Kolmanskop: A Ghost Town Swallowed by the Desert
Once a thriving diamond town, now a ghost town being swallowed by the desert. Take an eery walk through Kolmanskop.
Following the discovery of a diamond by a railway worker in 1908, Kolmanskop quickly developed into a thriving diamond town. The diamond rush resulted in the development of a German town in the middle of the Namib desert.
Dotted with impressive houses and complete with a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, 4-lane skittle alley, theatre and sports hall, casino, ice factory. It even had the first x-ray station in the southern hemisphere, the first tram in Africa and a railway link to Luderitz.
At its peak (around 1920), the town’s residents comprised 300 German adults, 40 children and 800 Owambo contract workers. The town was a haven of German culture, offering entertainment and recreation to suit the requirements of the affluent colonialists.
Following World War I and the discovery of richer diamond deposits further South, the town started its decline with the last inhabitants leaving in 1956. Over time the Namib desert has reclaimed the town, with sand seeping into cracked walls and blown in through open doors.
Located 10km from the coastal town of Luderitz in Southern Namibia, Kolmanskop can be visited all year round. There is no accommodation at the ghost town itself (only a small coffee shop and curio store). It is best to spend the night in nearby Luderitz – a quaint fishing town.
Kolmanskop forms part of the “Sperrgebiet” (forbidden territory) – a 26,000 km2 natural park jointly managed by De Beers and the Namibian government. As a result a permit needs to be obtained in order to visit. Permits can be obtained in Luderitz or at the gate and cost N$80 per person. Additional camera fees (N$220) apply for amateur photographers. Professional photographers have to obtain special permits.
Two guided tours a day provide a deeper look into the history of the town. Starting at 09:30 and 11:00 Monday to Saturday, with only one tour at 10:00 on Sundays and public holidays. Tours cannot be pre-booked and are arranged upon arrival.
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