Walvis Bay in Namibia lies 30km south of Swakopmund, via a stunning ocean road surrounded by desert and huge sand dunes.
The bay is a safe haven for sea vessels, because of its natural deepwater harbour protected by the appropriately named Pelican Point sand spit. It’s the only natural harbour of any size along the Namibia’s coast. Being rich in plankton and marine life, Walvis Bay also draws large numbers of southern right whales, which naturally I was hoping to see.
Unfortunately, the whales had other ideas and didn’t show up during our two hour boat trip around the bay. But in the end that was only a minor disappointment. The local Pelican population were more than happy to follow us and put on a show, some landing on the boat itself, encouraged by the boat crew offering some fish scraps.
Being only a few feet away from a hungry pelican is quite an intimidating feeling, with a wingspan of up to 9ft, they’re not small birds. But they are of course all very accustomed to the routine and people, I dare say every morning they get ready for the daily boat trips and line up by the shoreline waiting for the next batch of tourists to get on board and set off.
The Walvis Bay lagoon is very scenic and it’s a great way to spend a morning if you’re staying in Swakopmund for a couple of days. It is one of the most important wetlands of southern Africa and is the hibernation area for thousands of migratory birds, including flamingos.
Not wanting to be outdone by the pelicans, the boat had some extra guests that wanted to gatecrash the party (and scoff the fish scraps). We were joined by a few friendly seals for some time before then being visited by a handful of dolphins. I’ve never seen wild dolphins before, so this was an amazing experience. As you can imagine, I tried desperately to photograph that quintessential “dolphin plus fin” shot, but it really wasn’t happening for me.
Although I had reasonable camera equipment and thought I’d be able to anticipate the moment, they move incredibly quickly and are so agile in the water, darting left and right…it makes tracking them on a boat that itself is moving extremely challenging.
After a couple of hours we returned to the boat house, greeted by yet another pelican proudly perched up high on a wooden post, no doubt awaiting the next departure time…
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