The town of Lüderitz was founded in 1883 and is situated in the south of Namibia and is developed around the harbour on a coastline that is considered by many to be the least hospitable coastline in Africa. It was however first known to Europeans as early as 1487 when Bartolomeu Dias encountered it in his voyages. Lüderitz started off as a fishing town, a trading post and a guano harvesting town! Then diamonds were discovered and this little town grew very quickly. Tourism is now the town’s biggest economic contributor. Many of the original German built houses are still to be seen and have been well preserved over time. There are numerous options available for accommodation in Lüderitz.
Lüderitzbucht (named in 1886) was first discovered in 1487 by the famous Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Diaz on his way to discover the Cape. On his return to Portugal, Diaz erected a Padrăo (stone cross) at Diaz Point (1488) and named the wind-swept shores Angra Pequena (Little Bay). For many years nobody else is brave enough to land at the bay’s treacherous coastline. In 1842, the British discovered guano deposits on the offshore islands and named the primary one, Halifax Island. They make the most of the opportunity to exploit the precious fertiliser which at the time is known as ‘white gold’. Three years later sources are exhausted and the bay is once again abandoned.
It is only with the Nama/Herero uprisings (1905) that the struggling settlement is finally brought to civic status. In 1907, when peace returns to the German colony, the harbour town boasts upgraded port facilities and a railway line linking it to the interior. Lüderitzbucht is officially recognised as an independent district.
In 1909, diamonds are discovered at Kolmanskuppe (Coleman’s Hill) which sparks development on a grand scale in the wake of the diamond rush. Kolmanskuppe becomes one of the richest villages in the world with luxurious double-storey mansions, hospital, large entertainment hall, ice-cream parlour, butchery, outdoor pool and the first tram in Africa constructed. During WW1 in 1915, the German colony is then administered by South Africa. Diamond deposits at Kolmanskuppe are exhausted in the 1920s and both Lüderitzbucht and Kolmanskuppe lose their prominence.
Lüderitz has retained its wonderful early 20th Century German Art Nouveau architecture (95 Listed Buildings) and this charming town, overlooking a colourful fishing harbour, relies on fishing and tourism for its survival. Kolmanskop Ghost Town is situated just 10kms outside Lüderitz and is a truly worthwhile attraction to visit and to explore.
The world’s premier speed sailing event, the Lüderitz Speed Challenge (Windsurfers & Kite boarders) takes place at the Lüderitz second lagoon (October to November) and attracts the world’s top speed sailors.
Activities in Lüderitz:
A boat cruise in Lüderitz to Halifax Island on the Zeepaard Catamaran or with Penguin Catamaran Tours enables you to see the African Penguin in their natural habitat. You will also see Heavyside Dolphins, Cape Fur Seals as well as Southern Right and Humpback Whales in season. Other popular activities in Lüderitz include the famous Bogenfels Rock Arch as well as the abandoned mining town of Pomona which is located in the Sperrgebiet (prohibited diamond mining area). It is advisable for tourists wishing to do this tour to arrange this beforehand as police clearance is required. The Sperrgebiet National Park is considered to be one of the world’s top 25 biodiversity hotspots.
The desert horses of southern Namibia are located nearby the village of Aus which travelers will pass either on their way to or back from Lüdertiz. It is quite remarkable to see how these horses have endured and survived the harsh desert conditions.
A visit to the nearby Ghost town of Kolmanskop is highly recommended. Take a guided tour to the nearby Kolmanskop ghost town which is situated a few kilometers inland from Lüderitz in the Sperrgebiet. Find out more about the fascinating history of this former mining town.