Lüderitzbucht - the “small cove” of the South

Lüderitzbucht - the “small cove” of the South

03 June 2019 | Tourism

Frank Steffen

Luderitz - so renamed after independence - is obviously named after Adolf Lüderitz, who was the first German to colonize the area by actually buying up a portion of land that was until then known Angra Pequena, which if translated from the Portuguese language, would refer to a “small cove“. This Bay was first mapped by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1487, long before the German trader Lüderitz established it as a trading station in 1883. The original cross set up by Dias is due to be returned by Germany to Namibia in the near future - up until now a copy of the cross rests in its place instead.

Lüderitz had bought the anchorage at Angra Pequena and the land 5 miles (8 km) around it from Captain Josef Frederiks II of Bethanie (head of the Nama folk) for 100£ in gold and 200 rifles. Three months later Frederiks sold a stretch of land 140 kilometres wide, between the Orange River and Angra Pequena, to Lüderitz for £500 and 60 rifles.

Lüderitz has over time been developed as a substantial harbour and its operator NamPort still hopes to attract business to this town. In the meantime the community has not been waiting for better days, but has instead developed new avenues in which the town can justify its existence. The fishing industry has been maintained and through investment in fact been extended to include oyster farming, something that makes perfect sense in an ecologically sound environment.

But one of the bigger income earners is tourism, and with its long history, the town has a lot to offer. One of the historic sites is Shark Island, which used to be a peninsula and was later used as a detention camp by the German colonial government, who imprisoned the Nama people, who had become their bitter political foes in subsequent years.

It needs to be remembered that Lüderitzbucht was the birth place of diamond mining in southern Namibia. As such the visitor of Kolmanskuppe - that unique ghost Town just outside Luderitz - will enjoy a pretty incredible experience, when visiting this once proud and prosperous settlement in the middle of a dune landscape. One cannot help being reminded of its former opulence and splendour when seeing rare and handcrafted items, now having been taken over by an unforgiving desert. It quaintly reminds one of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The town itself offers a lot of unique architecture and many of the buildings have been declared as national monuments of Namibia, whether it is the “Kreplinhaus” or the old Building of “Krabbenhöft & Lampe“, or for that matter the “Goerke-Haus”, which served as the seat of the local magistrate for many years. You may want to visit the super-beautiful “Feslsenkirche”, which is one of the oldest churches in the country. You may even prefer to visit the building of the “Deutsche Afrika-Bank” or the old Station building.

But Luderitz is not only about history, you may instead prefer to take part in local safari tours and in this way get to understand the Namib Desert a little better, or may prefer the town to take part in water sports - here it needs to be remembered that Luderitz is the host of the “Lüderitz Speed Challenge”, which sees international Kite-sailors and Windsurfers competing for the fastest records on an annual basis. And make no mistake, visits to all the little bays, coves and fjords around Luderitz (including such oddities such as Dias’ Point, the “Eberlanz-Höhle” or the old “Sturmvogelbucht”) are something to behold - the Atlantic Ocean and its coast line have so much to offer.

On your way to or from Luderitz, be sure not to miss the world-renowned desert horses, which are offspring of horses, which were able to escape into the desert during the conflict between Germans and the South-African forces during 1915.

Is Lüderitzbucht worth the far travel? Absolutely and especially if you combine it with the rest of the southern tourism novelties!

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