Lighthouses of Namibia

Namibia is an independent country of southern Africa. Formerly called South West Africa, Namibia's colonial history began in 1878, when Britain took control of the port of Walvis Bay. The rest of South West Africa became a German colony in 1884. South African troops occupied the German colony in 1915, early in World War I, and South Africa remained in control of the territory for the next 75 years. After a lengthy struggle, Namibia became independent in 1990, although South Africa did not cede its control of the Walvis Bay enclave until 1994. Since the end of the apartheid government in South Africa, relations between the two countries have become much friendlier.

Aids to navigation in Namibia are maintained by Namport, the national port authority. There are three active traditional lighthouses in the country, plus one additional historic lighthouse.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume D of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 113.

General Sources
Leuchttürme an der namibischen Küste
Photos by various photographers posted by Bernd Claußen.
Online List of Lights - Namibia
Photos by various photographers posted by Alex Trabas.
Lighthouses in Namibia
Photos available from Wikimedia.
Lighthouses of Africa
Historic postcard views posted by Michel Forand.
Afrikanische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard views posted by Klaus Huelse.

Diaz Point Light
Dias Point Light, Lüderitz, July 2006
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Damien du Toit

Lüderitz (Karas Region) Lighthouses
Note: Lüderitz is the only naturally protected harbor in Namibia other than Walvis Bay. Founded in 1883, it is primarily a fishing port. The population of the town is about 13,000.
* Dias Point (2)
1915 (station established 1903). Active; focal plane 53 m (174 ft); white flash every 10 s. 28 m (92 ft) tower with lantern and gallery, mounted on a 1-story hexagonal stone base. The tower is painted with red and white horizontal bands. Fog horn (one 2 s blast every 20 s) located 450 m (1/4 mi) north. A fog signal tower also survives. Also nearby is a stone cross commemorating the landing here by the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1487. Damien du Toit's photo is above, Brian McMorrow has a portfolio of photos, and Google has a satellite view. Forand has a postcard view of the original lighthouse, a short masonry tower, and Wikimedia has a photo showing both lighthouses. Dias Point shelters Robert Harbor, the bay of Lüderitz. Located on heights about 500 m (0.3 mi) south of the tip of the point. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS NAM-002; Admiralty D5600; NGA 25788.
** Shark Island (1)
1903. Inactive. Approx. 12 m (40 ft) square cylindrical tower with gallery attached to a 1-story keeper's house. Lantern removed. The building has been repainted buff with green trim. Andrew Haliburton's photo is at right, Wikimedia has a closeup photo by Peter Stenglein, another excellent photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. The old lighthouse is now incorporated in a resort and has several rooms available for overnight accommodations. Now joined to the mainland at its south end, Shark Island shelters the small harbor of Lüderitz. Located at the highest point of the "island" and accessible by road. Site open, lighthouse open to guests. Owner: Namibia Wildlife Resorts. Site manager: Shark Island Resort. ARLHS NAM-005.
Shark Island Light
Shark Island Light, Lüderitz, September 2009
photo copyright Andrew Haliburton; used by permission
* Shark Island (2)
Date unknown (station established 1903). Active; focal plane 34 m (111 ft); white, red, or green light depending on direction, 2.5 s on, 7.5 s off. Approx. 15 m (49 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. Andrew Haliburton's photo is above right, Stefanie Schweda also has a photo of the active light standing in front of the old lighthouse, and Forand has an amateur radio QSL card showing both lighthouses. Located a short distance seaward of the historic lighthouse. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty D5606; NGA 25808.

Walvis Bay and Swakopmund (Erongo Region) Lighthouses
Note: The former British/South African enclave of Walvis Bay is Namibia's only deep-water port. The town has a population of about 85,000 and is the terminal of a railway leading to the Namibian capital of Windhoek. The name of the bay comes from the German Walfischbucht, "Whale Bay"; Walvis Baai is the Afrikaans equivalent.
Pelican Point (Walvis Bay) (2)
1932 (station established 1916). Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); three white flashes, separated by 3.6 s, every 20 s. 34 m (112 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. Tower painted with black and white horizontal bands; lantern painted red. An adjacent 3-story building, apparently abandoned now, was a harbor control center. Fog horn (one short blast, two long blasts, and one short blast every 30 s) located 180 m (200 yd) north. Carlos Reis's photo appears at right, Scott Robertson's photo and a historical account are available, and Google has a good satellite view. Ordered originally by the government of South Africa for use at Durban in eastern South Africa, the lighthouse was installed instead at Walvis Bay, then under South African administration. It replaced a post light hastily erected after South African troops recaptured Walvis Bay from German troops during World War I. A powerful light with a range of 40 km (25 mi) was installed in 1961. Pelican Point is a long sandy peninsula sheltering Walvis Bay, the best naturally protected harbor on the southwest African coast. The light station was built at the tip of the peninsula, but over the past century the spit has extended itself almost 2 km (1.2 mi) farther to the north. The spit is a protected nature reserve, and access is limited, but tours to the light station are available from the town's waterfront. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS NAM-003; Admiralty D5520; NGA 25756.

Pelican Point Light
Pelican Point Light, Walvis Bay, May 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Carlos Reis

** Swakopmund
1903 (extended in 1910). Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); two white flashes, separated by 2.3 s, every 10 s. 28 m (92 ft) round tower with lantern and double gallery. The upper portion painted with red and white horizontal bands; the lower portion is unpainted brick. The lower 11 m (36 ft) is the original 1902 lighthouse; the upper section was added in 1910. A photo is at right, Kevin Rutterford has a good photo, Hannes Steyn has another lovely photo, Wikimedia has a photo by Harald Süpfle, a fine 2010 photo and another closeup photo are available, and Google has a satellite view. Forand has postcard views of the lighthouse in its original form (note the hoist-type lamp then in use), after its lantern was installed, and at its present height; Wikipedia has a historic photo from the colonial history collection of the University of Frankfurt am Main. The lighthouse replaced a short-lived lighthouse on the town's mole; built in 1902, it was washed away by a storm only months later. The lantern of the present light was installed in 1982, along with a more powerful light having a range of 33 km (20 mi). The town of Swakopmund was founded by the Germans in 1892 as the seaport of their colony, the better harbor of Walvis Bay being in British hands. It is a port no longer; today the town, with its turn-of-the-century German architecture, is a popular seaside resort. The keeper's house includes a café and a small museum devoted to the history of the town and the lighthouse. Located on Dr. Ludwig Koch Street, near the beach in downtown Swakopmund, about 40 km (25 mi) north of Walvis Bay. Site and keeper's house open daily, tower closed. ARLHS NAM-004; Admiralty D5510; NGA 25752.
Swakopmund Light
Swakopmund Light, Swakopmund, February 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Potjie

Information available on lost lighthouses:

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Notable faux lighthouses:

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Adjoining pages: North: Angola | South: Western South Africa

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Posted May 24, 2005. Checked and revised July 28, 2013. Lighthouses: 5. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.