Luderitz is a small coastal town in southern Namibia. Despite its size, it offers a great variety of things to do from visiting a ghost town in the desert or exploring the Art Nouveau architecture to kitesurfing and observing wildlife. Luderitz is not one of the top tourist destinations in Namibia but it’s an interesting place to visit.
Luderitz was founded in 1883 after Adolf Lüderitz bought the land from the local Nama chief Joseph Frederiks. In 1909 after the discovery of diamonds in the area the town started growing very fast. By 1912 the population of the town expanded to 1100 inhabitants. Nowadays Luderitz is a quiet town on the windy coast of the Namib Desert. Most tourists come here to visit Kolmanskop, the Ghost Town.
Is it worth visiting Luderitz?
Depending on your itinerary and how much time you have in the country. We visited Luderitz on our Cape Town to Namibia trip. If you’re driving from South Africa past Fish River Canyon it’s not a big detour to visit Luderitz on the way north. If you’re starting and finishing your trip in Windhoek and have a week or two in total I’d rather spend that time watching wildlife in Etosha National Park, visiting the sand dunes of Sossusvlei, chilling in Swakopmund. There are many incredible places to visit in Namibia.
Great things to do in Luderitz
Visit Kolmanskop, the Ghost Town in the desert
Kolmanskop is the main reason tourists visit Luderitz. If you come this way and have to choose one activity I’d definitely recommend visiting Luderitz. The Ghost Town is situated 12 km outside Luderitz. In the past, Kolmanskop was a prosperous town built around diamond mines it was completely abandoned for several decades till it was turned into an open-air museum. Nowadays only a couple of houses and streets remind us about its brilliant past.
The town was built in the early 1900 when diamonds were found in the area. In the beginning, there were so many diamonds that people picked them up on the sand without digging or mining. World War I interrupted mining around Kolmanskop. In 1928 after the discovering of richer diamond deposits 270 km southwest mining in Kolmanskop was stopped. The last inhabitants left Kolmanskop in 1956.
You can visit Kolmandkop on your own or join a guided tour. The tour is about 1h30min. During that time you learn about the history of the town, visit several buildings and houses. You’ll be surprised how developed it was. Despite its location in the middle of the desert, Kolmanskop had the infrastructure any German town had at that time. We enjoyed the tour and can recommend it.
Kolmanskop is located in a restricted area visitors need special permits that can be obtained at the gate. Currently, it’s possible to visit the Ghost Town only by appointment. Open Mon to Sat from 8.00 am till 1.00 pm. Entrance fee NAD 80/$6 pp., NAD 10/US$0,7 per car.
Watch wild horses near Aus
On the way to Luderitz about 125 km east, there is a small town called Aus. The area around it is known for wild horses you often can see them in the town as well. These horses live in the desert just like some endemic local species of antelopes e.g. elands. Though the horses are not that wild they still come to people in search of food we saw several of them next to the petrol station in Aus eating plants in somebody’s garden.
Nowadays there are about 100 wild horses in the area you can easily see them along the road or in the town.
Besides wild horses on the way to Luderitz, you can see many gemsboks and springboks. There are some predators in the area as well like spotted hyenas and jackals but they’re very difficult to spot.
Driving to Luderitz you’ll see many massive sociable weavers nests built in trees, road signs, and poles. These noisy birds live in big colonies and have really impressive construction skills.
Discover Art Nouveau architecture
There are several interesting buildings in Luderitz that will make you think you’re somewhere in Germany and not in the middle of the Namibian desert. Luckily Luderitz is not a big town and all historic buildings are situated close to each other so you can explore the town on foot. The Goerke Haus is probably the most famous building in Luderitz. It’s a museum you can visit it and see its well-preserved interior. Among other remarkable buildings are Felsenkirche, Luderitz Railway Station, Deutsche Afrika Bank, Kreplin Haus, Krabbenhöft & Lampe, Gluck Auf Haus.
If you like German-style architecture, beaches, and adventure activities I’d recommend including Swakopmund in your itinerary. There are many amazing things to do in Swakopmund.
Visit Shark Island
Technically it’s not an island anymore but a peninsula. In 1906 the island was connected to the mainland. Shark Island has a tragic history. The island was used as a German concentration camp for Nama and Herrero people between 1905 and 1907. In total, about 1800 prisoners were kept here.
