The National West Coast Recreation Area in Namibia encompasses over 200 kilometres of coastline just south of the Skeleton Coast Park and is a world-renown angling and fishing destination. Situated around the tourist-hub of Walvis Bay in the south and extending north to the Ugab River, the West Coast Recreation Area covers a vast landscape. Characterised by coastal dune belt and desert landscapes intersected by river systems, the terrain is rich with biodiversity.
Although Swakopmund and Walvis Bay are in the area, the two main tourist towns are the holiday hamlets of Wlotzkasbaken and Henties Bay. These are the main areas to stay for anglers and fisherman, and visitors seeking a remote coastal getaway.
The main point of interest in this area is the Cape Cross Seal Reserve, an area populated with thousands of seals. There is prolific fish life in the waters, providing ample food sources for seals. Another highlight of the recreation area is the exquisite orange lichen field, the largest lichen field in the world. Visitors wanting to explore this coastal part of Namibia can fly into Walvis Bay and self-drive through the National West Coast Recreation Area.
There are over 75 species of bird in the area, one of which includes the endemic Damara tern while other popular birds to spot include, flamingos, cormorants and gulls.
The National West Coast Recreation Area is a year-round destination but visitors wanting to see the seal colony and pups should visit between October and December.
The coastal dune belt in the area offers a varied eco-system of coastal dunes and arid desert. The river systems and ocean provide the ideal habitat for shorebirds, waders and migratory species. There are over 75 species of bird in the area, one of which includes the endemic Damara tern. Other popular birds to spot include flamingos, cormorants and gulls.
Terrestrial animals include brown hyena, jackal and antelope. Smaller creatures such as the shovel-snouted lizard and web-footed gecko are abundant. The most popular species is the colony of Cape fur seals that can be spotted on the shore and in the waters. Whales, dolphins, killer whales and copper sharks also occur in these bitingly cold waters.
The National West Coast Recreation Area is a year-round destination. Because the region is so vast, the conditions vary slightly. Visitors wanting to see the seal colony and pups should visit from October - December. This is also the best time to visit the coast, as the weather is warm but not hot.
The National West Coast Recreation Area covers a wide area and therefore offers an array of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. The most popular sport is angling, and the region is a world-renown safari fishing destination. The cold Benguela current brings forth an ample supply of fish, making it a heaven for leisure and sporting fisherman.
The entire coastline offers an array of sought-after activities, some of which include quad biking, biking, 4WD trails, dune boarding, surfing and skydiving. The Jakkalsputz Walking Trail is perfect for avid hikers keen to take on an 18-kilometre challenge. There are several alternate rocky-shore hikes, ideal for visitors wanting to spot marine life and birds. The entire area is perfect for hikers, as there are well-mapped out trails in various regions.
The raised wooden walkways and boardwalks overlooking the seal colony at Cape Cross provide a wonderful meander across the protectorate—a sight not to be missed. The Model Dam and Ugab River in the north is the perfect place for birding activities and boasts incredible scenery.
Accommodation options are varied. The major towns offer self-catering lodges, bed and breakfasts, and hotels. Smaller villages in the heart of the recreation area, such as Henties Bay, offer a few holiday accommodation options for the fishing crowd. Most tourists choose to stay in Swakopmund, a coastal desert town.