A New Expedition Begins: Namibia & Mid-Atlantic
The beautiful port city of Cape Town was the starting point for the 2015 Namibia & Mid-Atlantic Expedition aboard The World. Leaving the iconic Table Mountain in our wake, we began our Journey along the African coast to Namibia where we would spend some rewarding time exploring Lüderitz and Walvis Bay. From there the Ship will head out into the Atlantic and the remote island outposts of St. Helena and Ascension Island. Next will be the Cape Verde Islands before continuing north to finish the Expedition in the Canary Islands after covering some 5,000 nautical miles and 60 degrees of latitude.
As we rode the Benguela current northwards, the land off our starboard side began changing. Soon we were abeam of the southern edge of the immense Namib Desert. Stretching 1,200 miles along this coast, the Namib runs north from South Africa, through Namibia and into Angola. The name, ‘Namib’, means ‘vast place’ in the Nama language. Formed at least 55 million years ago, the Namib may be the world’s oldest desert, and contains some of the largest dunes in the world.
While life may not be abundant in the desert, the same is not true of the ocean here. Cape gannets, White-chinned petrels and Shy albatross accompanied the Ship as we made our way offshore. Throughout the day groups of gannets were spotted, diving or sitting on the water, accompanied by other birds including Cory’s shearwaters. Groups of Cape fur seals were often mixed into these feeding assemblages.
The World first sailed into the harbor at Lüderitz just as the sun rose over the Namib. Morning’s light revealed a modest harbor with a few yachts and many fishing vessels.
The colorful old town stretched up the hill above where we docked.
Harbors are few and precious on Namibia’s coast, and this one was found over 500 years ago. Bartolemeu Dias discovered this bay in 1487, just before his most famous achievement – rounding the Cape of Good Hope in 1488.
As the wealth of the waters offshore became apparent, Lüderitz grew around whaling, sealing and guano harvesting. Founded in 1883 with money from Adolf Lüderitz of Bremen, Germany, the town did not acquire his name for another three years, after he disappeared on an expedition to the Orange River. The town became briefly important and populous after the 1909 discovery of diamonds in the surrounding area, but lapsed back into relative obscurity shortly after World War I.