Your one-stop shop in Lüderitz
by Ron Swilling
“I tackle tourism with a passion,” says Marion Schelkle, a personality known by everyone in Lüderitz. Marion is a driving force in the tourism industry in the small coastal town, referred to by locals as Lüderitzbucht, and Marion is a ‘Buchter’ with a wealth of information.
Granddaughter of one of the first settlers to arrive on the desolate coastline, Marion has her roots firmly entrenched in the area. Her grandfather and his four brothers arrived at the German settlement in 1898, and became a success story. While one brother was a lawyer, eventually becoming mayor of the town, the other ran a furniture business. Marion’s grandfather built small hotels at the railway sidings.
As the trains didn’t travel at night, the hotels were necessary accommodation for those not wanting to spend their nights on the train. After the war, Marion’s father had to start again from scratch, and he too dreamed of running hotels. He began as a motor mechanic and materialised his dreams by owning two hotels later on in life.
The story of her life
Marion began to utilise building space she owned by becoming the agent for the Kolmanskop tours and boat cruises in the bay. Slowly but surely, she began to stock items that tourists requested, such as stamps and film, and her enterprise soon expanded into a curio shop, which doubled in size within three years. She also began offering her services as an Information Centre for the town, attracting the passing tourism trade. She stocks an array of Namibian literature for those interested in enlarging their understanding of the country, providing good reading material for those days when visitors want to stay indoors and rest or escape the weather. Marion extends herself by staying open seven days a week, and is willing to open any time for tour groups after hours.
As I chat to her, we are interrupted by phone calls and shop customers wanting her attention. “This is the story of my life,” she says, “but I wouldn’t want it any other way.” She developed Lüderitz Safaris and Tours to become a tourist ‘one stop’ shop, where you can book anything from accommodation to tours and long-distance buses, and, of course, providing you with detailed history and information about the small atmospheric town.
She updates existing maps with landmarks, hotels and their opening times, organises transport and tours for cruise ships, and will lead tours if requested beforehand, ‘presenting Lüderitz in a nutshell’ herself, if she’s available at the time. If there’s something you need to pre-book, whether it’s Bogenfels tours, boat trips or a bed for the night, or if some local advice is required while in Lüderitz, Marion and Lüderitz Safaris and Tours will surely be able to assist, making your stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
Tel (+264 63) 20 2719/20 2622
This article appeared in the Dec ‘10/ Jan ‘11 edition of Travel News Namibia.