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what to do and getting around in windhoek , swakopmund and walvis bay ?

by westybeast Online Now Apr 10, 2011 at 1:22 PM

hi - i have a few days in namibia next month .

any decent museums and attractions , day trips and safe public transportation to see these places

thanks in advance

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  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    Re: what to do and getting around in windhoek , swakopmund and walvis bay ?

    by CatherineReichardt Online Now Apr 11, 2011 at 1:11 AM

    Hi
    My, you are planning to get around!!!
    Windhoek is a nice town to live and work in - hard to think of it as a city - but there are limited attractions for a tourist, especially if you don't have your own transport. And although there are city tours available, they don't seem to offer much that you couldn't do yourself on foot in a day much more cheaply.
    Walking around central Windhoek is safe and a good way to get the feel of the place with its very Germanic architecture - start by strolling down Independence Avenue, and take a detour via the pedestrian mall, where fragments of the Grootfontein meteorite have been crafted into a rather odd piece of municipal art.
    Stroll up the hill to the area around Robert Mugabe Avenue and look at the Tintenpalast (literally 'Ink Palace') which was built by the colonial administration, and now houses the Namibian parliament - the surrounding gardens are a pleasant place to have a picnic and very popular with locals. Close to this is the old fort (Alte Feste) which houses a small but reasonable museum (the history section of the National Museum), as well as a German restaurant. The rest of the museum is located in the nearby Owela Museum - which houses the zoological and cultural exhibits: I haven't had a chance to visit this myself, but they get some good on-line reviews and would be worth it if you're in the area.
    Another relic of the colonial era is the Reiterdenkmal monument of a mounted Schutztruppe soldier, which commemorates the German - Herero wars in the first decade of the 20th century. This used to be located outside the photogenic Christus Kirche church (which graces most Windhoek postcards, but is only open at certain times) but was moved slightly closer to the fort a few years ago to make space for extensions to the National Museum.
    If you have limited time, I wouldn't make any great effort to go into Katatura - Windhoek's oldest and most established township - especially if you're planning to go on a Soweto tour when you're in South Africa.
    In terms of eating and drinking, Joe's Beerhouse (www.joesbeerhouse.com) on Nelson Mandela Avenue is an icon: yes, it's a tourist trap, but it's executed in such and 'tongue in cheek' manner that you won't mind one bit. The beer is icy, the portions are gargantuan and the decor is endearingly over the top! My personal favourite is the table where the seats are toilets (not plumbed in - which may or may not be a blessing!). More upmarket is my personal favourite Gathemann's which is located upstairs in perhaps Windhoek's most famous parade of buildings built in a colonial style.
    Swakop is much more geared up for tourism as it is 'Namibia's playground'. There is a small aquarium and you used to be able to tour around the Hansa brewery (although this closed down a few years ago) - now you just have to console yourself with enjoying the excellent Namib Breweries produce! There is a small aquarium and a casino (if you're into that sort of thing), but the big attractions are the anachronistic German atmosphere and architecture and the coastal location.
    Just outside Swakop, there are heaps of things to do - you mention elsewhere that you're not much into adventure sports, but might quad biking over the dunes be of interest, as this gives oyu a completely different perspective on this unique coastline? There are many tours into the desert to see the welwitschia plants and other weird and wonderful fauna and flora, which are well worth doing, but these obviously come at a price, and by that time, you may have had enough of deserts? One tour that I would say is an absolute 'must' is the harbour tour of Walvia Bay - Namibia's largest port - which is absolutely brilliant, and also takes you out to the sea colony along the coast, as well as ply you with champagne, local oysters and German open-faced brotchen.
    As usual, more information on my respective travel pages (sadly Windhoek is currently in an embryonic form as you can't do everything at once!) and let me know if you need any further information or assistance.
    Regards
    Cathy

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  • Re: what to do and getting around in windhoek , swakopmund and walvis bay ?

    by westybeast Online Now Apr 15, 2011 at 5:10 AM

    thanks again cathy - informative and thorough as ever

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  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    Re: what to do and getting around in windhoek , swakopmund and walvis bay ?

    by CatherineReichardt Online Now Apr 15, 2011 at 7:20 AM

    Thanks - glad to be of help.

    As you know, the traditional mode of thanks on these fora is to rate the response using the 'thumbs up/down' icon ;) ... keeps us regulars motivated!

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