The scorched desert that surrounds Luderitz means the city’s collection of German art nouveau architecture couldn't look more unusually placed along the Namibian coastline. This quirkiness is what gives the destination its charm, however, alongside undeniably fantastic wildlife spotting opportunities. See gangs of playful penguins skipping across the waves, pink flamingos wading by the coast, and dolphins leaping into the air, as you visit a city that boasts some of the most incredible wildlife in Africa. View more
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Lüderitz is an isolated town built on a windswept, rocky hillside beside the bay, and is located on the only part of the Namibian coast with a rocky shore. A peninsula with numerous coves juts out of the coast to form the bay. Three small islands - Penguin, Seal and Flamingo - lie within the bay. Shark Island was also once an island in the bay, but the new harbour development now joins it to the mainland. Twelve islands collectively known as the Penguin Islands lie in Namibian waters north and south of Lüderitz.
Bartolomeu Bias, in search of the sea route for trade with India, became the first European navigator to round the southern tip of Africa and on his homeward voyage called into the bay a second time and named it after his flagship, Golfo de Sao Christovao (Gulf of Saint Christopher). Cartographers later changed the name to Angra dos Ilheos (Bay of Islets) and later still to Angra Pequena (Narrow Bay). Bothe names describe the locality well, a bay dotted with little islands.
For nearly 400 years after Bartolomeu Dias' first dropped anchor, Angra Pequena remained an obscure anchorage on the African coast. However, things changed forever after Adolf Lüderitz, a tobacco merchant from Germany purchased the bay and adjacent land in 1883. Within months, Imperial Germany placed his acquisitions under its "protection" and proceeded to colonize the future South West Africa.
Begin the two-hour guided walking tour through the harbour town's streets, passing many colonial German-style buildings with their domes, towers & turrets, steep roofs, oriel windows, embellished gables, bay windows and Wintergartens (sun rooms) which provide shelter from the wind.
Next is a visit to the Lüderitz Museum to see its flora, history and ethnology exhibits. Other notable buildings visited include the Goerke Haus and Felsenkirche. The Goerke Haus is a grand residence or "diamond palace" built in 1909 and was restored to its former glory and furnished with period pieces. Felsenkirche (Church on the Rocks) is the name given to the German Evangelical Lutheran Church built in 1912. The stained-glass windows and the woodwork inside the church are impressive. The fine proportions of the church and its verticality of form represent the Vertical Gothic-style, which was popular in the Victorian era, rather than the neo-Gothic-style which was preferred in the German Church at the time.
At the conclusion of the tour you may further explore the small town on your own, time permitting, prior to returning to the ship.
Please Note: This tour involves an extensive amount of walking for approximately 3 hours (2 kilometres) over uneven sandy areas and occasional paved terrain. This tour is not suitable for guests with limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. We recommend wearing sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and comfortable walking shoes. Order of sites visited can vary because of local conditions. This is a walking tour and does not involve motorized transportation.
Enjoy a guided tour covering the history of the town, as well as the diamond industry today. Also pay a visit to some of the more important buildings, before taking time to explore the town on your own on this half-day tour.
Depart the pier for the short transfer to Kolmanskop, Namibia's most well-known ghost town, situated in the Spergebiet, (forbidden territory), just a few miles/kilometres inland from Luderitz.
In 1908, the railway worker Zacharias Lewala found a sparkling stone amongst the sand he was working in a railway maintenance team near Kolmanskop. His supervisor August Stauch, was convinced it was a diamond and when this was confirmed, the news spread like wildfire, sparking a "Diamond Rush" which caused fortune hunters to converge on the town in droves.
Kolmanskop soon became a bustling centre providing workers with shelter from the harsh environment of the Namib Desert. Large, elegant houses were built and it soon resembled a German town, complete with an impressive array of amenities including a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, two-lane skittle alley, theatre and sports hall, casino, ice factory, butchery, bakery and the first x-ray station in the southern hemisphere.
The development of Kolmanskop reached its peak in the 1920's, with approximately 300 German adults, 40 children and 800 Ovambo contract workers living in the town.
The drop in diamond sales after World War I, as well as the discovery of richer deposits further south at Oranjemund, resulted in the decline of Kolmanskop. Within a span of 40 years, the town lived, flourished and then died.
Today the ghost town's crumbling ruins bear little resemblance to its former glory. The stately homes have been nearly demolished by the wind, and are gradually becoming enveloped by encroaching sand dunes.
The area creates the perfect backdrop and amazing photographic opportunities. Film enthusiasts may be interested to know that in 2000, the film, The King Is Alive, was filmed in Kolmanskop, with the town being utilized as the film's main setting. The town was also used as one of the locations in the 1993 film, Dust Devil.
Your tour concludes with the short transfer back to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves an extensive amount of walking over even and uneven, sandy terrain and is not suitable for guests with limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. Comfortable, closed walking shoes, a hat and sunscreen are recommended. Transportation vehicles are the best available in the area, may not be up to Western standards and do not have air conditioning units. Local currency (ZAR) and credit cards are accepted at the souvenir shop.
Depart the pier for the approximate 1.5-hour drive into the Namib Desert to see the wild horses of the Namib.
Viewing the wild horses in the quintessential getaway location is a must see for any traveller. At the sign post Garub waterhole, a roofed observation stand (hide) has been put up by conservationists and from here one can closely view the extraordinary animals which have adapted to the extreme desert conditions.
Not only horses can be viewed at the waterhole but some of the indigenous wildlife like the elusive gemsbok, springbok and ostriches can also be seen here. Gemsbok move away from the waterhole when horses approach and vice versa, but sometimes both species drink at the same time.
After spending some time observing these magnificent creatures, a wild horse specialist will talk about the horses and how it came about that these magnificent animals roam in the area and also about the surrounding area and the Namib Desert. Nobody knows exactly where the wild Namibian desert horses originate but it is theorized they are descendants of the horses of the German Schutztuppe. It is also not known how long the feral horses have lived in the Namib Desert, which covers approximately 350 square kilometres, as there are no written records about their provenance. Their origins remain unclear, but there are of course quite a few theories.
After this eventful day in the Namib Desert it is time to head back to the coach for the approximately 1.5 hour drive back to the pier in Luderitz.
Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of walking over uneven ground, gravel and sandy terrain. It is not suitable for guests who utilise a wheelchair however guests with limited mobility may participate with the assistance of their travel companion. It is recommended to wear light comfortable clothing, good walking shoes, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Wildlife sightings are not guaranteed. This tour involves a drive of approximately 1.5 hours in each direction.