One of our favorite places in Namibia is Swakopmund, an odd and eclectic town along the coast in the Erongo region. It has fantastic restaurants (the bar in Namibia is quite low), good shopping, and lots of things to do. It’s where most of Namibia goes to get away. It’s about 4 hours from Windhoek, depending on how many slow-moving semis you get stuck behind.
Initially, the epicenter of COVID-19 in Namibia was in Walvis Bay, the town next to Swakopmund. The entire Erongo region was put on lock-down on May 28, basically two weeks after the initial lock-down had been lifted (which had been put in place in the second half of March). Then the Erongo lockdown was lifted, but by then Windhoek was also in a lockdown. Then, on September 17, the State of Emergency expired, COVID-19 was magically gone from Namibia, and all lockdowns were over.
We went to Swakopmund as soon as we could. M got to go to the Snake Park and the aquarium, Nate went fishing, I went shopping, and we all chased guinea fowl, slept in, played on the beach and ate ourselves silly. It was delightful.
We went back to the best pizza restaurant in Namibia, Gabriele’s Pizza, and one of our favorite German restaurants, the Brauhaus. I was reminded why I don’t like eating oysters at The Tug: they don’t cut the muscle away from the shell. I once asked about this and was told “That’s why you have the little fork.” Um ok. Sadly the Jetty hasn’t reopened yet and hopefully it’s not gone for good.
The Strand Hotel, which has the best views in town, was having a really great special so we stayed there. It’s hard to beat the convenience of having a restaurant with its own microbrewery and fantastic oysters downstairs. HOWEVER. Breakfast was an utter mess. No one was wearing a mask actually covering their nose and mouth, the tables were too close together, and the head chef was standing over the (uncovered) pancakes with no mask on, talking to everyone. We kept our masks on when we weren’t actively eating or drinking, and tried to eat foods that were covered, prepared fresh, or behind a plastic barrier. The first morning was terrible and the second morning we went down earlier when there were less people. Even then, we sat inthe most out-of-the-way table available, but when people came and sat next to us, we got up and left. Normally we would have sat outside but it was freezing cold and windy.
Lesson learned: next time don’t eat the free breakfast.
It’s nice to have the freedom to travel wherever we want around Namibia again. Tourism to more crowded places (which sounds like an oxymoron in Namibia) in the time of COVID-19 is tricky, but possible. You just have to make more calculated choices. Swakopmund: we’ll be back; the Strand: nope.