre of the night comes to life.
ZAR 600 p/p (approx. 2 hours)
A surreal experience that will leave you thinking you may well be on another planet. Aptly named, the Moon Landscape is an area of endless eroded hills and valleys forged by the Swakop River over eons. Amidst it all, you will find the famous Welwitschia Mirabilis. These are the seriously old plants we are talking about and they are old, about 2000 years old to be exact. The Namib Desert is not called the world’s oldest desert for no reason. These plants have survived this harsh environment in the sweltering desert sands for an impressive period of time. A hundred years would have been a feat. Heck, if you’ve been in the desert during the heat of the day, you’d have been amazed by a figure of ten years or even one and yet these plants have been around longer than most things. In one of the most inhospitable places on earth. I think you can see where we’re going with this and why you’d go venture out to see them. They are as phenomenal to see in real life as their name is a mouthful and the views along the way are well worthy too.
Welwitschia & Moonlandscape tour - ZAR 800 p/p (approx. 4 hours)
*Combine this with a lunch in the desert and make it a full day excursion
Anyone that enjoys horse riding will fall in love with riding in the desert and dry riverbed. It’s quiet and peaceful and the scenery is spectacular. Explore the dunes, rocky plains and mountain vistas just outside of the town of Swakopmund. Take it slow, meander the trail or catch the desert breeze as you go for a gallop. This is one for the soul.
1 Hour - ZAR 910 p/p
90 Minutes - ZAR 1,060 p/p
2 Hours - ZAR 1,160 p/p
3 Hours - ZAR 1,300 p/p
Sunset Ride - ZAR 1,000 p/p (approx. 1 hour)
When you think of the desert, it’s not hard to picture a caravan of camels strolling along under the hot sun. Now picture yourself riding one in the dunes of Swakopmund. To your left endless heaps of sand and to your right in the distance, through the dry riverbed, the ocean. It’s not a long activity but you will get a feel of the dunes and the desert. A new perspective as you ‘hump’ along. Riding a camel anywhere else but the desert, just doesn’t fit. So when in the desert – you ride a camel.
30 Minutes - ZAR 250 p/p
One of the most ecological ways to explore the dunes without doing it on foot, is to bike it. Why not take in the wonder of the desert, while getting a bit of a sweat going? It’s a different way to get active and out into nature to explore the rolling dunes in total silence. Sand and a bicycle? Yes you can, these fat bikes are the 4x4 version. Enjoy the sensation of cycling up and down the endless dunes. This scenic tour will take you on a circuit of about 14km. If you’re up for the cycle. This one is for you. Something for the fit and energetic folk. Feel the burn. For those who may need a little help along the way and prefer a little less burn, opt for an E-bike. The effort is worth the thrill.
If the thought of cycling in thick sand is not for you, but you’d like to bike, then a tour of town by bicycle seems a fitting alternative. A way to see the ins and outs of Swakopmund. Explore the streets and take a trip down memory lane – all of Swakopmund’s historic monuments, buildings and landmarks.
The best of the best – combine both the desert and a tour of town. Explore the hustle and bustle of the streets and then the quiet of the dune belt in Swakopmund’s back yard.
Scenic desert tour - ZAR 400 (approx. 2 hours)
E-bike option - ZAR 500
“Old City” Swakopmund tour - ZAR 400 (approx. 2 hours)
E-bike option - ZAR 500
Combo E-bike tour - ZAR 700 (approx. 3 hours)
Take a tour of town without having to pedal. It’s the ideal way to explore Swakopmund by zipping through the streets. Rent a scooter and off you go. Park anywhere. Sightsee.
Discover the mix of culture in the local communities. The authentic Namibian people of the townships. Meet them, learn of their past and the ways they live. Visit the local street markets and try local foods. Explore schools, the development of the back streets and tavern shebeens. This is where the real ‘hustle and bustle’ of the streets come to life.
ZAR 600 p/p (approx. 3 hours)
One of the most popular activities is to cruise the bay on a catamaran. Usually done in the mornings when there is less wind for smooth sailing. Check out the seal colonies at Pelican Point. Meet some of the seals on board. A chance to see dolphins and possibly even whales. Hello Mr. Pelican. You can meet him too. It’s a chance to explore the marine side of things. En route back to harbour, enjoy the sparkling wine and fresh oysters. It’s a fine day out at sea.
Dolphin boat cruise - ZAR 950 p/p (approx. 3 hours)
Combine this activity with a half day Sandwich Harbour tour to make this the perfect day out exploring the ocean and the dunes.
At the tip of the Pelican Point peninsula, you’ll find the seal colonies and one of the better ways to explore it all is from the water, just off shore in a kayak. The drive to get there takes you along the coastline to Pelican Point. Then suit up and get onto the water. Let the spirited seals play around your oar as you paddle along for about an hour. Back on shore, there’s something warm to drink before you head to Walvis Bay again. It’s not strenuous exercise as much as it is simply enjoying the scenery and the seals, possibly also dolphins, but it gets you out onto the ocean amidst the action.
Kayaking - ZAR 900 p/p (approx. 4 hours)
Combine a morning on the water with an afternoon to Sandwich Harbour as a combo tour.
