Swakop (as it is affectionately known) is a funky mix of historic architecture and adrenalin activity with a sleepy German-village air to the place. Its location on the cool Atlantic coast means that it is not the balmy sun-bather’s paradise that might be suggested by the photos, but in December in particular it is a hive of holiday-goers. There is a long-standing New Year bash amongst the dunes.
The town is pleasant, neat and friendly and is worth visiting if you want to explore the dunes (by plane, dune-board, Land Rover or quad-bike) or simply enjoy the colonial architecture and excellent seafood on offer. In terms of day trips, you might consider a drive to Walvis Bay to see thousands of flamingos flock to the salt-works, venture north to the pungent colony of seals at Cape Cross or follow the more sedate Welwitschia drive in search of unusual flora and fauna.
Rather sensibly, the authorities have seen fit to cordon-off a playground for some of the more vigorous activity in order to protect the sensitive environment. The consequent Recreation Area is just that so (depending on when you visit) don’t expect to experience untouched desert or true solitude here. It is essentially for fun and games, enjoying what is essentially a giant sand-pit, feeling the rush as you crest a dune in your Land Rover and see the horizon swing wildly in front of you, and feel the freedom of childish pleasure as you run down the steep side.