Swakopmund is Namibia’s premier coastal resort, popular with locals and travellers alike. This picturesque town is renowned for clean beaches, palm lined avenues and excellent fresh seafood. There are enough activities to keep visitors busy for a week or more, these include dolphin cruises from Walvis Bay, Pelican Point kayak tours, Sandwich Harbour day trips, Living Desert tours, quad biking, sandboarding, or a visit to the Cape Cross seal colony.
Where better to spend our staff Christmas party weekend than Swakopmund, Namibia’s charming coastal resort town where you can enjoy a stroll along the beach front looking out for dolphins after a hectic day spent enjoying some of the many activities on offer. We stayed at Sandfields, a small five bedroom guest house located in a quiet suburb just a short walk from the beach. The rooms here are spacious and beautifully decorated with fireplaces in each one, perfect for snuggling up against the often foggy coastal weather. After a delicious breakfast with fresh croissants, muffins, smoked salmon and an excellent selection of cheeses, we set off for Walvis Bay.
Walvis is the only natural harbour of any useable size along Namibia’s coast and has historically been very important in allowing ships to restock en-route to the Cape of Good Hope. Nowadays the Walvis Bay lagoon is a designated RAMSAR site and home to many bird species including flamingos, pelicans, gulls, cormorants and terns. The harbour itself is a busy, working port with hulking Russian fishing vessels, oil rig maintenance stations and a whole host of container ships. It is also home to a great number of Cape fur seals, two dolphin species, turtles, many birds, turtles, the occasional whale and sometimes the mysterious Mola Mola, or sunfish. The rich, cold waters are fed by the Benguela current which brings an up-welling of nutrients to these waters and sustains this amazing variety of species.
We took a morning cruise with Catamaran Charters. Based out of Walvis Bay Yacht Club this highly professional company offer superb boat trips out into the harbour. Here guests can relax on board the spacious catamaran, sip sherry to keep away the early morning chill, and keep their eyes open for low flying pelicans swooping down to snatch their fresh fish treats from the guide. We enjoyed learning a little more about the Cape Fur Seal, and getting to meet a couple of them up close before the skipper took us out towards the lighthouse and Pelican Point.
This famous landmark arrived in Walvis Bay in 1915 when it was commandeered by the English from a German ship which had to stop here for repairs en-route to Asia. A little further on is the edge of the harbour and the beginning of the open ocean where we are lucky enough to be chased by some sprightly Heaviside’s Dolphins, one of the smallest species. Bottlenose dolphins are also found in this area.
Close to the lighthouse is a colony of Cape Fur Seals, and during December the sands are a vibrant mass of mating seals, small kindergarten groups of pups and surfing females out to fill their stomachs with plentiful supplies of fish to keep them going through this hectic time. We were to experience them firsthand the next morning when we took a kayak trip along the peninsula and right past the colony, an amazing experience!
But the rest of the catamaran cruise was dedicated to decadence, enjoying some fresh Walvis Bay oysters (a thriving industry in the harbour and one which employs approximately 150 local people), champagne and other excellent seafood snacks. At around 12h30 we arrived back at the Yacht Club and bade farewell to our crew, a little sun swept, a little light headed and more than a little relaxed.