Lüderitz was established as a German settlement in the 1880s when present-day Namibia was known as German South-West Africa. Today, Germans make up the majority of visitors who've come to celebrate their heritage (including German art nouveau buildings) and to enjoy relaxing, seaside breaks. The craggy Atlantic shores shelter penguin colonies and flocks of flamingos, and farther inland, the Namib Desert is home to rock arches and succulents.
What We Love
Wildlife: The rocky coast bordering the South Atlantic is a habitat for penguins, flamingos, and Cape fur seals. In the desert, you can catch glimpses of ostriches.
The Desert: The Namib Desert is as wild and starkly barren as it gets. Here, you'll find Kolmanskop, a former diamond mining center, now an eerie ghost town standing amidst blowing sands.
Best Known For
Architecture: Most of the city's architectural heritage can be seen on foot; secure a walking tour map from the tourist office. Among the highlights: arcaded stores and public buildings in both the Imperial German and art nouveau styles; the Deutsche Afrika Bank, built in 1907; and the gothic-style Lutheran Rock Church.
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Who It's Best For
Nostalgic Nature Seekers: Intrepid travelers flock here to get a taste of faded German colonialism and pure nature in the raw. It's also a gateway to Namibia’s wildlife (elephants, cheetahs, lions, giraffes) in the northern national parks.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Sperrgebiet National Park Is a Full-Day Visit: It's the minimum to properly see the untamed desert. So make advance plans with a reliable operator who will get you there and back on time.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.