There are many surprising places in the world, one of which is a 19th century Bavarian village that is plonked on the edge of the African continent.
When you visit the coastal town of Luderitz in Namibia it is just like stepping back in time. The architecture is predominantly Bavarian, and there isn’t much modern development, apart from a new waterfront centre, there to destroy the image, apart from a few Art Nouveau examples.
The land that the town sits on was purchased by German settlers from the local indigenous inhabitants. Because it has quite a good harbour, the explorer Bartolomoleu Dias visited there in 1487 on his journey around the cape. At one stage whalers and fisherman were based there, and a trading post was established.
Luderitz probably wouldn’t have amounted to much, except for the fact that diamonds were discovered nearby, where the town of Kolmanskop was built to service the diamond trade.
These days Kolmanskop is a ghost town, which has become a tourist attraction. It is quite a fascinating place to visit, and guided tours are run quite regularly usually leaving every morning. A highlight of the tour is a visit to the bowling alley where you are invited to try your hand to know down the pins.
Unfortunately for Luderitz Robert Harbour has a rocky bottom so is difficult to develop. There is a fishing fleet based there, but larger shipping now bypasses the port, which is why development of the town has not proceeded.
It is an intriguing experience to walk around the town as the buildings are quite colourful, and the streets quite narrow in places. The Felsenkirche, a church that is perched on Diamond Hill dominates the town. The town also has an ornate and well-kept railway station, but the service has been suspended.
Another prominent building is the ornate Goerke House which is located on Zeppelin Street. Extravagantly decorated both inside and out it a permanent testament to the wealth which once flowed through the town.
The coastline itself is quite stunning, and as well as the usual sea birds you would expect to see along the coast, Luderitz also has a colony of flamingos.
There is a good drive out to Diaz point which, apart from the amazing views, has a good little café on the beach which specialises in its cakes. There are many little bays to stop at, and offshore islands which are brimming with life, including penguins and seals.