Vanda Kujbus

Monday, April 17, 2017

Walvis Bay - I'm on a Boat!

Written by Vanda

Early challenges

It is hard to arrange a transport when it’s Easter – for us at least. We signed up for kayaking – with seals playing around(!) us – sounds cute, right? – in the calm waters of nearby Walvis Bay, Swakop's little industrial brother, with free transport for that sack of money they have the face to ask from us, and the only thing we get is just a phone call saying „Sorry, we can not provide transport as we have too many people already in Walvis Bay. However we are warmly welcomed to participate if we drive there in our own car. Oh we don’t happen to have one? No problem, there is a transportation company who can take us there for a mere 500 NAD (11 000 HUF/36 EUR) per person".

--- silence and googly eyes ---

I think she heard me gulping in the phone after I realized she was serious. 500 NAD ?? For 2x42 km? Per PERSON? Are you kidding me?? A 570 km one way trip from Gobabis to Swakopmund costs almost half price, what are they transporting us in, diamond cars? And I kindly turn down the offer.

Swakopmund-Walvis Bay distance

She tries to make up for it, and figures out that if we were into seals, there is a similar tour with seals AND dolphins swimming around, but this time with guaranteed transport, just minus the fun part, where we get to be in a kayak, within an arm-reach from seals and potentially pet them while trying not to fall into the water? Well... We consider it. 

After making a few phone calls to other kayak operating companies we are turned down one by one, that unfortunately this time of the year it is impossible to take in people from Swakopmund. You guys must do really fine in life if you just wawe for a 4 digit payment as if it was coins.

We are a bit sad and disappointed, but they found my weak spot, they promised welcome drinks and closeby seals on the dolphin cruise, and the little girl inside me screams loudly „I want to see seals!!!” that we find ourselves booking us the mini dolphin-seal cruise.

Walvis Bay

They pick us up with a huge van. There is already an old lady sitting inside, in a clothing like Mr. Rotschild’s wife. We get in the car and go around to fill it up. We pick up two more Mrs. Rotschilds and then a group of young girls. Poor Sigi, he rolls his eyes, but I try to cheer him up, when was the last time he was surrounded by this many gilrs? Positive attitude, that’s what we need right now. And only half of them are pensionists!

It doesn’t make the situation better when we roll in to Walvis Bay, and discover that this city and its surroundings are cuter than Swakopmund. At least the parts we see of it.

road to Walvis Bay
Walvis Bay

Why didn’t we come here on the first place? Taller sand boarding dunes, more accessible water activities... Well, at least I can spread the word for posterity: if you hesitate between the 2 cities, chose Walwis Bay! The part we saw from it, didn’t rub into our face that „I was created for rich tourists to leave a lot of money here!” Or maybe we are just simply biased because we got disappointed in Swakopmund tour operator organizing skills.

Walvis Bay harbor

We stop in a harbor, which looks cute. A random guy starts talking to me, not saying anything, just trying to chat about how my day was, and what were our names. He is so eager to learn about us, even wants me to spell our names, what a nice guy, I thought at the time. Sigi drags me away and scolds me why did I do that, now he is going to find us and palm off something on us. Ah, naive me...

I hope he won’t find us in this crowd when we are back from the cruise.


The boat cruise

The ship pools together several groups from additional transporting cars, so we end up being both a mixed gender and age group at the end. Good, at least I don’t feel like we are doing what the pensionist club is most up for. The cruise begins.

The fun part is, that animals, such as seals and pelikans, are so used to humans, and mostly to tourguides feeding them, that they just jump/fly in to the boat, and in exchange for a yummie snack. As long as you behave well, and don't scare them, they won’t even bite off your hand in case you’d like to pet them.

seal and pelikan feeding
seagulls and passengers

The captin allows us to pet them, as long as we don't overwhelm the animal. They were so cuuute! I have never touched a seal in my life before, I didn’t even know what feeling to expect, but it was like touching an oily smooth surface. So that’s how seals feel like!

me petting a seal
Sigi petting a seal

We sail deeper into the open sea, or ocean, to be more precise, when we pass by a long piece of earth, spotted all over with other seals, making noise hearable from many meters away.

seal colony
kayakers amongst seals

These seals don’t make the classic „Ou ou” sounds, they rather sound like sheep, which came to me as a surprise. We also get a glimpse on the kayakers, rowing around on the calm water. Is that all? – of course we weren’t expecting anything like extreme rafting, but kayaking here would have been just an open water paddling pool. Still the seals would have been a cute addition, but at least we know we don’t need to be sad about missing that out.

After the seals we make a turn, where the dolphins are at. I wonder how does the captain know that on that very spot there will be dolphins, but looked like it was his lucky day. A few tiny dolphins were jumping by, accompanied by a turtle and jellyfish, unfortunately not onto the ship. I think the guides would need to put a lot of effort and patience to train these cute things to interact with people.

turtle and jellyfish

The few minutes of dolphin watching is interrupted by the captain’s final turn back to the harbor. Nothing to see on the way back, so it’s time to...

They offer us champagne with oysters and some additional snacks. I think this was my first (and probably last) time to try this luxury food. Legend or no legend about their aphrodisiacal effects, I want to flush the weird taste accompanied by the gooey consistence with something else instantly. Yuck!
Or maybe that’s the point – to distract yourself that way.

champagne with oysters

Going home

Back in the harbor Sigi’s fear comes true – „my” guy spots us out with his eagle eye in the crowd, swinging 2 little keyholders - made out of the seed of the makalani palm, a very unique Namibian way of doing art - with our names carved into it along with some savanna animals. You got us god dammit! I would feel sorry for him if now I wouldn’t buy these... let’s say nicely... carved things from him. He names his price, 250 NAD for the 2 of them, but since we are good friends, he can make a discount for 200 NAD (4400 HUF/13 EUR) combined.

ugly makalanis

Googly eyes again... "You do realize that we can get these things in Windhoek for 20 NAD (440 HUF/1,3 EUR) each right?" - I ask. I offer him that for 40 NAD we buy his „art”, when suddenly he all turns angry, accusing us with abusing him, and throws the keyholders to the ground. If you disrespect me this much, I don’t even want your money, he shouts. I’m looking around, trying to find out who else saw this mini scene, but there was only one guy joining the show. „If he does’nt want your money, then just thake the keyholders and walk away” -said smilely.

I take his advice, reaching out for those piteous keyholders, when the „artist” looks at me and holds out his hand. I wasn’t that much disrespectful after all.

At the end of the day we chat a little bit with the driver, Penda, and my research on mopane worms just come up in the conversation.To our extreme happiness, he says oh by the way, he can take us to the local market to talk with a few ladies in the afternoon if we want to. Oh my good, another helpful and kind soul, deepening our love towards Namibia in our heart. Thank you my friend, see you in a few hours then!