Join us (Live the Journey) on an escorted self-drive journey with an untraditional routing from Lüderitz to Walvis Bay.
Our tour starts in the outskirts of Windhoek, Namibia, where we kick off with lodged accommodation before commencing the real adventure, led by expert desert guides.
This adventure takes us into the Namib Desert at Lüderitz and ends Walvis Bay, the area was formerly known as ‘Diamond Area no 2’.
Places to be visited along the way include Silvia Hill, Meob Bay, Conception Bay and Sandwich Bay. Desert wildlife, spectacular scenery, untouched beaches, abandoned mining settlements, miles of sand driving and shipwrecks are some of the attractions along the way.
Due to the discovery of diamonds in 1908 around Kolmanskuppe, an uncontrollable diamond rush resulted, forcing the Government to establish the ‘Sperrgebiet’ (prohibited area) between 26 degrees (Gibraltar) and the southern border, stretching 100 km inland. Prospectors were forced to turn northwards beyond the Sperrgebiet resulting in the establishment of what became known as Diamond area no 2.
In November 1914 everyone in this area was requested to stop operations and to proceed to Swakopmund up country. This order came as a result of an expected invasion of allied troops. During 1920, activities recommenced and only four companies operated in this area until De Beers purchased one concession area after the other in 1929. From old mining records it is clear that the average diamond found in this area was much smaller than those found south of Luderitzbucht. Operators made use of hand-operated movable sieve jigs, of which some are still visible today at the old mining settlements. They were largely dependent on an Ovambo labour force. For instance, Namaqua Diamonds employed between 500 and 600 Ovambos under contract. They were distributed in gangs of 50 over the extent of the mining area.
In 1932 the price of diamonds dropped considerably and almost all known diamondiferous ground had been worked over at least once. The small diamonds left in the tailings of earlier workers made production uneconomic. After World War II, a company, Industrial Diamonds of South Africa (1945) Ltd., conducted extensive prospecting in the Meob area in which no diamonds were recovered and CDM also abandoned Meob Bay in the early 60s.
Today, only some remnants of the activities are visible and are deteriorating at an alarming rate. There is a limited quantity of hand-operated mining equipment left, two surf boats at Meob and an ox-wagon north of Grillenberger, giving some insight into the hardships endured by indigenous Namibians and early settlers to the country.
Saddle Hill became well known in Namibian diamond operations through the efforts of the remarkable Mose Kahan. The unsinkable Mose was born in Konigsberg, Prussia and after emigrating to South Africa where he became involved in prospecting and mining. His application for a concession in Diamond area no 2 were successful and he named his claims Saddle Hill Ophir and Atlantis.
To reach his claims with food and mining supplies, Kahan had to make his way through shifting dunes with transport available in those years, which was indeed a hazardous undertaking. After World War II, Kahan bought some Ford ‘stopneus’ lorries from surplus war stock, fitting them with Dakota aircraft tyres. With these low-pressure aircraft tyres, he was able to bring supplies and equipment to Saddle Hill. However, one of these lorries, nicknamed Suzie, had unfortunately to be abandoned in the dunes, and today still awaits the return of a repair crew. Likewise a bulldozer, which was pulling trailers with supplies and equipment close to the Uri Haugab Mountains.
While driving from Lüderitz to Walvis Bay the diamond mining history will unfold in front of us and we will relive these early days while also experiencing the thrill of dune driving, African desert sunrises and sunsets, desert life, and building memories with old and new friends!
After five nights in the heart of the desert, we retire with a bit more comfort in Swakopmund. This will be our final evening together, although you are free to use the evening to explore on your own.
Swakopmund is also a great starting point to extend your journey should you choose to visit other interest points in Namibia i.e. Twyfelfontein, Grootberg, Etosha….and so much more.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for tariffs and set departure tour dates.