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Dolphins and Seals

A Cruise from Walvis Bay and Exploring Swakopmund.

sunny

Next day we got up early and had a bit of a rushed breakfast as we had booked a half-day cruise out of Walvis Bay. Our pick-up to Walvis Bay arrived bang on time and we set off along the coastline - the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the sand dunes of the Namib Desert on the other.

Walvis Bay takes its name from the Dutch words 'Walvisch Baye' which means Whale Bay. It has the only naturally occurring harbour of any size on the Namib coastline. The natural harbour exists due to a long sandy spit of land known as Pelican Point. The natural harbour led to this area being highly sought after. The British retained control of this area even when the rest of South West Africa was under German control.

The waters of Walvis Bay are rich in plankton and this in turn leads to an abundance of marine life. We had a quick look around the harbour area of Walvis Bay before and after our cruise. Our cruise was through Laramon Tours. There were several stalls selling Namibian handicrafts around the harbour area. There were also a few pelicans.

Harbour at Walvis Bay.

Harbour at Walvis Bay.

Harbour at Walvis Bay.

Harbour at Walvis Bay.

Our boat.

Our boat.

Local girl manning craft stall.

Local girl manning craft stall.

Pelican.

Pelican.

This cruise was actually the cheapest of the three day tours we took, but it also had the most generous and best supply of food and drink. We seemed to be constantly handed drinks throughout the cruise.

A short time after setting out, we were joined on board our boat by a large male seal called Nicholas. These seals are wild, but have become tamed by the people who run the cruises. We were told some of the seals that come on board are more tame than others and we should only touch the seals if the guides told us it was safe to do so. I was able to stroke Nicholas's fur and he rewarded me by shaking himself like a wet dog and soaking everyone on the boat. Nicholas and all the other seals we saw on this trip are cape fur seals. This kind of seal lives along the coasts of South Africa, Namibia and Angola.

Nicholas the seal being fed by Jason our guide.

Nicholas the seal being fed by Jason our guide.

Nicholas leaving the boat.

Nicholas leaving the boat.

Next we sailed into an area that was filled with dolphins. There are three kinds of dolphins in this area: heaviside, Atlantic bottlenose and dusky. To be honest I am not sure which kind we saw, but they were fascinating, so playful as they dived, surfaced and leapt all around the boat loads of gasping tourists.

Playful dolphins alongside our boat.

Playful dolphins alongside our boat.

Dolphins.

Dolphins.

Dolphins.

Dolphins.

Dolphins.

Dolphins.

Dolphins.

Dolphins.

I could have happily watched the dolphins all day, but we headed off towards the sand bar called Pelican Point which is responsible for Walvis Bay's natural harbour. Here we saw a colony of cape fur seals in the shadows of Pelican Point Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in 1932. It is now home to the luxurious Pelican Point Lodge. The lighthouse is made of cast iron and stands 35 meters high. Walvis Bay's harbour was filled with many different sailing vessels from large ships to small yachts. The sounds from the seal colony were incredible as the animals called out greetings, threats, mating cries, who knows to each other.

Ships in Walvis Bay.

Ships in Walvis Bay.

And more ships.

And more ships.

And even more ships behind the seal colony.

And even more ships behind the seal colony.

Seal colony.

Seal colony.

Pelican Point Lighthouse.

Pelican Point Lighthouse.

Enjoying the ride.

Enjoying the ride.

These markers indicate an oyster farm in the ocean.

These markers indicate an oyster farm in the ocean.

We also stopped near a shoal of mola mola fish. Also known as sunfish, these are the heaviest bony fish in the world. Finally we moored next to an oyster farm. Oysters are imported from Singapore, Thailand and Norway when they are just the size of a nail. They are placed in baskets under sea water and allowed to grow for between six to ten months. Speaking of oysters, it was time for lunch: delicious fresh oysters, devilled eggs, samosas, finger sandwiches, meatballs, schnitzel, chicken wings and much more. Fantastic!!!

Me enjoying oysters and champagne.

Me enjoying oysters and champagne.

Peter enjoying a delightful lunch.

Peter enjoying a delightful lunch.

Best seat on the boat.

Best seat on the boat.

And for me.

And for me.

After lunch we headed back to Walvis Bay. We had befriended a British couple on the boat. One of them sometimes worked as a magistrate in Hong Kong so he and Peter were deep in conversation about Hong Kong politics when suddenly the magistrate cried out in shock. Right in the middle of them, moving his head from side to side as if hanging on every word, it was Nicholas again back on the boat for more fish.

The return of Nicholas.

The return of Nicholas.

After a very enjoyable trip, we were bussed back to our hotel in Swakopmund where we sobered ourselves up a bit with a refreshing dip in our icy pool. From the rooftop we could see local fishermen preparing their catch for market.

