Walvis BayWalvis Bay (Walvisbaai) lies some 30 kilometres south of Swakopmund, accessed (if you happen to approach from the north) on a stunning ocean road seamed by mighty dunes. The town is situated at a wide lagoon with innumerable sea birds, pelicans and flamingos. On a clear day one can see the black-and-white lighthouse at the tip of the premontary at the northwest of the lagoon.
Walvis Bay had already been discovered by Diaz as early as 1487, but was founded only in 1793 by the Cape Dutch and two years later annexed by the British. In 1910, Walvis Bay became - like the entire Cape Colony - part of the South African Union. After Namibia's independence, the only deep sea port on the Namibian coast remained under South African rule and only in 1994, the former South African president F.W. de Klerk gave it back to Namibia.
Today, Walvis Bay has about 50,000 residents and is a busy harbour town. Most people are employed at the modern harbour terminal and in the booming fish industry. Another production branch is the processing of sea salt. The salt fields of Walvis Bay cover an area of 3500 hectares and annually produce 400,000 tons of high quality salt.
The lagoon is the scenic feature of Walvis Bay. It is one of the most important wetlands of southern Africa and is the hibernation area for thousands of migratory birds. Worth a visit in Walvis Bay is the local museum in the Civic Centre, the Birdlife Information Centre and the wooden Rhenish Mission Church from the year 1880. "Dune 7" near town is the highest sand dune of the area. Who climbs it, can enjoy a wonderful view.
A unique experience is the adventurous 48 km drive to Sandwich Harbour, a freshwater lagoon surrounded by dunes, and a favourite amongst anglers and ornithologists. A four-wheel drive is a necessity. The track is not in all parts easy to recognise. Some stretches go through soft sand, and the last bit one has to walk. You have to inquire about the tides. At high tide there is no way as the dunes just slope down steeply into the water.
Walvis Bay has many restaurants, cafés and pubs as well as good B&B, hotel or guesthouse accommodation. Further information, travel hints and accommodation please find on the Travel Information page.
Left: Flamingos on the lagoon of Walvis Bay. Right: Sandwich Harbour.