W hile Walvis Bay is Namibia’s major harbour town, it is fast developing into a sought-after seaside holiday haven. Attractions are the lagoon with its prolific bird life and variety of recreational possibilities; a desert golf course; modern and comfortable hotels and a choice of restaurants; and activities such as sightseeing in a donkey cart and kayaking on the lagoon at sunrise.
The town has a well-developed and efficient port, while its fishing harbour is the hub of Namibia’s lucrative fishing industry. Entry permits to visit the harbour can be obtained from the Police Office at the Harbour Entrance on 13th Road.
The Civic Centre complex of the harbour town contains the Walvis Bay information office and consists of the Town Hall, Mayor’s Office, a Museum and a Library, the latter with temporary membership facilities. The oldest building in Walvis Bay, and a national monument, is the Rhenish Mission Church, a timber structure built in Hamburg in 1880, then dismantled and shipped to Walvis Bay.
Places of interest in Walvis Bay include the historic cemetery along Ben Amathila Avenue, the Walvis Bay Birds Paradise behind the sewerage disposal works, historic monuments such as the railway locomotive in front of the station and historical rail tracks on the airport road, and the horse-riding stables along Rikumbi Kandanga Avenue.
A relic from the first attempts to introduce railroad transport to Namibia – the Old Railway Engine No 652 – which arrived from London in 1899, can be seen in front of the Walvis Bay station in a glass booth to shield it from the coastal weather. Interestingly, due to complications with the railway line caused by the prevailing south-west winds, the locomotive was put to little use during its short-lived lifetime.
Outside the town, in the Kuiseb Valley, stands a wooden Boundary Post, erected in 1885 to demarcate the border between the newly founded colony of German South West Africa and the British enclave of Walvis Bay.
The Walvis Bay Airport terminal building is currently being upgraded, with construction scheduled for conclusion by the end of 2014. Operations have been relocated to a temporary facility.
Air Namibia offers flights to Walvis Bay seven days a week.
Walvis Bay Tourism Centre
At the end of Union Street in Walvis Bay, bordering the desert and tourist area, the Walvis Bay Tourism Centre is a welcoming ‘one-stop shop’. The Centre is a novel concept, with much to offer, such as accommodation in four bungalows, a restaurant, Internet facilities, pro-golf shop and driving range, Information Desk, Levo Tours offices, and Photo Ventures – which offers photographic and other tours.
Tel (+264 64) 20 0606
Cultural Township Tours
Accompanied by a local guide, visitors can go on self-drive township tours. Various options for sightseeing can be included in the package. Lasting from three to four hours, the tour includes stops at the Kuisebmond Market Hall; the kindergarten in Daniel Maxuilili Street where children present a special show; the Multi-purpose Community Centre; and Tutaleni Village. The tour ends at the Mola Mola shebeen, where traditional foods such as mopane worms, makaka, oshifima porridge and beans can be sampled.
The Tutaleni Village and Relocation Project in the township is an example of how the problem of overcrowding is solved by means of an innovative housing concept. More than 800 families have been relocated successfully and now enjoy amenities that previously seemed unattainable. The Tutaleni Village remains municipal property and will be treated as an ongoing project sustained through the joint efforts of the resettled communities, the local authority and the private sector. The project won the Dubai Award for Best Practices in 2002.
Where to eat
Options in Walvis Bay include The Raft restaurant on the Walvis Bay Lagoon and Crazy Mama’s Restaurant for pizza lovers. Langstrand Restaurant offers an African grill, seafood and stunning sea views. The Fairway Restaurant & Bistro in the Walvis Bay Tourism Centre serves breakfast, lunch and homemade cakes, sundowners and pizza. Other places to eat are Buffalo’s Restaurant, Bonaroma Restaurant, Probst Willi Bakery, Restaurant & Boulevard Café, Steve’s Take Away and O’Heilie’s Steakhouse. The Lemon Tree Deli is new in town, offering health sandwiches, sushi, fresh fish, and a selection of other seafood delicatessen.
See the Walvis Bay Waterfront for an eclectic selection of eateries.
Walvis Bay Lagoon
The Walvis Bay Lagoon takes pride of place as a scenic attraction in the Walvis Bay area. The tranquil stretch of water, its natural beauty accentuated by thousands of flamingos gathering at the rich feeding grounds, is over 3 000 years old. The lagoon has been silting up for hundreds of years, a process being hastened by man’s activities. Because of its value nationally and internationally as a wetland area, it was designated as a RAMSAR site in 1995, RAMSAR being a convention on wetlands held in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran.
The lagoon is regarded as the most important wetland for coastal birds in Southern Africa. Wading birds including lesser and greater flamingos and white pelicans are seen here. A pleasant walk of just over 3 km leads to Lover’s Hill, which overlooks the lagoon.
The Walvis Bay environs
Midway between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund is the Langstrand Holiday Resort. Established by the Walvis Bay Municipality, the resort features tidal pools and open beaches. The neighbouring Dolphin Park Recreation Resort has its own chalets, swimming pool, hydroslide and barbecue facilities.
Dune 7, on the outskirts of town, is the highest dune in the area. Palm-tree-shaded facilities for day camping and barbecues are ideal for family entertainment. Signboards point the way to the Bird Sanctuary in 13th Road, where a watchtower has been erected for bird-watchers.
The angling potential along the coast is particularly good. An angling area favoured by locals is Paaltjies, which consists of four angling spots south of the town. The ‘paaltjies’ are navigational beacons used by commercial fishermen. The first ‘paaltjie’ can be reached by ordinary vehicle, but a 4×4 is required to reach the other three further south.
The Walvis Bay Lagoon is ideal for windsurfing, boating and regattas organised by the Yacht Club, in which Hoby Cats, Fireballs and catamarans compete. A tour operator offers ski-boat trips for shark, bottom and game fishing. Beach-fishing trips in 4×4 vehicles along the coast specialise in shark fishing. Boating day trips are enjoyable pleasure excursions.
If you’d like to lay your hands on some fresh fish, a good option is to catch it yourself by booking an ocean safari, or going on a fishing expedition along the beach.
Set on the unspoilt beachfront10 km north of Walvis Bay and 20 km from Swakopmund, the luxury development, Afrodite Beach, is currently being developed. Once completed, it will comprise multiple seafront homes, villas, a luxury hotel, conference facilities, health spa, apartment blocks and commercial facilities.
Where to stay
Located on the lagoon, the revamped Oyster Box Guesthouse is owned by Beate and Tibor Raith, the owners of Hotel Heinitzburg in Windhoek.