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Published: August 7th 2012
Today we had an early start: breakfast at 6.30am, ready to hit the road at 7am. We drove from Swakopmund to Walvis Bay, a pleasant drive down the coast. We left Swakopmund in brilliant sunshine, but as we approached Walvis Bay it started to get foggy. We were told that this is normal for WB: the day starts foggy, the fog lifts and it is a pleasant day for a while, then it starts to get windy about 11am.
Our rendezvous was at Dolphins Cafe and our guides and five German tourists were already waiting with the vehicle and a trailer full of kayaks, so we got straight on the road. The road to Pelican Point starts as tarmac then becomes a salt road, which looks like tarmac but can be much more unstable. Apparently salt roads only work where it is constantly damp but heavy rain causes it to be completely washed away. There is a huge salt industry at Walvis Bay and the road runs past the salt pans, which were interesting to see at their various stages of drying out. Some were very pink from the algae in the water, the same thing that gives
the distinct colour to flamingos, of which we saw hundreds. Our guide Jeanne told us that one little boy thought that was where the flamingos got painted!
We turned off the salt road and went across the sand to Pelican Point. After the sand storms they had yesterday, the usual tracks had disappeared, so we were pleased to have another vehicle to follow. On the way to the Point we saw some jackals which were well-camouflaged with the desert sand.
When we reached Pelican Point we were kitted out with shoes for the water, together with waterproof jackets and trousers and warm layers if we wanted them. We also had a waterproof bag for the ‘disposable’ camera we took along. The seals were already in evidence at this stage, both on the spit of land further along the coastline and in the water itself.
Rob and I took one two-person kayak and we were pushed into the water. It wasn’t long before we were surrounded by seals playing around us, following the boat, bobbing up and down in the water and doing flips, front and back. Some of them like to
play with the paddles: they will show their teeth and then if you put the paddle down they will gently nibble at it.
At first the water was quite choppy and the kayak felt a bit unstable, but it wasn’t long before it levelled off and I stopped worrying that we were going to capsize (despite having been told that it was virtually impossible to capsize the kayaks, unless you are a very determined teenaged-boy).
We were then lucky enough to see a Southern right whale – the first of the season – and then a small group of dolphins, which came in between our kayaks. We also saw the area’s only Southern giant petrel, a massive bird which soared close overhead. After playing a bit more with the seals it was time to go back to shore, where sandwiches, tea and coffee awaited.
On the drive back we saw lots of tiny chestnutbanded plovers, who were taking shelter in the tyre tracks. Bernard kept having to slow the vehicle down whilst they hopped out of the way. It’s a really great area for birdlife and among many other seabirds we
saw some pelicans and herons.
After getting back to the rendezvous we spent a short while longer at the waterfront before returning to Swakopmund, where we explored the town centre with its quirky architecture and did a bit of shopping.
Tomorrow we plan to drive up the skeleton coast and visit the Messum crater... as it is some 160km away, another early start is involved!
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