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Lüderitz (!Nami≠Nüs Constituency), Namibia

Try the Nest Hotel overlooking the sea. Get a room on the top (3rd) floor with a balcony, for a slightly better view and it's quieter.

Some call it Lüderitz, some Okakoverua, some Olindiri, some !Nami≠Nüs (the name of the Constituency it's in, since the 8th August 2013), but the inhabitants calls themselves Buchters and name the town the Bucht -  "dis 'n lekker lewe, tussen die Bucht se krewe!" Situated in the Namib Desert on the southwest coast of Namibia, Lüderitz is in the Sperrgebiet, a forbidden area which is rich in diamonds (mostly to the south of Lüderitz). !Nami≠Nüs is the name given to the area by a Nama sub-tribe, the !Aman community, which settled in the area before Adolf Lüderitz allegedly bought the land from a Nama chief.

Getting to Lüderitz

 

Flights

There are 1-stop flights from Johannesburg to Lüderitz (LUD) & Cape Town to Lüderitz with Air Namibia, via Windhoek. You can get hold of Air Namibia at luderitz.reservations@airnamibia.aero or by phoning +264-63-202850.

Overland

The wind sweeps sand onto the roads, so sometimes the last 10km of road to Lüderitz is blocked by dunes made worse if conditioins are foggy.

Joburg to Lüderitz by road

It's 1518km or 19 hours of driving to get from Johannesburg to Lüderitz. On the way you pass Klerksdorp, Vryburg, Kuruman, Kathu (iron mining town), Upington (where you touch the Orange River), Nakop (last little town before crossing into Namibia), Ariamsvlei (Namibia, a rest stop for long distance truckers), Karasburg (the heart of the southern Namibia sheep farming industry), Grünau, Naute Dam (the 3rd largest dam in Namibia, situated in the Naute National Park), Seeheim (founded in 1896 as a base for Schutztruppe of Germany, now consists just of a railway station, a hotel and a handful of inhabitants), Aus (used to house German prisoners of war in WWI), Lüderitz Airport, Kolmanskop and then finally Lüderitz itself.


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Cape Town to Lüderitz by road

From Cape Town to Lüderitz it's 1128km or 15 hours of driving. You take the N7 travelling north past Vredendal, Springbok, Vioolsdrif (where you cross the Orange River), Noordoewer (Namibia), Kotzenshoop, Rooiwal Suid, Aussenkehr (Outer Bend in German, referring to the Orange River, it's amazing to see the agriculture and a river flowing through the desert), Gamkabrivier, Mount Stormberg,  |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park (which straddles Namibia and South Africa, combining the Richtersveld National Park and the |Ai-|Ais Hot Springs Game Park), Rosh Pinah (a mining town), Aus, Lüderitz Airport, Kolmanskop and finally Lüderitz itself.


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Things to do

Felsenkirche (Rock Church), the Lutheran church at the top of Diamond Hill. Enjoy the views of the town.

Visit the Lüderitz Museum, which contains displays on diamond mining & local indigenous groups.

Visit the Art & Crafts Centre, and see the karakul carpets & wall-hangings.

See Kolmanskop, a once wealthy diamond mining village, which has since been abandoned and is slowly being taken back by the sand dunes, which are flowing through the open doors into the houses. As it's in the forbidden area (Sperrgebiet) one needs a permit to go see Kolmanskop.

See Shark Island, which contains a plaque in memory of Adolf Lüderitz.

Diaz Point drive.

In Easter there's the annual board-sailing competition.

Kitesurfing

 

 

History

  • 1914 A few days before war is declared, a ship by the name of the Mincio arrives in Lüderitz Bay. The Germans themselves didn't know what to do with 2000 Cape coloureds who had been working on the diamond fields at Kolmanskop, and told the captain of the Mincio that they would only give him provisions if he agreed to take the 2000 workers back to Cape Town. The captain refused, saying that his crew would be unable to handle the sails of the ship with so many on deck. Subsequently the Germans abandoned Lüderitz Bay, and then 2 Norweigian whalers steamed in. The whalers were told they would only be given coal if they towed the Mincio to Table Bay. All non-German subjects were then asked to leave Lüderitz in the sailing ship. Despite the difficulties, only one person died during the 6 days at sea. "Colonel Jones told me he looked out of the Clock Tower window when the Mincio was towed into Table Bay Docks and it seemed to the astonished onlookers that the ship was crawling with ants. No one had ever set eyes on such a human cargo before. As she passed between the Clock Tower and port office an appalling stench smote the whole area. Colonel Jones noticed that the ship was listing to starboard as she approached the West Quay. 'She had hardly touched the fenders when nearly two thousand labourers jumped on shore and raced for the dock gates," declared Colonel Jones. "I have never seen anything so funny in my life. They poured through the gates into Dock Road without taking the slightest notice of the helpless officials. After the horrors of the Mincio they just wanted to get home.'...Colonel Jones found that he could not work in the Clock Tower owing to the smell from the Mincio, so he and Captain "Bully" Leigh, the port captain, paid an official visit. They got no further than the gangway. Her upper deck was a foot deep in every sort of filth, but the captain of the Mincio remarked: "I am quite happy - why should you worry?" Captain Leigh exploded at this and had the Mincio towed into the bay immediately. Cape Town banks were invaded by hopeful coloured labourers who presented the wages they had received from the diamond companies in German paper marks. Not a penny would anyone give them. The "Cape Argus" suggested that wealthy Germans who had not yet been interned might consider redeeming the paper money of their Fatherland. There was no response. A coloured labourer named Jack Johnson was charged with stealing worthless notes from his comrades during the voyage but the magistrate decided that he had no jurisdiction over a foreign ship outside the three-mile limit. William Small, an American negro who had been serving in the Mincio, complained to the American Consul that the Germans had given him twenty-five lashes in Luderitzbucht gaol after he had been knifed in the stomach in a fo'c'stle brawl. He went to hospital. And to the relief of everyone at Table Bay Docks the Mincio sailed in ballast for the Gulf of Mexico without putting her nose into the harbour again." Laurie Green's Harbour of Memories.

