Lüderitz is a beautiful, little harbour town in southwest Namibia. It is a port developed around Robert Harbour and Shark Island. The town is known for its colonial architecture, including some Art Nouveau work, and for wildlife including seals, penguins, flamingos and ostriches. It is also home to a museum, and lies at the end of a currently decommissioned railway line to Keetmanshoop.
The bay on which Lüderitz is situated was first known to Europeans when Bartolomeu Dias encountered it in 1487. He named the bay Angra Pequena (Portuguese: Small Bay). During further expeditions in the early 19th century the vast wildlife in the ocean was discovered. Profitable enterprises were set up, including whaling, seal hunting, fishing, and guano-harvesting. Lüderitz thus began its life as a trading post.
The town was founded in 1883 when Heinrich Vogelsang purchased Angra Pequena and some of the surrounding land on behalf of Adolf Lüderitz, a Hanseat from Bremen in Germany, from the local Nama chief Joseph Fredericks II in Bethanie. When Adolf Lüderitz did not return from an expedition to the Orange River in 1886, Angra Pequena was named Lüderitzbucht in his honour. In 1905, German authorities established a concentration camp on Shark Island The camp, access to which was very restricted, operated between 1905 and 1907 during the Herero and Namaqua Genocide.
In 1909, after the discovery of diamonds nearby, Lüderitz enjoyed a sudden surge of prosperity due to the development of a diamond rush to the area. In 1912 Lüderitz already had 1,100 inhabitants, not counting the indigenous population. Although situated in harsh environment between desert and Ocean, trade in the harbour town surged, and the adjacent diamond mining settlement of Kolmanskop was built.
After the German World War I capitulation South Africa took over the administration of German South-West Africa in 1915. Many Germans were deported from Lüderitz, contributing to its shrinking in population numbers. From 1920 onwards, diamond mining was only conducted further south of town in places like Pomona and Elizabeth Bay. This development consequently led to the loss of Lüderitz' importance as trade place. Only small fishing enterprises, minimal dock activity, and a few carpet weavers remained.
You can visit the museum and get all the information on the history of Lüderitz and the diamond fever. On Shark Island you can go to the memorial of Adolf Lüderitz. From there you also have a beautiful view over the town and the harbour. Also interesting to visit is the harbour itself - it is always busy. The Waterfront Mile invites to relax and and do some shopping with several cafés, restaurants and all kind of stores. A must-try is the delicious seafood you get served in Lüderitz.
On the way back from Lüderitz you should stop by Garub. There you can find the famous Wild Desert Horses.
The streets from Helmeringhausen to Lüderitz (C13 & B4) are usually in very good condition.
Duration: 1 ½ hours to Garub + 1 ½ hours to Lüderitz