Kolmanskop is a ghost town from the diamond rush of the first half of the 20th century. Booming and incredibly luxurious at the time, it now stands as a testament to colonization. While over 300 German families and 700+ local workers lived here in peak times, not one soul has called this place its home since 1954.
Ever since the town has remained mostly untouched while slowly disappearing into the sand.
A guided tour around “town” gave us a good glimpse into what it might have been like at the time. The residents didn’t lack anything from a railroad system, bowling alleys, a ballroom, a hospital to even an ice-making workshop – in the middle of the desert in the early 1900s! When we asked for chilled drinks at a campground in the same desert a hundred years later, we were laughed at and reminded that we were in a desert camp… As if that would answer the questions, ha!!
The diamond fields slowly exhausted and Kolmanskop started to fall into decline with the end World War I. Some workers and families moved on to the newly discovered diamond fields of Oranjemund 300km further south. Until today, the area between Kolmanskop and Oranjemund remains an active diamond field and is a so-called “Sperrgebiet” – restricted area. Entering the whole coastal strip is strictly prohibited and trespassing results in a fee of 100.000 N$ (5.000GBP;7000USD)!
There’s something magical about this deserted town (pun fully intended) slowly getting reclaimed by nature.
You see so many signs of the life that used to be here: original pieces of furniture, pictures and even a sketch of Miss Kolmanskop a worker drew on his bedroom wall. I couldn’t help trying to picture what it used to look like when it was buzzing here and the guided tour was really a great way to do that. There was no question the guide couldn’t answer and no random fact he didn’t seem to know. He explained the class system between the local workers and German families and got into details about the lives of individuals like the town teacher and other important members of the community. A lot of the information provided is first hand from former citizens and their families.
The price of the guided tour is included in the entrance fee of N$85.00 (4.5GBP; 6USD) per person. The current tour schedule is Monday to Saturday 09h30 and 11H00 and at 10 am only on Sundays and public holidays. That’s subject to change though, so I would suggest ringing the office before you get there. The tours are offered in English and surprise, surprise: German!!
A small, abandoned German town in the middle of the Namib desert… Would you like to visit Kolmanskop?
Before you leave…
You can read more about Safari in Southern Africa here:
Why we went on a self-drive Safari
15 things to know before going on a self-drive safari in Botswana
Essential Gear for your Self-Drive Safari
Kolmanskop: Namibia’s most deserted ghost town
That one Time on Safari when I got attacked by a Rhino (Part1)
That one Time on Safari when I got attacked by a Rhino (Part2)
30 Photos that will make you want to go to Botswana right now
Photo Diary of a typical day on Safari
25 Photos that will inspire you to visit Namibia
My favourite lodge in Namibia: RiverDance Lodge
Why you should add a visit to a Himba Village to your bucket list