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Walvis Bay … sand, sea, sand

Slovenia
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for Costa Rica
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Walvis Bay … sand, sea, sand

Decision to stay in Walvis Bay and not in Swakopmund based on my intention to do some birding around the Walvis Bay lagoon. So I woke up really early, 5:45, just to throw one only view through the window, and went back to bed. It was a foggy, grey morning. And my car was also parked, so I could not exit even if I would need. To. So breakfast at normal hour, and then to the lagoon. At 9:30 the fog cleared and we start taking photos of local flamingos. Yet the light was off, and the tide was low so flamingos were searching for their food a tad too far from the walkway. So we drove toward Pelican Point, passing by the salt fields. Huge salt pans they have, and unlike in Slovenia, they used big machines to harvest the salt.

In the afternoon, at 12:30 due to tide, we started a tour to Sandwich Habour with Sandwich Harbour 4x4. Ben the Barefoot was our driver; another family with two young kids joined and we were off into the dunes. Ben really makes for an unforgettable day; not only the kids, my wife also loved the daredevil driving skills of Ben, much to my (positive) surprise. Then, at Sandwich Harbour, I realised that all my good luck was consume on arrival events. Not only we have 20 min short stop, there was not a bird in sight. And the lagoon itself, well, did not looked like a lagoon. Ben told us that shifting sand dunes are rearranging the shape almost weekly, and that the lagoon will slowly disappeared. For birding, one should come in March, early April when there were many migratory birds, which all leave already. At least we have seen a black back jackal and a springbok in the dunes. Tired and not very happy (that was me) we ended our tour quite late. Ben’s Landrover had problems with ignition coil, so we stopped several times. Good enough for my wife to take more sunset photos.

Next day we were scheduled for a Living Desert Tour with Sean from Batis Birding Tour. We needed to be at his home at 7:45; we went behind the dunes, on ex D 1984, now paved and renamed C34. It goes alongside the railway and we even see one train passing by. The views over the dunes were spectacular in the morning light. Yes, this morning was one with a clear sky!

The tour has more than fulfilled our expectations. Sean is an expert; and he kept our attention all 5 hours with excellent details and knowledge. Some history first then he started to look for dune inhabitants. The highlight was desert chameleon; not one but we found three of them along the way. To ladies relief, the snake was not home. No four legged animal either. After 4 hours and a “schnell kurse” in flat tyre exchange we were back at our car, and on the way to Ameib Lodge.

After 433 km we have filled the tank with 35 l of diesel fuel at 13,06 N$ per litre. Average consumption of 8,1 l/100 km really positively surprised me. Very low for such a big car and such a difficult roads. However, most of the time engine was working around 2000 revs/min; must be the green zone for this engine.

Weather is an important factor in Walvis Bay; if morning is sunny, wake up early and drive first towards Pelican Point, or at least pass by the salt works. Then turn back and drive slowly. Your co-pilot / photographer will have the lagoon on her/his side of the car, and sun will be behind the car.

Swakopmund is definitively much nicer little town than Walvis Bay. It is obvious that it must be a huge holiday destination. Many shops, restaurants, accommodations of all styles. However it is 1 hour from Walvis Bay; so if planning to do some early morning birding in Walvis Bay, stay there at least one night.

Leicester, United...
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1. Re: Walvis Bay … sand, sea, sand

Thanks Xelas for your "almost live" update.

Sorry to hear about your not so satisfactory experience at WB. As you said the best birding season is probably over.

Glad that you chose Batis Birding. In addition to his guiding knowledge Sean is a very accomplished photographer as well and recently captured some amazing shots of sossusvlei in sandstorm.

Looking forward to hear about Bulls Party and rest of your trip.

Safe travelling.

Isle of Man, United...
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2. Re: Walvis Bay … sand, sea, sand

Better than a Blog. Live updates indeed!

Thanks for sharing and keep them coming. Fog on the coast is frequent so "see things when the sun shines" is a good motto.

Good to hear about Batis Birdings. Pity about the 'empty' trip to Sandwich.

Kungalv, Sweden
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3. Re: Walvis Bay … sand, sea, sand

We saw a train too, it was great. We’d followed the tracks for days, and I always hoped to see a train, and then finally on one of our last days a great roaring monster came along!

We went to Sandwich bay in early March this year, and the flamingos were all there, at long telephoto range, but still lovely. Have to agree Swakop is much nicer, and for birders it’s very good too, we saw Orange river White-eye in a garden there..

Thanks very much for your report, I know how difficult it is to find time.

Good luck!

/Neil

denmark
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4. Re: Walvis Bay … sand, sea, sand

Great report - keep them coming.

Safe travel

Kirsten

5. Re: Walvis Bay … sand, sea, sand

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