Sandwich Harbour 4x4
Sandwich Harbour is a place unlike any other on earth, where the desert and the sea come together creating a unique contrast where you can see for yourself where the sand dunes run out of space on the continent and spill over into the ocean. You can literally stand on a sand dune with one foot while your other foot is in the sea!
Sandwich Harbor 4x4 specializes in tours through this astonishing area, taking guests in Land Rovers to navigate the landscape of seemingly endless dunes. The tour guides rarely wear shoes, thereby avoiding the constant issue of sand piling into their footwear. All the guides are well educated on the salt pans, the dunes, the bird life and wildlife big and small that you will encounter on your excursion.
The tour features a lot more than just dunes and sea, though. Sandwich Harbour is one of the world’s great birding sanctuaries and home to Namibia’s lone endemic bird, the dune lark. It is also the home of the African Oyster Catcher, and the breeding grounds for the Damara Tern.
Sandwich Harbour is one of the most visibly active geomorphic areas in the world, meaning it changes its shape constantly. In the fairly recent past one of its morphological manifestations made it a great natural harbour for whalers and fishing vessels attracted to the lagoon’s fresh water. The area is no longer suitable for a harbor, but evidence of the fresh water is prominent. If the tides are right during your visit, your guide will take you to a fossilized riverbed, where you can still find mud and sticks from the lagoon buried centuries ago.
While driving along the dunes, don’t be surprised if your guide stops and pops out of the car to pick something up, like a 1.8 million year old fossil that is common on this stretch of beach. A geologist from the University of Coimbra identifies the species who created this fossil as – Genus: Ostrea; Species: Born Denticulated Ostrea. Nowadays this species is common from the sea coast of Benguela (South of Angola) to Namibia. The fossil that you find is a small colourful stone that was an Ostrea swimming around the Benguela 1.8 million years ago!
The scenic drive is broken for a bit of a snack in the dunes with biltong bites, fresh oysters, and a variety of tasty pastries. You can wash this down with champagne, soft drinks or water. After your snack the drive becomes a bit more exciting as you will drive up and down dunes taller than any buildings on the coast, which is second nature to your guides. The drive is not really an adrenaline seeking adventure, but the blood does flow a bit faster while traversing some of the larger dunes. You will be sure to experience the “roaring dunes,” which is an fascinating feature of the dunes, where air released from the weight of the vehicles going down the dunes produces a distinct roaring sound which you can hear even when the engine is off.
There is a wide variety of little critters to be found, including the palmetto gecko, the dancing white lady spider and the sand diving lizard. You are also likely to see ostrich, jackals and springbok. And if you are very lucky, you might spot a herd of oryx running up and over the dunes.
is a fascinating, beautiful trip, and well worth doing on its own, but Sandwich Harbour 4x4 is owned by the same group as Catamaran Charters. The combination a.m. boat tour and afternoon 4x4 tour is a brilliant way to spend the whole day in a unique place where the desert meets the ocean.
by John R Wheeling | Leisure Times Namibia