Kolmanskop Travel Guide

Once a small but very rich mining village, it is now a popular tourist destination.

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Kolmanskop (Afrikaans for Coleman’s hill, German: Kolmannskuppe) is a ghost town in the Namib desert in southern Namibia, a few kilometres inland from the port town of Lüderitz. It was named after a transport driver named Johnny Coleman who, during a sand storm, abandoned his ox wagon on a small incline opposite the settlement.Once a small but very rich mining village, it is now a popular tourist destination run by the joint firm NamDeb (Namibia-De Beers).

In 1908 the worker Zacharias Lewala found a diamond while working in this area and showed it to his supervisor, the German railway inspector August Stauch. Realizing the area was rich in diamonds, German miners began settlement, and soon after the German government declared a large area as a “Sperrgebiet”, starting to exploit the diamond field.

Driven by the enormous wealth of the first diamond miners, the residents built the village in the architectural style of a German town, with amenities and institutions including a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, skittle-alley, theatre and sport-hall, casino, ice factory and the first x-ray-station in the southern hemisphere, as well as the first tram in Africa. It had a railway link to Lüderitz.

The town declined after World War I when the diamond-field slowly exhausted and was ultimately abandoned in 1954. The geological forces of the desert mean that tourists now walk through houses knee-deep in sand. Kolmanskop is popular with photographers for its settings of the desert sands’ reclaiming this once-thriving town. Due to its location within the restricted area (Sperrgebiet) of the Namib desert, tourists need a permit to enter the town.

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IN POPULAR CULTURE

  • Kolmanskop was used as the location for the South African TV series The Mantis Project (1985). Directed by Manie van Rensburg, produced by Paul Kemp, written by John Cundill, and starred Marius Weyers and Sandra Prinsloo.
  • The town was used as one of the locations in the 1993 film Dust Devil.
  • The 2000 film The King Is Alive was filmed in Kolmanskop, with the town used as the film’s main setting.
  • The town was featured in a 2010 episode of Life After People. The episode focused on the effects of wind and sand upon the various run-down buildings and displayed rooms that were filled with sand.
  • The town was used in the first episode of the BBC series Wonders of the Universe to help explain entropy and its effect on time.
  • The television series Destination Truth in one of its episodes investigated Kolmanskop, rumored to be haunted.
  • Tim Walker photographed Agyness Deyn in Kolmanskop, Namibia for Vogue UK in May 2011.
  • The 2011 non-narrative film Samsara features shots filmed in Kolmanskop.
  • Featured in 2011 on Season 1, Episode 2 Namibia/Bodie of the television show “Forgotten Planet”.

Elizabeth Bay is a mining town in southern Namibia. It was formerly considered a ghost town. Elizabeth Bay in on the coast of Namibia, 25 km south of Lüderitz. Diamonds were first discovered in the region around 1908; however, it wasn’t until 1989 that the government of Namibia spent $53 million on the exploration and creation of a new diamond mine on the site.The mine had a projected life-span of ten years and was expected to produce 2.5 million cts of diamonds. The mine was officially opened by Dr. Sam Nujoma on 2 August 1991.

The mine stopped being operational sometime around 1998. By 2000, the town was considered a ghost town and tours were run through it by Kolmanskop.

In 2005 it was announced that the mine would be expanded, thus furthering its lifespan by eight years. The mine is currently operated by Namdeb Diamond Corp. It is owned jointly by De Beers and the Namibia Government. As of 2009 the Elizabeth Bay mine was operating at a $76 million loss. Elizabeth Bay is home to forty percent of the world’s Cape Fur Seals.

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Kolmanskop is a ghost town in the Namib desert in southern Namibia, a few km inland from the port town of Lüderitz. It was named after a transport driver named Johnny Coleman who, during a sand storm, abandoned his ox wagon on a small incline opposite the settlement. Once a small but very rich mining village, it is now a popular tourist destination.

Travel and tourism in Kolmanskop. How to get in, maps, activities & where to eat and sleep. Download the Free Kolmanskop Travel Guide.

[asa_collection]Namibia[/asa_collection]

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Michel Piccaya

About

As a freelance travel photographer, Michel Piccaya has been on the road worldwide for more than 20 years, exploring the most incredible itineraries. He’s currently based in Brussels however never stays at home for a long time !

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