''Explorer's Africa'' Voyage 7107 Day 3


Day 3 - March 27, 2011 - Lüderitz, Namibia

By Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist

Co-ordinates: S 26º38’21”, E 015º09’16”
Weather: Blue skies.
Air Temperature: 22ºC
Sea Temperature: 18ºC
Pressure: 1008 hPa

Namibia has been an obsession of mine for a long time and I have been wanting to experience it for at least a decade, if not more. Today my dream came true as we came alongside in the port of Lüderitz, located in the southwestern or “Diamond Coast” of Namibia.

The small town of Lüderitz is wedged between the Namib Desert dunes and the wild Atlantic seaboard. Following a hearty breakfast on board, we boarded three minibuses and headed for the abandoned diamond-mining town of Kolmanskop. In 1908, a sparkling diamond was found among the sand and the news spread like wildfire, causing fortune hunters to converge in droves on Kolmanskop. The town reached its pinnacle in the 1920s with approximately 300 German adults, 40 children and 800 Owambo contract workers as residents.

In spite of, or probably because of, the isolation of the surrounding desert, Kolmanskop developed into a lively little haven of German culture. However, richer diamond deposits were discovered further south, and operations were moved. Today it is mostly a ghost town of crumbling ruins; the stately homes, eroded by the wind, are gradually becoming sand. However, a museum has been established and a number of buildings restored.

Our excursion continued with a walking tour of Lüderitz, stopping at historic spots such as the Goerke Haus, Lutheran church (Felsenkirche), Arts & Crafts Centre, Railway station, Deutsche Afrika Bank, Woermann House, Kreplin House, Diaz Point, and the small museum in town, which features German colonial flags and photos of Adolf Lüderitz, as well as exhibits on the town’s history, its indigenous population, and life in the desert.

Set against a background of black rock and sparkling blue waters, an architectural heritage of graceful buildings from the German era gives this town a special charm.

By noon we were all aboard and the Prince Albert II set sail north for Walvis Bay. As we departed the harbor, a South African fur seal was sighted and then a couple of bottle-nose dolphins followed the ship around, riding the bow wake for quite a while.

At 2:30 it was movie time and an Italian production entitled “Maybe God is Ill” was shown in The Theatre.

At 5 pm our ornithologist, Will Wagstaff, presented his lecture: “Oceanic Birds of Western Africa”. From the deepest oceans to the shallowest seas, the strong currents that are part of the Benguela current bring a wide variety of seabirds to the areas we are sailing through. Will introduced some of the species we are hoping to see, from albatrosses to terns and much more.

At 6:45 the Expedition Team hosted a Recap & Briefing, and Robin Aiello talked about jelly fish in general and the dangerous box jelly fish that was seen in great numbers today. Hans-Peter explained succulent plants for us and I spoke about the origin and geography of the Namib Desert. Our Expedition Leader Robin West closed it up by explaining our plans for the next two days in Walvis Bay.

So far so good!!