WALVIS BAY

Whale Bay is the correct English translation of Namibia’s only deep sea harbour, and was already named “Ezorongondo” (Bay with whales) by the indigenous Herero before any other nation discovered the area. In relation to the sea route around the Cape of Good Hope, it had caught the attention of world powers after its discovery in the 14th century. While Bartholomew Diaz named it “O Golfo de Santa Maria de Conceicao” in 1487, the Dutch referred to it as Walfisch Baye and even annexed the area for a short period to hunt whale in the plankton rich waters together with American whaling vessels. Although numbers have declined significantly, a variety of whale species are found in the Walvis Bay area during July to September and can best be viewed while partaking on a marine cruise to this day. Whaling has ceased completely.

The Walvis Bay Lagoon

The Walvis Bay Lagoon is considered to be over 3,000 years old and to be the oldest coastal lagoon along Namibia’s coastline. Next to the famous lake Nakuru in Kenya it is the world’s best place to see flamingos. It is a dynamic lagoon in that it is affected by wind-blown sand and waterborne silt. Interesting to note is that the lighthouse, built on the edge of the lagoon by the Germans 100 years ago, is now standing a few hundred metres inland. It has been declared as one of the most important wetland areas on earth. It not only supports a rich variety of birds, but also forms the habitat for other marine creatures such as a variety of dolphins, huge fur-seal colonies and rare and endangered species such as the leather backed turtle, killer whales and a selection of whales.

Salt Mines

Just outside Walvisbay you find the salt mines. A visit to the salt mine is not really necessary as the overall picture of the salt operation is possible from outside – the huge mountains of salt can be seen from a kilometre away, while the road to the mine takes you through the extensive evaporation pans that produce the actual salt end-product before the cleaning processes. The salt field operation at Walvis Bay was established in 1964 and is one of the largest solar evaporation facilities in Africa, processing 24 million tons of sea water to produce in excess of 650 000 tons of high-quality salt per annum. This salt is not exported as table salt, but rather as a chemical element used in the chorine cleaning of household pools in South Africa.

Sandwich Harbour

Sandwich harbour itself is a unique setting between monumental dunes of the Namib Desert and the cold Atlantic Ocean and also belongs to Southern Africa’s most important RAMSAR wetland areas. With fresh desert underground water flowing into the ocean the area provides breeding ground also to other bird and animal species that cannot survive in a salt water setting alone.