This Unforgettable Destination In Africa Offers Stunning Beaches To Spot Wildlife

Imagine a town at the border between a huge desert and the wild blue ocean, creating a mesmerizing and surreal landscape. Welcome to Namibia's Walvis Bay, known for its blend of coastal beauty and magnificent wildlife. The town's name means "Bay of Whales" in Afrikaans, alluding to its past as a whaling station. Since Walvis Bay was "discovered" by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in the 15th century, the city has evolved into a bustling port with a thriving fishing industry. Another notable geographic feature of the area is the enormous and famously bright pink salt field, which produces 400,000 tons of high-quality salt every year.

The real magic of Walvis Bay lies in its coastline and beaches, which are far more than just strips of sand next to sparkling waters. These coastal areas are also teeming with incredible animals, affording unique wildlife-viewing opportunities. Touring these places is like going to the beach and being on a safari simultaneously. 

Birds of Walvis Bay

The pink salt pans and lagoon on the south side of Walvis Bay make up one of southern Africa's most important wetlands. This ecological hotspot attracts tens of thousands of migratory birds during the summer, including some European and northern Siberian species that travel between 6,000 and 8,500 miles to reach it. But perhaps the most striking among all of the lagoon's feathered residents are the flamingos, with their rose-colored plumage contrasting sharply with the earth-toned sands and brilliant sky. The Walvis Bay Lagoon is considered one of the best places in the world for viewing these elegant creatures. 

If you prefer birdwatching in a more rustic setting, further away from town, head to Sandwich Harbour, 26 miles south of Walvis Bay. On this dreamlike beach, giant golden sand dunes meet crashing waves — a fitting environment for more than 200,000 bird residents, including terns, flamingos, cormorants, and pelicans. However, the only way to reach this remote setting is by a four-wheel drive from Walvis Bay. In addition, the tides in Sandwich Harbour can be tricky, so if you're interested in visiting, we recommend going on a guided tour.

Walvis Bay seals and other marine life

Another not-to-miss coastal wildlife experience near Walvis Bay is witnessing the large colonies of Cape fur seals. These seals thrive on Namibia's coastline due to its dense fog and chilly, fish-abundant waters. One of the largest colonies of Cape fur seals on the planet is at Cape Cross, a two-hour drive north of Walvis Bay. Here, visitors are treated to the astonishing spectacle of over 100,000 seals lounging, playing, breeding, and rearing their young on the beach. The most interesting time of year for seal-watching at Cape Cross and other locations near Walvis Bay is during November and December, when the mother seals create a ruckus fussing over their adorable babies.  

Walvis Bay boat tours present opportunities to experience seals, dolphins, and other sea creatures from a completely different vantage point. Wildlife encounters can get up close and personal on these boat tours, especially when a fearless seal or pelican is enticed to come on board to grab a few tasty fish. Kayaking is another way to experience the magic of the Walvis Bay coastline. The beauty of this touring type is that it's non-invasive, allowing for a quiet melding with the marine environment. The seals in Walvis Bay are known as a curious lot. It's common for them to sashay up to kayaks and playfully splash water at the human occupants.