Walvis Bay, Namibia

Walvis Bay on the Atlantic coast of Namibia is the perfect destination especially for bird lovers. Every year, hundreds of thousands of migratory birds spend the European winter in the picturesque bay.

The gorgeous Walvis Bay ("Whale Bay") is located on the coast of Namibia about 30 kilometers south of Swakopmund and is one of our top 10 sights of Namibia. The eponymous town of Walvis Bay nestles picturesquely on the beach and is Namibia's only deep-sea port where even large cruisers can enter.

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The approximately 50,000 inhabitants live mainly from fishing. The second branch of industry is salt mining. Every year, about 400,000 pure sea salts are mined on 35,000 hectares.

History of Walvis Bay

Typical houses in Walvis Bay, Namibia - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

The beautiful bay was discovered by the Portuguese navigator Diogo Cão in 1487, but the settlement of Walvis Bay was not founded until a good 300 years later by the Dutch. In 1796, just three years after its founding, the British took power in Walvis Bay and in 1910 it became part of the Union of South Africa. It was not until 1994 that the port city, together with the Penguin Islands, reverted to the now independent Namibia.

Directions to Walvis Bay

The 30-kilometer drive from Swakopmund to Walvis Bay takes you along a spectacular coastal road right by the sea that is one of the most beautiful stretches of road in Namibia. Lined by impressive Namib sand dunes and the shimmering cobalt blue Atlantic, it gives a first taste of the incredible beauty of the bay.

Tip: About halfway between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay is the settlement of Langstrand, a popular vacation resort that is ideal for a stopover with a campground, two restaurants and the Long Beach Resort including a water park.

Walvis Bay lagoon

Flamingos searching for crabs on the coast of Walvis Bay, Namibia - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

The Walvis Bay lagoon is the absolute highlight of the region. It is the most important wetland in southern Africa. Hundreds of thousands of seabirds have chosen it as their breeding and feeding ground, and in the European winter their numbers are almost doubled by thousands of migratory birds.

Particularly impressive are the many flamingos that cover the coast of Walvis Bay like a pink carpet in search of crabs. Over 80% of all flamingos in southern Africa find their food in this lagoon. The tern colonies, which number up to 200,000, also offer unforgettable sights.

The lagoon of Walvis Bay is best explored in a completely environmentally friendly way and without making any noise on a relaxing walk. At the esplanade in the west of the center of Walvis Bay, benches invite you to take a short rest.

Tip: The entire paradisiacal scenery of Walvis Bay is best observed from the "Dune 7″. This mighty sand dune is with 130 meters the highest dune in the area and can be climbed.

Tours in Walvis Bay

Dolphins often accompany the excursion boats in Walvis Bay, Namibia - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

In Walvis Bay dolphin, seal and boat tours through the lagoon are offered. Departure is usually in the morning between 8 and 9 o'clock. The tours are half or full day and should be booked at least one day in advance. An excellent lunch with champagne and freshly caught oysters is often served on board. Often the boats are accompanied by dolphins. Sometimes a seal also comes on board - to the general amusement of the guests.

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More idyllic, as you can get closer to the bird colonies on "silent oars", is a kayak tour.

Once on the water, we recommend a short detour to the platform "Bird Island". This platform is located about 9km off the coast of Walvis Bay in the Atlantic Ocean and is the only breeding place of the pink pelican in Namibia. White-breasted Cormorants and Wahlberg's Harriers can also be found here.

Other Walvis Bay attractions

A distinctive black and white striped lighthouse has been erected on the northwestern headland of Walvis Bay, Namibia - © FRASHO / franks-travelbox
© FRASHO / franks-travelbox

Besides the fascinating bird colonies, the hustle and bustle of Walvis Bay's harbor is especially worth seeing. You can stroll along the waterfront and watch the big and small ships coming in and out of the harbor.

Also worth seeing is the Civic Centre of Walvis Bay, which houses a local history museum. The Birdlife Information Centre presents the individual bird species of Walvis Bay. A striking black-and-white striped lighthouse has been erected on the northwestern headland of the bay, which can also be seen from the south of the bay on a clear day.

The ornate Rhenish Mission Church has graced Walvis Bay since 1880 and is considered the oldest historic building in Walvis Bay.

Numerous restaurants, bars and cafes provide for the physical well-being of visitors to this spectacular natural paradise. Freshly caught lobsters or oysters in one of the delicious fish restaurants should not be missed!

By the way, swimming in Walvis Bay is only possible for the particularly hardy, as the cool ocean currents in the area do not allow the water temperature to exceed 18°C.

Trip to Sandwich Harbour

Birdwatchers, but also fishing enthusiasts, should not miss the neighboring bay of Sandwich Harbour. This 10-kilometer-long freshwater lagoon is located just under 50 kilometers south of Walvis Bay and the approach alone is an experience.

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An off-road vehicle with four-wheel drive is absolutely necessary for the route (can be rented in Walvis Bay). The track is sometimes difficult to see and in some places there is soft sand to cross. The driver should have experience with driving in sand, otherwise there is a high risk of getting stuck with the car. The last piece can not be driven, here it goes on foot.

A permit for a visit to Sandwich Harbour can be obtained in Walvis Bay as well as in Swakopmund at the tourist office. Anglers need their own permit, which is not issued between January and April. Camping is not allowed at Sandwich Harbour.

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