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Walvis Bay Tour - Dune 7 and the Wetland Bird Sanctuary


The Sand-Sea of the South Namib Desert stretches from the Orange River, over 600km to the south, northwards to the Kuiseb River at Walvis Bay. North of the Kuiseb is mainly a gravel desert with two recognized Coastal-Dune-Fields; The picturesque one alongside the 32km stretch of road between Walvis Bay and the Swakop-River, and a second, some 300km to the north near Torra-Bay.


The highest dune in the Walvis-Bay district is Dune-7 (not to be confused with Dune-7 at Sossuvlei). Many people take the challenge of climbing Dune-7.  An early morning climb, before the sun heats everything up is advised. You may want to try it. The view from the top make it all worth while.


Getting To Dune 7: The directions to are well signed. It lays about 7 km East from Walvis Bay on the C14 road.


Dune 7 the highest in this area

Dune 7 the highest in this area

Flamingos foranging at the inner lagoon

Flamingos foraging at the inner lagoon

The salt 'mining' operations along the coast near to Swakopmund and Walvis Bay are amongst the largest of their kind in the world. Vast areas of 'Land' are levelled and surrounded by low dykes. Sea water is then pumped in and the shallow lagoons are then left to evaporate in the sun. The salt eventually crystallizes and form vast white fields reminiscent of snow. The salt is then loaded and sent to processing factories where it is washed and packaged ready for export.


Salt evaporation lagoons

Salt evaporation lagoons

Salt Work

Salt Works


Sandwich-Harbour lays about 32km south of Walvis Bay. It was possible to unload small ships at Sandwich Harbour right into the early part of the last century, but the shifting sands have now  silted the landing area, so today Sandwich Harbour is in name only.  For visitors to Namibia, even if you have your own 4 x 4. I strongly recommend you take one of the half-day or full-day Guided-Tours to this wilderness area. The route is along the shoreline and thus subject to tide times. The local guides who specialize in these tours are fully aware of the dangers and on-going changes in conditions. They are experienced sand-drivers and will take you down the slip face of the 'Roaring-Dunes'. They will show you all of the 'things' that you didn't know about. Out there, it's remote, tranquil, and will sooth your mind. Should you decide to drive yourself to Sandwich Harbour you will need to buy a permit form the Ministry of Environment and Tourism Office.


Dunes cascading into the sea

The shoreline route to Sandwich Habour

The shoreline route to Sandwich Harbour


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The Birds: The West Coastline of Southern Africa stretching from the mouth of the Kunene River to the Cape Peninsula is a distance of 2,000km and can be an unforgiving place. Approximately mid-point lays the rich feeding grounds of the Walvis-Bay-Wetlands that also offers the largest single area of sheltered

Erongo Region

2257"S - 1429"E

Population: 65.000

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of sheltered shallow water along the whole coastline. It is a veritable paradise for birds, and bird watchers throughout the year. You will find about 31 species here. However, you should consider the migration seasons of the various species. The months of October and November see the arrival of Terns that have flown from afar as Scandinavia and Western Asia, journeys often in excess of 10,000km. Sand-pipers breed in the Arctic Circle and then, accompanied by their chicks, just a few weeks old, fly South across 90 degrees of Latitude to enjoy the Walvis Bay summer.


The Greater and Lesser Flamingos fly inland during the month of December, some 750km to Etosha and others 1500km to Northern Botswana were they breed on the vast Makgadikgadi Salt Pans flooded by the summer rains. They make the return journey with surviving youngsters in March. The National Geographic Channel has a Wildlife Program named "Kalahari" that shows graphically the astounding trek that the chicks have to make with their parents during this period. It is a must watch.


After Lake Nakuru in Kenya, seasonally, this is the best place to see Flamingos. If you visit during the 'residency months' you will see up to 60,000 of them paddling around in the shallow waters, heads inverted as they dine and cackle amongst each other, while above V-formed squadrons of Pelicans patrol.


It's along this coastline between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay that tens upon tens of thousands of black cormorants make their daily commute flying in a seemingly endless long black line that stretches from one horizon to the other. When a shoal of anchovies is spotted the bird 'traffic density' above the fish makes one wonder as to how mid-air collisions can possibly be avoided.


It's all a wonder of nature, and if you're a photographer be sure to bring along some powerful telescopic equipment. With a bit of patience the rewards will prove to be most memorable.


The Walvis Bay Ramsa Site - Winter Bird Count (August 2005) recorded:

There was a movement by the flamingos during the count and it is estimated that the undercount of these species is between 10,000 to 12,000 birds. Of Flamingo juveniles only 73 Greater and 162 Lesser were counted. It is believed that many of the Flamingos remained at the Sua-Pan in Botswana. One of the migratory inland breeding areas. Sightings were also made of European Oyster Catcher, Red-necked Phalarope, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank and Osprey

Acknowledgements and further reading: P1,P5, T8


Of Interest:  70% of the World's Chestnut-Banded Plovers rely on The Walvis Bay Wetlands for their survival

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Sky Diving Swakopmund with Ground Rush Adventures
Hot Air Ballooning Swakopmund with African Adventure Balloons
Living Desert Tours / Tommy's Tours half day nature excursion on the Coastal Dunes
Fly Sossusvlei with BushBirds


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