  • 14 Apr 1908. Whilst clearing sand from rail tracks, Zacharias Lewala discovers a shiny stone in Kolmanskop & shows it to his boss, August Stauch, a railroad inspector, who recognises it as a diamond.

  • 1906-1907. Haifisch (Shark) Island is used by the German military as a prisoner of war camp, for captured survivors of guerilla units led by Hendrik Witbooi & Cornelius Fredericks. In early 1906 several hundred Herero prisoners were moved from Okahandja & Windhoek to Haifisch, to work on the construction of the railway line to Aus. On the 9th September 1906 the Herero prisoners were joined by 1795 prisoners of the guerilla units. Suffering from malnutrition on a cold barren island, by April 1907 1032 of the Nama prisoners had died (including Cornelius Fredericks, who died on the 16th Feb 1907).

  • 1886. Adolf Lüderitz drowns at sea, and Angra Pequeña is renamed Lüderitzbucht (Lüderitz Bay), which is later shortened to Lüderitz.

  • December 1884 Adolf Lüderitz erects trading posts at Angra Pequeña & several other spots, all of which are loss making.

    26 November 1884. Piet Habib and Adolf Lüderitz sign an agreement of sale.

  • 22 September 1884. "Her Majesty’s Government will welcome Germany as a neighbour on those parts which are not within the limit of the Cape Colony, and not actually British possessions." Great Britain declares.

  • 19 August 1884. Piet Haibib and Adolf Lüderitz sign a treaty regarding mineral rights. Adolf Lüderitz authorises Ludwig Koch to conclude treaties on his behalf.

  • 7 August 1884. The Imperial German flag is raised on a freshly made parade ground just north of Nautilus Hill, and at regular intervals along the border the following words are placed: "Territory Lüderitz. North from the Orange River to Latitude 26. Under the Protection of the German Reich 7 August 1884".

  • 14 July 1884. Through a telegram, Great Britain officially recognises the new German protectorate.

  • 24 April 1884. Otto van Bismarck declares Angra Pequeña and the surrounding area a German protectorate. Shark Island is connected to the mainland by bridge, to avoid the British claims to the islands from 1867. Van Bismarck telegraphs the German Consul in Cape Town, Count Munster, to advise the British Cape Government that the land enjoyed German protection. Germany then sent the Leipzig & the Elizabeth, naval corvettes with Schutztruppe & Marines, to Angra Pequeña.

  • 26 February 1884. Aschenborn leaves Angra Pequeña sailing to Cape Town, where he telegraphs his support for the deal to the German Government.

  • 24 January 1884. Under German Captain Richard Aschenborn, the warship Nautilus arrives in Angra Pequeña to assess the land which had been sold to Adolf Lüderitz. Aschenborn is concerned that the Cape Colony may claim land up to the Angolan border, but supports the deal.

  • 10 April 1883. Heinrich Vogelsand arrives on the "Tilly" in Angra Pequeña. On behalf of Adolf Lüderitz. Heinrich Vogelsang initially buys Angra Pequeña & surrounding land within a radius of 8km from Captain David Christian Von Bethanien, the local Nama chief. He paid £100 (British Pound Sterling) in trade goods and 200 Wesley Richard rifles. Vogeland later bought all the land along the coast from the mouth of the Orange to 80km north of Angra Pequeña (and inland for 32km) from Captain Joseph Frederiks von Bethanien, duping Frederiks by making reference to the German Geographical Mile (7149km) whilst Frederiks was used to the British Mile (7149km) - the price was 60 Wesley Richards rifles and 500 British Pounds Sterling in Gold.

  • 1882. Adolf Lüderitz studies maps & notices that there were a few areas on the west coastline of Africa which had not yet been claimed by European nations, and in particular were interested in the unclaimed land around Angra Pequeña, which could make for a suitable harbour.

  • 1867. Great Britain annexes the island off Angra Pequeña & their guano deposits.

  • 1487. Whilst attempting to find a sea route to India, Bartholemew Dias & his flotilla of 3 ships sails into what is later to be called Lüderitz. On the way back they reenter it and name it Golfo de São Christovão (Gulf of Saint Christopher) after the flagship. However, cartographers later changed the name to Angra dos Ilheos (Bay of Islets) and then later changed it again to Angra Pequeña (Small Cover).

Top review

Anders arrived in Lüderitz and took some wonderful photos: "The first impression of the town was almost that of a ghost town...although the first impression of Lüderitz is a bit sad…there is still some charm." Here's a clickie he took of the station at Guano Bay, where guano used to be collected & exported to Europe.

Guano Station in Luderitz

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