LÜDERITZ

The town of Lüderitz stands in isolation on a great rocky peninsula between the Namib Desert and the Atlantic Ocean. Its colonial history dates back to 1883 when Heinrich Vogelsang purchased Angra Pequena (Portuguese, meaning “Little Bay”) and some of the surrounding land on behalf of Adolf Lüderitz, a German businessman, from the local Nama chief. It began life as a trading post, fishing and guano-harvesting town, but when diamonds were discovered in 1909 in nearby Kolmanskop, Lüderitz enjoyed a sudden surge of prosperity. Beyond the structures huddled together beside the bay and a lighthouse on the peninsula, the surroundings are much as Bartolomeu Dias found them in 1488, when his flotilla of three small ships first sailed into the uncharted anchorage. Lüderitz is located on the only part of the Namibian coast with a rocky shore. A peninsula with numerous coves (locally called fjords and bays) juts out of the coast at an angle to form the bay proper and is well worth a visit. Besides the main attractions such as Diaz Cross and Kolmanskop Ghost Town, Luederitz offeres fantastic catamaran lagoon cruises that highlight the islands of the rocky peninsula and also bring guests close to Namibia’s only colony of Emperor penguins on Halifax Island. Other day visits inside Luederitz consist of visiting an oyster farm, Namibia’s only abalone farm, town and township tours as well as peninsula tours.

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town is situated about 7km out of Luederitz within the “Sperrgebiet” (The Forbidden Territory”). It originated in 1908 when the first Diamonds were found in the area. To the imaginative but uninformed, the “Sperrgebiet” conjures up images of watchtowers, electric fences, barbed wire and ferocious guard dogs protecting the restricted area. This may tickle the fancy but could hardly be further from reality. In fact, for most parts there is nothing – nothing but the limitless desert and the occasional forlorn notice board with its stern WARNING! WAARSKUWING! WARNUNG! ELONDWELO! In its heyday the wealth of this town was a lesson in decadence, talk of bathing in champagne. Nowadays you find Kolmanskop as a deserted Ghost Town in the Sperrgebiet – once a cosmopolitan centre where diamonds were lying around like “plums under a plum tree”, a town built to last…until the diamonds ran out in the 1950’s. It stands as a haunting monument to the day’s boom and bust, where once opulent homes, shops, a hospital and theatre surrender slowly to the relentless wind and the encroaching desert sands. The ghost town is open to guided tours at 09h00 and 11h00 in the morning, permits can be purchased directly at the gate to the Ghost Town.

Diaz Cross

On a lofty point on the Lüderitz Peninsula, Bartolomeu Dias erected a padrão or stone cross in 1488 on his homeward voyage to Portugal, after he had rounded the Cape of Good Hope. He is believed to be the second European sailor to have set foot on Namibian ground. The original cross has been removed and replaced by a replica made from Namibian Marble. The original is kept -- as found, in pieces -- in museums in Cape Town and Lisbon. Seen from a sailing boat or catamaran at sea, Diaz Point gains its true perspective, a rocky headland with its back to the desert and host to a colony of seals…we are sure that this was the exact sight Bartholomew Diaz had on his first encounter with the wind-swept rocky outcrop and not much will change in the next hundreds of years. Guests have a grand sight of the Lighthouse close by, while a unique yet cosy restaurant ensures culinary delight and shelter from the extreme winds that can haunt this bay.