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Once upon a time whales were the wildlife of choice in Walvis Bay. An abundance of plankton in the Benguela Current drew many of these gentle giants past its shores, making it a keen hunting ground for North American and European whalers. Whilst it is harder to spot whales in its deep waters these days, Walvis Bay remains a key destination for avid wildlife fans.
Located on the west coast of Namibia, this relatively small port town is a hive for nature-lovers, who flock here for its impressive bird life. The tidal lagoon and nearby Sandwich Harbour are recognised Ramsar sanctuaries which support a variety of species within their coastal wetlands. Take a trip to the lagoon at low tide and marvel at a horizon awash with pink. Its high concentration of molluscs, algae and plankton attract thousands of flamboyant flamingos, as well as eleven endangered bird species. Head a few miles north to view the vast Guano Platform, a nesting perch that rests on 1,000 wooden stilts.
The postcard-perfect scenes continue at Pelican Point – an 11 mile natural sandspit which forms a breakwater against the Atlantic Ocean. Don't forget to bring a camera because here, on a seemingly endless expanse of sand, an iconic lighthouse makes a scenic backdrop to colonies of Cape fur seals and pelicans. Adventurous visitors can get closer to nature with a kayak tour of Pelican Point, or by chartering a catamaran.
Another unusual feature of the town is its bright pink salt flats, where seawater is pumped from the lagoon and left to evaporate in the sun. During a year, around 400,000 tons of salt is produced this way. It's the high concentration of halobacteria which gives it the unusual colour.
South east of Walvis Bay is Namib-Naukluft National Park, which includes part of the Namib Desert and the Naukluft mountain range. Taking a guided tour of this spacious apricot landscape is a must. Make your way to the top of Dune Seven for spectacular views of the region, or travel into its heart to visit Namib Sand Sea – a coastal fog desert. The national park is also home to the Welwitschia Mirabilis, an ancient plant which can live for more than 1,000 years by surviving off only the moist ocean air.
Being driven over desert sands is an adventure in itself, though a variety of recreational activities are also available. Sandboard, quad bike or paraglide over the dunes, or head to the shore for sailing, golf and angling.