By Ron Swilling
Lüdertiz has a character entirely its own. It is a destination for travellers who enjoy exploring unusual landscapes and out-of-the-ordinary places; are interested in southern Namibia’s intriguing past; and want to learn more about the diamond-mining history that shaped the town. Most of all it is for those who love the austere beauty of the desert. If you have ticked any of the above, then Lüderitz is for you.
Bartolomeu Dias planted his cross here at Angra Pequeña – Little Bay – in 1488. It was German merchant, Adolf Lüderitz, however, who shaped the destiny of Lüderitz when he purchased the land from Nama chief, Joseph Fredericks, 400 years later. It would soon become the first settlement of the German colony, and rapidly developed into a hive of activity when the first sparkling stone was discovered by a railway worker in 1908.
The blue bay surrounded by rugged hills and desert mystique holds a smattering of colourful fishing and diamond boats that bob in the south-westerly wind. It is this same unruly wind that makes the town a popular wind- and kite-surfing destination. Perched on a rocky hill above the town is Felsenkirche, the 1912 stone church that watches over the coastal town with glittering stained-glass eyes. Lüderitz makes a good base from where to explore the Sperrgebiet and operators offer trips into the desert to visit the old mining towns and the 55-metre high Bogenfels rock arch. For a ‘must-do’ trip to a deserted desert mining town, pay a visit to Kolmanskop on the outskirts of Lüderitz.
A boat trip on a catamaran or schooner provides an understanding of the layout of Lüderitz with its many bays and promontories; an opportunity to view the Halifax Island penguin colony; and the pleasure of being greeted by an inquisitive Heaviside’s dolphin. Taste essence-of-the-sea Benguela Current fare on Shearwater Oyster Factory’s oyster tour, and drive out to Diaz Point for an enjoyable, if not wind-swept, outing to the famed point for coffee and cake.
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This post originally appeared in the Travel News Namibia Autumn 2013 edition