Founded in 1883 by a wealthy German merchant of the same name, Luderitz offers colorful colonial architecture along the beautiful Atlantic coastline. Explore the region’s past on a tour of Kolmanskop, a ghost town that was once a bustling center of the diamond trade. The recently restored waterfront offers lovely Art Nouveau architecture, and the coastal waters are home to penguins, dolphins, sharks and seals. Enjoy local beer brewed in compliance with Germany’s strict beer purity laws, as well as local dishes and fresh seafood.
Most Active or Strenuous
Minimal Activity Required
Tour a completely abandoned ghost town in the desert that only thrived for a brief period in the early 20th century, when diamonds were found nearby.
After departing from the pier, you will soon arrive in Kolmanskop, a veritable ghost town in the Namib Desert not far from Luderitz. While it has been uninhabited for decades, the town wasn’t always so desolate.
In 1908, a railway worker found a diamond in the sand here and the news soon spread, sparking a diamond rush and creating the boomtown of Kolmanskop. In its heyday, hundreds of families lived in the German-influenced town, which boasted a hospital, ballroom, casino, bowling alley and the first x-ray station in the southern hemisphere.
Walking through town, you will see many of the original buildings, which were abandoned at the end of World War I when diamond sales plummeted. The exteriors have been scoured by the wind, sand dunes fill in the interiors, and little remains of the buildings’ former glory. Yet, there is something absolutely riveting about the desolation as the desert slowly tries to bury Kolmanskop.
Be sure to have your camera ready because there are plenty of photo opportunities. In fact, several movies been shot in this dramatic setting, including “The King is Alive,” which was shown at the famed Cannes Film Festival. Following your guided tour, you will have some free time to explore on your own before returning to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 45-minutes of moderate walking/standing. The surfaces are primarily sandy. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests or those with walking difficulties. Casual, weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; a bottle of water from the ship; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Vehicles of varying sizes may be used, and while the coaches and minivans are well-maintained, they are basic in nature and the quality can vary.
Drive into the seemingly lifeless Namib Desert to watch a herd of wild horses drink at a watering hole, during which you will learn how they have adapted to the harsh conditions.
After departing from the pier, you will settle in for a 90-minute picturesque drive into the vast Namib Desert, which stretches for more than 1,200 miles along the Atlantic coast. Although the land is barren and nearly uninhabited, the animals that remain have skillfully adapted to the unforgiving, yet eerily beautiful environment.
The Wild Horses of the Namib are a perfect example. While their origins are a mystery, the horses are not indigenous. I is believed that they may be descendants of horses from a shipwreck in the late 19th century, or runaways from German troops in World War I, but it’s not known for sure.
From the comfort of a covered observation stand, you will observe the horses as they drink at the Garub Water Hole. While there is no telling how many horses will show up, typically more than a dozen gather to drink their fill before heading back into mountains. You may notice the horses turning their backs to the sun so it shines along their spines not sides, which minimizes the effects of the direct sunlight and reduces dehydration.
Before returning to the pier, be sure to ask your guide to explain other extraordinary ways that the horses have adapted to the desert.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 45-minutes of moderate walking/standing. The surfaces are primarily gravel. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair; are able to make their own way on and off the coach, and have an able bodied companion to assist them. Those with walking difficulties are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Casual, weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; a bottle of water from the ship; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Sightings of the wild horses while very likely, is not guaranteed. Vehicles of varying sizes may be used, and while the coaches and minivans are well-maintained, they are basic in nature and the quality can vary.
Stroll through colonial Luderitz and admire the spectacular architecture built during the town’s heyday at the beginning of the 20th century, when diamonds were discovered nearby.
After walking from the pier, you will soon be immersed in the German ambiance of bayside Luderitz. Although Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias landed here in 1488, the area remained unsettled until German tobacco merchant Adolf Luderitz purchased much of the surrounding land nearly 400 years later. The sleepy port soon became an important supply post for Germany’s colonization of southwest Africa, and Luderitz grew accordingly, especially after diamonds were discovered in the nearby Namib Desert.
As you approach Luderitz’s prominent Diamond Hill, you will see Goerke Haus, one of the most extravagant mansions built during the boom at the start of the 20th century. Renovated and full of period furnishings, the estate was built for diamond entrepreneur Hans Goerke in an Art Nouveau style with German and African themes.
Felsenkirche is another outstanding Diamond Hill landmark. The Evangelical Lutheran church was built in 1912 with private donations from German citizens and is renowned for the stained-glass panel above its altar, which Emperor Wilhelm II donated.
Finally, there is Luderitz Museum, where you will learn more about Germany’s colonization efforts, the diamond industry and Namibia’s flora and fauna. Interesting artifacts include whalebones, photos of the indigenous people and colonial mining equipment. After visiting, you may follow the guide back to the pier or return later on your own.
Please note: This tour includes 2 1/2 hours of moderate walking that includes some steps and uphill walking. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests or those with walking difficulties. Casual, weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; a bottle of water from the ship; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. The tour sequence may vary.
Hike through the arid foothills on the edge of the Namib, a somewhat elevated area that remains noticeably cooler than the rest of the desert.
After departing from the pier you will make the 90-minute drive inland to the Desert Horse Inn, which is located in a natural reserve that resembles a Western movie set. The landscape is semi-desert with wide-open plains and the beautiful Aus Mountains as a backdrop. Being nearly 4,600 feet above sea level, this area is much cooler than the lower desert and ideal for hiking.
Your route will be the Schanzen Trail, which winds for approximately three miles through the scenic foothills. The hike begins up a gradual slope where you will soon see a solitary boulder that marks the top of the climb. With no trees to interrupt the views, you will be able to see for miles in every direction. The vistas are absolutely stunning. After a short break at the top, you’ll head back down the slope where you will see a prominent quartz outcrop.
Crossing a dry riverbed, you’ll head up an erosion cliff and then your trail links up with a track that was used during World War I by the Schutztruppe that leads towards the ramparts and trenches at the western front. These ramparts and trenches were built here by the Germans during World War I and are amongst the more unusual sights you’ll see. From this area the Germans had great views in the direction of the Garub plains about 20 miles to the west where the South African troops were based.
Other highlights include a variety of drought-tolerant vegetation such as Bushman’s Candle. While this spiny shrub looks rather ominous, it blooms beautifully in colors ranging from dark pink to cream.
Enjoy some welcoming refreshments at the Desert Horse Inn.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 90-minutes of moderate to strenuous hiking. There will be uneven natural surfaces, gravel surfaces, and slopes to negotiate. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests, those with walking difficulties, other mobility concerns, heart or respiratory conditions. Participants should be in good physical condition. Casual, weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; a bottle of water from the ship; and flat, comfortable hiking/athletic shoes with a non-slip sole are recommended. Sightings of the wild horses while very likely, is not guaranteed. Vehicles of varying sizes may be used, and while the coaches and minivans are well-maintained, they are basic in nature and the quality can vary.