Kolmanskop Ghost Town in Namibia
A fascinating ghost town found in an equally fascinating, but for different reasons, ghost land, Kolmanskop is a must-see for any visitor to the now fashionable tourism hotspot of Namibia. Many tourists spend their time enjoying the thousands of miles of beautiful, near deserted beaches or on jeep safaris across the Namib Desert but for something truly different you need to go through the , which translates as ‘Forbidden Area’ and on to Kolmanskop, a former diamond mining town. The town was named after a transport driver who abandoned his cart in a sandstorm near where the town was built and was founded on the wealth earned from diamond mining in the area.
In the early 1900s a construction worker helping to build the South African rail network found an unusual looking stone and showed it to his supervisor. The stone turned out to be a diamond and sparked a mining frenzy in the area. Subsequently the German government declared the area as forbidden and began to commercially mine the diamonds. The huge wealth of the early miners meant that insane amounts of money were available to spend on the development of the town. It was designed as a German town with German style houses. Every possible amenity available at the town was incorporated including casinos, ice factories and ballrooms. As the diamonds began to run out, so the town was slowly abandoned and the forces of nature began to reclaim the land.
Visitors today need a permit to enter the Sperrgebeit. The land has been off limits to outsiders for most of the last hundred years and this has left a considerable impact on the ecological value of the 26,000km₂ site. More endemic species are to be found here than in any other part of Africa. The area is owned by a joint venture between the Namibian government and D
e Beers but in 2006 the area was declared a national park which will begin to welcome visitors in the near future. For those who visit, a surreal world awaits. Dunes from the desert have drifted through the town filling the rooms of the abandoned houses sometimes shoulder deep in soft sand. Around these nature-improvised sand boxes, faded wallpaper still adorns the wall giving a brief glimpse of life back in the halcyon days of diamonds.
Tourists wishing to visit the town and the nature reserve can stay in the nearby harbour town of Lüderitz which has recently undergone major improvement works to attract tourists to the area which is also a world recognised site for coastal seabirds. Air Namibia fly to Lüderitz airport, 9km south of the town.
The Bay View Hotel and Luderitz Nest Hotel both offer good accommodation and can be booked through
SOUTHERN AFRICA TRAVEL
Tel: +44 1483 425533