Cruise ships don’t often stop in Walvis Bay, Namibia. But when they do, baby boomer travelers experience a very different landscape than what most of them see at home. Excursions usually involve desert adventures, a visit to the colonial town of Swakopmund, birding tours, township and diamond mine visits or flight-seeing along the Skeleton Coast to view the many shipwrecks.
When Alan and I stopped in Walvis Bay on our cruise from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro, we chose the Treasures of the Namib Desert excursion. The trip took us into the lunar looking landscape of Namib-Nukluft Park. We soon realized that we had made the wrong choice. The hot, dusty ride was scenic, in a stark sort of way, but nothing new to Arizona desert dwellers. A stop for a cold glass of champagne was our reward. And, we did enjoy the visit to Dune #7, where Alan and I photographed as our fellow passengers climbed the dune. Next time, we’ll choose Living Desert by Off-Road Vehicle, with the chance to go 4-wheel-drive surfing down the dunes.
Many cruises, such as ours, include dinner in the desert, amidst the dunes. The event comes with camel rides, dancing girls and local foods served inside a billowing tent.
Cruise ships are a rare occurrence in Walvis Bay, so tourism infrastructure is tenuous, at best. If you go, adjust your expectations. Your tour guide has probably been recruited for the occasion.