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Sandwich Harbour Tour

A day trip down the Skeleton Coast

The tour to Sandwich Harbour begins when you are collected from your accommodation in Swakopmund at around 08h45. You drive along a beautiful dune chain adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, zigzaging the original railway line between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. This is an opportunity for a detailed look at the formation of 'the world's oldest desert' - its origins, its composition and its movements. This day trip is an ideal addition to a self drive safari in Namibia, or even a guided Namibian safari that has a few days free in Swakopmund

Your first stop is at ' Bird Rock '- a guano island inhabited by 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 at Sandwich Harbour have been designated as '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, overseen by expert ornithologists from Namibia and South Africa, counted record numbers of flamingo, plover and tern between Walvis Bay Lagoon and Sandwich Harbour. Other favourites such as pelican, avocet, turnstone and a huge variety of waders can 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 archeological 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 brown hyena. Peregrine Falcons, Pale Chanting Goshawks and Black-breasted Snake Eagles can sometimes be seen hunting small mammals (such as gerbils, three-striped mice and Cape Foxes) 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, savories, salads, fruit and drinks - and a spot of bird watching. Some 40 000 birds - 34 different species - were recorded in this area during recent surveys. Take a leisurely walk around the Lagoon (an official marine sanctuary) and you may also see seals, dolphins and even whales.

The drive back home affords a last look at these haunting landscapes and a chance for reflection ... you will arrive back at your hotel round about 17h00.

  • Sandwich Harbour: Tough 4x4 conditions
  • Sandwich Harbour: Birds On Lagoon
  • Sandwich Harbour: Caught By The Tide!
  • Sandwich Harbour: Desert Chameleon Trying To Hide
  • Sandwich Harbour: Different Sand Colours
  • Sandwich Harbour: Driving Through The Dunes To Sandwich
  • Sandwich Harbour: Final Destination -  Sandwich Lagoon
  • Sandwich Harbour: Flock Of Flamingos
  • Sandwich Harbour: Overlooking The Fresh-water Lagoon At Sandwich
  • Sandwich Harbour: Pelicans And Sandwich Tern In Sandwich
  • Sandwich Harbour: Road To Sandwich
  • Sandwich Harbour: Sandfall Near Sandwich
  • Sandwich Harbour: Seal Having A Scratch
  • Sandwich Harbour: Welcome To Sandwich
  • Sandwich Harbour: Traversing the dunes towards Sandwich Harbour
  • Sandwich Harbour: Nearing Sandwich
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picnic hamper lunch
soft drinks
National Park permits
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