Kolmanskop Ghost Town in Namibia

Kolmanskop Ghost Town in Namibia

Kolmanskop Ghost Town: Spooky-creepy noises of the desert wind, howling through the desolate buildings. The tumbleweed is rolling, and in the far distance a brown hyena is running in the dim light and the prickle of hair standing on end… (Picture the spooky old haunted ghost towns in the horror movies…)

Kolmanskop Ghost town is situated in the dry, barren stretches on the edge of the Namib Desert in South-Western Africa. Among the gentle curves of the sand drifts and bleached stone outcrops, ornate buildings rise, defying their desolate surroundings. It once was one of the richest towns in Africa during a diamond boom in 1910.

That’s what we experienced in the last hours of our day at Kolmanskop Ghost Town, in Namibia. Wow! What a feeling to be completely alone in a desolated Ghost town for almost the whole day. The last tourists had already left at 13:00, but we were fortunate enough to get a special photographer’s permit allowing us entry from dawn till dusk. At dusk, the desolated town became very creepy especially when the wind had started howling through the empty buildings.

Kolmanskop ghost town

Kolmanskop, a ghost town in southern Africa’s Namib Desert, in the middle of a region known as – the forbidden zone

Open window panes rattled against the walls, or slammed against their frames. It felt very awkward, as if the ghost town has come to life when the darkness started settling in. To make this creepy, eerie feeling even stronger, a brown Hyena crossed the sand filled streets at the farthest end of the ghost town, running away into the darkness! (The adrenaline rush through our veins was pushed to its limits, and one could clearly feel that your blood has turned into ice cubes!) It seems as if we were part of a horror movie, anticipating what will happen next.


Kolmanskop boomed in the early 1900’s when diamonds were found, but sadly, about 40 years later, it turned into a ghost town, and got swallowed by the desert sands. The town is just a few kilometers inland from the famous port town Lüderitz. After the First World War, the drop in diamond sales and the discovery of richer deposits further south at Oranjemund, was the beginning of the end for Kolmanskop.

Kolmanskop managers house.

The desert had started to take back the town area, and sand had blown into every building.

Old building with an old bath in one of the rooms

Today, it is an industrial heritage site, and a very large tourist attraction. It is an excellent place for land scape photography. Annette and I visited Kolmanskop during May 2011.

You need to obtain permits to get access to the Kolmanskop Ghost Town. There are two tours for public daily, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, Monday to Saturday. You may also apply for a special photographers’ permit, that gives you access to the Ghost town from 06:00 until 18:00.

Room filled with desert sand and broken doors

We were very privileged that we visit the Kolmanskop on a Namibian Public holiday. On that particular day, there is only one tour schedule for tourists, from 10:00 until 13:00. The rest of the day, we had the desolate town all to ourselves to photograph.

The sand that was once swept up every morning now gather unhindered. The desert encroaches into the buildings, gradually filling the empty rooms with smooth rolling drifts. The houses still stand but it is the elements that are in control.

Most of the sand in the buildings is still relatively unspoiled of tourist footprints. It is truly fascinating to experience the inside of these desolate buildings, where you can see hand painted borders on the walls that still intact, and different detailed paint techniques used in the different houses.

Desert sand filled rooms

Desert sand filled the rooms of the empty worn down houses, and buildings. The desert has taking back what once belonged to it

What an unforgettable experience. We would love to go back and do it all over again! This place should be on every photographer’s bucket list!

Miss Colman’s Koppa

Historic artwork of Miss Kolmanskop, painted on a wall, at Kolmanskop Ghost Town

On our way to Kolmanskop we had the opportunity to see the following as well:

Roman Catholic Church in Aus Sunset

The Roman Catholic Church in Aus. Aus is a village in Karas Region in southern Namibia. It lies on a railway line and the B4 national road, 230 km west of Keetmanshoop and about 125 km east of Lüderitz.

Grasplatz Railway Station

Because there was no drinking water in Luderitz, the water had to be transported in barrels by train. The little station house is still standing and can be visited. An abandoned and ruined train station named Grasplatz in the town Luderitz within the Spergebeit Diamond Region, Namibia, Africa. The first diamond was found at Grasplatz along the railway route Lüderitz

Felsenkirche church

The Felsenkirche church is the highest placed of all the buildings in Lüderitz. The prominent Evangelical Lutheran church dominates Lüderitz from high on Diamond Hill.

Goerke Haus

Built into the rocks on the slopes of the Diamant Berg (Diamond Hill), this extravagant “diamond palace” was erected 1909-1910. Originally the home of Lieutenant Hans Goerke.

Deserted building on Halifax Island

Deserted building on Halifax Island – Luderitz, Namibia. Over the past century whalers, sealers, biologists and collectors visited this island

Check out some more of my photos at 500PX and PhotoPixSA and the Trip Reports and Hiking Trails

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