Ruth, whale watching in Iceland. Photo taken October 4, 2012.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Osgoode, Ontario, Canada. Just south of Ottawa.

And where are they going next? We leave November 1st for a six week trip to Romania and Moldova.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The seaside resort town of Swakopmund, Namibia

This is a strange town. A seaside resort with expensive beach houses lining the shore, only a few hundred miles from people who live in huts without enough to eat. But we've noticed that those extremes are common in this part of Africa.

The Germans arrived in Namibia in 1884. This part of Africa became a colony of the German Empire from 1884 to 1915. The area was known then as German South-West Africa. But during the first world war, Germany lost the area and the territory then came under the control of the British.

But the German legacy continues, especially here in the town of Swakopmund where many of the buildings that were built by the German between 1884 and 1915 still exist. In fact, there are about 30,000 German descendants living in Namibia, with many of them living in Swakopmund.

One of the churches built by the Germans.

Lonely Planet guide book calls Swakopmund "more German than Germany itself".

Even though German is a common language here, English is Namibia's official language and almost everybody speaks at least a little of it. Except if you meet any of the tribal people where there are about 12 other languages in the rural and desert areas. And even they sometimes know a little English!

Haus Hohenzollern, now an apartment hotel where you can rent a room for US$100 a night!

But the vast majority of tourists that we meet are from Germany. We would estimate that 80% of them are from Germany. Very few from North America, which we find odd. Especially when it is so easy to get by with English.

Lots of lush greenery and flowers in Swakopmund!

And because it's a tourist town, there are lots of people selling trinkets!

And, we saw four Himba women trying to sell trinkets with their children. They had obviously came (or been brought) here for the tourist trade. This is a controversial subject because theirs has typically been a cashless society and many of their own people want to keep it that way. We spoke to one tourist who visited the Himba area in the northwest part of the country and the current drought is causing real hunger problems for those people. They don't need money, but they do need food. So when you see the women trying to sell trinkets, you have to wonder where the money goes to. Where do they live while they are in town? How did they get here in the first place? They need to buy food for themselves while here, so how can they make enough to survive here, let alone bringing anything back for their families? 

Too many questions, but from talking to the fellow who visited them in their own part of the country, we would like to do so as well. And bring them some food.

Swakopmund Beach

The town has a beautiful beach, but it's too rough (and too cold!) to be swimming in. Although they do have one section where surfers try to brave the waves!

Beautiful gardens around the old lighthouse.

Kevin, with an elephant skull in the Swakopmund Museum.

We're not normally super enthusiastic about a lot of museums. But we highly recommend the Swakopmund Museum. Lots of great displays about the five major indigenous groups in Namibia. And insects and other fun stuff. We spent two hours there and it was well worth the N$25 ($2.70) entrance fee per adult.

This display explains how one tribe figured out how to make butter!

Another German building. This used to be the army barracks, but has now been restored and is the local backpacker's hostel.

We walked back to the campground which is located close to the beach and only 10 minutes walk to the central area. So everything is fairly close to us here. Had some lunch and then lazed around for an hour before walking back down just to wander around again on our way to Bobbi and KC's place. 

Got there with no problem, and got acquainted. Lots to talk about with this couple, as they have already spend five months in South Africa and are now spending a month in Swakopmund before taking off to explore the country a little on their way to Botswana. They're also interested in learning about our RV lifestyle, so the conversation flowed non stop.

Bobbi, Kevin, and KC.

Also met one of their neighbors...Karl, from Iceland! So we had a lot to talk about with him as well. 

Fun evening, and didn't get everything discussed that we wanted to, so they are coming over to our campsite later this afternoon for Happy Hour...or "Sundowners" as it is called in these parts!


  1. Thanks Kevin and Ruth for taking us all on your great Adventure!!! :)
    I'm loving all the photos and can't wait to see Africa with my own eyes…ciao!

  2. While I have not been there, I used to send inspectors there, It was their favorite place in Africa.

  3. This trip keeps getting better and better! :c)

  4. If n a cashless basis how do tribe subsist. wouldnt think they would have enough 'goods' that the others dont have to barter with. will be intersting to see what you find out when you go to their area. would imagine food would be a huge commodity, what can they possibly grow if the area is so arid

  5. I know that many places in the World have existed for thousands of years without 'money.' Unfortunately, I sense that will all have to change as the world get flatter and flatter. Your new friends sound like they're also having a wonderful adventure. Tell us more about them - where they're from, what they're doing, etc.
    I'm still loving all my virtual Africa and Namibia through you and Ruth. Thanks

  6. More stuff I didn't know. I was curious as to why the museum's website was in German. I guess I had my suspicions, but I somehow thought it was more under Dutch influence than German.
    It would be interesting to find out a bit more about the Himba women, and whether or not they're being exploited, or if it's some sort of symbiotic relationship they have with whoever brings them into town. Hopefully it's the latter.

  7. Enjoying your travels very much. Stop by every day to see what's next! :-) Love all the pictures!!!

  8. Very cool place. Very interesting meeting new people, sounds a lot like rving! Any new or strange foods you have tasted or purchased?


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