Kolmanskop: the ghost town

One of the more remarkable tourist attractions in Namibia is without a doubt the abandoned village of Kolmanskop (or in German: Kolmanskuppe), situated about ten minutes from Lüderitz, a city in the southern part of the Namibian coast. The village itself was once of the richest in the world thanks to the large quantity of alluvial diamonds that were found locally. It had its own ball room, hospital, bowling lane (Kegelbaan) and even it's own ice factory (in the desert). As you can guess from the name, it was inhabited by people of mostly german descent.

Alas, all good things come to pass and when the amount of diamonds that were found drastically fell back, the company responsible for the trade moved further south and most people followed. In 1954 the last people left the town and all the buildings were left to the elements of nature. Over the next decades the buildings started to fill up with sand and pebbles. Windows broke, paint started peeling and doors became unhinged lending an eery atmosphere to the place.

This, in turn, started to attract tourists looking for something out of the ordinary and when the local people realized the potential they started organizing tours in this ghost town. Some of the guides on these tours are children and grandchildren of the people who lived there originally.

Ironically, to conserve the now again valuable town, they started to send in diggers every couple of years to keep the town from being completely submerged in sand.

If you want to visit the town you will need a permit (easily obtained in the town of Lüderitz) and for non-commercial photographers there are special permits that allow you enter the town before sunrise, which I would strongly recommend. These photography permits also give you the possibility to participate in the 9am or 11am morning tour which is very interesting in itself.

If you go around 5 as I did, be warned: a ghost town in the dark with crows flying and crowing over your head, is quite an experience.

One last tip I can give is not to spend too much time on the first couple of buildings you encounter as they were quite sand-free :-)

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