We’re not referring to a wave here, although you can do that too (see below). Get a whole new angle of the coastline that makes up the Namib Desert. We’re talking here about angling. Namibia is renowned for its fishing and good fishing at that. It’s a past time for many locals and a great way to explore this unique stretch of the Skeleton Coast. From the shore, try your hand at reeling in kabeljou, black tail, steenbras or galjoen and then have a seafood braai right there on the beach. Nothing beats the ‘catch of the day’ straight from the waves, onto the fire. Shark fishing makes for the ultimate experience. You could even land ‘a big one’ weighing up to 180kg. The adrenaline lies in reeling it in. Catch and release of course. If you prefer to angle boat side, head out into the waters and dangle your line. There are plenty of fish in this ocean.
The fish you cannot catch is always a big one (Chinese Proverb). In Namibia, we tend to disagree or maybe the one that hasn’t been caught is even bigger. Is that even possible?
Half day - ZAR 1,800 p/p (approx. 4-5 hours – morning or afternoon)
Full day - ZAR 2,400 p/p (approx. 8 hours)
Kabeljou - ZAR 1,800 p/p (approx. 5 hours)
Snoek - ZAR 2,200 p/p (approx. 5 hours) seasonal
Ok, so now we are talking about a wave and while it may not necessarily be the biggest, it could well be one of the longest. The barrel at least has quite the reputation. It’s certainly not for beginners as it requires a large swell to get going and once you do, you’ll need to arrange a lift back to where you started. This is the wave they call Donkey Bay (also Skeleton Bay) and it’s without a doubt the most famous surf spot in Namibia. There are other surf spots too and some of these waves barely break 10 days a year, so if you want to know when the surf’s up, it’s best to do this with a local surf guide. They’ll know the best spots, when the waves are worth it and they’ll get you there (you’ll need a 4WD). Once on the wave, it’s all you.
Surf guiding – Swakopmund - ZAR 1,300 p/p (full day) or ZAR 700 p/p (half day)
Surf guiding – Skeleton Bay - ZAR 1,000 p/p
Surf guiding – Cape Cross - ZAR 2,000 p/p
You could also take surf lessons, rent a board and a wetsuit (both which you’ll need) or go swimming with the seals.
From up there, views are limitless. If you’ve ever wanted proof that the world is indeed round, here’s your chance. You can see so far, you might actually see the earths curved edge on the very distant horizon. The never-ending sand dunes of the Namib Desert look like silk in the sun, flowing from the aircrafts shadow beneath you to where they disappear into the ocean. A different perspective certainly gets you to see that ‘Namib’ doesn’t mean vast for nothing. From Swakopmund you can take various different charter flights over the Skeleton Coast. This is the perfect spot from which to explore it all from above, as the flight will take you full circle. Inland over the wide open spaces, head over the dunes to fly over Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei and then make your way over more dunes to where they meet the sea. Over the old diamond mines, shipwrecks and Langewand back to the coastal town. Go south or to the north, either way the country is spectacular. Seeing is believing on this one. Believe you me, it’s worth the cost, which says a lot since it’s not the cheapest. It’s with good reason this one is ‘a must’ feature on our Top 10 Things to Do in Namibia list.
Price on request (POR)
Scenic flight prices vary depending on the number of people booked per flight and according to the flight route option of interest.
With a parachute of course and strapped to a professional. Take to the skies, free fall and then soar to the ground. Talk about ‘coming down to earth’. This adrenaline, tandem skydive adventure is a must for the epinephrine enthusiasts. On your way up - you’ll get an aerial view over Swakopmund and the desert. On your way down - sheer exhilaration and some views, if you aren’t afraid of heights. Mind you, if you are, you probably won’t want to take on this feat in the first place. Never mind if this is not your thing, there are plenty other adrenaline activities that don’t require a launch point of 5,000ft plus in the clouds.
If this has been an activity you’ve always wanted to do, take our word for it, there are few places in the world that beat skydiving over the Namibian desert.
Tandem skydiving - ZAR 3,300 p/p
Soaring above. Sand below. Paragliding is a unique activity for those who want to spend time in the dunes, climb to the top and then let the winds take you gliding. Hover and float your way down. A great option for those who aren’t in on the adrenaline of sandboarding and the heights of skydiving. It’s a great way to get active. Enjoy the peace of the desert, the views and that feeling of being weightless with the warm desert sand beneath you and the cool coastal winds in your hair.
Price on request (POR)
If you thinking to include a hot air balloon safari, little will beat doing this in the Sossusvlei area, but if you aren’t visiting that area or your itinerary doesn’t allow it, then taking to the skies in a hot air balloon on the coast is equally unique. On a clear day, you could even see the Brandberg Mountain in the distance. Yip’ it’s that big and you’re up that high. It’s amazing plus it’s a slightly cheaper alternative to the offering in the desert. Now that’s one way to watch the sun come up over the ocean.
Hot air ballooning ZAR 5250 p/p
Price above is based on 4 pax. Discounted rates may apply for bigger groups.
Namibia is a country full of experiences, even the furthest reaches, the most remote areas, offer unique adventure. Even the simple pleasure of enjoying a gin and tonic at sunset is, in our books, a worthy activity and one no African holiday should go without. For those who will be in Swakopmund, there’s so much more to explore and we’re happy to help you pre-book any of these experiences.
Contact your consultant for more information on each activity and to make the necessary bookings.