As we explained some weeks ago when we were back from Namibia, one of the reasons for us to visit the south of the country was the Ghost Town of Kolmanskop. This town was once a rich diamond mining village built in the German architectural style. But, in the middle of the last century, the village was abandoned and today only the sand of the Namib desert lives there.
We discovered Kolmanskop in a magazine when we were already thinking of travelling to Namibia. We were surprised by the pictures of the sand inside the buildings and wanted to know where the pictures were taken. And yes, that amazing place was called Kolmanskop and it was in Namibia, so we definitely had another reason to visit that African country. We coudn’t leave Namibia without treading Kolmanskop so we prepared a roadtrip that included Southern Namibia. Kolmanskop is located 10 km inland from the coastal town of Lüderitz, where we spent a night.
1. History of Kolmanskop
The first diamond was found in Kolmanskop in 1908, but the town enjoyed its heyday in the 1920s when 300 German and 800 Oshiwambo lived there. Kolmanskop was built from nothing in the middle of the Namib desert to cover the needs of the diamond miners and their families. The town had a hospital, a school and a casino, among others, as well as a good number of houses for accommodation. For you to better understand the importance of Kolmanskop on that time: its hospital was equipped with the first X-ray machine in the Southern hemisphere and Kolmanskop even had the first tram in Africa. There was also a railway link to Lüderitz.
But the boom years in Kolmanskop ended in 1928 when much greater reserves were discovered 270 km south of Kolmanskop, near the Orange River. During the following years, many inhabitants of Kolmanskop moved to the south. The town was completely abandoned in the 1950s. Due to this, tourists nowadays can walk through the town knee-deep in sand.
2. How to visit Kolmanskop
As we said, Kolmanskop is located in the south of Namibia, more than 7 hours driving from the capital of the country, Windhoek. However, it can be part of a roadtrip through the country, particularly if you also want to visit the Fish River Canyon, as we did. Moreover, the city of Lüderitz also has some interesting points, as we will hopefully explain in further posts. A very humble website contains the main details to be taken into account when planning a visit to Kolmanskop.
Guided tours are offered twice a day, at 9h30 and 11h, from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday there is only one tour at 10h. Unfortunatelly we arrived to Kolmanskop a bit after the second tour had started since we had to drive a lot that day to reach the Ghost Town. In any case, access is allowed until 13h so we did the visit on our own. Tickets cost 85 NAD (€5 approximately) per adult. Access in the afternoon is not allowed unless you get a photo permit (for non commercial photographers) which costs 230 NAD per person (almost €14).
That afternoon we wanted to visit Lüderitz, so we had good fish and chips for lunch in the Ghost Town Tavern, located in the former casino and decorated with old furniture found in the houses, and then leaved towards the coast. The visit was a great experience!