Why We Love Kolmanskop
If you’re looking for something different to try on your trip to Namibia, put Kolmanskop at the top of your list. This unusual attraction has so much to offer every kind of traveller.
Everyone takes something different out of their trip to Kolmanskop, but here’s what we love about it the most.
A Glimpse of the Past
The main thing you’ll experience when you visit this amazing destination is views of lives disrupted. Scenes of homes paused in time rise out of the shifting sands which are slowly erasing all the evidence of what was there before.
Up until the 1950s, Kolmanskop was a thriving village, with 1 300 inhabitants grown wealthy in the wake of a diamond rush in the heart of Namibia’s desert spaces.
The story of Kolmanskop begins in 1908, during the construction of a railway line through the desert. While going about his day, one of the railway workers discovered a shiny stone among the sands, which turned out to be a diamond.
By 1912, that very site had grown into a bustling town boasting the richest per capita income in the world. Apart from large, elegant homes, Kolmanskop had a pub, casino, ballroom, a hospital with the first X-ray machine below the equator, and the biggest luxury of all, an ice factory.
Kolmanskop was also home to the first tram in Africa and water came in by train to nurture the luxurious gardens so that the town could produce its own fresh lemonade.
The world’s best-known performers and opera companies appeared at the concert hall, courtesy of the mine and one of the residents even had a pet ostrich.
The town was a hub of activity and excess until 1954, when the diamond supply started to dry up. Fortune seekers departed to newer, more glistening pastures, and the town slowly emptied.
Soon there was no-one left, and the desert began to reclaim its turf.
In their onward rush toward better things, many of the residents left their homes as they were.
Today, much of what once was remains eroded, and invaded by the marching sands of time, and begging for exploration.
It’s Easy to Visit Kolmanskop
Admittedly, you’ll need to drive for hours to get to Kolmanskop from anywhere at all. It’s 700 km from Swakopmund, and over 600 km from Windhoek.
Yet, this gives you the added opportunity to enjoy Namibia’s vast scenic landscapes for longer and spend the night somewhere awesome, such as Lüderitz that’s only 13 km away.
You need a permit to enter this incredible destination. You can pay around *90-100 NAD for a standard permit, or *230-300 NAD for a photography permit, valid from sunrise to sunset.
The photography permit works well if you want to capture the brilliant sunsets and sunrises at Kolmanskop, or if you want to take photographs for commercial use. Everyone else can snap away during the usual hours of 9h00-13h00 (Mon-Sat).
It’s always best to arrive early if you want to explore at your leisure without the crowds.
The Light is Magnificent
If you get there just as the sun’s rising, you’ll witness the town transform from an eerie, silent, grey landscape into a showcase of golden hues.
As you stroll among these abandoned rooms the warm glow of the sun slowly creeps in to illuminate these spaces, highlighting long-forgotten knick-knacks among the piles of sand.
If you walk up to a higher vantage point, you’ll get to see the sun creep over the sands, washing the entire town with gentle, warm, dawn light.
It’s SO Photogenic
There are plenty of reasons to spring for the more expensive photography ticket when you visit Kolmanskop.
You’ll find plenty of fascinating things to capture in the perfect Namibian light. While many of the homes are completely overrun with the desert sand, here and there you’ll come across a few reminders of this once thriving population.
A rusty kettle, an old bathtub, and an ornate headboard make for interesting photographic subjects as well as creating a sense of wonder around who once lived there and what their life was like.
The sand itself provides plenty of opportunity to marvel at Mother Nature’s relentless ability to take back what was once hers and capture her handiwork on film.
The dunes themselves are as photogenic as can be, especially when captured through a derelict window frame, from the top of one of the double-story houses. Despite the masses of tourists that visit the town, patches of sand remain untouched, folded into ripples by the desert wind.
Make Your Way to Kolmanskop
Whether you love history, nature, or photography, you’re bound to love this interesting destination just as much as we do. So, put Kolmanskop on your itinerary while planning your trip to Namibia, and consult our listings for more ideas on what to see and do in Namibia, as well as where to stay during your trip.
*All pricing correct at time of publication of this article.
Please Note: The details shared in this blog post are correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.