Friday, November 6, 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015: Walvis Bay Harbour Cruise and 4x4 to Sandwich Harbour

It was an early morning, as we had to be ready to leave by 8:00.  Today began with a boat ride to see the seals near Walvis Bay and search for dolphins. The boats were filled to capacity and again the main language was German! We had not even left the harbor until one of several friendly/pesky pelicans landed on the boat and made themselves at home. The crew had fish along to feed them, so it was all part of the act for the tourists!

Also before we knew it a seal was on board!  He and his buddy were also fed fish.  At least we saw them up close and personal!!


Lesser - Pink, Greater - White

Our Harbour Cruise Boat

Oyster Farms
On the outer beach of Walvis Bay there are thousands of the Cape Fur Seals.  They come to the beaches in November & December to have their babies and to gain weight.  Once the babies are weaned everyone goes out to the sea - fishing.  The seals seemed to be in clusters/colonies along the beach with a very visual larger male seal in each group.  Each male has up to 40 females around him. 

We saw the oyster farms in the water, an oil rig, and lots of boats used for all sorts of things. Some of the boats are waiting for the price of crude oil to increase so they can start pumping again, but in the meantime they are waiting on the boats. 

This harbor cruise was nice, but not wonderful in comparison to other harbor cruises we have been on.

Seal Colony

Can you find the Dominate Male

Rachel with the friendly Pelican

Lunch served on board the boat

After we returned to the dock we were met by 2 - 4x4 vehicles for a trip to Sandwich Harbor. This is a location along the coast where the German’s in the late 1800’s had hoped to develop a harbor, but it did not work.  They did not understand the ocean currents and the amount of silting that would occur - the same for a harbor at Walvis Bay.

We saw flamingos, hundreds of them, both the Greater Flamingo and the Lesser flamingo. The Lesser appears to be more pink in color.

The 4x4 cruise was wonderful.  We drove on the highway for a little while going south of Walvis Bay.  Before we turned onto a sandy road that was in low dunes, set back away from the beach.

Our 4x4 for the Dunes

Salt Plant

Salt Lagoons

Driving through the low dunes

Driving on the Beach

Our first stop was to overlook a salt plant.  They have numerous lagoons into which they pump ocean salt water and allow the water to evaporate.  As the salt concentrates it become pink in color due to red algae growing in the salt brine. The salty water is pumped into different lagoons until it is allowed to completely evaporate, after which it is loaded onto trucks and taken to the central processing plant.  80% of the salt is for industrial use and only 20% is for human consumption.  Most of the salt goes to South Africa. We saw numerous trucks coming through Swakopmund hauling salt from the plant.

Next we were driving right on the beach!  At first the tall sandy dunes were away from the beach, but after a while we were driving on the beach with tall sandy dunes on the left and the ocean on the right.  You can only do this at low tide.  Tours are planned in accordance to the tide schedule, and only licensed operators are allowed in these areas with vehicles. We continued driving on the beach until we reached Sandwich Harbor.  It was a beautiful drive.

Rachel enjoying the Beach

Driving on the Beach beside the Dunes

At Sandwich Bay/Harbour most of the group climbed one of the dunes – including Cal.  It was a difficult climb because your feet are constantly sinking in the sand.  The view from the top made the climb worthwhile.  The drivers set up a picnic table with champagne and snacks while we were climbing the dune.

A Shanty that is left at Sandwich Harbour

Climbing the Dunes - Cal on Right in blue and kakie

Cal at the top

View from the top of the Dune

Tea on the Beach at Sandwich Harbour

On the way back to town we drove in, around, and over the tall dunes!  The drivers had a lot of fun showing us what they could do in the sand.  We saw springbuck, ostrich, flamingo, seals, and a beached whale that died a while ago. To drive the 4x4s through the dunes, the drivers reduced the air in the vehicle tires from 2.5 atm. to 1.5 atm., then later to 1.0 atm. when we were driving in the taller soft sandy dunes at the end.  The reduce air pressure gives more traction in the soft sand.
Cal enjoying the Beach

At the top of a dune face ready to come down

Coming down the dune face

A Springbok in the dunes
It was a great day!  I mentioned at the beginning of today’s blog that the main language being spoken was German. Well actually from the moment we boarded the Air Namibia flight in Johannesburg, we knew we were going to Germany!!! And now especially in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay – this area is simply a “little Germany”.  The architecture of the older buildings is German; there are German names everywhere; the shops sell German items – German cuts of meat, German brats, and German sweets; German Beer is everywhere; and everyone is speaking German.  Hotel people, restaurant staff & all service people speak 3 languages – German, English, & Afrikaans.

For dinner we went to “The Jetty Restaurant”.  This is a restaurant that is located at the end of a pier that projects around 600 yds. into the harbor/sea.  We are at the beginning of high tourist season, requiring reservations to have a chance for a table.  Rachel had fish and chips while Cal had mussels.  The white wine mussel sauce was wonderful.

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