Host Town of the Namib Race (Namibia) – Swakopmund
Namibia is a jewel of a country. Swakopmund is a sparkle in the jewel. You couldn’t ask for a better host town for a 4 Deserts Race than Swakopmund.
Swakopmund is the host city for the 4 Deserts, Namib Race (Namibia). It’s a great place to spend some time, eating and drinking and eating a bit more. There’s something for everyone but it’s the German food, beer and vibe that is what it’s all about.
Meaning ‘mouth of the river Swakop’ in German, it’s a fantastic coastal town, offering a chilled atmosphere while at the same time having just about everything you could need.
Stock up on last minute food items, gear, or simply enjoy a Windhoek draft at The Tug bar and restaurant, situated on the pier, while you watch the sun go down over the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a seal, a flamingo or perhaps even a whale (!). Never mind if you don’t, you’ll almost certainly see the latter when you’re out on the course. More of that in a minute.
With a spare day in Swakopmund, you must head out into the desert – not for a run this time. There are plenty of companies running half day trips and they’ll pick you up from your hotel front door. Tommy’s Tours has a brilliant vehicle they use: a 1970’s Land Rover 101 but there are many other companies who will take you over the bridge, past the camels and out into the desert.
A unique experience is to see the ‘Little Five’: some of the smallest creatures in the desert, including a chameleon and a slow worm (which are not slow) or the palmato gecko (also called the Namib Desert Gecko), an almost translucent creature, with almost every colour of the rainbow in its body. Aside from wildlife, you’ll be transported amongst the dunes in a 4 wheel drive.
With a few more days to spare, head north to Etosha National Park, a Disney-like wildlife viewing experience at one of the watering holes or even further to the Caprivi Delta or even to the Fish River Canyon in the south.
The real highlights await you on the course, with local authorities opening up the Namib-Naukluft National Park just for the 4 Deserts and the competitors of the Namib Race (Namibia). Keep to the tracks as there’s a fragile ecosystem out there, often seemingly barren, but you may get to see a kudu, oryx, jackal or hyena, not to mention the colony of seals mentioned above and some birdlife if you’re lucky.
There are a few oases on the course but they’re protected areas although it’s pretty special seeing them from a distance. What you will pass on the course though is the incredible Welwitschia plant, known as the fossil plant, some thought to have been alive since before Jesus was born. They look a little like a low agave and have a beautiful purple flower.
Swakopmund is served by Walvis Bay Airport – a 30 minute car journey away. With four flights a day from Johannesburg in South Africa to Walvis Bay and direct flights to Johannesburg from most major cities around the world it’s not a difficult place to travel to.
See you in Swakopmund in April!