African shoestrings – Namibia Day Fifty two – Luderitz

Luderitz is the arsehole of the world! I’m sorry, I know that there are plenty of people who live there and love the place but I had to say it!
Someone, somewhere decided that they would put Luderitz about 350 kilometres from anywhere on the way to nowhere and then have the gall to make it sound appealing enough for you to make the effort, only to find that there is actually nothing there!
Look it’s all very twee having these Bavarian style buildings that house teahouses and pastry shops sandwiched between the desert and the Ocean but if I wanted to see German character I would go to Germany.

We stayed a couple of nights and managed to keep ourselves busy. The backpackers was quite comfy and more importantly quiet, we virtually had the place to ourselves.

Most of the ‘attractions’ are spread out away from the town so you either hire a car or go on a tour. We chose the former as the tours weren’t running very frequently and were quite expensive. One tour we did do however was the “West Coast Experience” on the schooner ‘Sedina’. Two hours on a boat, one hour motoring to a desolate spot called Halifax Island and one hour sailing back.

Actually it wasn’t really that bad, we got to see lots of Cape Fur Seals, Heaviside Dolphins and some really smelly Jackass Penguins plus an old whaling station. But the terrain was so desolate, just sand and rock, no colour, trees or shrubs just a naked bleak landscape. I wondered, shivering in the cold and wet from the continual splashing of seawater, what the suicide rate was here.

The scenery didn’t change much during our self-drive tour; it just got windier, to the point that just getting out of the car was a challenge. We wanted to walk across the wooden bridge to get a closer look at the Cape Fur Seal colony at Diaz Point but the wind was just too strong! The rock actually got darker and bleaker as we drove around the peninsular that faces Luderitz, if the moon is like this, I don’t want to go there! Even the scattering of a few flamingoes on Agate Beach didn’t raise our spirits. What did though was Kolmanskop!

Kolmanskop is literally the jewel in the dreary Luderitz crown. A once thriving diamond mining town, now deserted and thanks to a few hardy souls, a tourist attraction.
It borders the Sperrgeibiet, 20,000 Km2 of desert set aside for diamond mining and a prohibited area. In fact a permit is needed to visit the town. We managed to get a couple of Sunrise to Sunset permits so that we could photograph the town at sunrise.
Boy! Was that a good decision! At 6.00 am the light was perfect and the buildings literally glowed in the golden light. Even better the wind was non-existent and as the only visitors to this eerie ghost town, we snapped away to our hearts content in comfort.

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The ruins of the ghost town of Kolmanskop in the Namib desert in southern Namibia, a few kilometres inland from the port town of Lüderitz

The ruins of the ghost town of Kolmanskop in the Namib desert in southern Namibia, a few kilometres inland from the port town of Lüderitz

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