Sandwich Harbour, Namibia
Sandwich Harbour lies 64km south of Walvis Bay along a rough-hewn track which can only be accessed with a 4×4 vehicle. It is best to go on a guided Sandwich Harbour Tour, or on a Guided self-drive tour.
Sandwich Harbour was attractive to seafarers, as a destination for fresh water, meat, whaling and fishing. Now it is best-known for the many birds and stunning dune scenery, where dune meets sea.
Surrounded by towering dunes, on the northernly shore, lies the bay. The stormy sea has swelled its banks and entered the once freshwater lagoon, contaminating it with saltwater. Sandwich Bay mouth has once again sanded up and one of the reasons it was never suitable as a Harbour. Beyond that, the Namib Sand Sea, with its red dune belt stretches off to the horizon with stunning Dune views.
History of Sandwich
In 1789 Capt. James Shields, for Enderby and Son Fishing Co., was chartered to catch whales along the Angolan and Namibian coast. One of the Ships, HMS Sandwich was sent south to collect fresh water and meat. It is generally inferred that these sailors first charted the bay and named it Sandwich Harbour. In 1884 Germany colonised the area from the Orange River to the Kunene but Britain retained Walfish Bay. German settlers soon arrived and from 1894 Sandwich, which was the only natural harbour Germany could use, became a real Business hub. A corned beef meat canning factory was erected as well as a fish drying camp. These did not last long as the harsh conditions and the bay sanding up were continuous problems.
During the 1920s, the Guano rush started. The Guano was harvested off the small island in the Bay. Due to its lucrative nature, sand was pumped on to the island to enlarge it and make it high enough for the Springtide not to destroy the guano layer, marauding jackals soon discovered how to make their way to the island at low tide, and scared the birds off. Loading the Guano on to the ships was a tedious task, with the bay sanding up and trucks breaking down in the difficult sandy conditions.
With no commercial future in sight, Sandwich Harbour became a nature park in 1954 and was later incorporated into the Namib-Naukluft National Park.
For the Birders
The once abundance of Birds has won the lagoon at Sandwich Harbour, one of 5 Ramsar acclaimed Wetlands in Namibia. Up to 50 000 birds, from time to time, were seen in the Lagoon and along the beach between Walvis Bay and Sandwich Harbour, such as, Flamingos, Plovers, Gulls, Terns, Pelicans, Turnstones, Avocets and other palearctic waders. The little Sanderling chasing the waves or further afield, the endemic Dune lark and Chestnut banded Plover roam the quiet desert sands. Sadly, since the new developments in the Walvisbay Lagoon most birds have now migrated there.
For the Photographers
Sandwich harbour is the ideal setting in creating the most awesome pictures of Dunes, animals, and birds alike. The thousands of Birds and the Stunning Dune scene will surely create the fondest and most memorable memories. A Sandwich Harbour Tour is must for visitors to Namibia’s west coast.
Desert Dunes & Dust Tours offer the Classic Sandwich Harbour Tour both half-day and full-day tours, with English or German Guiding. We share history and our passion for the area with you. Well worth contacting on your Namibia Holiday.