Nowadays you can visit the island and its historical monuments. It offers beautiful views of Luderitz and the harbor. Around the island, you usually can see pelicans and seals. It’s possible to camp or stays in a bungalow on Shark Island.
Visit Diaz Point
Diaz Point got its name after the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias. His expedition stopped here on 25th July 1488 on the way back home. They put a wooden cross in honor of Apostle St.James. 25th of July is St.James’ Day in the Christian Calendar. Nowadays you can see a metal replica of the original cross. Dias Lighthouse, opened in 1915, is another attraction of Dias Point.
Do a catamaran tour to Halifax Island
The island is situated just 100 m from the mainland. This small rocky island is known as home to one of the most important breeding colonies of the African penguin in Namibia. The island is closed to the public but it’s allowed to approach it on a catamaran to observe penguins. Besides penguins visitors can see many other seabirds e.g. seagulls, cormorants, flamingos. Dolphins and seals are occasionally seen around the island.
Observe wildlife at Grosse Bucht
A bay with a wild sandy beach about 20 km south of Luderitz. It’s a nice beach to come for a walk through in summer it gets quite windy. At Grosse Bucht, you can see many seabirds e.g. flamingoes, pelicans, cormorants, seagulls. There is a small shipwreck from 1978.
You can combine a visit to both places Diaz Point and Grosse Bucht.
For most travelers, Namibia mainly associates with desert and African animals but there is more to it. It might come as a surprise but there are some waves for surfing and wind for kitesurfing in Luderitz. Like for kitesurfing in Cape Town summer months are the best time for kitesurfing in Luderitz. Lagoon near the famous speed channel and Grosse Bucht are the two best spots for kitesurfing in Luderitz.
Take a tour to Bogenfels Arch
Bogenfels Arch is a 55-meter high limestone rock shaped into a bridge/arch by the wind and waves. The arch has been formed over the last 500 million years. The arch is situated 100 km south of Luderitz in the restricted Diamont area to visit it you’ll have to join a tour. We didn’t do it the price of the tour was quite expensive we didn’t want to spend that money at the start of our Namibia road trip. From what I’ve read the arch is quite interesting and people who went on the tour liked it.
As a part of the tour, it’s possible to visit Pomona, another ghost town. The town was founded in 1912 near Pomona diamond mine. At its peak, it had 500 inhabitants. By 1931 the mine was exhausted and the settlement was completely abandoned.
Enjoy the sunset at the Yacht Club
Relaxing with a glass of wine or beer at the Yacht Club watching the sunset is a great way to finish a busy day of exploring Luderitz and its surroundings or a long day of driving through the desert.
After drinks, you can head to one of the local restaurants. For fresh seafood and fish go to the Portuguese Fisherman Restaurant. We really liked their food and vibe. Diaz Coffee Shop and Restaurant is another great place to come for lunch or dinner. Their menu includes seafood and fish dishes, burgers, breakfasts, and good coffee. Barrels Restaurant and Bar is a good option their menu doesn’t have too many options but they have steaks, pork, chicken, and sausages.
Where to stay in Luderitz?
There are many accommodation options in the town for different budgets and preferences.
- Budget | Element Riders Place Backpackers | Villelodge Accommodation | Timo’s guesthouse accommodation |
- Middle price | Tranquility Guest House | Obelix Guesthouse | Kairos Cottage B&B |
- High-end | The Cormorant House | Haus Sandrose | Sonnenblume |
How to get to Luderitz?
Driving is pretty much the only option of getting here. We drove to Luderitz from Cape Town in our car. If you’re flying to Namibia from abroad you can rent a car at Windhoek airport. Luderitz is about 700 km southwest of Windhoek and 500 km south of Sossusvlei. We drove from Luderitz to Sossusvlei in one day there is not much to see and very few places to stop in between.
There are very few tours that include Luderitz in their itinerary. Most of them focus on more popular destinations in Namibia e.g. Sossusvlei, Etosha, Swakopmund, etc.
If after Luderitz you’re heading to Fish River Canyon or Sossusvlei I’d recommend stocking on food, drinking water, wood, and filling up your petrol here.
Travel insurance for your Namibia trip
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The best time to visit Luderitz
Seasons don’t make a big difference for visiting Luderitz though it does get very hot in summer. Choose the time based on other things you want to do and to see in Namibia. Overall the dry winter months are the best time for traveling the country especially if you want to go on a safari to see African animals or hike Fish River Canyon.