Kolmanskop’s history is short. In a span of 40 years the town had lived, flourished and died.
It is an eerie feeling picking your way through the remains of a dead town as the desert moves in, devouring the sun bleached skeletons of the last defiant dwellings.
Visitors to the ghost town can take an hour-long tour offered daily and it can be booked from Luderitz. The tour reflects on the town’s boom and bust.
A museum established by De Beers in 1980 displays old mining implements and an extensive collection of photographs from the town’s halcyon days when around 300 Germans adults, 40 children and 800 Owambo contract workers called Kolmanskop home.
The shopkeeper’s house, the restored mine captain’s residence, the butchery, gym and skittles alley are all worth an inspection but the fading glory of Kolmanskop is best experienced after the tour when you can wander through decaying buildings, many the former homes of miners and their families, on your own.
On the hilltop that overlooks the town there is an old water tank, just another symbol of the obstacles that challenged those trying to survive without the natural resources essential to sustain life.
Where Oompah bands played to finely dressed Germans in a gilded ballroom, ice was delivered each morning to homes and housewives, brooms in hand, waged a futile war at their thresholds against the endless onslaught of the Namib Desert.
Most buildings are in ruins today but some have been glamorously renovated giving you an even better feel of the contrast between what this place once was and what it is today – a land reclaimed by nature.
If you go:
You will need to find a tour in Luderitz, at the boat yard, on Insell Street. Tours are offered on a daily basis, but there is only one tour on Sundays.
Preferably, you should book an early morning tour, especially in the summer as the heat can be devastating. Make sure you have water with yourself. Tours are offered both in English and German.
An adult ticket costs N$75.00 (about $7.00 USD), children until the age of 14 have discounts.
Photography is permitted for amateurs at a cost of N$220.00 (about 20 USD), professional photographers need special permits. For further information, contact the tour guides at firstname.lastname@example.org.