Lüderitz – This bay is steeped in History

Lüderitz

Lüderitz – This bay is steeped in History

05 November 2020 | Tourism

Lüderitz is found along one of the most inhospitable, yet fascinating coasts of Africa, in the /Karas Region of southern Namibia. The harbour town prides itself of a modern port but is better known for its tourism appeal on account its rich history.

Traditionally Lüderitz has drawn visitors on account of its diamond mining-related history, a time that brought much wealth, which resulted in colonial architecture still evident today. Buildings such as the old Goerke Haus and many more have appeal and so does the wildlife in its immediate vicinity such as seals, penguins, flamingos and even ostriches as you approach the town coming from the town of Aus and following what is regarded as the longest cul de sac of the world – the road that leads through the Sperrgebiet, i.e. the restricted diamond fields of that part of the Namib.

The town derives its name from the trader Adolf Lüderitz, hailing from Bremen, who established this port as a trading post at Angra Pequena under the flag of the German Kaiser. The bay first became known to Europeans when Bartolomeu Dias landed there in 1487. He named the bay “Small Bay” and erected a padrão on the southern peninsula. Over time profitable enterprises were set up, including whaling, seal hunting, fishing and guano-harvesting and so Lüderitz became 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, from the local Nama chief Josef Frederiks 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. German authorities established a concentration camp on Shark Island, which was operated between 1905 and 1907 during the Herero Wars.

In 1909, after the discovery of diamonds at nearby Grasplatz in 1908, Lüderitz enjoyed a sudden surge of prosperity due to the diamond rush to the area. In 1912 Lüderitz already had 1100 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. This ghost town is a major attraction today, as it is but one of the mining towns that died down after the rush, melting back into the ancient Namib Desert. All of these sites and surroundings have become interesting tourist attractions, where visitors are taken on specialized tours in order to explore sites such as Pomona, Elizabeth Bay and many more.

The world-renowned, massive Bogenfels (rock arch) reaching into the Benguela Current of the Southern Atlantic has a magic appeal and so do the fjords found along this part of the coast. And do not miss out on the catamaran tours that take you to Dias Point and allow you a view of the old guano islands and bird sanctuaries such as Halifax Island.

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