Lüderitz for first-timers
Lüderitz is a time capsule. You realise this when you look at pictures taken almost a century ago and then walk up a hill above this compact town and see many buildings from the diamond rush of 100 years ago. The German influence is still strong, but, unlike Swakopmund, this isolated harbour town has not yet been marred by development.
Explore the peninsula
Set aside three or four hours for the 65 km-drive along the Lüderitz Peninsula. Pack padkos and set off along these sedan-friendly gravel roads at a sedate 30 km/h – watch for road hogs who drive unnecessarily fast around corners.
A good place to take your first breather is at Diaz Point, 22 km outside town, where the Portugese sailor Bartholomeu Dias planted a stone cross in 1488. Take a jacket, because the wind can get chilly. (That might be why Europeans didn’t set foot here again for 400 years after Dias.)
Then drive along the coast to the Fjord, about 6 km further, where there is a sheltered picnic spot. On the way back to Lüderitz you first drive past Grosse Bucht (“big bay”) and then past the lagoon, where you might spot a springbok or two on the pans.
Go! says: Get a free map of the peninsula from Lüderitz Safaris & Tours in Bismarck Street before you set off.Close
Pop in at Goerke Haus
Admire the stained-glass windows and antique furniture of one of the so-called diamond palaces, now a national monument. Diamond magnate Hans Goerke built the house in 1909 for his fiancée Louise. In the entrance hall is the inscription “Wer guter Meinung kommt herein, sol lieb hier und willkommen sein.” (Whoever comes in here with good feelings, will be valued and welcomed.)
It seems, though, that Louise couldn’t adapt to life in Lüderitz, as the couple packed up and went back to Germany in 1912.
Cost: Free, and R20 per person for a guided tour.
Where? Diaz Street.
Contact: 00 264 63 20 2719 or 00 264 81 129 7236; firstname.lastname@example.org
Go! says: Goerke Haus is sometimes used as a guesthouse for ministers and other VIPs, and as a film set. Keep your eyes peeled for Angelina, Brad and their brood...
Browse in the town museum
The tiny Lüderitz Museum is where you can get up to speed on the town’s history (especially as far as the diamond-mining era is concerned) and find out more about the region’s fauna and flora.
Page through old photographs and see the skeleton of a pygmy killer whale. Also on display are wooden carvings made by German POWs during World War I, a mounted flamingo, a lion’s skull and... hey, just go and see it for yourself!
Cost: R10 per person.
Hours: Weekdays from 3.30 pm to 5 pm only, but you can arrange an alternative time with the curator.
Where? Diaz Street.
Contact: 00 264 63 20 2346
Go! says: The museum may be small, but it has lots to offer. Don’t approach it like a McDonald’s Drive Thru; take your time.
Find tranquillity at the Felsenkirche
Remember the biblical lesson about the wise man who builds his house on rock? Well, the Felsenkirche (the Rock Church) on the corner of Hohe and Kirch streets was built on rock in 1912, and it’s still standing on the koppie above the town.
Often described as the most beautiful church in Namibia, the building has impressive stained-glass windows, of which the most prominent one was donated by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Services are still held in the church.
Cost: Free; donations welcome. The church is open from 5 pm to 6 pm in summer, and 4 pm to 5 pm in winter.
Contact: 00 264 63 20 2719; 00 264 81 129 7236; email@example.com
Go! says: Whether you want to pray or just ponder, the Felsenkirche offers a welcome pause during a busy day.
Admire a sand rose on Agate Beach
This beach is about 6 km north of Lüderitz on the shore of a calm bay. The beach becomes desert, with rolling dunes stretching to the horizon. Mica lends a glint to the sand, with agates here and there. You might also spot some of the beautiful winderoded sand roses, but to take one home you have to be part of a tour with a guide from Nature Conservation.
Agate Beach has braai and ablution facilities.
The water is freezing cold, though, and there are no lifesavers, so swimming is for the brave.
Go! says: Early morning or late afternoon you might see gemsbok on the beach.Close