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October 12th 2006
Published: November 26th 2006
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Our next stop was Luderitz on the coast. We set off from Canon Lodge in the morning and arrived about lunchtime. The B4 road to Luderitz was one of the most wonderful journeys we have ever done. The scenery was stunningly beautiful and diverse and the landscape just kept stretching for miles. We saw some red hills (I presume they were sand dunes) in the distance, huge plains or prairies of grass (savannah), rocky peaks, it was all very very beautiful. We also saw a few of the famous feral desert horses just off the main road up a little bumpy track. We checked in to our B&B and then walked into the town and had a lovely snack lunch at the Diaz Coffee Shop. The two things we had planned to do was a boat trip to see seals, dolphins and penguins, and to visit the ghost diamond mining town of Kolmanskop. We went into the tourist information to buy some post cards and to buy our permit to get into Kolmanskop. Our guide book indicated that you can only get a permit from the tourist info, or the official Kolmanskop guide company in town, but I think this is no longer the case and you can buy a voucher at the entrance. Luderitz was much colder, particularly in the mornings, than the interior of the country. The cold Atlantic Ocean keeps the temperatures down, and because the cold air meets the heat of the desert a mist or fog forms in the mornings, which sometimes stretches about 60k inland. This fog is sometimes the only moisture that some of the desert plants get. The boat trip on the Sedina was very cold, but they did provide blankets and oilskins - and a cup of hot chocolate on the way back. We motored (I guess they do sail when the weather is more conducive to sailing!) out of the harbour first thing in the morning and had a two hour trip during which we saw some dolphins swimming with the boat, some seals on an island, and a couple in the sea, and some penguins too on a larger island. The fog had not lifted fully and so we could not see the penguins very clearly, and there were not a huge number of them… but as we had not seen penguins or dolphins before - we were satisfied. After the boat trip we drove straight to Kolmanskop. There is an official tour that is offered, which we did, and then we took time to wander around on our own. It was interesting on a number of levels. One difference was the difference in the accommodation for the Germans and the Namibians. The Germans had an ice factory, a shop, a bakery, a butcher’s, a school and a hospital, as well as a concert hall and a skittle alley - the Namibian workers who came from the north of the country didn’t have any of those things. I think they had their own shop and a canteen, and their accommodation was a row of long hut-like buildings, not the houses that the Germans had. Another interesting thing was that in the early days they could literally bend down and pick up the diamonds with their bare hands - we tried to look for some - but didn’t find any! Another interesting thing is that if they thought you may have swallowed a diamond to smuggle out, you were fed with castor oil till it came out!! The guide who showed us around and did the English tour, was a direct descendent of a couple of people who had lived in Kolmanskop! Diamonds were discovered in Kolmanskop in the early 1900s and by about the 1950s or 1960s there were no more to find - so the town was deserted… and now is a tourist attraction. The sand is gradually entering the buildings, and so they are beginning to restore some of them.

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