Kolmanskop, Namibia

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28 January 2013

Kolmanskop (or Kolmanskuppe) is an abandoned diamond mining town in the Namib desert in southern Namibia, a few kilometres inland from the port town of Lüderitz. The town was once home to almost 1,000 miners and their families, but today only tourists with the permit may enter.

The story goes back to 1908, when a railway worker named Zacharias Lewala found a shiny stone and showed it to his supervisor, August Stauch who recognized it as a diamond. Stauch obtained a prospector's license and the migration of German miners and fortune-seekers to that area started. It used to be common for prospectors to lie on their bellies and slowly crawl across the sand, picking up diamonds by the dozen. The German Government quickly stepped in and declared a large area surrounding Kolmanskop a "Sperrgebiet", or forbidden area.

The miners began to settle down and build the town with their families. Homes and establishments were erected in the German-style, and Kolmanskop became prosperous due to the enormous wealth of those first miners. The town had a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, swimming pool, casino, and even a bowling alley or ice factory, and it was also the first in the South African region to own an x-ray machine.

However, by the end of the 1st World War, the diamond field was near-exhaustion, and by 1956, Kolmanskop was completely abandoned. The remaining homes today are slowly filling with sand and only visited by tourist groups who come to see the ghost town.
You need to buy a permit in advance from Lüderitz Safaris & Tours (Bismarck Street, Phone +264 (0)63 20 27 19) or Ghost Town Tours.

The entrance fee is N$55 per adult, photography permit is N$180 (Feb 2013). You are allowed to take photos on both, but the photography permit allows you to visit and stay from sunrise to sunset (otherwise the opening hours are 9am-1pm).

We arrived there right after sunrise, at 6:30 in the morning, and stayed for 4 hours. Most of the photos are HDR.

The view from the town into the desert..
Kolmanskop is located in Namibia a few kilometres inland from the port town of Lüderitz