Most of this coastal area, south of Walvis Bay, is closed to the public to protect diamond-industry interests. Abiding by the boundaries is advisable, as it is said that trespassers will be shot.
However, on the coast in the middle of this area is the picturesque old German port of Luderitz, which is open to visitors. Luderitz, which resembles a Bavarian village, seems a bit out of place on the desolate, windswept coast of the Namib Desert. The area is home to seals, penguins, flamingos and ostriches. At Agate Beach you can find agates and sand roses (sand crystallized into petal-like designs). However, gathering sand roses is forbidden without a permit (diggers must be accompanied by an official from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism). From a nearby campground, there is a stunning view of the desert sand dunes colliding with the ocean.
A worthwhile short drive (14 miles/22km) runs south from Luderitz to Diaz Cross, where seals and marine birds (including the rare black oystercatcher) splash below a replica of the clifftop wooden cross erected there by the Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Diaz in 1488. In Luderitz, you can get a permit to visit Kolmanskop, a diamond-mining ghost town just to the east. The Kolmanskop tour will give you an idea of the vast wealth created by the diamonds: The community imported all food and drinking water, built a gym with a bowling alley and owned the first X-ray machine in the Southern Hemisphere. Luderitz is 300 mi/490 km southwest of Windhoek.
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