A sobering dip....

A sobering dip....

in a pool with a view.

in a pool with a view.

Watching the fishemen prepare their catch.

Watching the fishemen prepare their catch.

Refreshed, we set out to explore Swakopmund. We walked along the seafront past the aquarium and beds of beautiful flowering succulents to the town's pier.

Flowering succulents.

Flowering succulents.

Flowering succulents.

Flowering succulents.

The Aquarium.

The Aquarium.

Swakopmund was founded in 1892, two years after the German colonial founding of Windhoek from the ruins of Jonker Afrikaner's town. The town was started by Captain Curt von Francois whose statue we saw in Windhoek. It became the main harbour of German South West Africa, as the British had already gained control of the best harbour at Walvis Bay.

Swakopmund has a long pier sticking out into the ocean. The first pier to be built here was a wooden one and was completed in 1905. However, this became severely damaged by borer worm, so construction of a new iron jetty began in 1911. There are restaurants at both ends of the pier. It is pleasant to walk out into the sea with the waves lapping all around you and the chance to enjoy beautiful views back towards town. I loved the old fashioned lights which lined the pier.

Swakopmund Pier.

Swakopmund Pier.

Looking back towards town.

Looking back towards town.

Looking between the lights towards town.

Looking between the lights towards town.

On the pier.

On the pier.

Although we were sightseeing we were also on a practical mission, so after the pier and the seafront gardens, we cut up Sam Nujoma Avenue to find Charley's Desert Tours and book a trip to Sandwich Harbour. I was impressed by the lovely desert rose and rose quartz stones on the shop assistant's desk. At first I thought they were candies as they looked good enough to eat.

Rose quartz and desert roses.

Rose quartz and desert roses.

After purchasing our tour, we looked at some of the Germanic style buildings and the shops and restaurants near Charlie's Desert Tours.

Germanic architecture.

Germanic architecture.

Arts and shopping.

Arts and shopping.

Then we walked to Swakopmund's lighthouse. This was first opened in July 1902 and is still in operation today. It is 21 years older than the lighthouse at Pelican Point. Nowadays the lighthouse is also home to a restaurant. The building directly in front of the lighthouse is the state house, the Swakopmund home of the Namibian president. Near the lighthouse stands the marine statue, or to give it its German name, Marine Denkmal. This was designed by sculptor AM Wolff to commemorate the German First Marine Expedition Corps that helped quell the Herero uprisings of 1904. Protesters have sprinkled the statue with red blood-like paint to protest the attempted genocide of the Herero people during this war.

The lighthouse.

The lighthouse.

Marine Denkmal.

Marine Denkmal.

Near this area moving away from the sea there are some interesting old buildings such as the Hansa Hotel dating from 1905, the Old Post and Telegraph Office and some old churches.

The Hansa Hotel.

The Hansa Hotel.

The Old Post and Telegraph Office.

The Old Post and Telegraph Office.

Going towards the sea from the lighthouse there is a war memorial, which commemorates the soldiers who died in the two world wars.There is also a craft market and the Swakopmund Museum. We did not visit the museum. We strolled around the craft market.

The War Memorial.

The War Memorial.

The Craft Market.

The Craft Market.

Leaving the craft market, we headed to the mole. The mole is a sea wall built in 1899 by architect FW Ortloff. It was intended to improve Swakopmund’s poor harbour, but was rendered ineffective by the Benguela Current, which sweeps northwards carrying lots of sand from the southern deserts. The sand deposits choked up the entrance to the harbour. Nowadays the mole is a lovely sheltered place for a swim.

Peter at the mole.

Peter at the mole.

Me at the mole.

Me at the mole.

After looking around here we headed back along Swakopmund Beach and through its little seafront park which was filled with guinea fowl pecking for food.

Swakopmund Beach.

Swakopmund Beach.

Guinea Fowl.

Guinea Fowl.

Guinea Fowl.

Guinea Fowl.

We took a slight detour away from the seafront to see Woermann House on our way back. This large yellow building with a tall tower
was designed by architect Mr. Friedrich Hoft and completed in 1905. It was originally home to The Damara and Namaqua Trading Company, but in 1909 was bought by Carl Woermann after whom it is named. The house is now a state owned monument. Then we had a look at the Höhenzollern Building with its statue of Atlas holding up the world on its back. This was once a hotel.

Woermann House.

Woermann House.

Höhenzollern Building.

Höhenzollern Building.

Atlas atop the Höhenzollern Building.

Atlas atop the Höhenzollern Building.

Then it was home and dinner in our hotel, a lovely meal, but very noisy due to a large group of loud German tourists.

Posted by irenevt 00:44 Archived in Namibia Tagged cruise bay dolphins seals walvis swakopmund Comments (4)

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