Located on the road to Swakopmund, Bird Island is a man-made structure used for the production of guano. Build in 1932 by the entrepreneur Adolf Winter, the structure rests on 1000 stilts and is 17 000 meter square in area. Our tour guide told us that Winter's wife left him and said the he was crazy for building Bird Island and that he was not going to make any money from it. The birds however are thankfull to him for building this breeding site for them.
It is not exactly the kind of beach that you might think, especially with the cold water of the Atlantic Ocean here, but it is a beautiful place to walk by the beach, for sea bird watch and to watch over the sunset if you can stay that late.
We took the morning tour with Mola Mola and I can only give compliments for the great tour, arrangements, and most of all to the great knowledgeable guide that was pleasure listen to as well as to laugh with.
Usually I am not into cruises and boats sightseeing, you wouldn’t see me on those in Amsterdam, Stockholm or Helsinki, but what a wonderful surprise I had here, it was great pleasure to go on a half day cruise, see all the sea animals, seals, dolphins, penguin, sea birds and learn all about this wonderful place.
One of the best things you can do is a quad tour through the desert, it's one of the best ways to get into the desert specially if you are not staying for a long time in town. You can spend from one hour to as much as you want and the sensation of going up and down is wonderful!! There is a place in the way to Swakopmund, just when you pass longbeach, and they are very friendly.
As an attraction per se this is not much of a thing, unless you are an avid birdwatcher. But this seemingly simple little platform is a gold-mine ... not in the real sense of the word of course, but it just makes me stand in awe at what people come up with to become millionaires - and this is a success story!
Many seabirds frequent the area, so someone decided to build a bird island to collect bird guano (guano - sh* - oh I don't think I can say that here ..... eeeemmmm .... poop) to be then sold as a fertiliser. For the first couple of years the birds did not really take to it but after while it seems it got cool for the birds to hang out there and leave their souveniers so the project was a success. Pity that when I was there very little birds were present .....
This is the only species of penguin to be found on the African continent, and as one would expect, it is endemic. It is found on the Westren Cape of South Africa and in Namibia. It is not usual to see a Jackass Penguin in Walvis bay, but I did - so maybe if you keep your eyes peeled you may catch a glimpse of one too.
Why the name Jackass Penguin? This is due to the fact that when courting the penguins bray like donkeys ... at very high volume, thus the name Jackass Penguin.
Pelicans are amongst the largest (and heaviest) flying birds and their sight always amazes me - and how always I have to remark at how large they really are :-) The species seen here is the White Pelican, and it is, of course, a very talented fisherman. Still it is not that proud to refuse titbits offered :-)
Wondering about the size of that pouch in the beak? Well, some say it may hold more water volume than it's stomach can!
Pelican point is basically the sandy outer peninsula ebracing the Walvis Bay lagoon. I don't know about the pelicans here, but there surely is a colony of Cape Fur Seals, by far not as large as the one at Cape Cross, but still quite a sight. You will definitely visit here if you go on a Dolphin cruise. Oh I remember oysters and nice sparkling wine when I visited here ;-)
Actually, despite the name, these are sealions - as they have ears, and move much better on land than seals as they raise themselves on their front flippers (not to mention they wriggle their rear sides seductively too HA HA). Anyway, take a dolphin cruise in Walvis Bay and these playful, intelligent creatures will swim up to the boat and also climb up - making for a special close encounter. A colony of these seals in the are can be found on Pelican Point, but a much more numerous one can be found in Cape Cross, a 2.5hr drive from Walvis Bay.
Worried you will not be able to tell the male apart from the female?? No worries, the male is 3-4 times larger!! If in doubt - it is a female :-)))
I guess the main feature of Walvis Bay is the lagoon, the birds are there and the promenade and the nice houses are there too. The Walvis bay lagoon has a population of thousands of birds such as pelicans, gulls, waders, skuas etc - this population swells up during migration time with migrants from the Arctic and other parts of Africa such as Flamingos.
The lagoon is over 5000 years old and is the only one of its type in Namibia - but the lagoon as we see it today may disappear in just a few years ... construction works, the saltpans and a diversion of the Kuiseb river nearby will eventually cause it to fill up with silt and disappear altogether. Maybe it being designated a Ramsar Site and the work of the Coastal Environmental Trust will help to change its dismal fate...
This is Namibia's most important harbour, and probably of that stretch of southern African coast. So much so that remained in South Africa's grip long after the country's indipendence. The main activities are fishing, imports and exports in huge containers, and occasionally, cruise liners.
If you are really interested I believe you can go and visit the harbour (but due to smells I would discourage it). But if you go on a dolphin cruise the guide will be happy to tell you and show you around the harbour.
In how many places in the planet can one see ancient desert embrace the sea?? I guess this is one of very few places where this is possible. Best experienced from a boat, or driving on the trans-Kalahari Highway connecting Walvis Bay with Swakopmund. It is something amazing, especially on a wonderful day like we had here :-)
The Walvis bay area is a good place for birdwatching ... in season, the Walvis Bay Lagoon is full of flamingos and there are also other birds to be seen such as pelicans, herons, gulls, skuas, waders, cormorants etc.
The dolphin cruises offered in Walvis bay are also a great opportunity to birdwatch, especially the pelicans and gulls. I also managed to see a young jackass penguin :-)
Another interesting birdwatching point is Sandwich bay, along a 4WD only road out of Walvis Bay. It is not recommended to attempt this without a guide.
The top thing to do in Walvis Bay, especially if you are interested in animals, is a Dolphin Cruise. It is a great opportunity not only to see the dolphins, but also to get up close and personal with various bird species and the Cape Fur Seals seals, who fearlessly board the boat as if it were theirs :-) They can also be petted and fed - or may also just wetly flop beside you for a short nap.
The guides will do their best to guarantee the sight of dolphins, and will explain about the harbour and other interesting things about Walvis Bay.
You will probably be offered Walvis Bay's famous fresh oysters with sparkling wine at the end of the tour - to wrap up a wonderful half day in good taste and good style.
I highly recommend Mola-Mola cruises - really nice guides and will also pick you up from your accomodation (even in Swakopmund) if needed.