In many ways, the remote coastal town of Lüderitz seems frozen in time. As the geographical starting point of German colonial rule, the town has preserved much of the German architecture and lifestyle.
Lüderitz has the relaxed pace and hospitality of a small German town and many German Namibians still make a living here.
With its unique setting, interesting history and friendly people, Lüderitz is a coastal holiday town with a difference.
Set in a shallow rocky bay with many islands, Lüderitz is not suitable for larger vessels, which has kept the town pleasantly quiet.
Colonial architecture such as the Felsenkriche, Goerkehaus, the Old Station Building, the Old Post Office, the Turnhalle, Kreplin House and Troost House give the town a charming German feel.
To attract more tourism, the Lüderitz Waterfront Company has developed the Lüderitz Waterfront with restaurants, flats and shops.
Attractions in Lüderitz include the opportunity to see wildlife such as springbok, jackal and brown hyena trotting on the beach, as well as the many aquatic and coastal birds. You can also take boat trips out to sea to visit a penguin colony and there is a good chance of spotting dolphins, seals and even whales in season.
Surfers frequent areas such as ‘Große Bucht’ and the annual Lüderitz Speed Challenge sees windsurfers and kiteboarders chasing across the water. The Shearwater Oyster Bar serves up some of the freshest and best oysters that grow in the bay.
The ghost towns of Kolmanskop and Elizabeth Bay in the Lüderitz environs showcase the weathered remains of the diamond rush that boomed here in the early 1900s. Kolmanskop is particularly worth a visit – this once thriving town is now gradually being reclaimed by the desert sand.
Just a short drive further inland from Kolmanskop towards the small town of Aus, you can see Namibia’s famous wild horses. Descended from domesticated horses freed during the First World War, these animals have adapted to their desert environment and a population of around 150 continues to eke out an existence here against the odds.
Bartolomeu Dias erected a stone cross in the bay as early as 1488 whilst on his famous quest to find a sea route to India. You can still see this today.
In 1883 the German merchant Adolf Lüderitz landed in the bay that was later named after him. He bought the surrounding land from Khoekhoe chief Joseph Fredericks, which also marked the beginning of the German colony of South West Africa.
The area around Lüderitz experienced a surge in wealth and population when diamonds were discovered in the early 1900s. The diamond rush didn’t last long as the industry soon moved further south to the Orange River, leaving the ghost towns that are now probably the area’s foremost tourist attractions.
A less well-known and considerably darker chapter of Lüderitz’s history is found on Shark Island, a jagged peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic just outside of the town itself. Now used as a state-run self-catering beach resort, this island was once a concentration camp where thousands of ethnic Hereros and Namas were incarcerated, and many killed, following a bloody colonial war.