Kolmanskop is a famous abandoned ghost town in the Namib desert in southern Namibia, a few kilometres inland from the port town of Lüderitz. Once a small but thriving diamond-mining town, Kolmanskop is now abandoned, fighting a constant battle against the devouring sands of the desert that is poised to reclaim the town back to where it belongs.
It was once the home to hundreds of German miners desperately seeking their fortune in the Namibian desert.
But almost 100 years after Kolmanskop peaked as a thriving and bustling oasis, it is now a dilapidated ghost town slowly being reclaimed by the sand.
Tourists and photographers now flock to the area to see the formally grand German houses gradually sink into desert.
In 1908 the worker Zacharias Lewala found a diamond while working in this area and showed it to his supervisor, the German railway inspector August Stauch. Realizing the area was rich in diamonds, German miners began settlement, and soon after the German government declared a large area as a “Sperrgebiet”, starting to exploit the diamond field.
Driven by the enormous wealth of the first diamond miners, the residents built the village in the architectural style of a German town, with amenities and institutions including a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, skittle-alley, theatre and sport-hall, casino, ice factory and the first x-ray-station in the southern hemisphere, as well as the first tram in Africa. It had a railway link to Lüderitz.
The town declined after World War I when the diamond-field slowly exhausted and was ultimately abandoned in 1954. The geological forces of the desert mean that tourists now walk through houses knee-deep in sand. Kolmanskop is popular with photographers for its settings of the desert sands’ reclaiming this once-thriving town. Due to its location within the restricted area (Sperrgebiet) of the Namib desert, tourists need a permit to enter the town.
After obtaining your permit you can drive out to Kolmanskop and join a guided tour, which not only provides the history of the former mining town, but about the diamond industry today as well. After a short introduction and visit to the more important buildings, visitors are allowed to explore Kolmanskop on your own. Timings are:
- Monday – Saturday 09h30 and 11h00
- Sunday and public holidays – 10h00.