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Luderitz

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... is a spectacularly windswept and desolate little place on the coast of Southern Namibia, the gateway to the Diamond Coast.

Originally valued by German colonialists for its strategic location as a port, the town reached the attention of the world when diamonds were discovered here in 1908. The ensuing diamond rush was legendary, with prospectors inspired by true tales of hidden valleys whose surfaces were quite literally strewn with the gems. The town grew rapidly and still boasts a good deal of relatively impressive Colonial Era architecture, as prospectors lavished their new-found wealthy on extravagant German villas.

Following the diamond rush Luderitz fell into decline and became a real forgotten backwater. In recent years a steady trickle of visitors has caused the town to recover somewhat. The waterfront areas in particular are now rather pleasant and boat trips are offered in search of seals, whales and dolphins.

The lure of the diamond fields remains to this day, albeit as a tourist attraction, centred on the famous ghost town of Kolmanskop, out in the desert some 10km to the southeast. The first diamonds were discovered by a small gang of labourers employed to keep the railway to Keetmanshoop clear of sand, one of whom had previously worked in the diamond mines at Kimberley. A legend soon grew when you walked in the deserts here on a moonlit night, you could literally fill your pockets with glistening diamonds the size of pebbles. But within a decade the diamond fields came under the control of De Beers and the era of small-scale prospecting came to an end.

There are now also some excellent guided expeditions into the previously forbidden areas to the south, which take a whole day, necessitating at least a two night stay in the town.


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