Walvis Bay / Namibia

Walvis Bay / Namibia


The Republic of Namibia, known for its Namib Desert, is located in south-west Africa. In the west, the country borders on the Atlantic. Halfway between the northern and southern borders of the country lies Walvis Bay, Namibia's third largest city. Walvis Bay has the largest port in the republic. The city and its inhabitants live from the port economy, salt production, fishing and fish processing as well as tourism.

Desert landscape of Dorob National Park

Desert landscape of Dorob National Park


The checkered history of Walvis Bay

The Portuguese seafarer Bartolomeu Diaz discovered the bay called Walvis Bay in 1487 during several years of research trips. Permanent settlement of the Namibian coastal region began at the end of the 18th century. At that time, the Dutch ruling in Cape Town founded a forerunner of the city. Later, the English Crown and the German Empire claimed the region. While Walvis Bay became a British enclave, the Germans founded the town of Swakopmund 35 kilometers north of Walvis Bay, and in 1884 they placed the surrounding area under German administration as a protected area.

Swakopmund - the half-timbered beer garden


After the end of the First World War, Germany's claims to property in Africa were lost. Walvis Bay and its environs became part of South Africa's territory in 1922. In 1990, the Republic of Namibia gained independence from South Africa. But it wasn't until the end of segregation in 1994 that the city of Walvis Bay was granted to Namibia.

Walvis Bay in the present

Namibia has two deep-sea ports: Lüderitz and Walvis Bay, which is significantly larger in terms of goods handling. In the past, the port, the fishing industry and increasing tourism allowed the city of around 36.000 inhabitants to thrive. Seasonal workers increase the population to about 60.000 at peak times. The production of sea salt for industry, agriculture and the food industry has been of great economic importance for the region since the 1960s. In the neighboring lagoon, the Walvis Bay Salt Works produced a total of 2013 tons of sea salt in 650.000. The company now extracts around 900.000 tons of salt from an area of ​​fifty square kilometers.

Walvis Bay Salt Works - Sea Salt


Walvis Bay Salt Works - Sea Salt


Transportation of sea salt


Transportation of sea salt 


The Namibian government has high hopes for the possible development of natural gas and oil deposits. Rich mineral resources are suspected off the southern coast of Namibia. Globally operating corporations have secured the exploration rights. If successful, Walvis Bay should benefit fundamentally from the extraction of raw materials.

Unlike larger cities in South Africa, Walvis Bay is clean and welcoming. High-rise buildings and even multi-storey buildings are not the order of the day. The building structure is predominantly one or two storeys. The residential areas on the lagoon appear to be of high quality.

Walvis Bay - villa suburb


Walvis Bay - villa suburb


Walvis Bay - Atlantic Street


Walvis Bay - Atlantic Street 


Things to see and do in Walvis Bay and the surrounding area

Walvis Bay and its surroundings are primarily destinations for nature lovers. Within a short time, visitors can reach the surrounding nature reserves. Long beaches and bungalow complexes lie between the city and Swakopmund to the north. Huge dune landscapes offer opportunities for sandboarding or paragliding. Unfortunately, the activities described are only available to cruise ship guests to a limited extent. And yet there are attractive activities for these vacationers. We have selected some.

Visit to the national parks

The Walvis Bay region is surrounded by several national parks. One of the parks is the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The seaside desert terrain has the highest sand dunes in the world. The towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund are within Dorob National Park without being part of the park. The reserves offer the opportunity to explore the Namibian landscape and to observe numerous species of wildlife. All-terrain vehicles are recommended for such excursions.

Desert Explorers Adventure Center in Dorob National Park


Dune 7

Between the city and Walvis Bay International Airport lies Dune 7. At 130 meters high, it is one of the highest dunes in the world. Anyone who masters the strenuous ascent will be rewarded with spectacular views.

Walvis Bay Lagoon

The lagoon near the cruise terminal is a habitat for numerous species of birds. We see flamingos and pelicans. According to hearsay, there are also herons, but we don't see them. Basically, the lagoon is a place for bird watching.

Flamingos in the Walvis Bay Lagoon


Flamingos in the Walvis Bay Lagoon


Flamingos in the Walvis Bay Lagoon


Flamingos in the Walvis Bay Lagoon 


Sandwich Harbor Bay

South of Walvis Bay is Sandwich Harbour. All-terrain vehicles carry tourists on four-hour excursions into the unique dune landscape. Observations of oryx antelope, springbok, jackals, hyenas and seals are possible with a bit of luck.

Visit to the Pink Lakes

On the way to Sandwich Harbor are the Pink Lakes. The name says it all: The pink pools are salt pans with salt crystals lying around. In front of the port and cruise ship access, taxi drivers offer hour-long tours to one of the salt pans. On the way are the feeding places of countless flamingos.

pink lake


pink lake


Salt crystals


Salt crystals 


Seafront promenade at Walvis Bay

Cruise ship passengers - like us - would do well to exit the port area on our own and walk down Atlantic Street (first right after the tour bus and taxi parking lot) towards Anchors Waterfront. At the Marriott Hotel Walvis Bay Pelican Bay we turn left and follow the boardwalk towards the restaurant "The Raft". It is on a jetty, a wooden jetty. We don't come for the restaurant or the jetty but for the magnificent pelicans lounging on the waterfront or next to the boardwalk.

Walvis Bay - Atlantic Street
Marriott Hotel Walvis Bay Pelican Bay
The Raft Jetty
Pelicans on the Lagoon Promenade

Swakopmund - the city of the German colonists

Swakopmund, the fourth largest city in Namibia, is 35 kilometers north of Walvis Bay. The coastal town was founded and shaped by German colonists in 1892. At that time it was an important port for supplying the interior of the country. The appearance of the city is still shaped by the German colonial era. 

Swakopmund - Libertina Amathila Av


Swakopmund - Libertina Amathila Av


Historical building - the Swakopmund barracks


Historical building - the Swakopmund barracks 


Walvis Bay / Namibia – destination of the cruise ships

Despite the scenic attractions, the port city is not a definite destination for cruise ships, especially since there is no cruise terminal. So far, fewer than 2024 ships from well-known shipping companies have been registered for the 30 season. Among the bookings are ships from AIDA, Azamara, Phoenix, Regent and other companies. Some of the ships are in port overnight. The extended stays allow visits to the surrounding nature reserves.

Walvis Bay - Pier of cruise ships


Walvis Bay - Pier of cruise ships


The bus suitable for desert tours is waiting


The bus suitable for desert tours is waiting


While it is in cruise lines' legitimate interest to sell organized tours, there are alternatives to the events. In front of the port access, taxi drivers and independent tour operators await those passengers who would like to make an excursion to the attractions described on their own.

April 2023

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