Strathspey Wildlife
Discover Namibia- An African safari with Exodus Travel 2008

Friday 19th.
September 2008

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Early rise once again, and a very leisurely breakfast at the hotel.
We were picked up at 8.15 by a mini-bus which conveyed us to the departure point for our 4 hour dolphin cruise at Walvis Bay. The quayside was a hive of activity with numerous boats at various stages of preparation for the day's activities. It wasn't long before we were called forward and boarded our boat "Ocean Lady," a modern twin-hulled ski-boat with twin 250 hp Yamaha outboards. We were all eagerly looking forward to this trip, and though the early morning brought some mist, it was calm, and needless to say, warm. We were soon edging out into the bay, and away from the busy dockside area of this, Namibia's largest  deep-sea port. A few pelicans were milling around the quayside, but

we were to see many more before the day was out. We were told that we would be heading out for 10 miles, in search of bottlenose dolphins, the smaller Heaviside's dolphin, then on to view the seal colonies. It was hoped that we may sight whale, though we were advised that we would have to have an element of good fortune to do so. Before too long we saw a neighbouring boat which had drawn the attention of a large cape fur seal, which appeared to be trying to climb aboard the stern. There was a cage barrier to prevent it, though it didn't appear a deterrent, and it certainly provided the boat's occupants with some reasonable close-up shots I'm sure. As we cruised out we began to attract some pelicans - Great white pelicans, which the skipper and his assistant fed with small fish. This was

obviously a regular daily event, and provided  a rare opportunity to see these big attractive birds at such close quarters. As they opened their huge mouths to catch the fish, one felt it would have been difficult to miss.
After our time with the pelicans the skipper drew to a stop to pick up another passenger, and very unceremoniously a large cape fur seal climbed aboard at the back. Unlike the boat we had seen earlier, there was nothing to stop it boarding, indeed the skipper actively encouraged him as he introduced "Fluffy." Again, this appeared to be a daily rendezvous and our visitor was very soon tucking into his breakfast. Needless to say, none of us had previously had such a close encounter with a seal, and surprisingly, there was no overpowering fishy smell as I

would have expected. Everybody had a chance to get up close to meet our guest, and with a constant supply of fish not too far away, he was extremely tolerant of all the extra attention. Fluffy wanted to stay a bit longer, but we had a schedule to meet. He was reluctant to leave, but with a lure of a good supply of fish thrown over the stern, and a gentle shove or two of encouragement he eventually slid away into the sea.
We continued on, and began to sight dolphins in some numbers. At this stage the skipper began to work in conjunction with some of the neighbouring boats - by lining up abreast the boats were able to create troughs of swirling water between the bow waves. Soon the dolphins were appearing between, whilst some preferred to occupy the spot immediately

beneath the bow of the boat. Back home in Scotland we have our own bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth, where such practices are strictly prohibited, with threat of prosecution to any operators that harass them. However, their cousins here in Walvis Bay seem to revel in the activity of the boats. But far from employing any practice that is detrimental to the dolphins, the skipper and those of the neighbouring boats were obviously well drilled, and regularly gave the dolphins breaks from their high-speed activities. After a few performances form the bottlenose dolphins, it was time for them to stand down and give way to the smaller Heaviside's dolphin, who also gave us some superb close-up views, not only as they leapt above the bow-waves, but also in the crystal-clear waters beneath

the boat. We pressed on again towards the seal colonies, taking time to view one of Walvis Bay's numerous wrecks. This was the Russian fishing trawler Ulan. She had steamed into port low on fuel. Her captain's intention was to start fishing and pay for her return fuel with the proceeds of his catch. Unfortunately she was refused a fishing permit and effectively left marooned. Some of her crew remained on board for nearly two years, being fed by a charitable organisation before they were eventually removed. Continuing towards the seal colony  we had another surprise. A whale had been sighted - two in fact. 14 or 15 metres long, 40 tons in weight, this was a pair of Humpback whales. They breached the surface several times, blowing huge plumes of spray into the air as they did so.

We were all hoping that we would see the  iconic big dive of a whale with the huge tail hanging in mid-air, but perhaps we were expecting too much. We all felt privileged to have seen these giants at such close quarters. So having seen both species of dolphin, and a pair of whales, the seals may have come as a bit of an anti-climax, but it was amazing to see the broad expanse of water rippling with activity. And so, with all the activity behind us, we were treated to a superb lunch complete with fresh oysters and champagne. Oysters however aren't everybody's cup of tea. I think we all tried them, with reactions varying from "very nice" to "uuurgggh!!!" For me they were "OK." Like caviar I think fresh oysters hold a little "snob value."  Give me a nice pork pie any day!! The skipper set the throttle for a high-

speed cruise back into port and so came  to an end a superb four-hour cruise, and what tremendous value for money at N$395 - around 55. Compare this to a dolphin cruise on the chilly Moray Firth - that will cost you 15 a head for a single hour. Out of that hour you must take away around 40 minutes to allow travelling to and from nearby Chanonry Point - leaving about 20 minutes or so with the dolphins - relatively distant views - IF you can find them. (Much better views are to be had from the beach at the point where the dolphins come in really close) ...... and that's without mentioning the cold!!  We were bussed back to the Swakopmund Lodge Hotel, but there was only time for a very quick brush-up before we were picked up again to be taken the short distance to pick up - for Lori, Chuck, Nancy and I - our dune buggies, whilst the two Claires, Brenda, Julia and

Jan were whisked away to their quad bikes. We didn't have to travel far before we found ourselves amidst the dunes, and though we were fairly close to civilisation we were given a taste of the vast emptiness of the desert. These trips into the dunes normally take place in the morning, when the weather tends to be much calmer. By the time we left the wind had picked up a bit, and our guide Ernst was not too confident of spotting too much wildlife, as the sand is blown to cover the tracks of any of the desert's residents. The desert scenery was stunning, and despite Ernst's lack of confidence, he managed to find a young namaqua chameleon, several lizards - and a sidewinder - the Namib sidewinder adder. This snake is very hard to spot, as it buries itself to the extent that only its eyes show

above the level of the sand, with the tip of its moving tail acting as a lure for would-be predators before who themselves fall victim. Ernest manage to extract it, and I was surprised at how small the snake was (I think I've only ever seen them in westerns!!!) We kept a rendezvous with the quad-bikers, as we had transported their boards for their hour of sand-boarding, and left them to it, before returning by way of the beach. We were back at the hotel by 5pm - with an opportunity to take a shower and smarten up (think I had a shave!!!) in preparation for a meal out. We met Maxwell back at the hotel. He had initially planned to join us on the dolphin cruise, but he had an unforeseen busy day taking our truck to a local garage to have yesterday's starting problem resolved. The fault was traced to a faulty starter motor which was replaced. We later walked through the town to Kucki's pub. The food was very good, but the volume of the live musician (singing and playing keyboards with backing tracks) detracted from the occasion, making normal conversation impossible, otherwise we may have stayed a bit longer. Whilst I had a delicious fish soup as a starter, followed by shark steak and chips, Nancy had an avocado spritz and shrimps, followed by Atlantic sole and chips, complete with a white-wine spritzer - which came in a pint glass!! All this including drinks cost just N$200. Back to the hotel - one more night in a bed to look forward to - then it's back to the tents!

Other Photographs of The Day
 


 

 

 

 


 


 

 

 
   
Next day - Saturday 20th.Sep.2008
 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

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