Day Tour - Sandwich Harbour

Duration: 1 day

Highlights: Sandwich Harbour, Dunes, Lagoons, Walvis Bay

The Sandwich Harbour begins when you are collected from your hotel in the morning. Enjoy a drive along a beautiful dune chain adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, zigzagging the original railway line between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. 

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This is an opportunity for a detailed look at the formation of 'the world's oldest desert' -  its origins, its composition and its movements. Your first stop is at 'Bird Rock' - a guano island inhabited by about 200 000 birds and one of the first examples of man's efforts to utilize the rich natural resources of the area.

The Lagoons at Walvis Bay and Sandwich Harbour have been declared 'Wetlands of International Importance', while the 'Bird Paradise' at Walvis Bay is also a key nesting and feeding site for thousands of visiting and resident birds. A recent bird survey, counted record numbers of Flamingo, Plover and Tern between Walvis Bay Lagoon and Sandwich Harbour. Pelican, Avocet, Turnstone and a huge variety of waders can also be seen, with numbers peaking at around 170 000 in November. Several endemic species, such as the Dune Lark and the Damara Tern, are also in the vicinity.

Leaving Walvis Bay behind, you head for the lower reaches of the Kuiseb Delta. This unique ecosystem is dotted with archaeological sites, 450 year-old animal tracks, wind blown graves and magnificent dunes. There is evidence of ancient and recent gathering, harvesting and trading by the Topnaar, an indigenous Namibian community descended from the Khoi group, which relies on the naturally occurring Nara fruit for survival.

Turning south, you begin the approach to Sandwich Harbour. This crosses barren salt pans and vegetation covered hummock dunes, which shelter small groups of Springbok, Ostrich, Jackal and the occasional Brown Hyena. Peregrine Falcons, Pale Chanting Goshawks and Black-breasted Snake Eagles can sometimes be seen hunting small mammals (such as gerbils and three-striped-mice) which share the dunes with a fascinating variety of desert-adapted insects, reptiles and plants.

This section of the journey is as dramatic as the landscape, and it soon becomes clear why Sandwich Harbour is often described as inaccessible! Spring tides and shifting sands ensure an unpredictable route, but as you approach the towering, wind-sculptured dunes at the edge of Sandwich Harbour, there is a sense of entering a different world.

All that is left of the old whaling station and its community of traders and fishermen, is the freshwater lagoon, a solitary deserted building and the strange greenery of this unique coastal wetland. This is the setting for your picnic - a large hamper full of homemade cakes, savouries, salads, fruit and drinks - and a spot of bird watching.  Some 40 000 birds, 34 different species, have been recorded in this area. Enjoy a leisurely walk around the Lagoon, which is also an official marine sanctuary where you may spot seals, dolphins and even whales, before heading back to your hotel.

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