Exploring Kolmanskop


Southern Namibia

KolmanskopExploring Kolmanskop

The ghost town of Kolmanskop, a few kilometres inland from Lüderitz, dates back to the Namibian diamond rush. The shifting dunes, fierce winds and salt-laden mist have reduced this once thriving community to ruins. The crumbling grandeur of these magnificent old ‘diamond’ houses creates an unforgettable atmosphere. Everywhere there are eerie reminders of an opulent lifestyle.

This makes for a truly fascinating excursion!

The History of Kolmanskop

In 1908, Zacharias Lewala found a diamond while working in this area. He then showed it to the German railway inspector August Stauch. This started an epic diamond rush as German colonialists began arriving in Lüderitz to mine the diamonds. Realizing the area was rich in diamonds, the German government declared a large area as a ‘Sperrgebiet’ or ‘forbidden area’. Driven by the enormous wealth of the first diamond miners, Kolmanskop was built in the architectural style of a small German town, with a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, skittle-alley, theatre, sport-hall, casino and an ice factory. It had the first x-ray-station in the southern hemisphere, as well as the first tram in Africa.

But gradually the diamond fields were exhausted and the small town was abandoned in 1954. The geological forces of the desert means that the town is fighting a losing battle against the encroaching sand. You walk through ornate mansions now knee-deep in sand.

Two daily guided tours are on offer at 09.30am and 11.00am. On Sundays and Public Holidays only one tour is conducted at 11.00am. Due to its location within the restricted area (Sperrgebiet) of the Namib desert, you need a permit to enter the town. Permits can be obtained in town from Lüderitz Safaris & Tours or at the Kolmanskop gate. However, in peak season we recommend getting a permit ahead of time to ensure that you can go on the tour.

Kolmanskop is popular with photographers. Keen photographers may be able to get a permit to go to Kolmanskop at sunrise or sunset from Lüderitz Safaris & Tours.