Walvis Bay catamaran tour with friendly pelicans on-board

WHAT TO EXPECT ON A CATAMARAN TRIP IN WALVIS BAY?

The weather in May on the Coast

It is early May in Walvis Bay, just after dawn. The mist and cold air permeate our bodies. It is about 10C and we are wrapped up in warm jackets and wooly hats as if going on an expedition to Antarctica. OK, I know it is Africa:-) but our Benguela current comes from Antarctica and it can get surprisingly cold in winter.

Edouard, our charismatic guide

Edouard, our tour guide for the day, greets us onboard the catamaran with a warm smile.  He is charismatic, jovial, relaxed and knows that it will be a special trip for us.

Our guide is in his 60s and comes from an unusual background.  He started his life off as a police officer, worked on the mines and moved to his passion in life, as a tour guide on catamarans.  This job suits him perfectly and he enjoys teasing the tourists.

A tamed and friendly pelican coming onboard for fresh fish and cuddles

Edouard surprised us when he told us that he nursed and fed a female pelican when it was a baby.  Since then, “Becky” knows where to find Edouard and she happily jumped onboard for some fresh fish & a cuddle. Ya, a cuddle!!!.  These 2 have a special connection, which was very nice and unusual to witness. Often, Edouard would stroke her feathers and kissed her affectionately:-).

And, to our surprise and delight, “Becky” would also let us come close.  As a result, I delved my hand into the softness of her delicate neck duvet. It was an exquisite sensation.

The life of a pelican

I did not know that pelicans can be very territorial and protective. Becky was fighting off the competition of other pelicans to be on her own with Edouard. And Edouard, with a naughy smile on his face, asked us “how do you recognize a male from a female pelican? Who has the biggest mouth? Not what you think, it is actually the male pelican!!!. Haha”

Here in Namibia, white feathered pelicans are endangered species and they are also the largest marine birds in the country. Their extended wingspan can reach 4m. They are beautiful and graceful flyers and you can see many of them around the lagoon in Walvis Bay.

Oyster Farm

As we were distracted with Becky, we came close to an oyster farm. Edouard told us that  when the oysters are little, they are first nursed in warmer water and then introduced to our cold sea.

While the classic French oyster takes about 3 years to grow, we harvest the Namibian oysters after 10 months. The reason for it is that the Benguela current that comes from Antarctica brings plankton and oxygen to the region, which allows a natural super speedy growth.

Namibian oysters are a delicacy here and abroad. They are quite nice and fatty.

Very nice brunch on-board

Just after Edouard’s oyster talk, the crew offered us some fresh oysters, seafood, fish,  sandwiches and bubbly. About 20 of us, mostly from Poland, Switzerland, France and Namibia toasted as if it were New Year. There was a great atmosphere of celebration and by that time we were feeling warm and jolly:-).

Seals for fish and play

The seals also jumped on-board. Mostly they came to be fed fish and surprisingly we could touch them. Their fur is very sleek, delicate, a bit wet on the outside and dry on the inside. Their big eyes can also see sideways. Also, male adults can weigh up to 350kg and they generally eat 10% of their body weight every day. Their only predators around are the jackals and hyena .

There are probably as many seals as there are people in Namibia.

Dolphin & Walvis Bay Port Expansion

To our delight, a dolphin swam in front of us as we steered towards the Walvis Bay Port Expansion.

It is a huge modern container terminal development of about US$325 million. Its capacity will be 750,000 TEU  per annum, compared to the current 350,000 TEU.

Walvis Bay Port is the gateway to strategic sea corridors in many countries in Africa.

The 4 massive cranes cost about US$32 million and will double the loading and unloading time. They have become the beacon of Walvis Bay.

The Port expansion will be completed in 2019.

Fishing factories

Afterwards, our Catamaran took us alongside the fishing factories and the shipyards.

There are vast quantities of fish in the region, and to ensure that our next generation will have fish to eat, the fishing industry is regulated by strict fishing quotas.

Eduard explained that often fishing boats gets unexpected visits from inspectors to ensure that quotas are respected.  The fishing companies close for 1 month around October each year, to give a chance for fish reproduction.

Most of the fish you eat here in Namibia is wild and it is a great privilege.

Roughly, there are about 20 fish species including hake, sole, monkfish, tuna, snoek, barbel, crab, crayfish, etc.  Most of the fishing factories export the fish to Europe.

EBH Namibia Shipyard

Last, we sailed close to EBH Shipyard, with its 3 floating docks. EBH Namibia repairs many international vessels up to 14 000 tons.  It ranges from offshore supply vessels, cargo, oil, chemical tankers, to upgrading oil rigs at times. I used to work as a Shipyard Agent for EBH Namibia before I became a Tour & Safari Operator. 

Edouard’s last joke

At midday, our catamaran trip comes to an end.  Before Edouard waved us goodbye, he gathered everybody and points out: “Can you see the mountain of white on the surface of the water in the distance? It is ice and it comes directly from Antarctica.  It is the second biggest iceberg after the one in Chile…”

There was a pause. A few passengers were gob smacked in disbelief and yes, it was Edouard’s last joke!!! What surfaced in the distance was a mountain of salt from the salt factory in Walvis Bay!!!

Everybody laughed and we disembarked with a happy heart :-).

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Details of the catamaran tour:

Sunsail Catamarans – Waterfront, Walvis Bay.

Tour times: 08:30 to 12:00

Price until Oct 19: N$750 per adult N$400 per child (4 to 12).

Comments:

Nice experience. Spacious catamaran; good food; Edouard was fun and knowledgeable.

If you book with Alacarte Travels, we charge the same price and on the final invoice we add 10% for our administration fees. For more details, please kindly visit our website : www.alacartetravels.com

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip around the Bay and when you come to Walvis Bay you may like to go on the catamaran tour.

Warm regards

Murielle

www.alacartetravels.com

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