What is this, a blog post about a mixed martial arts extravaganza?
The reason we’ve been in Namibia for the last two plus weeks was to attend the 10th annual Adventure Travel World Summit, the annual meeting of the Adventure Travel Trade Association. Previous Summits have been held in Seattle, Whistler, BC, Brazil, Norway, Quebec, Chaipas, Mexico, Switzerland, and next year we’ll meet in Ireland. My visit to Etosha (described two blog posts ago) was one of the 47 pre-Summit adventures made available to tour operators, travel agents and media to showcase some of Namibia’s many adventure options. My self drive from Windhoek to Swakopmund, the site of the four day conference, was another.
It was a great four days, featuring sky divers, an elegant sit down dinner for 700 delegates in a canyon in the desert, traditional (and some non traditional) dancing and singing throughout, and a keynote presentation by Pico Iyer, the writer who has been my primary inspiration since I started travel writing a few years ago.
Swakopmund is an interesting town on the west coast of the country. While most of Namibia is hot, Swak (as it is known for short) can be cold and windy. The architecture is mostly Bavarian, reflecting the country’s German roots. The town is surrounded by orange sand dunes on one side, the ocean on another, and open desert on the rest. Swak is well situated for exploring the coast and the nearby desert and canyons.
A few recommendations if you ever decide to visit to Nambia — and I strongly recommend you do. We stayed at the Chala-Kigi Self Catering Accomodations, about a mile or so from the center of town. We had the smaller of two apartments. It is on the first floor, off the garden and includes a nice sized bedroom, separate sitting area, kitchen and bath. The larger apartment is on the second floor and has a large living room with views of the sand dunes. Both apartments are attractive and comfortable. The proprietors, Trudi and Karl, are more like friendly, helpful neighbors than owners.
I have three restaurant recommendations. The 1905 Jetty is a sushi restaurant at the end of the jetty. The view, especially at sunset, is excellent and so is the sushi, though it was limited to salmon the two nights we ate there.The Tug is a seafood restaurant at the base of the jetty, also with great views. Erich’s is in the center of town and features game.
I also recommend renting a car and driving north two hours to the Cape Cross Seal Reserve. Make sure that you stop along the way to see the ship wreck just a few km south of Henties Bay. Look for the sign and drive a 100 meters or so toward the beach. It might be a good idea to rent a 4X4 if you plan on taking one of the many turnoffs toward the beach to get a taste of the vast isolation of the Skeleton Coast. The turnoffs end on the sand.
Right now I’m at a lodge in the North on a river that borders Angola. It has been an extraordinary four days since we left Swak. We are on a fly-in safari to three camps to see crocodiles and desert elephants, lions and rhinos. Where we are now is the Serra Cafema, the most luxurious safari camp I have ever visited. I’ll tell you more when we get back to Swak in a couple of days (or maybe when we get home in a week). It all depends on the availability of a reliable internet connection.
We have barely scratched the surface of this amazing country. Katherine and I are already planning our next visit.