About Lüderitz

History, Nature, and Abundant Charm

Lüderitz is a port town based around Robert Harbour and Shark Island, located in the IIKaras Region of southern Namibia. It lies on one of the most startlingly scenic but least hospitable of Africa’s coasts.

It’s a charming historic town, with much to offer the curious explorer. Keep reading to find out more about Lüderitz in Namibia.

A Brief History of Lüderitz

The town gets its name from Adolf Lüderitz, who founded the German South West Africa colony. It wasn’t always called by this name, though.

The early Nama people who lived near the source of potable water in the area called it “Tsoakhaub”, which is a crude term that describes the river’s ability to carry waste from the interior into the sea.

Europeans first discovered the bay surrounding Lüderitz in 1487, when Bartolomeu Dias landed here. He erected a stone cross on the southern peninsula and named the bay Angra Peguena, which is Portuguese for ‘Small Bay’.

Centuries later, Dutch scientists explored the area in search of minerals, with little success. Later expeditions revealed the bounty on offer in the surrounding oceans.

Several profitable whaling, seal-hunting and guano-harvesting businesses came about because of these discoveries and Lüderitz became established as a trading post.

The town was founded in 1883 when Heinrich Vogelsang purchased Angra Pequena from the Nama chief Josef Frederiks on behalf of Adolf Lüderitz and hoisted the German Flag over the settlement.

A year later, when Adolf Lüderitz disappeared during an expedition, the town was renamed Lüderitzbucht in his honour. In 1905, Germany established a concentration camp on Shark Island which operated until the end of the Herero wars in 1907.

The camp used local captives to expand the city, port, and railway. During the heyday of Kolmanskop, Lüderitz underwent a rush of prosperity, but this waned as the diamonds dried up and prospectors moved elsewhere.

In 1915, the South African government took over control of South West Africa and deported many of the German inhabitants, leaving only small fishing enterprises and carpet weavers behind.

Due to its rich history and proximity to a few tourist attractions, Lüderitz is a worthwhile place to visit if you’re planning a trip to the Fish River Canyon or passing by on the way to one of Namibia’s more northerly attractions.

Things to Do in Lüderitz

Colonial architecture is one of the most appealing features of this town that time forgot. It’s awash with German-style buildings and Art Noveau architecture, which you can enjoy on guided tours of the town.

Some of the biggest attractions are:

  • Deutsche Afrika Bank (circa 1907)
  • The Gothic Style 1908
  • Glück Auf building, built in 1907
  • Goerkehaus (1911)
  • Kreplinhaus, built in 1909
  • The 1909 Krabbenhöft & Lampe building
  • Lüderitz Railway Station, erected in 1904

The eerie and enchanting ghost town of Kolmanskop is a must-visit site when visiting Lüderitz, especially for photographers.

You can see a metal replica of Bartholomew Dias’ wooden cross at Dias Point. You can also visit the nearby Dias Lighthouse while you’re there.

Natural attractions are one of the biggest drawcards for visitors to Lüderitz. The area is recognized as a globally important bird zone due to its many coastal seabird species.

Grosse Bucht, about 20km south of Lüderitz, near Dias Point, is an excellent place to see cormorants, flamingos, and seagulls.

You may also see Heaviside dolphins and several species of whales in the area, including minke, pygmy and southern right whales. You can best enjoy these species on boat rides from Lüderitz

A trip to Shark Island reveals some of the place’s tragic history and offers stunning views of the town and harbour.

On a catamaran tour to Halifax Island, you could see African penguins, flamingos, cormorants, and seagulls.

After your trip, you can relax with a drink at the Yacht Club while admiring a glowing sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll find many restaurants in town offering excellent seafood dishes as well as hearty German fare.

About 125km to the east, you can take a day trip to Aus, where you might catch a glimpse of the wild horses that frequent the area. You may also get to see gemsboks, springboks, spotted hyenas, and jackals during your trip.

Bogenfels Arch is another top attraction, comprising a 500-million-year-old 55-metre-high limestone rock curved into an arch.

Sports lovers can enjoy some of Africa’s most thrilling kite surfing experiences in Lüderitz, and the town is also home to the annual Lüderitz Speed Challenge, an international speed sailing event.

Accommodation in Lüderitz

Lüderitz offers the usual selection of seaside accommodation options. These include bed and breakfasts, hotels, and self-catering apartments.

Getting Around During Your trip to Lüderitz in Namibia

A car is essential for making the most of your trip to Namibia unless you opt for a coach tour of the sights. Public transport is rare outside of Windhoek.

The nearest airport to Lüderitz is Lüderitz (LUD) Airport which is located just 9.9km southeast of the town itself.

International flights to Namibia, all land at Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek, where you can overnight at Arebbusch Travel Lodge before beginning the 8-hour trip to Lüderitz.

Plan Your Namibian Trip Today

Lüderitz is a charming stopover during your visit to Namibia, with many unique and interesting facets to explore.

Start planning your route now using our map section and browse our travel blog for more inspiration.

Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.


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